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.

Most Common Electrical Issues

Newer cars utilize computers and electricity to perform various operations. From the radio to the engine, electricity runs throughout most components of your vehicle. If electrical issues arise it could cause unsafe driving conditions or a non-functioning vehicle. There are usually several common electrical issues that are considered in a diagnosis.

Dead Battery

The battery is the most common cause of electrical failure. This is typically the easiest of issues to diagnose, because the vehicle completely shuts down and all electrical devices stop working. No lights, no radio, and no engine turn-over. Often times, it only takes a jump start to get the vehicle running again, but in some cases you may be due for a full battery replacement.

Battery Cables

If your vehicle won’t start, the first thing you should investigate is the battery. If you notice corrosion, try cleaning the cables and terminals. This could be a simple fix.

Bad or Failing Alternator

If your vehicle’s battery will not hold a charge after a jump start, then this is an indication that the alternator is faulty. The alternator acts as a generator for your battery. If it breaks, then there is no charge powering the battery, and the vehicle will not start.

Overworked Starter

It’s all about that “click.” If you’ve ever tried to start your vehicle and all you hear is a clicking noise, then your starter or solenoid has gone bad.

 

Blown Fuses

If a particular electrical system fails, but not another, you can attribute that to a blown electrical fuse. Your vehicle houses a fuse box and it is a simple task to replace fuses.

Spark Plugs

If your vehicle is running but the idling is rough or the car feels sluggish, then more than likely your experiencing the symptoms of failing spark plugs. A tune-up and plug change can be done easily and get your car running like new again.

If you think you’re experiencing any of these issues, contact Courthouse Automotive at 757-453-6399

Top 5 DIY Auto Repair and Maintenance Tasks

motor mount

List of 5 Auto Repair Tasks You Should Do Yourself

Most auto repair scenarios you don’t want to tackle yourself. And sometimes it comes down to “do I have the time to do this myself?” Here are 5 auto repairs that you should absolutely do yourself. They’re worth the time and money-saving effort spent. Here is our top 5 “we won’t blame you if you do it yourself” maintenance and auto repairs.

1. Air filters

Generally speaking, your vehicle has 2 air filters. One behind the glove box in the cabin and one under the hood. If you think that either needs to be replaced, go ahead and do both. This is an incredibly easy task and air filters are not that expensive. And even though there are cheaper air filters out there, splurge on a quality one. They may be more expensive, but they will last longer and are more cost effective in the long run.

2. Tire pressure

Checking your tire pressure is an important maintenance task that you can perform yourself. Pressure gauges are inexpensive and you can easily keep one in your glove box. The recommended pressure for your tires is usually found on the inside of the driver’s side door. Furthermore, there are some gas stations that have free air pumps. There’s nothing holding you back from performing this maintenance task yourself.

3. Spark plugs

Depending on the make and model of your car, this auto repair task can be as easy as screwing in a light bulb. Check your vehicle’s manual for special instructions. And like with air filters, splurge on a quality set.

4. Windshield wipers

If you have unwanted streaks on your windshield or you can actually see the rubber separating, go ahead and replace your own blades. The instructions are right on the box. It takes five minutes and greatly increases your visibility and vehicle safety. However, if you don’t feel like doing it yourself, most auto supply stores will install it for you for free.

5. Battery

Car batteries can be expensive, so go ahead and replace this part yourself and save yourself some dough. However, you might not even have to replace your battery. If you just have some corrosion around the terminals, this is a task you can perform yourself. Auto supply stores offer special sprays that prevent this from happening. Disconnect your battery, get the terminals a little wet and then clean them with baking soda and a toothbrush. Rinse off the excess baking soda and dry off the battery/terminals. Apply the special spray, reconnect the terminals and you’re done! WARNING: If you notice any cracks in your battery that are leaking acid, your battery will absolutely need to be replaced.

Types of Spark Plug Wiring

spark plug wiring

Not All Spark Plug Wiring is Created Equal

Did you know that not all spark plug wiring is the same? As the name implies, spark plug wires work by transferring electricity to the plug to create a spark. The condition of these wires is crucially important to your vehicle. If they are damaged, the spark will escape and not reach its intended destination. This leads to engine misfires, poor miles per gallon, rough idles, hard starts and a general lack of power. It can even interfere with other parts of your vehicle, such as your radio or other electronics.

Insulation keeps this electricity from escaping. And not all spark plug wires are made high quality. Lower quality wiring will have less insulation and will be made of less durable materials. These particular wires can wear more easily from heat and vibration. It is generally recommended that you replace your spark plug wires every 100,000 miles. There are also 3 primary types of spark plug wires.

1. Distributed resistance wires
These are made of fiberglass-impregnated carbon, aka carbon core wires. This type of spark plug wiring is old school, used mostly on cars before 1980.

2. Mag wires, or magnetic resistance wires
Asian manufacturers made inductance wires like these popular. The material presented less resistance to the flow of electricity. They feature a spiral wound core or copper nickel alloy. They require less of a current to create a spark, and the spiral pattern helps prevent any Radio Frequency Interference from escaping.

3. Fixed resistor wires
These spark plug wires are found more often in European vehicles. They feature copper or steel wire inside of the plug boot. This controls interference.

If your vehicle is experiencing any of the issues listed above, check the condition of your spark plug wiring. If you believe it needs to be replaced, check your vehicle manual to make sure that you’re purchasing the specified type for your vehicle.