What is car tuning?
Every certain period the vehicles must be taken to a complete and meticulous check in an agency or workshop to clean their automotive mechanisms, adjust them and check if they are working correctly.
Commonly this examination is called tuning, which is a preventive maintenance for the proper functioning of a car and is similar to mandatory visits to people’s doctors, if it is not performed regularly, the means of transport may develop irreparable failures.
In Mexico the revisions of a car are also known as “the service” or “the maintenance”. Through these, the owners avoid the malfunction of their vehicle, prevent accidents and large expenses, and also increase its useful life. What’s more, there are some companies that include this check as an annual benefit for their policyholders and drivers.
What does an automotive maintenance include?
A. Spark plug replacement and calibration
Spark plugs must be adjusted or replaced from time to time. Some car manufacturers recommend that they be changed every time the vehicle travels between 30 thousand km and 60 thousand km. If a spark plug is not properly calibrated or does not work it will cause a lack of power in the engine, excessive fuel consumption and a polluting engine.
B. A scan diagnosis
Diagnosis with a car scanner consists mainly of checking all the electronic control units that have been installed, to detect if there is a fault or error code in them. Example: “Oxygen sensor failure”.
C. Changing the air filter
When a car is in tune-up service, one of the signs that its air filters need to be replaced is a lack of power when accelerating and dull or dark exhaust smoke.
These allow clean air to enter the engine to produce combustion. With use, the filters become greasy and can be clogged, preventing the entry of ventilation, altering the relationship between air and fuel in an engine.
If a filter becomes clogged, it causes poor combustion and excessive fuel consumption, that is why it must be replaced.
D. Oil filter replacement
A car oil filter isolates dirt particles that can stick to combustion residues or oil.
It is necessary to change the filters because when they get dirty they cause the anticorrosive capacity of the parts of an engine to decrease, that is, they cause greater wear on them, in addition to varying the viscosity of the oil.
The frequency with which a filter has to be replaced varies depending on the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations, however, the most common is that its useful life is 10,000 km.
It is very important that drivers know that in a car tuning the oil filters cannot be cleaned, they must be replaced, since they are extremely thin, they measure between 10 and 40 microns thick (they are thinner than a human hair) and more likely it is that if they are cleaned they will be pierced or torn.
When a car is taken to service, it is recommended that if an oil change is made in the workshop or agency, the old filters are also changed to prevent the new oil from being re-contaminated with particles.
E. Replacing the fuel filter
The function of a gasoline filter is to prevent solid particles from entering the injectors and the engine of a car.
The periodicity with which they must be changed depends on the recommendations of the manufacturer of each transport, however, they are changed approximately every 60 thousand km. There are even vehicles that can keep the filter throughout its useful life.
On the other hand, an indicator that the fuel filter should be replaced in the tune-up service is when a car begins to have problems with the injectors of its engine.
The cause is probably a gasoline filter that no longer works, that is, a filter that has allowed particles from the gasoline pumps or corrosion particles from the fuel tanks to pass through.
F. Checking and adjusting the injection system
It is very important that in the service of a car the injectors are checked, it must be checked that they are clean, that is, free of fuel impurities and that they have an adequate response to the electrical and mechanical impulses of the automotive system.
The injection system depends on the amount of gasoline that is supplied to the engine so that it can work. The injectors of a car will have to be changed in a tune-up if the smoke emitted by the exhaust is black or if a lack of power is detected in the engine.
Other symptoms of an injection system malfunction are: excessive heating, increased fuel consumption, and engine knocking noise.
G. Changing the engine oil
The oil is replaced to keep the engine running smoothly, that is, to reduce friction and wear on engine parts. It is also replaced because as a car is used, the oil burns and contaminates with external particles or derived from oxidation.
When an engine oil is changed, its performance improves and excessive gasoline consumption is avoided, it also increases its useful life.
Depending on the age of the car, oils are used in the service; low viscosity for the new ones, while for the old ones thicker lubricants are used for greater resistance.
H. Checking the engine ignition timing
The ignition time refers to the period in which it takes the spark plugs of a car to ignite and generate a spark to produce the combustion of gasoline and therefore the start-up of a vehicle.
In tuning, the starting time is reviewed so that the vehicles obtain their highest level of performance. An electronic car does not need to have the starter adjusted, however, an old one with a four-stroke engine does need it every so often.
Mechanics detect that the cranking timing is failing when you hear metallic sounds from the engine or if you notice that the engine power is too rich or too poor. To adjust it they use a strobe gun.
H. Examination of the belts, alternator, fan and cooling system
In an automotive service it is checked that the engine does not make a noise similar to a “screech”, if it is detected it may be that the bands of a car are worn.
There are two types of vehicle belts, the first are called accessories and are those that make the air conditioning work and that move the hydraulic pump of the steering system and the alternator.
The second type is the timing belt that is responsible for synchronizing the engine times, the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves, and the function of the engine ignition. This band can be made of rubber or a metal chain. The preventive care for the metal chain is almost nil unless some strange sound is heard.
Although belts are made to last the entire useful life of a vehicle, whether of the accessory or timing belt type, the revision times indicated in the manufacturers manuals should be consulted, which normally recommend that after 65 thousand km traveled they must be revised and changed.
If the belts are not changed or serviced after the recommended mileage, there is a risk that they will rip or break causing the engine to lose synchronization or even collapse.
J. Tire pressure adjustment, rotation and roll
Over time and over the journeys that a car makes, tires lose pressure, which is why they are checked every so often, either before a long trip on the road, before transporting a heavy load, or as prevention every month.
In the maintenance service, the mechanics will check and adjust the inflation pressure of the tires to the levels recommended by the manufacturer. This is to increase the performance of the tires and prevent them from degrading, it will also ensure the safety of the passengers on board.
Improperly calibrated air in tires can cause them to flatten out, come off the rim suddenly, or cause a car not to stop in time. In addition, they cause a greater consumption of fuel.
Another aspect that is checked in a tuning is the balance of the tires, which is recommended every 10 thousand km or according to the indications of the car manual. Checkup after hitting a pothole or crash is also recommended.
A tire balance consists of adjusting the relationship of the angles between the suspension, steering and wheels of the vehicle. Usually a sign that a car is poorly balanced is that the driver feels vibrations in the steering wheel.
K. Checking the braking system
The revision of the braking system is recommended every 20 thousand km and consists of checking that the brake fluid is sufficient and has an adequate level, that there are no leaks, that there is not an unnecessary amount of air in the mechanism, that the shock absorbers respond correctly and that the brake discs and pads are not thinned.
A maintenance also includes:
• Injector flushing
• Engine wash
• Body wash
• Checking lights
• Horn check
• Battery check
It should be noted that depending on the agency or the tuning workshop, it offers different reviews depending on the mileage traveled, some offer a basic service for new vehicles that have traveled from 5 to 10 thousand kilometers and others for those that have traveled from 20 to 60 thousand kilometers or more, which consists of performing all the revisions mentioned above.
When should a car tune-up be done?
There is no exact time to tune a car, since the review periods of each one vary according to the manufacturer or brand. Drivers can find out how long their transportation needs to be checked through the manufacturer’s manual or warranty.
On the other hand, in general, manufacturers recommend tuning a car after the first six months of use or after having traveled an estimated 5,000 kilometers.
Later it is recommended to do it when the mileage reaches 10, 20, 30, 40 and 100 thousand km.
The mileage can be consulted on the odometer or kilometer counter found on the front panel of a car, in front of the driver.
The maintenance of a vehicle is necessary for its correct operation
Finally, it can be said that a car tuning service is essential. By means of this, the useful life of a car is prolonged and the safety of the passengers is guaranteed. In addition, for a car to function optimally it needs a periodic, meticulous and careful review, regardless of whether it is used daily or remains without moving for several days.