Car Tune Up Checklist; Replacing Parts Before they Break, Testing Engine Compression & More

Our microprocessor-controlled engines with electronic ignition and fuel injection are far more efficient than vehicles from prior to electronic control. With this comes extended life of many of components that required replacement at regular intervals like sparkplugs and points. So, what do we need to consider during regular periodic maintenance? Today we have little external control over the specifications that was formally a part of the “tune-up”. Let’s take a look:

What Does a Car Tune Up Consist Of?

Car Battery Voltage Test – modern electronics requires clean and sufficient voltage delivered to operate at peek performance. The battery recharge rate is important.
Engine Compression Test – also referred to as the ‘power balance’ or dynamic compression. This tests for leaky exhaust valves, worn rings, bad head gasket, bad cam, etcetera. All things mechanical wear, and they do have a finite life span, even if the operating span is extended over 100,000 miles. All of the above is answered by the compression test, this tests the fundamental operational efficiency of the all mechanical components of the engine and failure points.
Check Brake Booster Vacuum Pressure – All gasoline (propane, CNG spark ignition engines) create a vacuum. This is because of the throttle arrangement of these engines. The throttle valve controls air intake, in a diesel the engine speed is controlled by the metering of fuel to the engine and the intake is open all the way to the cylinder. The vacuum is used to power your brakes.
Address Car Diagnostic Fault Codes List – The nice thing about computerized engine control is that these systems are self-diagnosing. Scanning the memory of these systems will return any error codes. The system also self-monitors the engine emissions and will return a code if these vary from specifications.
Verify Idle Speed – This is done to make sure there is a proper feedback on fuel control.
Set Ignition Timing – If possible, used to detect computer or sensor problems, and check or replace the EGR valve.
Inspect Hoses & Belts – Even modern synthetic rubber products break down over time. In fact in high heat areas of the Southwest it is suggested that hose and belt replacements are done every 3-5 years.
Check Car Fluids – All fluids including oil, auto trans fluid, power steering and brake fluid levels are checked. No sludge in the oil, the ATF should not smell like burnt toast, coolant should have the proper concentration of antifreeze with no rust or sediment, and the brake fluid should be clear without any muck.
Testing Points, Timing, Idle Speed & Fuel Mixture on Older Vehicles. All vehicles that have them the O2 (oxygen) sensor is a known point of failure in modern systems. Bad oxygen sensor is estimated as the primary culprit in 70% of emission check failures. On the ’76 through 90’s the oxygen sensor identified by 1 or 2 wires. should be replaced every 30-50,000 miles. Heated 3-4 mid 80s to mid-90s can go 60,000 miles. OBDII equipped (’96 and newer) should be replaced at 100,000 miles. The O2 is the primary feedback loop sensor. The computer uses this sensor to meter fuel delivery. The sensor operates in the hostile environment monitor exhaust gases which contain many chemical components that break down the sensor.
Cleaning Fuel Injectors – Lastly, varnish deposit collects on the fuel injectors and need to be cleaned and if performance has dropped off, about 50,000 miles. Cleaning the throttle body improves idle and stalling problems.

Replacing Wear & Tear Items on a Car

Spark Plugs – Long life plugs are available for hard to access applications, and will go the distance to a 100,000 miles. They should be gapped to specs. Spark plugs are a sacrificial item that erode during operation. As the plug erodes the need voltage to bridge the gap increases. Erosion though is held to a minimum and the old 30,000-mile mark for replacement of spark plugs is no longer valid. Forty-five to fifty thousand miles are the suggest sparkplug replacement times, though many approach that century mark of a 100,000 miles.
Brake Rotors – The device that directs the spark to the right plug at the right time and the distributor cap operate with arcing sparks that can erode the rotor and cap contact points.
Fuel, Air, PCV & Crankcase Breather Filters – As all rubber and plastic tend to break down from the harsh operating temperatures under the hood spark plug wires should be inspected and replaced like belts and hoses as needed.

Auto Repairs, Maintenance & More in Dallas, Texas (Just Minutes Away from Addison, Balch Springs, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Coppell, DeSoto, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Ferris, Garland, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Irving, Lancaster, Lewisville, Mesquite, Ovilla, Richardson, Rowlett, Sachse, Seagoville, Sunnyvale & Wylie, TX)

A little thought regarding car maintenance can go a long way to ensure driving is a pleasure, not a test.
Top Notch Body Shop & Mechanic offer thorough tune ups. Contact us to schedule your next appointment today!

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