Monday, February 8, 2016

Why Cars Need Tune-Ups

Younger drivers who own late model vehicles may not remember a time when they needed to be tuned up frequently. Decades ago, any number of parts could slowly lose their ability to perform their jobs. To correct the issues, a mechanic would have to pop the hood and spend a couple of hours adjusting, tightening, and often replacing certain parts. If this wasn't done on a regular basis, drivers could expect their vehicles to operate far less efficiently with less power over time.

Cars are built much differently these days. Automakers have designed fantastic driving machines that can perform well without a tune-up for over 80,000 miles. That said, millions of people are still driving older vehicles that need a good tuning every now and then. Below, I'll describe a few car parts that you should consider asking your mechanic to check periodically.

Which Parts Need Tuning?

In the old days, when vehicles mostly used carburetors and other mechanical parts, there was plenty for a technician to tune. After all, springs, weights, and similar components always become unbalanced with time. So, they kept mechanics busy. Most newer cars, trucks, and SUVs have gotten rid of a lot of the analog systems, replacing them with parts that are controlled by computers. That leaves fewer components for technicians to tune.

Of course, all cars still use spark plugs that collect carbon deposits and need to be replaced. And tens of millions of cars have distributor caps that experience corrosion. Air filters still get jammed with dirt, debris and other materials. Drive belts can get frayed. And the rotors in a vehicle's ignition system can sustain wear and tear. If neglected, each of these can erode your car's performance and fuel-efficiency. You probably won't notice the difference immediately, but over time, their aggregate effect can have a significant impact.

The Future Of Tune-Ups

Until the bright minds inside automakers' research labs design an automobile that doesn't require parts that wear out, there will always be a need for tune-ups. If you recently bought a new vehicle, you probably won't need to visit a repair shop for years. However, if you've purchased an older, used model, ask a mechanic how often you should have it tuned up.

At the very least, you'll want him to check the distributor cap for cracks and wear and tear on the ignition's rotor. Plus, have the spark plugs and air filter replaced periodically to maintain your engine's performance (important even in late models). And while you're at the repair shop, it couldn't hurt to flush the fluids, check the battery posts, cables, wheels, and belts. Remember, the secret to avoiding costly repairs is doing consistent maintenance. Tune-ups are still an important ingredient.

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