While it’s becoming increasingly more common for newer vehicles to go longer in between manufacturer-recommended service intervals, that doesn’t mean that routine maintenance or potential warning signs should be ignored. In fact, avoiding potential trouble will only cost you more in the long run. Avoid trouble and costly repairs by paying attention to what your vehicle is trying to tell you with the following common signs that it’s time for a tune-up.
Nine Common Signs That It’s Time for a Tune-Up
1. Check Engine Light and Other Indicator Lights
We all dread seeing that little check engine light illuminate our dashboard, but that indicator – and all the others – are there for a reason. It’s your vehicle’s way of alerting you to a pressing maintenance issue. When any indicator light comes on, you need to take your car in for servicing, as soon as possible. Even if the car continues to run properly, take it in for an inspection anyway. I can promise you won’t like what happens if you ignore it for too long.
2. Sluggish Acceleration, Stalling, or Loss of Power
If your car suddenly stalls when you try to accelerate, are sitting at an intersection, or at any other time, something is wrong. Not only is this a warning sign, but it is also dangerous. Fouled spark plugs and clogged fuel filter can cause this, as can several other issues. Whatever the reason, this is another warning sign you don’t want to ignore. Take your car in immediately.
The same goes if you notice a sluggish response to your pressing the gas pedal, or a loss of power.
3. Sluggish or Hard Starts
We may be a little sluggish first thing in the morning, but your car shouldn’t. If it is slow to turn over, takes several turns of the key, starts then cuts off, or won’t start at all, that’s a definite sign that it’s time for a tune-up. It could anything from a weak battery to a defective starter to a variety of other problems. The best way to find out is to take it in for service.
4. Reduced Fuel Economy
Although it’s common knowledge that winter driving can effect fuel efficiency, diminished fuel economy is another key sign it’s time for a tune-up. Make note of what your baseline fuel mileage is so you will know ahead of time before a problem occurs. Pay attention to how often you’re filling up at the pump and how far you get on a tank of gas. If you suddenly start getting fewer miles out of a gallon of gas, it’s time to find out why.
5. Squishy or Noisy Brakes
Your vehicle’s brake pads, rotors and brake fluid are all items that will wear out with use and time and need to be replaced and maintained periodically. Your brakes should bring you to a stop quietly, without you having to exert a lot of pressure on the brake pedal. If you notice your brakes are squeaking or squealing, or if you feel a rhythmic pulsing or vibration when you apply them, most likely something’s wrong. Additionally, if the brake pedal feels soft or spongy, or if it requires a lot of pressure and sinks down until you’ve almost reached the floor, it’s time to take your vehicle in.
6. Unexplained Noises
Speaking of noises, uncommon and unexplained noises are usually good indications that it’s time for a tune up. Some of the most common noises include squealing when turning the steering wheel and squealing from under the hood while the vehicle is running. In general, if you hear a persistent, unusual noise you’ve not heard before, take your vehicle in for service.
7. Engine Shakes
If your engine starts running rough when idling, or hesitates when the accelerator is mashed before overcompensating with a surge of power, it’s probably tune-up time. Clogged fuel filters, fouled-out spark plugs, faulty spark plug wires or coil plugs, and plugged-up air filters can cause this malady, all of which are relatively easy fixes on most vehicles.
8. Rough shifting
Automatic transmissions are designed to take the work out of shifting through gears. Your vehicle’s transmission should shift smoothly and efficiently. If you notice the car hesitating when shifting from drive to reverse or vice versa, if the gear changes are rough, if the vehicle upshifts or downshifts unexpectedly, or if it has trouble shifting into a higher gear as the engine RPMs climb, your transmission should be looked at.
9. Vibrations or Shaking
The sudden appearance of a vibration or shaking that is not caused by a rough or uneven road surface is a sign that something is wrong. Sometimes you may only feel it in the steering wheel at a certain speed, or you could feel it throughout the entire vehicle. Regardless of where you feel it, anytime you notice that braking, steering, or starting your car causes a wobbling or shaking sensation, get it in to the professionals.
If you notice any of the above signs thats it’s time for a tune-up, act on them. Providing proper maintenance as soon as you notice an issue will not only help your car last longer, but will also save you money in the long run.
Not sure where to take your car? Consider the dealership from which you bought it. Many dealerships, such as Central Avenue Nissan in Yonkers, New York, have a service department with certified and experienced mechanics who are very familiar with your particular make and model. As an added bonus, you can often find money-saving service specials and deals.