Do Cars Still Require Tune-ups?

For over 60 years, phrases like “adjusting a carburetor, replacing a distributor cap, changing the ignition points and spark plugs,” were the mechanics’ language of tune-ups. By the 80s, things changed, and a mechanic might instead tell you, “Your car’s brain is faulty.” 

The computer chip changed everything in our vehicles that we had been familiar with up until then, and it was the beginning of the end of guessing what might even need to be tuned up under the hood of our cars. See our helpful maintenance schedule here.

You should
not ignore your check engine light.

Any newer vehicle will tell you, by way of a check engine light on your dash, that something needs to be checked. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell us what the particular issue is, so a check engine light often goes ignored. You should always have it inspected by a technician. Even though the vehicle may be running fine, the check engine light may come on for a number of different reasons.


So, what is a tune-up nowadays?

While some of the bygone terminologies of tune-ups have disappeared, some have not. 

Today’s vehicles no longer use some of the components of tune-ups from a while ago. Hence, a tune-up now is the basic maintenance of the scheduled services that keep your vehicle performing optimally, as well as the inspection of a few rubber belts. The following comprises a modern tune-up:

  • Spark plug check.
  • Fuel injection servicing.
  • Filter changes.
  • Timing belt check.
  • Drive belt check.


Do cars still have spark plugs?

Modern gas engines still have spark plugs that need to be changed. However, they last much longer, 100,000 km or more. You may notice your car having a hard time starting, that it idles roughly, makes a knocking or popping sound when accelerating, or the engine may misfire.


What are fuel injection services?

Fuel injection services are part of a modern tune-up, having replaced the adjustment of a carburetor. A fuel injection service is required to maintain your vehicle’s performance, keeping the nozzle and valve unclogged and free of wax, carbon deposit, and dirt build-up. 

Although cleaners are added to higher quality gas, less expensive gas does not always have a fuel cleaner added, so it’s advisable to have the fuel injection system checked every 100,000km or so. 

If your fuel injector is blocked or dirty, you’ll notice poor acceleration and lower gas mileage,  and your engine won’t perform optimally. 


How often should filters be changed: the cabin filter, fuel filter, oil filter, and engine air filter?

Each filter is designed specifically to keep contaminants out of the component it is meant to serve: 

  • A cabin filter (in the cabin of the vehicle where you and other passengers sit) keeps out dirty outdoor air particulates that you’d otherwise be breathing. You should change it every 20,000 km or once a year.
  • A fuel or gas filter is located right in your fuel line and keeps sediments out of your fuel tank. Replace it every 35,000 to 50,000 km.
  • Oil filters keep sediments out of your oil supply and need to be replaced every oil change.
  • An engine air filter prevents insects and airborne contaminants like dust, leaves, and dirt from being pulled into the engine compartment. It increases your gas mileage by allowing fresh air into the engine, crucial for your engine’s performance. It should be checked every time your vehicle goes in for service. 


Can a timing belt breakage result in an expensive repair? 

People rarely think about a timing belt, and in a cruel twist of fate, if left unchecked, it can mean real damage to an interference-type engine that can cost thousands of dollars.

You should replace a timing belt every 120,000 km or every six to eight years because the rubber belt starts to degrade and crack over time.

The belt replacement is relatively expensive (the water pump is replaced at the same time), so if you are purchasing a used vehicle, you should always ask whether the vehicle has a timing belt or chain (chains needn’t be replaced). Consider the cost of a belt replacement if it’s due to be changed and get proof of its replacement by way of service record or the receipt of a part.


Rubber drive belts naturally degrade and crack.

You may have several belts on your engine that should be checked for cracks and adjustments every 60,000 to 120,000 km or every six-eight years. The two types of belts are a V-belt and a serpentine belt; the V-belt is replaced sooner than a serpentine belt.

Squealing noises from your engine may indicate the need for a new drive belt. 

If your drive belt is left to break, it is a costly repair that might include engine, power steering, or air conditioning repair.


Come in to see our knowledgeable and friendly staff at London, Ontario’s Hanford’s Tire & Service. Call either of our two convenient locations or contact us online.