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Now that computer chips are part of a car's standard equipment, tuning a car isn't as do-it-yourself able as it once was. But there are still plenty of things you can do to keep your vehicle in top running condition. As a rule, a tune-up (often or “major service") should be done every two years or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. Here's a list of what you can do:
1. Replace the fuel filter. Fuel-injection systems don't require regular cleaning unless your injectors are clogged.
2. Change the spark plugs (unless they're platinum. They can go 60,000 miles.). Also examine the spark plug wires and replace as needed. A new set of high-quality wires is worth the cost. They may be permanently attached to the distributor cap, so it will have to be changed as well.
3. Replace the distributor cap and rotor if your car has them (some newer models with distributor-less ignition don't).
4. If you have an older car (roughly pre-1978) change the points and condenser. Points should be changed, or at least adjusted, every six months or so. When you change them, you'll need to check the ignition timing as well.
5. Check the ignition timing and adjust as needed, if possible. Probably won't need to if your car has electronic ignition (post-1980).
6. Adjust the valves as needed (unless your car has hydraulic valves). Also, you see oil on top of your engine; replace the valve-cover gasket as well.
7. Check the belts. Replace if worn.
8. Check the fluids under the hood and replenish as necessary. Change the oil and oil filter if it's been 3,000 miles since the last oil change.
9. Replace the air filter, which should be changed between major services - every 15,000 miles - as well.
10. Adjust the clutch, if you have a manual transmission (although some cars now sport self-adjusting clutches).
11. Service the battery, adding distilled water (if required), cleaning terminals and cable ends.
12. Replace the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve.
When clogged, it can make your car run rough or stall. Replacing it is easy and inexpensive.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|