You’ve noticed some less than desirable clunking, sputtering, or whirring noises under the hood and have decided it’s time for a tune-up. You are feeling ambitious, you’ve read all the “tune-ups” for dummies books you could find, and you are ready to get to work – but is that really the best idea?
Even if you are (or think you are) mechanically inclined and have some experience working under the hood, there are some problems that may need the expertise of a professional. Of course a tune-up is, usually, nothing major – but still.
DIY vehicle tune-ups are not what they used to be, and more often than not, taking it to a pro is your best option. Before you get too ahead of yourself, read below to find out why your local shop should do your next tune-up.
What Even Is A Tune-Up?
Of course, when we refer to getting our cars “tuned-up” we are referring to whatever periodically necessary maintenance is required to keep the engine running smoothly – but the type of necessary maintenance we are referring to has changed a lot, even over the last few years.
Cars nowadays don’t have much left under the hood that can be “tuned” in the same manner that older model cars did. Everything is computerized and fixed – meaning good luck trying to handle this tune-up with your beginner’s tool-kit you have stashed away in your garage (sorry to tell you).
A vehicle being properly “tuned” today means that its ignition system, emission system, and computer system are all working together as one. When one of these systems becomes out of tune from the others is when problems, such as decreased gas mileage, loss in power, or a rough running engine start to become noticeable.
Tune-ups today require more advanced tasks, such as scanning for fault codes, testing ignition timing, injectors, engine vacuuming, and even battery voltage tests – a more proper term for this type of tune-up would be performance analysis… and a performance analysis doesn’t sound like something very DIY friendly.
Leave It To The Professionals
Sure, you can take initiative and keep up with the simpler regular maintenance your car requires – change your oil, replace your filters, rotate your tires – handling these tasks on your own are a great way to save a few dollars and get more comfortable and confident in your DIY mechanic skills.
Heck if you think your car needs a tune-up you can even start by changing out your own spark plugs. It’s a little more advanced but still very doable for someone with a little experience and some spare time. New spark plugs are essentially a simple form of “tune-up” that can increase fuel mileage, restore lost power, and help lower emissions.
However, if the spark plugs don’t turn out to be the magic solution to your vehicles less than desirable performance, it is time to leave the DIY at home and leave the car at the shop – with the professionals.