Cars typically lose up to 10% of their value as soon as they’re driven off the lot. Part of the reasoning for this is the understanding that cars become less effective with age and ownership.
Cars suffer enormous wear-and-tear and they don’t always have great owners. That’s why they depreciate so much as soon as you buy one.
However, with regular maintenance, you can keep your car from depreciating any further. Here’s how to know if your car needs a tune-up.
7 Clues Your Car Needs a Tune-Up
For maintenance on vehicular components that we can’t easily see with the naked eye, we need to rely on clues that the car gives us.
1. Drops in Mileage
If the car that once gave you 30 miles per gallon drops to 17 miles per gallon, this is a sign that something in your engine isn’t working right. It could be a misfiring spark plug or a clogged (or leaky) fuel injector.
Either way, you need to get it checked out because it’s costing you a lot of money.
2. The Check Engine Light Turns On
This one is pretty obvious, but if your check engine light is on, there is likely something wrong with your car. At the very least, if the light is on and there’s nothing wrong with your car, that is a problem in and of itself.
Usually, though, the light indicates that something is wrong in the “emissions control system” of the vehicle.
3. The Engine is Misfiring
If your engine is misfiring or making strange knocking noises, then it is likely that your spark plugs have gone bad.
This is usually a quick fix and spark plugs are very cheap to replace, so count your blessings if this is the issue.
4. Reduced Acceleration
Vehicles are like people: they just lose that spring in their step over time. This is to be expected as your car ages, but if it comes on rapidly, seemingly out of nowhere there may be something else afoot.
Usually, it’s the result of a clogged fuel injector or air filter.
5. Less Responsive Braking
Similarly, if your car doesn’t stop as quickly as it used to, your brake system make need to be looked at. If your pedal dips below the point it used to go, it’s a sign something in that area needs to be replaced.
6. It’s Hard to Start Your Engine
If your engine isn’t “turning over” like it should, it may be the result of any number of things to a broken starter to bad spark plugs.
7. Herky-Jerk Shifting
If your car throws a fit every time you throw it into a different gear, chances are it needs a transmission tune-up. A simple replacement of transmission fluid or its filter does the trick.
Need More Car Repair Advice?
With these tips, you’ll be able to tell when your car needs a tune-up more easily. If you need any more information about car repair, consider checking out our auto repair manual archive.
You should be able to find your car’s manual and troubleshoot your problems from there.