Tune Up & General Maintenance
In my first 4 articles, I explained some basics regarding your vehicle’s battery and charging system. Since the battery is the energy source required to start your car or light truck, it only made sense to start there.
Now, as promised in my last article, we’ll discuss some ways to save money on fuel costs. We’ve seen gasoline prices fluctuate all over the board this year, and most of the movement has been up. So at more than $ 1.60 per gallon of regular unleaded, we need to squeeze the most out of each gallon.
The obvious things that we can do are to keep our vehicles in a good state of tune. You’re probably saying that most new cars have a 60,000 or even 100,000 mileage interval “Tune-up” recommendation by the manufacturer. While that may be correct, we need to define “Tune-Up”!
To the automakers, the recommended tune up interval pretty much is defined by replacing spark plugs. With double platinum tips, and the new “Coil-on-Plug” ignition systems, most plugs will last 60K to 100K miles. But there’s a lot more to keeping that electronically controlled engine system efficient than a set of plugs.
By the way, the factory recommended plugs should not be deviated from under any circumstances when it comes to replacement. There are lots of coatings, special resistance values, and several other design features that are very important to proper operation. So with that in mind, I highly recommend using OEM spark plugs and wires.
All internal combustion engines need air to breath. The “Stochiometric” or perfect air fuel mixture desired is 14.1: 1. That means for every part of gasoline, there needs to be 14.1 parts of air. This is a volumetric measurement.
What does all this mean? The air filter element is critical to allowing the clean, filtered air into the engine. Dirty, restricted flow air filters can reduce fuel economy and rob engines of performance. How often should you change the air filter? How much does a bag of groceries cost?
We can’t put a price on the bag of groceries until we know what’s in the bag. Likewise, how dirty your air filter element gets depends upon its environment. Dusty, dirt roads can clog a filter in no time, while expressway driving is easier on filters.
Have your technician check your vehicle’s air filter every 15,000 miles or more often under extreme conditions.
Above all, if you should see the “Service Engine Soon” light come on while driving, be sure to get attention immediately. Simple problems can become costly if allowed to compound themselves by driving without getting the proper repairs done.