5 Signs Your Car Needs a Tuneup (and What to Expect)
One of the most important car maintenance resources is unfortunately often overlooked by many drivers. While drivers know that when their car is not working they need to see a mechanic, too many drivers ignore the importance of basic maintenance and tuneups for their car. From changing the oil to getting your battery and brakes checked, there are many key car services provided in a tuneup.
If you live in the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) area and are driving around in a new or used car, here’s what you need to know about the importance of car tuneups and how they can help you keep your car running at its best for as long as possible.
What’s Involved in a Tuneup?
The first question you may be asking is what a tuneup even is. On a basic level, it’s a checkup for your car where mechanics can get your car up off the ground and look at its different systems. In addition to identifying possible problems for the future before they grow, tuneups can also provide simple safety checks to ensure that you and your passengers are as protected as possible every time you’re behind the wheel. Here’s what a mechanic will do for you during a tuneup:
- Ask questions. The most basic way for the mechanic to understand what’s going on with your car is to talk to you. They’ll likely ask you a few questions in order to check for some of the warning signs below. By knowing any areas of particular interest, the mechanic can give extra focus to these potential problems and ensure that they catch any culprits responsible for the issue.
- Check for problems. In addition to being on the lookout for any problems you mentioned, the mechanic will also use their experience to check out all of your car’s systems for any indicators of current or future problems. Many of the most expensive fixes for cars don’t happen out of the blue, and your checkup allows a mechanic to identify problem areas before they reach a crisis point.
- Fix and replace. Once your mechanic is done assessing the car, it’s time to start fixing the problems they encounter. This allows you to reduce your exposure to future problems and makes your car safer to drive immediately as well.
Signs You May Need a Tuneup
In order to know when to bring your car in to the mechanic, it’s important to understand when your car is telling you that it’s due for a tuneup. Here are the most common signs that you need to schedule your car for service before any potential problems can snowball:
- Dashboard lights are on. The easiest way to know that something is wrong with your car is when it’s telling you with a bright light right in front of you. When a light comes on on your dashboard, you shouldn’t brush it off for later, as a small concern might become a big problem if ignored.
- It’s making strange noises. If you’ve had your car for a while, you’re probably very familiar with how it sounds to be inside of it while it’s in operation. If the noises your car is making are abnormal, it is a strong indication that something is going wrong and you need to get it checked out.
- It’s sputtering and stuttering. Just like you know how your car should sound, you also know how it should feel. When things begin to go wrong under the hood, that can often lead to bumpy operation when you’re driving. If your car feels like it’s shuddering, a mechanic may be able to help get it back to the smoother ride you’re used to.
- You’re having acceleration problems. In addition to feeling strange at speed, cars in need of servicing can also struggle to reach their top speeds, as well. There are many systems that contribute to your car’s acceleration, and seemingly small issues can have a big impact on your car’s pickup.
- Your service schedule says so. Every car has a recommended servicing schedule, which varies by make, model, and mileage. You should research this schedule for your car and stick to it as a minimum standard to ensure that you get serviced properly.
What Can a Tuneup Solve?
The specifics of what work gets done on your car during a tuneup will vary based on what your mechanic finds while servicing it, but there are common elements that are most likely to see work done. Top options for servicing include:
- Filters. Just like we need our lungs at their best to operate, your car needs its filters working to perform. A tuneup will likely include checking your car’s air supply and cleaning or changing as required.
- Plugs and wiring. Sometimes, a seemingly massive problem can be down to one tiny connection or frayed wire. A trained service professional knows what your system should look like and can make any needed fixes.
- Oil system. While it’s common knowledge that regular oil changes are important, they all too often are overlooked or stretched beyond the recommended mileage. You can count on a tuneup to include a check of your oil and a change if needed.
- Fuel supply. Cleaning out your fuel lines can have a big impact on your car’s functionality and increase your gas mileage, so your technician may opt to include a cleaning agent to help flush out contaminants that clog the lines.
- Tires. Another highly common service in a tuneup is a tire rotation, even if your tires don’t need to be replaced. The different tire locations on your car wear in different ways, so rotation extends the life of your tires by changing the high-erosion areas of each tire.
Staying on top of your tuneup schedule is a simple step that will have a great impact on your car’s performance and proper physical condition. Not only can a little spending now save you a lot of spending later, but it also keeps your car safer, something that you can’t put a price on. If you’re overdue for a tuneup or experiencing any of the warning signs above, schedule your next service today.
Image via Flickr by Bob ‘n’ Renee