car tune up

7 Signs That You Need a Car Tune Up

Delaying regular tune-ups on your vehicle can cost you down the road. The average auto repair bill is around $500 to $600. If you don’t do regular maintenance, it could cost even more.

Just like we go to the doctor to feel better; we also need to take our cars to get checked out. Here are 7 signs you need a car tune-up.

1. Lights on Dashboard

A flashing check engine light is a major sign that something could be wrong. If this yellow or red light is flashing, you should go get it checked immediately. This could be an emissions system problem and could damage your catalytic converter.

It could also be an indication that you are just due for a checkup. This is why many people don’t take this light seriously. Most problems only get worse with time, so don’t ignore any warning signs especially flashing lights.

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There are several lights on your dashboard for car diagnosing. You can always check for minor problems such as a loose gas cap before running to the mechanic. The oil light can be a more serious sign that you should not ignore.

2. Lower Fuel Economy

Does it feel like you didn’t get as good of gas mileage as usual? This could indicate an issue with your spark plugs. It could also mean your air filter is dirty and may need to be replaced.

It is hard to watch your fuel mileage unless you have the proper gauge. If you suspect you aren’t getting as good of gas mileage, start keeping track. Other issues that could affect your gas mileage include the emissions system, engine operation, and wheel alignment.

3. Excessive Exhaust Smoke

If you notice smoke from your exhaust, this could mean that you have an oil leak. If that’s the case, you will notice the burning smell.

You will see more white smoke when you first start your car in the winter. This is a normal reaction of water vapor in the cold until the engine temperature increases.

You should worry if you notice smoke while you are driving. If you see any black residue near the bumper area of your car, it’s time to take it to the mechanic.

4. Braking Differences

Your brakes can be the lifeline in your vehicle. They must work properly at all times.

If you hear any noises when you brake, you should go to the mechanic as soon as possible. These sounds are grinding, screeching, or squealing noises.

By the time you notice your brakes not working the same, you are already in danger. When you take your car in for regular maintenance, they will check your brakes to see if they need any service. Brakes can decline gradually, so it may take awhile for you to notice any difference or you may notice at all.

5. Leaks

If you see any puddles under your car when you park, you should see a mechanic. You are looking for either bright green for coolant or dark brown/red for transmission, engine oil, or brake fluid.

In the summer, you will notice water dripping from the front by the passenger area. This is normal for the air conditioning.

6. Noises

If you hear any noise from your wheels, this could be a differential bearing or wheel bearing going bad. A grinding noise could mean trouble for your breaks. A technician will listen for troublesome noises.

Clunking noises often means something is loose. If your car squeals, there may be low fluids. If one part goes bad, it could have a domino effect, so listen for any noise and take to get checked out as soon as possible.

7. Engine Troubles

Does your car have troubles starting or stalling? This is a major sign that something is wrong. You don’t want to get stranded on the highway or in some parking lot.

Stalling can be a sign of bad spark plugs or clogged oil filters. Both of these are preventable with regular maintenance. Stalling can be dangerous.

If you can’t start your car, it could also be spark plugs that are preventing your engine from starting. Your battery could also be ready for a replacement. These are easy repairs that won’t cost as much as towing your vehicle and then getting a repair.

The Need for a Regular Car Tune Up

Be sure you make a list of any potential problems when you see a mechanic. Something that seems like nothing to you could be a big deal. For example, the steering wheel seems to vibrate when I brake.

Any unusual sounds are a sign you shouldn’t ignore. Your mechanic may need to drive your vehicle so he can listen for these sounds. Take any maintenance records you have if you are going to a different mechanic.

Tune-ups don’t cost a lot of money and aren’t needed very often. It doesn’t take much time to check all your fluids and examine the overall performance of your car. Small fixes may save you a lot of money in the long run.

Just like your body, your car will show if you neglect care. If you see any of the signs mentioned above, you need to be proactive with your car care. Regular maintenance is not that expensive compared to a big loss down the road.

Regular maintenance may find a smaller problem, like a faulty battery, before it becomes a big problem for you.

Cars don’t need the same maintenance as they used to. Taking your car in every 10,000 miles isn’t the case if you have a newer vehicle. You should check your owner’s manual for a recommendation on services.

Some things you should regularly check include spark plugs, brakes, tires, and oil. Most newer cars are programmed to tell you when they are ready for maintenance. You will need to make sure the light is reset after your appointment.

Looking for Advice on Car Repair?

Check out for advice on repairing your car, such as this article on 6 Easy DYI Auto Repair Hacks. You can also get advice and recommendations from a live mechanic.