- car maintenance
Does your car need a tune up?
Updated 9 Mar 2021
Do you own a car 20 years old or newer? Likely you do, and the term ‘tune up’ no longer carries the same meaning.
A tune-up on older cars used to mean replacing the spark plugs and cables, changing the points, replacing the distributor cap and rotor, and cleaning and adjusting the carburetor.
The modern equivalent of a tune-up is now simply referred to as ‘scheduled maintenance’. Instead of replacing several ignition parts that wear out, maintenance is now preventative, not reactive.
Consider the life cycle of an engine that required the standard tune-up, in a time before fuel injection.
Engines themselves were only expected to last approximately 100,000kms before a complete overhaul was necessary.
Piston rings and seals were replaced along with internal bearings. Rebuilding an engine was considered normal, often completed in just a day or two.
What is Scheduled Maintenance?
With the advancement of modern technology and manufacturing developments, engines now usually last the life of a vehicle.
Spark plugs are higher quality and do not wear out like they used to. And computer-controlled ignition systems have eliminated mechanical distributors that required cap, rotor, and points replacement.
If your car isn’t running right, it’s unlikely that you need a tune up. Your car probably has an issue that needs to be addressed.
It may be a mass airflow sensor, an oxygen sensor, or a variable valve timing sensor.
It could be a maintenance issue like dirty fuel injectors or poor fuel quality.
Or it could be more in-depth like a stretched timing chain, an electrical problem, or an engine control module causing issues.
With on-board diagnostics, your vehicle typically tells you when there’s a fault. Your Check Engine light or Service Engine Soon light will illuminate on your dashboard to indicate any issue that requires attention.
Does your car need routine maintenance?
Your vehicle has a manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule, which has been developed by engineers to make your vehicle last as long as possible.
The services indicated in the schedule are important to prevent unnecessary breakdowns, so you should closely follow your car’s routine maintenance schedule.
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Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.
After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.