When is it time for an Engine Tune-Up?

Today's vehicles differ significantly from those of decades past that required a tune-up every 20,000-30,000 miles. Vehicles on the road today have moving parts and components that are built to last much longer (100,000 miles+) before requiring service. But that doesn't mean you should ignore telltale signs of engine trouble.

Sluggish. Squealing. Vibrating. Shaking. If any of these describe your vehicle's recent behavior, it might be time for a tune-up.

If your vehicle's engine misfires, stalls, gets poor gas mileage, or simply doesn't feel right, our automotive technicians have the experience and skill to diagnose your problem and repair it.

What are the signs and symptoms that might make you think your vehicle needs a tune-up?

A misfiring engine:

Worn spark plugs often ignite at the wrong time, causing the engine to misfire. Bad spark plugs can also cause low fuel economy, hard starting, and sluggish acceleration. Most plugs, though, should last 100,000 miles or more, and engine computers do a remarkable job of compensating for worn plugs, so that might not be the main or only culprit.

A dirty or clogged engine air filter:

Ignored engine air filters are likely to reduce acceleration. Over time air filters get dirty or clogged and may result in a small but steady loss of performance until your car is accelerating like a turtle. But if you haven't changed the filter in a couple of years (or sooner in areas that have a lot of soot in the air), that could be part of the problem.

Low-quality gasoline engine deposits:

Muck, grime, and other deposits negatively affect drivability and can cause serious engine problems. Fuel system cleaning, either by a repair shop or with a gas-tank additive.

Check engine light:

When something is amiss in the emissions control system, but depending on what the issue is it could also affect fuel economy or engine performance, so don't ignore it. A faulty oxygen sensor, for example, leaves the engine computer in the dark about how to set the air-fuel mixture, and that can result in poor fuel economy.

Southern Orange County Automotive Service

Because the same symptoms can suggest different problems, and there are often several possible causes and cures, it's better to consult a professional mechanic than to try to be one if you have neither the experience nor the right equipment to diagnose drivability problems. In short, rather than ask for a tune-up, tell a mechanic what you're experiencing and ask him or her to find the cause.

In terms of how often an engine tune-up is needed, service requirements vary from vehicle to vehicle, and can also vary based on vehicle mileage and age. You can find a vehicle manufacturer-recommended schedule for tune-ups and other maintenance in your vehicle owner's manual.

For more information about engine tune-ups, call or stop into Saddleback Automotive today. We're open six days a week and have more servicing Orange County vehicles for over 15 years!