Back in the old days, tune-ups used to be quite a bit more complicated. There were a lot of mechanical items to check or replace and systems to adjust. Routine maintenance on today’s cars and trucks, on the other hand, is different than before, but just as important. What does a modern tune-up even look like?
Know the schedule
The first thing to know is that every vehicle is different. Familiarize yourself with the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. Your dealer can help you further tailor your vehicle’s maintenance to your specific driving habits and conditions. If your driving falls into the severe service category, expect your maintenance needs to be higher. Severe service isn’t just lots of driving in rough conditions, either. It could be a steady diet of stop-and-go driving, or extensive towing.
What do they actually do?
While the exact details will vary depending on vehicle make and model, there’s not as much replacement and adjusting as there used to be. Modern engine management copes and adapts better than any carburetor ever did, and even spark plug replacement intervals can be longer on some vehicles. A tune-up can sometimes consist of an air filter change, a scan for any stored codes, and a bunch of inspections like brakes, belts and fluid levels.
Having your vehicle regularly looked over by someone who knows what they’re looking at and also what to look for on your particular model can be invaluable. Factory-trained technicians see vehicles like yours day in and day out. They know which things tend to break, and their experience and training means they know when things need attention, and what you can get by with. Even if you know how to check the condition of your car’s coolant, how to evaluate your accessory belt for wear, or whether or not those ignition wires have seen better days, it’s best to seek the help of an informed set of eyes.
Wrap it up
Often, you can combine a vehicle check-up with a routine service like an oil change. Don’t limit it to just the engine bay, either. Have the whole car checked out. Under the hood, it’s important to check the level of all the fluids - engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant, power steering, and even windshield washer fluid. The condition of the brake fluid and coolant is important, as well. Even if the level is right, it may be time for a flush and refill of either system to keep nasty stuff out of either the brake lines or the engine’s cooling system.
Replacing the engine air filter and cabin air filter, if so equipped, is also usually a part of a service visit. Sometimes the intake path or throttle body can require a cleaning and adjustment to ensure continued proper operation, as well. Spark plug replacement is less frequent in some newer vehicles than in the past, and modern high-powered ignition systems generally require less adjustment. Transmission fluid fill level and condition may require more frequent attention if you tow or carry heavy loads.
The details have changed and evolved over time, but it’s as important as ever to keep an eye out for any signs of trouble. Your manufacturer’s maintenance schedule is designed to keep your ownership experience worry-free, and that’s why you should stick to it. Stop in or call with any questions or concerns you might have about maintaining your car or truck.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.