7 Signs That Your Car Needs a Tuneup
Knowing when your car needs a repair is more complicated than just waiting for the “service engine” light to turn on. Some signs are obvious — like your engine misfiring or not turning over correctly — but others are subtle, like your vehicle becoming less fuel efficient or a slight vibration in the steering wheel or brakes. Here are seven signs that your vehicle needs a tuneup soon.
Obvious Signs — Go to a Mechanic
New, unusual sounds, such as the engine clunking or the transmission grinding, need to be investigated. If you can’t find a source (such as the emergency brake being left on), visit a mechanic. Other obvious signs include things like an engine misfire, your car struggling to turn over, your car stalling, or smoke coming from the engine.
Subtle Signs — Look for Additional Problems
On their own, these subtle signs might not warrant a tuneup. You might simply consider whether any changes in your driving habits or additions to your car (such as a new hitch system or roof rack) could be affecting the vehicle’s performance. If you notice the following issues, consider whether they’re accompanied by any other indications that you need a tuneup.
Low Fuel Economy
If you’re getting fewer miles per gallon, it may be a problem with your spark plugs. It could also be that your air filter is dirty and needs to be replaced or that it’s time to clean your engine. If low fuel economy is accompanied by a check engine light or odd sounds, it’s worth scheduling a tuneup.
The Check Engine Light Comes On
A sustained check engine light doesn’t mean there’s something seriously wrong. There is a range of issues that engage this — it could be something as innocuous as a loose or faulty gas cap. Note that a fully illuminated check engine light may be a minor concern, but a flashing light means you need to take your car to the shop. This may indicate a malfunction with a major system.
Before you go to a mechanic because of a sustained check engine light, check for minor problems and note whether any other warning lights are on (such as the oil light). If so, the issue may be more serious. You can find a local business that does free diagnostic checks to help pinpoint the issue, or you can take your car to the manufacturer for a tuneup.
What to Expect When You Go in for a Tuneup
When you speak to a mechanic, you’ll need to describe the issues you’ve encountered. Keep a list of what you’ve noticed, including any worrisome sounds, vibrations, and other changes. It will also help to tell the mechanic how the issues can be replicated — for example, “The steering wheel vibrates whenever I apply the brakes.”
Anytime you notice an unusual sound or your car performing differently without explanation, consider scheduling a tuneup. To mitigate long-term problems and keep your vehicle performing as smoothly as possible, take it in for routine maintenance checks.