Signs Your Car is Ready for a Tune Up

Sure you’ve heard of a Tune Up. But do you truly know when its necessary to get one?

Of course it is better to be pro-active with your vehicle, which means getting regular service and tune ups. However, most of us are guilty of not having regular maintenance performed on our cars. If you are one of those people who waits until the last minute to get service on your vehicle, then you have probably seen or felt the signs that your car is not performing at its best. Not Sure? Here are several indications that your car may be ready for a tune up.

1. A misfiring engine
When your spark plugs ignite at inopportune times either from excessive wear or faulty equipment it is considered to be misfiring.

2. A dirty or clogged air filter
This will greatly reduce acceleration. Filters will get dirty over time, but you will notice your car gradually getting slower.

3. Engine deposits
Low-quality or contaminated gasoline create issues causing the vehicle not to drive properly, which could be an indication that your vehicle needs a thorough fuel system cleaning.

4. Check Engine Light
The most common of them all is the infamous Check Engine Light. When something isn’t right within the emissions control system it will trigger this light to tell you there is a problem. Don’t ignore this!

5. An old oxygen (O2) sensor
Even if it has yet to trigger the Check Engine Light, an Oxygen sensor can still be hurting your fuel economy. Not to mention, the wear this puts on your engine and it’s performance.

Due to the fact that there are so many of the same signals that could be coming from different problems, it is best to bring your vehicle in for a thorough diagnosis or a tune up. Having your car checked could prevent you from costly maintenance down the road, or from having to purchase a new vehicle completely.

Why is my Check Engine Light On?

I’m sure you’ve been a victim of the daunting Check Engine Light– also known as the Service Engine Light. Its that antagonizing light that just glares at you from the dashboard. So what do you do now? Do you just stare it with avoidance? Do you cover it with electrical tape? As absurd as that sounds, this is how most people deal with the Check Engine Light. However, what you should be doing is asking why. There are several things that could be triggering this alert to your vehicle. We are giving you the top 5 most common reasons your check engine light may be on.

  1. Oxygen (02) Sensors

    Your Oxygen sensors measure the amount of unburned Oxygen from your vehicle’s exhaust system. These sensors monitor how much fuel is burned and sends that data to the car’s computer. Sensors can become contaminated with oil ash over time causing them to not function efficiently. With faulty sensors, you’ll notice a decrease in gas mileage and increased emissions, because your vehicle is burning more fuel than necessary.

  2. Loose or Cracked Gas Cap

    While the gas cap doesn’t seem to serve much purpose other than sealing your tank, it does have a more important task. Your gas cap helps maintain pressure in the fuel system and prevents fuel evaporation. If the cap is cracked or not on correctly, fuel vapors could be leaking from your car. As a result, your vehicle will have a reduction in gas mileage and increased emissions as well.

  3. Catalytic Converter

    The Catalytic Converter works to convert carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. This helps to reduce the amount of harmful compounds being released into the environment. If your Catalytic Converter is failing, it could be from a lack of regular maintenance on one of the other listed items. This is not usually the most inexpensive to fix, but if you bring it to us for repair immediately, we can help keep your expenses from piling up.

  4. Mass Airflow Sensor

    You may have never considered this one, but is still a possible culprit. The Mass Airflow Sensor tells your vehicle’s computer how much fuel to release to make the car run efficiently. It is solely dependent on the amount of air coming through the engine. If this is the cause of that glowing Check Engine Light, you will notice your vehicle get worse gas mileage and it may even begin to stall.

  5. Spark Plugs

    Spark Plugs seal the combustion chamber and ignite the air/fuel mixture. If it isn’t working properly or needs replacement, you’ll notice the car having issues with acceleration. Most manufacturers recommend that Spark Plugs be changed every 25,000-30,000 miles in older vehicles, or 100,000 for newer vehicles. Some sources suggest this is an easy fix, but that depends on the year, make and model of your vehicle. We suggest bringing it in and letting us have a look just in case this isn’t the true source of the problem.

If you’re seeing the Check Engine Light on your dashboard, just call us at Courthouse Automotive and we’ll get you in and back on the road in no time.

Air Filter

A Dirty Air Filter Can Trigger Your Check Engine Light

Who thinks about changing their air filters? Let’s admit it. No one does. You head to your local auto parts store for a new windshield wiper, and they always ask. Would you like to purchase a new air filter today? You inevitably decline. But, if you stop to think about it—when was the last time you changed your air filter? Probably never! It seems like such an inconsequential part—like something that they just try to get you to bundle with your much-needed purchase to get more money out of you. Switching out your filter regularly can’t really do that much for your vehicle’s performance… can it?

The truth is, your air filter is vital to your vehicle’s performance. You car or truck needs an exact mixture of air and fuel to run efficiently. This is how your vehicle maintains the combustion process, which powers your engine. Your air filter acts as a barrier that protects your engine from dirt and other particles. If you’re skeptical, check your grill and your front license plate after driving a long distance in warm weather. It’ll inevitably be covered in leaves, sap, bugs and other grime. All of these things can make its way into your engine bay—even water. If these bug guts, water and other grime can make it passed your air intake, it can cause corrosion or abrasion in your engine. Two things that you definitely don’t want to happen! Your air filter catches all of these contaminants before they can reach your engine. However, when your filter gets clogged, these particles can pass right through and cause your engine to work harder. A clogged air filter will actually starve your engine of air, which it needs to execute the combustion process. In theory, a totally clogged air filter can cause your engine to stop running.

More than likely, a dirty filter will just reduce your engine’s performance. It can lead to decreased MPG, reduction in power and even permanent damage to your engine. You may think that permanent damage is a pretty severe side effect for such an inconsequential part. However, it is a realistic outcome. These contaminants can wear on your engine’s metal and produce even more debris. If the debris accumulates enough, it can get sucked into the combustion chamber and cause your engine to completely shut down.

Even if it hasn’t gotten that far, a dirty filter can seriously affect the performance of your vehicle. When your air filter is blocked, the oxygen in your fuel mixture decreases and clean air can’t mix with the fuel. The mixture will become too fuel-rich and lower your gas mileage. This can put unnecessary stress on your engine. You may even notice that your vehicle is running a little rough. Your check engine light may even turn on. Don’t ignore these warning signs. Some parts on your vehicle, you can procrastinate on replacing. For instance, certain worn out floor mats or that cheesy piña colada air freshener. However, your air filter is not one of them. It’s a simple, but vital part and they’re cheap and easy to replace. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see how often you should replace it. Or, have your favorite auto technician check the state of your air filter at your next tune up.