Every mechanical system of a vehicle must be in excellent condition for the vehicle to operate at maximum performance. Furthermore, even small components can become a big issue if they are neglected for too long. A tune-up is a detailed investigation of these vehicle mechanisms, which can save hundreds of dollars in car repair maintenance if the check up can address minor issues that have yet to surface.
The auto technician will replace several components including the spark plugs, air filter, distributor cap and rotor. Although each of these parts should be changed at different mileage intervals, the vehicle can continue to operate efficiently as long as they are changed during every tune-up. Under ideal driving conditions, most new vehicles won't need a tune-up until the car has reached 75,000 miles. However, this can vary under strenuous driving conditions such as extremely hot or cold weather, or constantly driving in stop and go traffic. Once any vehicle engine reaches 100,000 miles, it is best to keep regularly scheduled tune ups to prolong the life of the engine, which can be very costly in the event that it needs to be replaced.
The heating/cooling, braking, and steering systems all use fluid to operate properly, and a tune-up also includes changing or topping off these vital fluids. The braking system uses hydraulic fluid to transfer force from the brake pedal to the wheel. Typically, brake fluid does not need to be refilled because it is simply a hydraulic fluid. During a tune-up the mechanic can check for leaks within the braking system, especially if they find low brake fluid levels.
The vehicle's power steering also uses a hydraulic fluid to transfer energy throughout the steering. However, it also preserves the life of the power steering by having some of the same lubricating and cooling properties as engine oil, and neglecting the fluid levels can turn into expensive repairs to this system. Fluids in the heating/cooling system, especially in the radiator, keep the engine from overheating. Neglecting these fluids can cause costly repairs to the engine, which cannot sustain maximum performance at high temperatures.
An expensive car repair can be avoided with an annual tune-up. Decreased gas mileage, a "rough" running engine, or any unusual sounds from underneath the hood are usually indicators that the vehicle might need a tune up. Although new cars do not need them as often, older vehicles with engines that have more than 100,000 miles should have these checkups at least once a year or every 20,000 miles.
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