Tips & Advice
What is a car air filter?
An air filter is used to screen incoming air that enters the intake system, on its way to combine with the fuel to create an air/fuel mixture that is essential to proper performance. Dirt and small debris can wreak havoc on carburetors and clog fuel injectors, creating poor performance. Air filters alleviate this.
Tire rotation is when you move the wheels on a car to different positions to prevent wear. Usually the front tires are moved to the rear and vice versa, with the new front tires switching sides. The idea is to create even wear on all four tires. It’s nearly impossible to have perfect alignment, and even the slightest change creates a different tire wear. Tires can wear on the inside or outside (the tread), or even in the middle if not properly inflated. Rotation prevents too much wear occurring on one tire and creates a more balanced ride.
Radiator fluid is a liquid mixture that is used to cool the engine, prevent freezing, and protect the cooling system from oxidation and degradation. It is a mixture of water and chemicals that prevents freezing and oxidation of the radiator. In cold environments, it prevents the fluid (water) from freezing, which can seriously damage the engine and cooling system. Radiator fluid is cooled in your radiator, and then moves throughout the engine block to cool it. You have to change this out periodically.
Brake fluid is used to lubricate the car’s braking system t. Over time, this fluid can break down and need changing, but it usually has a long life expectancy. You can easily check it yourself, so consult your manual to get specifics on where it is located and how to check it.
What is transmission fluid?
Transmission fluid is used to keep your transmission lubricated and cool. It is usually a reddish color and needs to be changed out occasionally for optimum performance. Check the levels yourself or have it checked periodically by a professional.
What is power-steering fluid?
Power-steering fluid is used to pressure and lubricate the power-steering system. Power steering runs on a hydraulic system, so if you are low on power-steering fluid, you will feel it when trying to turn--it will be harder to turn (and noisier). Check the levels and add accordingly or have it serviced.
A dipstick is a long thin stick (up to 2-3 feet long) that runs down a narrow tube into your oil pan or your transmission pan, where those fluids settle when the engine is off. Pull the dipstick out to check the fluid levels, which you can do by seeing where the fluid appears on the stick in relation to markers on it. Oil and transmission fluids are checked differently, so if you are doing it yourself, check your manual or go online to get specifics. Oil is always checked with the engine off after all the oil settles, while transmission fluid is usually checked with the engine running.
What parts are changed as part of a car tune-up?
The basic parts of a tune-up generally include spark plugs and air, oil, and fuel filters, as needed. Other fixes might include spark-plug wires, distributor caps, belts, tire pressure, fluids, or any parts that show signs of wear or degradation, not including mechanical parts.
How often does a car tune-up need to be performed?
Consult your owner’s manual for the recommended tune-up times (usually around the 30,000-mile mark). Beyond that, take your car in if it’s running sluggishly, performance is lacking, dash lights are on, or any other common-sense signs that a checkup is warranted. Oil changes, however, should be done at regular intervals, roughly every 3,000-5,000 miles.
How much does a car tune-up cost?
Tune-up cost depends on the type of car and where you have it serviced. High-end or specialty cars cost more because fewer mechanics are qualified to work on them and parts can be expensive. Regular cars, trucks, and SUVs can get a tune-up for around $150 – depending on just how much “tuning” your car needs. If you’re just getting the plugs and filters changed you can get out for around $50-$150. Having the spark plug wires or distributor cap replaced will push your bill higher. Also know that going to the dealer will likely be the more expensive option. Definitely check around for independent shops that can do as good a job at lower rates. If you have a warranty, check it to see if it covers tune-ups and oil changes.