How to tune up an older car

More and more Americans are keeping their cars past 100,000, 150,000, and even 200,000 miles. PM contributor/driving instructor/race car driver Mac Demere tells you the lessons he’s learned about keeping old cars on the road.

How to tune up an older car

As the U.S. economy continues to battle tough headwinds, many drivers are keeping their cars longer. The average age of a passenger vehicle in the U.S. has increased to about 11 years, according to researchers R.L. Polk. (It was only nine years back in 2000.)

I’m in that aging-car crowd. I own two 12-year-old vehicles, one with 168,000 miles on its odometer, the other with just under 100,000. My 9-year-old car has suffered through 170,000 miles and two teenagers. My “new” car is a 2007 with 72,000 miles on it. My son drives an 18-year-old vehicle with more than 200,000 on its intermittently operating odometer.

Here are some of the things I do to help keep these vehicles alive:

Love Thy Cooling System

Hoses that carry engine coolant live a hard life. They’re forced to transport high-pressure fluids that can exceed a rubber-scorching 240 F. Meanwhile, the water pump gets no respect—no respect at all—even though the engine would die without it in minutes. In retaliation, these components conspire to fail on aging cars at the worst possible times and places—extremely hot or cold days in areas with poor cell coverage are among their favorites.

If you don’t know when your old vehicle’s coolant hoses were last replaced, now would be a good time to do it. Don’t forget heater hoses, which carry hot coolant into the passenger compartment. As for water pumps, they often warn of their impending death by emitting an odor reminiscent of pancake syrup or by piddling green fluid on the garage floor. If you’re already undertaking significant work on the engine in an older car, go ahead and replace the water pump while things are disassembled.

Trust me. I learned this one the hard way. We didn’t have the water pump in an old car changed, and my daughter took the car to college in North Carolina. She called and said it smelled like breakfast at Waffle House, and she wanted me to drive 7 hours round trip to take it to the dealer because she wasn’t confident around service writers and mechanics. I convinced her to share with them that she was the daughter of a Nascar driver. (True: I ran one Nascar Southwest Tour Series race.) At that point, she would become the intimidator and not the intimidated.

Brake Time

Keeping the braking system youthful will help your vehicle live long and prosper. If you inherited or purchased an older car, bleed the brakes. With a helpful friend, the right tools, and a repair manual, brake bleeding is no harder than an oil change.

If the brake fluid flows a clear, amber color, the system likely has been recently rebuilt and well-maintained. If the fluid spurts out dark black and is filled with bits of rubber and rust, a complete brake overhaul is your first priority.

Brake jobs are to DIY mechanics what blue-square runs are to a snow skier: Not too challenging for those with intermediate skills. When I was wrenching my own race car, I bled the brakes after every on-track session. That did two things: removed the overheated fluid from the calipers and made sure nothing was seriously wrong with the brakes.

To keep your brake system young, flush (completely replace) the brake fluid every two years. And, like we said about the cooling system, if you’re already dissembling the brakes for major repairs, check on the smaller pieces while you’re in there. If your car is more than seven years old, replace the rubber brake lines when major brake work is required. If the rotors or brake drums must be removed, check the wheel bearings.

Black Gold

When you remove the engine oil-drain plug of an old car, you hope to discover a not-too-dark amber fluid. If the fluid that flows from your crankcase is jet black and contains bits of silvery flakes, you’ve got problems. A worse sign is if the oil struggles out like curdled milk. Even worse is if the oil contains big chunks of metal, which happened to me once after the confluence of my racing and engine-building skills. Hey, I was sticking my neck out; I made the engine stick its out, too. And it died.

When faced with such a situation, I try this high-colonic procedure: Drain the oil, replace the oil filter, fill the crankcase with synthetic oil (which acts like a solvent for sludge), and drive the car 50 or 100 miles. Repeat until the oil runs almost as clear as new. If you find little progress after three changes or suspect the previous owner was negligent on oil changes, consider having a professional mechanic remove and clean the oil pan.

Don’t DIY Everything

Cars are just like people. As they age, they require more attention from specialists, especially in the regions most critical to their ongoing survival.

So periodically have an independent repair shop check critical steering and suspension components. Very experienced DIYers can do this work themselves, but even experts might choose to farm it out to someone who does this work every day just for the added peace of mind. When I repacked the front wheel bearings on my race car, it hurt my lap time—I couldn’t concentrate on keeping my right foot to the floor while wondering if I’d done the job correctly.

How to tune up an older car

Have you heard about tuning your diesel? How tuning your vehicle will help in overall performance, contribute to mileage, response, smoke output, power, torque, EGT’s, and engine durability. Well, this is correct.

However, some questions to ask yourself before you start digging into your engine and connecting wires. How much experience do you have with tuning an engine? Do you have the proper equipment and programing for your engine? Do you understand how your program operates? These are all very important questions – if you have answered no to any of these, we suggest bringing your diesel into us at Callahan Automotive to have your engine tuned.

If you have answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, then we would suggest that if you are going to tune your engine the right way to take your time. Many people think that tuning your diesel engine is a easy and fairly speedy process but we have seen that “timing is everything”. And since there is no magical timing value or percentage that can be used every time you tune your vehicle it is good to take your time with finding the proper value for the timing. It is important to keep in mind the load of the engine, the speed of the engine, and the amount of fuel being injected when making changes. Fuel takes time to be injected and burn. The faster the engine spins, increased timing will be required for the combustion event to take place at an efficient point in the pistons cycle.

Data logging any changes made is very important to ensure that what you are calculating is actually happening, and what is happening is going to be beneficial. Make one change at a time, log the changes, and then make any necessary adjustments, and repeat. Sometimes finding what doesn’t work can be just as important as learning what does work. So, keep notes that you can use as a reference so that you don’t have to relearn what you have already tested. Before too long you should have a tune that works well for you and your truck.

Tuning your diesel truck, unless you already are experienced in doing so, can be a huge undertaking. You may have question, you may have a lot of questions, that’s okay! If you want to do it, you want to do it right. Our technicians at Callahan Automotive can help you with every step along the way of your tuning process.

Table of Contents

What does a tune up do to your car?

G etting a car tune-up regularly will help you maintain your car’s performance and extend its life. When you have a tune-up performed, it will typically include the replacement of several important wear-and-tear parts. Failure to replace these parts can result in decreased performance and other problems.

How much does a car engine tune up cost?

Spark plugs and wires can be replaced for $40-$150 or more for a basic tune-up, but a standard tune-up can cost $200-$800 or more. This may also include oil changes, a fuel system inspection, and computer diagnosis.

What does it mean by engine tune up?

How to tune up an older car

An engine tune-up is the process of inspecting and replacing components of the engine that are essential to ignition and engine operation. A comprehensive tune-up can include: Replace spark plugs and wires/coil boots. Set ignition timing – if applicable. Replace engine air filter.

Will a tune up make my car run better?

A: An auto-tune up will certainly help your car run better, but proper maintenance and regular servicing are also important. However, if you feel your car is sluggish or experience any of the warning signs above, be sure to bring it in for a car tune up.

Does a tune up increase HP?

Perform a Tune-Up on the Engine Tuning up the engine isn’t going to actually increase horsepower but when your truck is suffering, so is your oomph it once had. For example, if your air or fuel filters are clogged, you could be starving your engine of what it needs to run properly.

How to tune up an older car

How often should I get a tune up?

Most older vehicles with non-electronic ignitions should be tuned every 10,000 to 12,000 miles or every year, whichever comes first. Newer cars with electronic ignition and fuel injection systems are scheduled to go from 25,000 miles to as many as 100,000 miles without needing a major tune-up.

Are car tune ups worth it?

Whether you have a car with an older ignition system or a new one, it’s necessary to have a tune-up done when your vehicle’s owner manual requires it. If you don’t, you run the risk of having your vehicle run poorly. A properly tuned vehicle will run smoothly and perhaps even see better fuel economy.

How long does an engine tune up take?

about two to four hours
How long does a tune up take? Depending on your vehicle, a tune-up should take about two to four hours. Tuning up a modern, computerized vehicle would fall on the faster end of that range. Tuning up an older vehicle (with many mechanical parts to adjust) would take more time.

What makes your car faster?

Install A Larger Diameter Throttle Body When you install a large-diameter throttle body with bigger flaps, it will allow more air to flow into the engine which can increase its performance. A larger throttle body that delivers air at an increased rate can help you accelerate faster in your vehicle.

How to tune up an older car

A car tune-up is maintenance done to a vehicle periodically, to ensure it works within optimal parameters. This is usually done at least once every year. Depending on the type of car, the mileage and age and the vehicle’s make and model, the tune-up might vary, but you will usually have to replace the air filter, check and if necessary change parts like spark plugs and wires, fuel filter and other engine parts and also run full computer diagnostics.

How much will a tune-up cost?

On a normal tune-up, you’ll spend a minimum of $50-$100, but depending on the problems you’ll encounter, you could end up spending $800 or even more. For the minimum price, you’ll usually only get a general check-up and sometimes the replacement of the spark plugs and wires. If your tune-up will cost more, for $300 to $900 you’ll get a lot more, like the replacement of fuel filter, distributor cap, spark plugs and wires, air filter and PVC valve, rotor, along with full computer diagnosis or inspection, testing of the emission and ignition systems, adjustment of the dwell and any other tweaks that need to be taken care of. The final costs will depend on the hourly labor rate (You’ll spend around $40-$90 per hour for labor in repair shops and $75 to $200 at dealerships) and on the parts that need to be changed or fixed.

Normal Tune-Ups Could Include An Oil Change. Here’s How Much It Will Cost You Just To Change Your Car’s Oil.

If you have an older car, with a mileage of 90,000 – 120,000, you will spend more for a tune-up, at least $500 to $1,200, if not more.

Here are a few tips for your next tune-up:

First off remember to check the owner’s manual for your car, because you’ll find there a list of everything that needs to be checked and changed on your car by make and model. If you’re going to the mechanic, he’ll usually have a manual for most car makes and models. All vehicles have mandatory and recommended maintenance scheduled depending on the mileage, and not every tune-up will have the same mandatory and recommended checks.
Once you get to your mechanic, be prepared to leave your car there for at least two, three hours, because that’s the shortest time for a proper basic tune-up.

Some replaceable car parts will last 30,000 miles or even more, which means that you won’t have to replace them with every tune-up. For example, platinum spark plugs can last for 30,000 to 100,000 miles. Be sure to check the car’s manual for this info.

The lights for “service engine” or “check engine” shouldn’t be the only things to convince you it’s time for a tune-up. Do it periodically or any time you get one of these symptoms: an engine that stalls at a stop or makes weird sounds, a loss in power, a drop in mileage, “knocking” sounds, or an engine that doesn’t stop after you stop the ignition. If you take your car to a professional shop, they will be able to tell you if your problems will be fixed with a tune-up or if it’s something wrong with the computerized systems. Usually, a computer diagnostic test will tell you the exact problem and how to fix it.

Want To Stay Safe On The Road During the Winter Season? Here’s The Cost of Snow Tires

How to tune up an older carCheaper is not always better when it comes to your car. Don’t take it to the cheapest mechanic for the tune-up, because they might not know how to properly run a diagnostics test, especially if you have a highly computerized car system. If you’re thinking of doing the tune-up yourself, then you need to know that the materials you’ll use will cost you around $50-$150. We don’t encourage you to do the tune-up yourself just to bring down the costs, especially if you don’t have any training or skills as a mechanic.

Before taking your car to a mechanic or dealership, be sure to check all local offers for coupons or discounts.

Always ask what will be included in the tune-up services, because you might find that a more expensive mechanic might do extra checks and add extra services for the money.

Should the average working Joe get periodic tune-ups?

Although it might seem expensive to go through tune-ups at least once every year, it will all be worth it. Some parts need to be changed to ensure the car works in optimal parameters, while other parts will be changed to make sure your car is safe on the road. Changing cheaper parts with your tune-up will keep other more expensive parts from breaking down. In the end, spending some money on a tune-up will be cheaper than fixing a broken engine.

A car tune up can certainly be an ambiguous request or service, as it can mean different things for different people. Some car owners refer to an auto tune up as merely a regular check-up, to make sure that their car is in good shape and everything is working correctly. Others may refer to an engine tune-up, which involved changing a series of components to ensure proper functionality. Below, we’ll break down what an auto tune up is, when you need it and what the checklist should look like.

How to tune up an older car

What Is an Auto Tune Up?

A tune up service is made up of two parts: the inspection and the actual tune up . The inspection includes a visual check of the engine’s fuel-system components to ensure that the fuel filter is clean and unclogged, that no damage has been caused to the fuel pump, and that fuel injector is also clean.

The inspection also covers spark plugs appearance and performance, checking the engine’s PCV valve, ignition timing, air filters, as well as oil and coolant levels.

The tune up car service depends on the results of the inspection, but in order to ensure your engine receives the right proportions of air, fuel and spark, this may include replacing the cap, rotor, spark plugs, wires, and PCV valve. It can also include replacing air, oil, and fuel filters.

Signs Your Car Needs A Tune Up

It’s easy to get frustrated when your car doesn’t quite work the way it’s supposed to. When your car does something funny or unwanted, it’s a possible indicator that there is a deeper problem.

You can save yourself some time and a headache by being familiar with common warning signs, and by always taking it into the shop when something comes up. Consider some of the most common indicators, listed below.

  1. Engine lights come on : It’s always distressing to see those little check engine lights illuminate your dashboard and you may be tempted to ignore them. But those lights come on for a reason. It’s the car’s diagnostic system alerting you to a pressing maintenance issue. When the lights come on, it’s in your best interests to take the vehicle in for prompt servicing.
  2. Stalling: Ever press your foot on the pedal to accelerate, and the car just lags there for a moment before finally starting to move? This stall could be a warning sign, and it’s not something you want to ignore; if nothing else, stalling is dangerous in and of itself.
  3. Fuel economy: Pay attention to how often you’re filling up at the pump. If you suddenly start needing to fill up more often, diminished fuel efficiency might be a negative side effect. That’s reason enough to take the car to the shop and see what’s going on.
  4. Brake problems: Any problem with your brakes is a safety concern and something to investigate right away. Brake problems come in a variety of forms, and in some cases, it’s as simple as a brake pedal that feels soft or spongy. Also, be aware of noisy brakes. Whining or scraping sounds are common symptoms of a failing brake system.
  5. Rough shifting: Your car’s automatic transmission system should handle the gear-shifting process pretty smoothly. If you find that you’re suddenly getting lurched around by the shifting, that might mean there is a transmission issue.
  6. Vibrations or shaking: If braking, steering, or starting your vehicle causes a wobbling or shaking sensation in the steering wheel or in the seat, there could be any number of issues. Best to get it investigated by the professionals!

Car Tune Up Checklist

Performing a car tune up can extend the life of your vehicle. It can also make regular services a lot cheaper. Here’s our car tune up checklist, which will help you keep track of the most common parts that are replaced when tuning up a vehicle.

  • Ignition – this is commonly the first system to be checked, as it includes your spark plugs, plug wires, coils, and other electrical components.
  • Filters – to make sure contaminating particles are kept out of the vehicle’s vital components, the oil, fuel, air, and cabin air filters should be checked and replaced.
  • Belts & Hoses – these transfer the rotating force, respectively fluid to all your car systems and throughout the engine, therefore inspecting and replacing them is vital.
  • Fluids – to ensure that each type of fluid is at its recommended level, engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid should all be checked and replaced or topped.

The bottom line is that if something unusual starts to happen with your vehicle, you need to take it to an auto care professional to get a proper diagnosis. You’ll want to make an appointment for an auto tune-up and get things taken care of before they get out of hand.

Q: How often should I get a tune up?

A: This usually depends on the regular scheduled maintenance recommended by your car manufacturer, but usually older vehicles with non-electronic ignitions should be tuned every 10,000 to 12,000 miles or every year. If your car is newer and has an electronic ignition and fuel injection, then you can go from 25,000 to as many as 100,000 miles without needing a major tune-up.

Q: What are the benefits of a tune up?

A: The major benefit of an auto tune up is that it ensures your car functions properly and it prevents further damage. Depending on what the tune up involves, other benefits may include increasing the car’s efficiency with new fuel filters, increasing mile efficiency with new spark plugs, and many more.

Q: How can I make my car run better?

A: An auto-tune up will certainly help your car run better, but proper maintenance and regular servicing are also important. However, if you feel your car is sluggish or experience any of the warning signs above, be sure to bring it in for a car tune up.

Q: Are tune-ups necessary?

A: A car tune up should not be overlooked, as you won’t really know if it’s necessary or not until the inspection has been completed. It’s an important part of your car servicing.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: The cost of an auto tune up depends on many factors, starting with the make and model of your vehicle and ending with the results of the initial inspection.

Asked by: Abigale Boyle

Typically, if you have an older vehicle with a non-electronic ignition, you should get a tune up about every 10,000-12,000 miles, or every year. Newer cars with an electronic ignition and fuel injection can go from 25,000 to 100,000 miles before needing a major tune up.

How do you know when your car needs a tune up?

  1. Difficulty Starting the Engine. It’s a pretty glaring sign that your car has some problems when it becomes habitually challenging to start the engine. .
  2. Stalling. .
  3. Strange Noises. .
  4. Reduced Braking Ability. .
  5. Warning Light. .
  6. Increased Fuel Consumption.

How long should you wait to get a tune up on your car?

Most older vehicles with non-electronic ignitions should be tuned every 10,000 to 12,000 miles or every year, whichever comes first. Newer cars with electronic ignition and fuel injection systems are scheduled to go from 25,000 miles to as many as 100,000 miles without needing a major tune-up.

What is a tune up and how much does it cost?

Prices can start at $40-$150 or more for a minimal tune-up that includes replacing the spark plugs and inspecting the spark plug wires, but it typically costs $200-$800 or more for a standard tune-up that can include replacing the spark plugs, wires, distributor cap, rotor, fuel filter, PVC valve and air filter, as .

What does a full tune up include?

Generally, a tune-up consists of checking the engine for parts that need cleaning, fixing, or replacing. Common areas under inspection include filters, spark plugs, belts and hoses, car fluids, rotors, and distributor caps. Many of these only require a visual inspection or a simple test.

How To Change & Inspect Spark Plugs

24 related questions found

How much is a car tune up at Walmart?

Walmart does tune-up and change spark plugs at stores with an Auto Care Center as of 2021. Typically, this service can cost $32-$98, and prices are influenced by the spark plug size, the type of spark plug, and the car model.

Are tune-ups worth it?

Whether you have a car with an older ignition system or a new one, it’s necessary to have a tune-up done when your vehicle’s owner manual requires it. If you don’t, you run the risk of having your vehicle run poorly. A properly tuned vehicle will run smoothly and perhaps even see better fuel economy.

How often are you supposed to get a tune up?

Typically, if you have an older vehicle with a non-electronic ignition, you should get a tune up about every 10,000-12,000 miles, or every year. Newer cars with an electronic ignition and fuel injection can go from 25,000 to 100,000 miles before needing a major tune up. Need to know more about a tune up service?

Will bad spark plugs throw a code?

Bad spark plugs can cause your engine to misfire. The engine’s computer uses sensors to detect these misfires and will create a code that turns on the check engine light.

Will check engine light come on if you need a tune up?

If there’s a warning light on, it’s probably an indication that you should have gotten a tune-up a while ago, but more importantly, it’s a reason to bring your car into an auto repair center immediately. The problem here is that most people don’t take their check engine lights very seriously.

Will a tune up make my car run better?

A: An auto-tune up will certainly help your car run better, but proper maintenance and regular servicing are also important. However, if you feel your car is sluggish or experience any of the warning signs above, be sure to bring it in for a car tune up.

What happens if you don’t get a tune up?

If you don’t take your car in for a tune-up at your manufacturer’s recommended intervals, it could put unnecessary stress on components of your ignition system or even damage your catalytic converter. It could also cause you to experience longer, harder starts.

What does a car sound like when it needs new spark plugs?

Engine Knocking

That sound is caused by your spark plugs not detonating properly and igniting all the fuel. The fuel and vapor that did not ignite eventually will catch fire and detonate. When that happens, you hear a knocking sound from your engine. Bad spark plugs are common causes of engine knock, but simple to fix.

Having your car regularly tuned up by a certified automotive specialist helps it maintain smooth operation and fuel efficiency, and can significantly prolong the life of your vehicle. BMW owners want to know how often their BMW needs a tune-up. While there’s no set answer, oil change frequency is based on the age of the car, what kind of ignition it has, and the manufacturer specifications.

What is a tune-up?

How to tune up an older carA vehicle tune-up is a set of recommended maintenance procedures designed to keep your car running perfectly. In most cases, spark plugs and/or spark plug wires are replaced, air filter and fuel filter are checked and oil and oil filter are changed. On older cars, adjustments to ignition timing and the carburetor are also recommended. If you have an older BMW with non-electronic ignition (1981 or earlier), get a tune-up every year or every 10,000-20,000 miles.

When Your 1990 and Later Model BMW Needs a Tune-Up

Most vehicles on the road today have electronic ignition and fuel injection, with recommended tune-up time frames varying widely. As a rule of thumb, plan on a tune-up every 30,000 miles or three years, whichever comes first. Some newer vehicles can travel up to 100,000 miles before needing a tune-up! When in doubt, refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Use Common Sense

Do you experience symptoms such as frequent stalling, rough idling or acceleration when you drive? Or if you’re having trouble starting your BMW, don’t wait. Waiting could result in damage and poor fuel mileage. So take your car into a qualified auto repair shop for a diagnostic right away.

European Cars Need Extra Care

For fine-tuning of German makes such as BMW and Mercedes, or of British makes like Jaguar, Mini and Range Rover, go to an auto mechanic that specializes in BMW service, Mercedes service or British auto repair to ensure the job is done right. Look for factory-trained staff and a ValueStar Certification rating of ‘Very High Customer Satisfaction.’ For an affordable alternative to high-priced dealer maintenance on BMW tune-ups in Mukilteo, Everett and all Snohomish County, contact Classic Motorsports.

When Your BMW Needs a Tune-Up in Mukilteo

Serving Mukilteo, Edmonds, Everett, Lake Stevens, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, & Snohomish

Posted on April 25, 2020 | Published by Ignite Local | Related Local Business

Mercedes A Service – Starting at $149
Mercedes B Service – Starting at $599
(Includes air, cabin & oil filter change,
and oil & brake fluid change)

Keep Your Old Car Running Smoothly

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How to tune up an older car

  • Maryville College

Driving a vehicle with over 100,000 miles on it, and determined to keep it going for another 100,000 miles or more? As long as you stay on top of all the recommended maintenance tasks, you shouldn’t have any problem making that happen.

Since your high-mileage vehicle probably isn’t under warranty any longer, that means it’s now up to you to remember what needs to be done when; and admittedly, it can be a little confusing to know what to inspect or replace at which milestone. Some maintenance tasks need to be performed every so many miles, while others need to be performed monthly or yearly. But don’t let that overwhelm you. We’ve put together a high-mileage vehicle maintenance checklist to help you keep up with everything. Just stick to these recommendations to avoid costly repairs and keep your car running safely and reliably. Here are the things that you need to do to greatly extend the life of your vehicle.

  • ​Monthly (or More Often)
  • Check the tire pressure
  • Check the oil level (synthetic, high-mileage oil is recommended)
  • Check the coolant level
  • Clean the backup camera lens

Every 3,000 Miles

  • Change the oil, and replace the oil filter (newer cars can often go a year between oil changes. Check your owner’s manual to see what’s recommended for your car)
  • Check the washer fluid level
  • Add fuel injector cleaner to fuel

Every Six Months

  • Check the power steering fluid level
  • Wax the car to extend the life of the paint and to prevent rust

Every 5,000 Miles

  • Adjust the clutch, if your vehicle has a manual transmission (some are self-adjusting)

Every 10,000 Miles

  • Inspect the belts
  • Rotate the tires

Every Year

  • Inspect the brakes
  • Inspect the hoses and clamps
  • Clean the battery connections
  • Check the brake fluid level
  • Check the manual transmission fluid (if your car has a manual transmission)
  • Check the coolant strength
  • Back-flush the radiator from the engine side with a garden hose
  • Rinse off the air conditioner condenser
  • Buff the plastic headlight assembly, if dull, to maintain good visibility
  • Replace cabin air filter (you may need to do this more often, if you drive a lot—every 15,000 miles is a good rule of thumb. Older vehicles may not have cabin filters)

Every 30,000 Miles

  • Replace the spark plugs. Some are designed to last up to 100,000 miles, so check to see what kind you have, and when they’ll be due for a change
  • Replace the distributor cap and rotor (if applicable)
  • Inspect the spark plug wires (if applicable)
  • Change the transmission fluid
  • Replace the oxygen sensors (for vehicles manufactured late 1970’s to early 1990’s)
  • Inspect the shocks for leaks, and perform bounce test
  • Replace the PCV valve
  • Clean the throttle body

Every Two Years

  • Flush the coolant system
  • Check the battery electrolyte level

Every 40,000 Miles

  • Replace the fuel filter

Every 60,000 Miles

  • Replace the air filter
  • Change the automatic transmission fluid (if you drive an automatic)
  • Inspect the brakes
  • Inspect the accessory drive belts
  • Replace the timing belt (if your vehicle has a timing chain, it doesn’t need to be replaced, unless there’s a problem with it)
  • Have the front end alignment inspected and checked

Every 80,000 Miles

  • Inspect the U-joints

Every 100,000 Miles

  • Replace the oxygen sensors (for vehicles manufactured after mid-1990’s)
  • Replace the rear axle lubricant

As-Needed Maintenance

  • Have the alignment adjusted. This can help extend the life of your tires.

Consult Your Owner’s Manual

Use the maintenance schedule outlined here as a starting point, but know that it’s also a good idea to consult the owner’s manual for each of your vehicles to see what the manufacturer recommends. As a rule, newer cars tend to require less frequent maintenance, while older cars tend to require more. It’s also worth noting that the technology in newer and older cars is quite a bit different, so you may find that some of these maintenance items don’t pertain to your situation. Customize this maintenance list to your needs. Then, use it to stay on top of all the things that you need to do to keep your vehicles performing smoothly for many years to come.

Not sure how to tackle one of these tasks? Then, it may be best to leave it to a professional.

Use this car maintenance log to keep up with all the work you’ve done to your vehicles. You may find it helpful to keep a separate log for each vehicle that you own.

Maybe you bought a brand-new phone; maybe your phone just went through a major OS update. Either way, the result is the same: you can’t connect it via Bluetooth to your older car anymore, which means you’ve lost the ability to rock out, enrich yourself with podcasts, or make hands-free calls.

Thankfully, you have a few options to fix this, ranging from “free and might not work” to “expensive and will definitely work.” Don’t balk about the potential cost, though; if you don’t want to deal with cables, Bluetooth is incredibly convenient when you’re driving (when it isn’t screwing up).

Check your car’s manufacturer for firmware updates

This one’s a long shot, but it’s possible that your car’s system—whatever it uses to make Bluetooth work—has some kind of update that will restore the functionality you no longer have.

First, make sure the device you’re using is running the latest version of its operating system (your smartphone, likely). After that, hit up your car manufacturer’s website, visit its support pages—or wherever it keeps all the information you need to know about your specific vehicle—and see if there are any options for downloading updates for your vehicle’s stereo or entertainment system.

If you’re confused, because car manufacturers don’t often make this process clear, you could always give your local dealer a call. You might even be able to bring your car in and have them check to see if there are any updates themselves—they might have to perform the update anyway, so it doesn’t hurt.

How to tune up an older car

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Enjoy Microsoft’s suite of essentials with a one-time purchase and installation, as opposed to that fee you’re paying every month.

They might tell you that they have to install software updates themselves, even if you can do it yourself for free. Or, as YouTube’s “ MrDazana ” put it: “I was told by my dealer it was going to cost me 160.00 + tax. I told them to fuck off and found it on the web. Enjoy. Very easy to install.”

Connect using a different method

If you’re lucky, your car stereo has an AUX port—3.5mm jack, just like your favorite pair of old headphones. You’re one cheap cable away from plugging in your smartphone (or your smartphone’s ugly dongle) and getting all of your music and podcasts over your car’s speakers.

If not, and your car is old enough, you can always pick up a cheap cassette adapter with a built-in 3.5mm cable. And if you have a newer vehicle with built-in USB ports, try using those instead. You might be able to get some functionality out of your smartphone even if you can’t go the full Android Auto or Apple CarPlay route.

You won’t be able to make or receive phone calls over your car stereo if you go the 3.5mm cable route, but at least you’ll be able to get your music or podcast. And while your phone calls will blast out of your speakers, too, you’ll have to awkwardly hold your device near your face for anyone to hear what you’re saying. At that point, you might want to unplug your device and switch to its speakerphone: it’s safer, more legal, and a lot easier to deal with.

Buy a Bluetooth Adapter with an FM transmitter

You’ve probably seen these dorky-looking devices before. Typically, you plug one end into your car’s cigarette lighter—or “12V accessory socket,” or whatever you want to call it—and you tune it to a specific FM frequency that isn’t already being used by a local radio station. You connect your smartphone to the device via Bluetooth, tune your car stereo to the device’s FM frequency, and everything will work seamlessly via your car stereo: music, phone calls, the works.

In a perfect world, the FM transmitter device you pick up will support multiple Bluetooth pairings—so you and a friend can both control the tunes on your next road trip—and also offer a way to charge your device via USB in case all of your Bluetooth streaming is killing your battery. You might want look for one that also comes with a 3.5mm port, in case any device you’re using still needs a wired connection for sound.

Install an adapter or a new aftermarket stereo

Whenever I’m thinking about upgrading some component of my car—typically, the stereo unit—I head on over to Crutchfield. That’s not because I’m in love with the retailer (in fact, I usually purchase gear elsewhere), but because Crutchfield makes it easy to see what will work with your specific vehicle.

As the site notes , you should be able to unlock Bluetooth functionality in your vehicle by installing an adapter—useful, if you want to keep your car’s current stereo for whatever reason. As I understand it, this only really applies if you didn’t have Bluetooth capabilities to begin with. If you did, and your smartphone no longer connects, I don’t think that adding an adapter is the right route.

If this issue is really driving you crazy, you might want to splurge and buy an aftermarket head unit for your car. And if you do, you’ll likely have a ton of different options to pick from. My advice is to look for newer units above older, cheaper units, because you don’t want to buy something that hasn’t been updated in three years old and might still give your brand-new smartphone connection issues—just in case. As well, check for any reviews you can get your hands on, as well as any guides or recommendations from online enthusiast forums like /r/cars , /r/carav , , or , to name a few.

If your car doesn’t have room for an awesome new head unit, you can also pick up an amplifier with Bluetooth capabilities. You might even find yourself enjoying better sound quality from your crappy, old stereo, especially if you pick up an amp that gives you more options for fine-tuning equalizers than your stereo’s default “treble and bass” adjustments.

You can probably get away with installing a new dashboard head unit yourself—especially after some helpful YouTube instruction, even if it’s for a completely different head unit for the exact make and model of your vehicle. As for an amplifier, that’s a bit more complex, and you might want to pay someone else to do it if you’re tentative about your skills.

Ignore your stereo completely

If you just need a way to make calls from your smartphone without holding it near your face, you can always pick up a simple Bluetooth speakerphone that attaches to some part of your car—like your sun visor. Here’s one example:

A device like this isn’t ideal for streaming music from your smartphone, nor will it sound as rich as hearing your friends’ voices blasting out of your car’s speakers on a call, but it’s something—and it’s both cheap and easy to set up.

If you want to listen to your own tunes while driving, here are four ways to add Bluetooth to any car.

How to tune up an older car

How to tune up an older car

Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.

How to tune up an older car

Bluetooth is now a standard feature in practically every modern car. Like with Bluetooth headphones, a Bluetooth-enabled car lets you stream your own tunes or favorite podcasts on your daily commute without the hassle of CDs or the monthly cost of internet radio.

If you’re driving an older car, however, you might not have the luxury of streaming over Bluetooth. The upshot is that the price of Bluetooth technology has come down and adding it to any car is affordable and painless.

Here are the most common ways to add Bluetooth to your daily driver.

Bluetooth receiver

By and large, the easiest and most common way to add Bluetooth to a vehicle’s radio is by using a Bluetooth receiver. With a Bluetooth receiver, you pair your phone to the receiver and stream audio to it. The receiver then plugs into the 3.5mm input jack (auxiliary in) typically found near the center controls or inside the center console.

Because every car is different, Bluetooth receivers come in a few different configurations:

  • 12V-powered
  • USB-powered
  • Battery-powered

In many cases, the auxiliary in jack is grouped with a USB port that should provide enough juice to power a Bluetooth receiver. In this case, or if you’ve got a 12V USB charger that has an extra port, it’s best to go with a USB-powered receiver, such as Anker’s SoundSync Drive or the SoundBot, pictured above.

The biggest problem with the above receivers is that they’re made on the assumption that your 12V socket or a USB port will be located near the auxiliary in jack. That is not always the case.

If your 3.5mm input is nowhere near a USB port or 12V socket, you’re better off buying a battery-operated Bluetooth receiver that can be positioned anywhere within the vehicle. Of course, it will need to be charged regularly, but you can do that by plugging it into the car charger when it’s not in use or taking it with you when you arrive home and charging it there.

FM Transmitter

If your car or radio doesn’t have an auxiliary input, you’ll be better off with an FM transmitter. Effectively, the FM transmitter of today is a Bluetooth receiver, but instead of sending the audio to the stereo via an auxiliary cable, it broadcasts it over an open FM radio frequency. Tune your stereo’s FM tuner to the correct frequency and you should hear your audio.

Previous versions of FM transmitters suffered from static, weak signal and overall poor audio quality, but reviews of more recent models are more promising.

Another boon for the FM transmitter is the lack of wires. Since the Bluetooth signal gets transmitted over FM frequencies, there is no need for wires hanging around. Instead, FM transmitters typically plug into the 12V socket and sometimes have built-in USB charging ports.

Dedicated speakerphone

If you don’t mind not being able to stream your music through your car’s stereo, you can opt for a dedicated Bluetooth speakerphone. In most instances, these clip to the sun visor above the driver and pair to your phone like any Bluetooth speaker. When you answer a call, both the audio and microphone input are handled by the visor-mounted speakerphone.

The downside to a Bluetooth speakerphone is that they’re often the more expensive option with the least amount of features.

New head unit

Another, albeit far more expensive option, is to replace the head unit in your car altogether with one that has Bluetooth built-in. Instead of paying $15 to $30 (£10 to £20 or AU$20 to AU$40), you’ll be looking at anywhere from $80 to upwards of $700 (£60 to £530 or AU$100 to AU$870).

On the bright side, what you get is more polish and fewer wires hung around your vehicle. You can also choose to upgrade your car’s head unit to an Android Auto or CarPlay, and some head units come with beneficial add-ons, such as backup cameras. So while the investment might be larger, it also comes with a broader range of additions that can breathe new life into an aging car interior.

The one thing to consider, however, is that this option is not plug and play like a Bluetooth receiver or FM transmitter. If you’re not familiar with working with head unit wiring hardness adapter kits, you will also need to pay to have the unit installed.

Wired alternative: 3.5mm auxiliary cable

Maybe you’re not totally worried about having truly wireless audio in your car. That’s definitely understandable. Sometimes, simply plugging in a cable is easier to manage.

If you fall into this category, the cheapest and most direct alternative is a 3.5mm auxiliary cable. Effectively, it’s a cable with a male 3.5mm plug on both ends. One end plugs into the headphone jack on your smartphone and the other end is plugged into the auxiliary in on the car. Any audio you play from the phone will then play through the stereo.

The biggest disadvantage to this is that if you receive a call while the phone is plugged into the car stereo, the audio will play through the car’s speakers, but the audio input will still be the phone’s microphone. This means you must hold the phone near your mouth or remove the cable and enable speakerphone — neither of which are totally hands-free, making it unsafe and even illegal in some states.

Ignition timing refers to the ignition system that allows the spark plug to fire, or ignite, a few degrees before the piston reaches top dead center (TDC) on its compression stroke. In other words, ignition timing is the adjustment of the spark produced by the spark plugs in the ignition system.

When the piston travels to the top of the combustion chamber, the valves close and allow the engine to compress the mixture of air and fuel inside the combustion chamber. The ignition system’s job is to ignite that air/fuel mixture to make a controlled explosion to allow the engine to rotate and produce power that can be used to move your vehicle. The ignition timing or spark is measured in the degrees the crankshaft is rotating, bringing the piston to the top of the combustion chamber, or TDC.

If the spark comes before the piston reaches the top of the combustion chamber, also known as advanced timing, the controlled explosion will work against the engine rotating and produce less power. If the spark comes after the piston starts traveling back down the cylinder, known as retarded timing, the pressure created when compressing the air/fuel mixture will dissipate and create a weak explosion, not allowing the engine to produce maximum power.

A good indicator that ignition timing may need to be adjusted is when the engine runs too lean (too much air, not enough fuel in the fuel mixture) or too rich (too much fuel and not enough air in the fuel mixture). These conditions are sometimes shown by the engine backfiring or pinging while accelerating.

Having the correct ignition timing will allow the engine to efficiently produce maximum power. The number of degrees will vary between manufacturers so it is best to check the service manual for your specific vehicle to determine exactly what degree to set your ignition timing.

Part 1 of 3: Locating timing marks

Materials Needed

  • Distributor wrench of the appropriate size
  • Free repair manuals В­ Autozone provides free online repair manuals for certain makes and models Autozone
  • Repair manuals (optional) Chilton

Older vehicles that have a distributor ignition system will have the ability to fine-tune ignition timing. Typically, timing will need to be adjusted due to the normal wear of moving parts in the ignition system. One degree may not be noticeable at idle, but at higher speeds this can cause the vehicle’s ignition system to fire a little early or late, which will decrease overall performance of the engine.

If your vehicle uses a distributorless ignition system such as coil on plug, timing cannot be adjusted as the computer makes these changes on the fly when necessary.

Step 1: Locate the crankshaft pulley. With the engine off, open the hood and locate the crankshaft pulley.

There will be a mark on the crankshaft pulley along with degree mark(s) on the timing cover.

  • Tip: These marks can be observed while the engine is running by illuminating this area with the timing light to check and adjust ignition timing.

Step 2: Locate the number one cylinder. Most timing lights will have three clamps.

A positive/red and negative/black clamp is hooked up to the vehicle’s battery and a third clamp also known as the inductive clamp, clips around the number one cylinder’s spark plug wire.

  • Tip: If you do not know which cylinder is #1, consult the factory repair information for the firing order.

Step 3: Loosen the adjusting nut on your distributor. If ignition timing needs to be adjusted, loosen this nut enough to allow the distributor to rotate so timing can be advanced or retarded.

Part 2 of 3: Determining if adjustment is needed

Materials Needed

  • Distributor wrench of the appropriate size
  • Free repair manuals В­ Autozone provides free online repair manuals for certain makes and models Autozone
  • Repair manuals (optional) Chilton
  • Timing light

Step 1: Warm up the engine. Start the engine and allow it to rise to an operating temperature of 195 degrees.

This is indicated with the temperature gauge needle reading in the middle of the gauge.

Step 2: Attach the timing light. Now is a good time to attach your timing light to the battery and number one spark plug and shine the timing light at the crankshaft pulley.

Compare your readings to the manufacturer’s specifications in the factory repair manual. If the timing is out of spec, you will need to adjust it in order for the engine to run at maximum performance.

  • Tip: If your vehicle has vacuum-assisted ignition timing, disconnect the vacuum line going into the distributor and plug the line with a small bolt to prevent a vacuum leak while the timing is being adjusted.

Part 3 of 3: Performing the adjustment

Materials Needed

  • Distributor wrench of the appropriate size
  • Free repair manuals Autozone provides free online repair manuals for certain makes and models Autozone
  • Repair manuals (optional) Chilton
  • Timing light

Step 1: Loosen the adjusting nut or bolt. Return to the adjusting nut or bolt on the distributor and loosen it enough to allow the distributor to rotate.

  • Tip: Some vehicles require you to install a jumper wire on an electrical connector to short or break the connection with the vehicle’s computer so timing can be adjusted. If your vehicle has a computer, overlooking this step will prevent the computer from accepting the adjustments.

Step 2: Rotate the distributor. While using the timing light to look at the timing marks on the crank and timing cover, rotate the distributor to make the necessary adjustments.

  • Note: Each vehicle may vary, but a general rule of thumb is, if the rotor inside the distributor spins clockwise with the engine running, rotating the distributor counterclockwise will advance ignition timing. Rotating the distributor clockwise will perform the opposite and retard ignition timing. Use a steady gloved hand to slightly rotate the distributor in either direction until the timing is within the manufacturer’s specifications.

Step 3: Tighten the adjusting nut. Once timing has been set at idle, tighten the adjusting nut on the distributor.

Have a friend blip the throttle. This involves quickly pushing on the accelerator pedal to increase engine RPM and then releasing it, allowing the engine to fall back to idle, therefore confirming the timing is set to specifications.

Congratulations! You have just set your own ignition timing. In some cases ignition timing will be out of spec due to a stretched timing chain or belt. If, after setting timing, the vehicle is showing symptoms of untimed, it is recommended you consult a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, for further diagnostics. These professional technicians can set your ignition timing for you, as well as make sure your spark plugs are up to date.

How to tune up an older car

Modern engines use computer-controlled factory-preset self-adjusting ignition systems that never change their timing, have no moving parts and never need maintenance. Yay! A generation ago, every teenager, every mechanic and a lot of vehicle owners understood the theory and practice of changing points and setting the timing. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of older vehicles, outdoor power equipment, boats and tractors that need periodic adjustment or replacement.

The distributor on these older vehicles performs two related tasks. The first uses a simple on/off switch, the ignition points, to provide properly timed pulses of 12-volt electricity to the ignition coil. In the coil, essentially a transformer, it’s stepped up to 10,000 to 20,000 volts. Then, the high-voltage electricity from the coil returns to the distributor, where the rotor inside parcels it out to the correct spark plug to ignite the fuel/air mix.

There’s a lobed cam on the distributor shaft that pushes on a small rubbing block on the movable side of the points. As the cam and distributor rotate, the points open and close constantly. As they close, current from the ignition switch flows through the contacts into the coil’s primary windings and then off to ground. This current generates a magnetic field in the coil’s iron core. When the points open a few degrees of crankshaft rotation later, the current is interrupted, causing the magnetic field to collapse. This induces electrical current into the secondary windings of the coil, where the current is raised to 20,000 volts or more. The high voltage now travels over to the distributor, where the rotor metes the high-voltage pulses out to the correct spark plug.

All that current flowing across the points doesn’t like to stop suddenly, and can initiate a small arc, which eventually erodes the tungsten contacts. The condenser cushions that arc, making point life much longer. But not infinitely long. As the contacts and the plastic rubbing block, which contacts the point cam, wear, the ignition points’ clearance and timing constantly change. After thousands of miles, the timing has shifted enough to affect performance, and the ritual of changing the points and setting the timing becomes necessary. How often? Some vehicles need to have the timing adjusted as often as every 10,000 miles to maintain peak performance. High-revving engines will need premium points with a high-pressure spring to keep the points from bouncing at increased revs. Some points assemblies include the condenser, yet for others, it’s a separate part. Condensers are inexpensive enough that it makes no sense not to replace them with every set of points. They should last as long as a set of points, 20,000 miles at least.

My partner and I just bought a car, against my better logic as a New Yorker. It’s this glorious old Volvo station wagon:

Buying a 13-year-old car means buying a 13-year-old car stereo, as I recently learned. And a 13-year-old car stereo is very likely to mean no Bluetooth , and no auxiliary port for wires.

The only way to play music in my new (old) car is to play CDs (!!) or to listen to the radio (!!).

In 2005, there wasn’t even an iPhone yet! In 2018, my phone is a supercomputer that plays music over Bluetooth or auxiliary wire.

So, how to solve this problem of old technology meeting new technology? As it turns out, there’s an amazingly simple, elegant way to solve this.

Since my car stereo is a CD player/radio combination, I’m unable to use my phone with it directly. One solution would be to replace my entire stereo. It’s a bad option.

Replacing car stereos is expensive! Like, hundreds of dollars if not more.

We bought an older car specifically because we wanted to keep price down. Immediately dropping hundreds of dollars on a new stereo — solely so that my phone could pair with the stereo — was not an option.

Also of note: Volvo car stereos aren’t straightforward, rectangular head units. Replacing this guy would likely cost more than usual. No thanks!

So I started Googling, and found an amazing solution: FM transmitters.

Since my car stereo has radio, there’s a simple solution for adding Bluetooth : an FM radio transmitter.

Using the existing car stereo, the Nulaxy FM Transmitter is able to play whatever your phone is playing over the car’s existing speaker system.

It works really simply:

1. Tune the Nulaxy FM Transmitter to an unused FM signal (one that comes through as static on your car stereo).

2. Tune your car’s radio to the same signal.

That’s it! Your phone is now able to play music, or podcasts, or today’s HQ Trivia game through your car’s speakers.

Mine took no time at all to set up — it’s literally as simple as plugging the Nulaxy into your car’s cigarette lighter.

In my sweet new (old) ride, the cigarette lighter port is in the center console between the driver and passenger seats. That’s convenient in this particular case because I can easily plug the Nulaxy FM Transmitter into a really accessible area to anyone sitting in the front of the car.

That said, you could totally plug this thing in somewhere less conspicuous. I’m pretty seriously thinking of moving it to the back seat!

As you can see from the Nulaxy’s screen, it will tell you which phone is connected at any given time.

I have a Google Pixel. My wife has an iPhone 6. The Nulaxy tells us which is connected, and it’s a snap to switch between them. Better yet: Whichever phone was last connected automatically connects the next time you start the car.

The Nulaxy also saves whichever FM station you were using, and volume settings — and yes, it automatically shuts down when your car turns off. There’s a power button as well, just in case.

More than just adding Bluetooth, the Nulaxy modernizes aging cars.

There’s a lot going on in the Nulaxy FM Transmitter — it adds a ton of modern technology in a surprisingly small package:

– There’s a USB port, which can be used for charging.

– There’s an auxiliary port, for plugging in audio devices.

– There’s a simple screen that has a bunch of useful information on it.

I bought the Nulaxy FM Transmitter just for the ability to connect my phone to my old car stereo — turns out it adds a lot more that I find useful. Being able to charge my phone is great!

Better still: Over Bluetooth , you can use the Nulaxy to turn your car stereo into a hands-free phone system. Your phone call gets pumped through the car speakers, and your phone’s microphone can still pick up your voice as usual. Much better than using a Bluetooth headset, and significantly better than getting an expensive ticket for using your phone while driving.

At just $28, I’m incredibly happy with my purchase and strongly recommend the Nulaxy FM Transmitter to anyone else with an old car stereo who wants a modern upgrade.

The sound quality, even over FM radio, is great. I’ve only had to change which radio station I’m using once so far, and it’s unlikely to be a problem unless you’re someone who drives cross-country often (since radio stations change from place to place).

The device starts as quickly as my car, and pairs with my phone instantly. I have no real complaints — it honestly feels kind of magical that I was able to so easily modernize my 13-year-old car stereo with such a simple, inexpensive device.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to rolling through Brooklyn in a used Volvo listening to mid-’90s hip-hop.

Tuner car culture has been around in the U.S. for decades. People have been modifying their rides to go faster and look better. If you’re considering tuning or customizing a car, here’s a look at what that includes and some of the best tuner cars you can get:

What is a tuner car?

How to tune up an older car

A tuner car is a car that has been modified to perform better, according to Jerry. Typically this means they are made to go faster than untuned vehicles.

Tuner cars began decades ago. Advance Auto Parts says the idea of tuning goes back even further. The Roots brothers hot-rodded blast furnaces in the mid-19th century. Turbochargers were developed around World War I to help airplane engines improve performance. However, the first tuning of naturally aspirated engines began in the 1930s when Americans put Ford V8s into all types of different cars.

Donut Media on YouTube explains that tuning cars has been going on for decades as well. The post-World War II “hot rods” in the 1950s and 1960s would take older cars and tune them up to race.

Internationally, automakers in Japan and Italy would tune up naturally aspirated engines as well. Companies like Singer would take Porsches and make them tuner cars by enhancing the flat six-cylinder engine.

Decades later, more imported cars from Japan expanded the scene in places like southern California. In the early 2000s, the Fast and Furious movie franchise made tuner cars popular once again. There are also tuner cars purpose-made for the drag strip. Some have been adjusted for drift racing and time attack racing attracts all kinds of custom models. Additionally, there’s stance tuning to make cars fit a low-riding look.

What kinds of cars are considered tuners?

Most modern cars can become tuner cars thanks to performance upgrades and changes you can make electronically. Car Performance Boss names five things you can do to tune a car without changing any parts. You can remove the rev limiter and top speed limiter, update the engine torque map, improve throttle response, and adjust the engine’s air/fuel ratio.

Having your car tuned up without modifications can cost at least a few hundred dollars. Jerry estimates a professional tuning can cost up to $900 depending on labor and part costs.

There are many options if more modifications and aftermarket parts are your goal. HiConsumption and Road & Track agree that the best options include:

  • Sporty coupes like the Honda S2000, Mazda MX-5 Miata and RX-7
  • Sedans like the Honda Civic, BMW 3 Series, and Mitsubishi Lancer
  • Muscle car icons like the Ford Mustang

How much does it cost to tune a car?

Tuner cars don’t have to cost a lot. The first Honda to hit 9 seconds for a quarter-mile drag race was a 1991 Civic, according to Donut. U.S. News compiled a list of the best tuner cars, and you can find many used ones for a modest budget. Used cars like the BMW 3 Series, Honda Fit, and Mitsubishi Lancer have generations of tunable models that start at less than $10,000.

If you’re looking to add more performance with aftermarket parts, costs will be higher. A Reddit thread of modifications includes lots of cars that owners have spent thousands of dollars on to go faster. One tuner car buyer spent $10,000 on a Honda S2000 before paying more than $10,000 for modifications.

There is no minimum cost you must spend to tune a car. Cheap models can be turned into thrilling rides with a few modifications. You can decide what to prioritize – look, power, handling, etc. – and spend accordingly.

Is owning a tuner car worth it?

Tuner cars give you the power to decide how you want your vehicle to perform. You can take a stock car and modify it to your priorities. Cheap models can cost less than half of a brand new car. After all the modifications are complete, it’ll still likely cost less but be just as fun to drive.

A cheap tuner car may have higher mileage. However, the automakers that many consider the best tuner cars – Honda, Toyota, and Mazda – are carmakers known for reliability. If you want a truly customized driving experience, tuner cars are a worthwhile investment.

Many thousands of dollars are wasted daily at auto repair shops, because someone didn’t do this first .

Step 1

A number one cause for a car not climbing a hill like it use to, or bogging down when you try to accelerate quickly, is a dirty air cleaner. If the air filter is not as white as writing paper, assuming it was originally white, take it out and give your car a test run, unless you may have to follow another vehicle down a dusty road. If improved performance of your car is obvious, drive to an auto parts store and get another air filter. Mission accomplished.

Step 2

Another possible cause for a sick vehicle is 87 octane gasoline. Many cars with 87 octane fuel in them will fowl plugs or have clattering valves, especially in hot weather. Try fueling up twice with 89 octane. If you’re currently using 89 octane fuel up twice with 93 octane gas.

When your vehicle is missing, suggesting a fouled plug, turn the motor off and pour a cup of Marvel Mystery oil or carburetor cleaner into the carburetor. Let it set for 5 minutes or more so the mystery oil can seep down to each cylinder and hopefully clean any dirty plugs. Sometimes this must be done 2 or 3 times before a plug clears up.

  • Another possible cause of a car running poorly is a warn out oxygen sensor. They should be changed every 100,000 miles or sooner. Suggesting to a mechanic to check it or them out, might save dollars that otherwise might have been spent on a standard tune up, which wouldn’t be the cure if oxygen sensors were the bad guys.
  • Even though the manual for your vehicle says, it will run with 87 octane gas, there are exceptions in reality. Gasoline labeled 87 octane is not always 87 octane or better. (2)Some vehicles, when they get older, need a higher octane gas than they formerly for best performance.
  • A partially clogged up fuel filter may cause your engine to bog down, especially when you’re trying to drive at high speeds or climbing a hill.

This article was written by a professional writer, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more, see our about us page: link below.

Squeeze extra power from your vehicle’s engine.

October 26, 2019

Modern cars are quite fast right off the showroom floor, but that doesn’t stop many enthusiasts from trying to squeeze every bit of performance out of them. From mild to wild, there are a variety of ways to add some extra power to your vehicle. Here are some popular methods to increase your engine’s horsepower.

Cold Air Intake

Upgrading your vehicle’s intake is one of the easier methods for unlocking some extra horsepower. In fairness, factory intake setups are generally quite effective, but there are some cases where an engine will benefit from an aftermarket intake. These setups utilize a free-flowing air filter, allowing the engine to breathe easier. In order to function properly, an aftermarket air intake needs a proper heat shield; otherwise, it will suck hot air from the engine compartment, negating any performance gains.

Typical Cost Before Labor: $250–$1,000

Performance Exhaust

A performance exhaust is one of the most popular modifications for enthusiasts. Just like a performance intake, a performance exhaust is designed to flow better than a stock setup. Aftermarket exhausts are usually louder than stock but may also save a few pounds. Depending on your vehicle application, additional exhaust components (such as a downpipe or a set of headers) can maximize any exhaust system gains.

Typical Cost Before Labor: $400–$1,500


This is probably the most cost-effective way to add power to a modern car. When a manufacturer produces a vehicle, the ECU (engine control unit) is often tuned conservatively to allow for lower grade fuels and to minimize some of the stress on internal engine components.

Aftermarket software (also referred to as a “flash”) is designed to take full advantage of your engine by adjusting the ignition timing to smooth out power delivery (often requiring premium gasoline). Many turbocharged vehicles see considerable power gains from ECU tuning, as it also allows the turbocharger to produce more boost pressure, which equates to more power.

If you choose to go the software route, be sure to purchase from a reputable tuner, as engines are very sensitive to changes. Tunes are often available in “stages,” meaning you’ll need to select the tune that best suits your engine’s current configuration (stock vs. supporting modifications).

Typical Cost Before Labor: $500–$2,000

Forced Induction

If your vehicle’s engine is naturally aspirated, forced induction will provide some hefty power gains. Forced induction can come in the form of a turbocharger or a supercharger.

Turbochargers generate power by using leftover exhaust gases to spin a turbine wheel, which forces more air into the engine. With more air, the engine can burn extra fuel to produce more power.

A supercharger works similarly to a turbocharger in that it forces more air into the engine. However, a supercharger is belt driven, so it requires some engine power to operate. The benefit of a supercharger is that it has an instantaneous response, whereas a turbocharger may have a bit of lag while it builds boost.

Since adding forced induction puts more strain on your vehicle’s engine and drivetrain, you may need supporting modifications, such as a heavier duty clutch or cooling system. This will vary by vehicle application, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

Typical Cost Before Labor: $3,000+

Performance Engine Build

If you’re dead set on getting the most performance out of your existing engine, then you’ll need to deep dive into a performance engine build. This requires rebuilding the engine with performance parts such as beefed up cylinder heads, upgraded pistons, and a stroker crankshaft to name a few. If you’re not comfortable disassembling an engine, then this is best left to an experienced engine builder.

Typical Cost Before Labor: $5,000+

Engine Conversion

If you’ve run out of bolt-on power upgrades and don’t want to tear your existing engine apart to modify the internals, then an engine conversion may be the next logical step. This is not for the faint of heart, but swapping in a more powerful motor can be an effective way to increase your vehicle’s horsepower.

Some engine swaps are fairly plug-and-play, while others may require extensive fabrication. It’s best to do some research or talk to someone who has performed a similar engine swap to get a sense of what’s truly involved with an engine conversion.

Typical Cost Before Labor: $8,000+

A major concern for many new car owners is how modifications affect a vehicle’s warranty. Some automakers allow the installation of in-house performance parts when installed by an authorized dealer, while others are not thrilled with owners trying to “re-engineer” their vehicles. Due to the differences between automakers, it’s best to discuss with your dealership how aftermarket performance parts may affect your warranty.

Another major hurdle with performance parts comes in the form of emissions regulations. In certain states (such as California), many aftermarket performance parts are required to be emissions compliant; otherwise, they are not deemed street legal. While you can choose to install non-compliant parts, it may compromise your ability to pass emissions testing. It’s best to research your local emissions laws before deciding on certain engine performance parts.

Finally, consider any compromises you might be making in the pursuit of horsepower. Modifications like an exhaust or an intake may have minimal tradeoffs, while extensive modifications (like a supercharger) can drastically alter the vehicle’s fuel economy or long-term reliability.

Now that you know some common methods for adding more horsepower to your vehicle, let the research begin! Whether you’re looking for some low-buck power or want to open up the wallet with a serious performance project, there are plenty of options for giving your ride that extra bit of punch.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and is for information only. Always seek the advice of a certified professional or your vehicle manufacturer. If attempting any repairs yourself, take all safety precautions as necessary.

Do you drive an old car model? Well, then it’s likely that your vehicle doesn’t have the latest and advanced automotive technology features that come with today’s models. Over the years, in-vehicle technology has transformed a lot, and newer models of cars have features that older models lack. As a result, old cars’ owners have moved toward upgrading their vehicles with the latest features and equipment to make every riding experience smooth.

One of the most popular and vital features that you can incorporate in your car is Bluetooth. Its connective technology can help to improve functionality, such as answering your phone and listening to your favorite tunes.

You can easily add Bluetooth to your car because it’s a technology that has been around for a while. If you are wondering what the options are for including Bluetooth connectivity in your ride, here are some of the most popular ones.

Get a Bluetooth adapter with an FM transmitter

One of the best ways to add Bluetooth to your vehicle is by getting an FM transmitter. It comes in handy when your car’s radio doesn’t have an auxiliary input. The FM transmitter broadcasts audio over an open FM radio frequency, but you have to tune your stereo to the right frequency so that you can hear the audio.

You can find a myriad of FM transmitters on the market, but you should ensure that you settle for recent models because they have excellent audio quality and strong signals. These transmitters rely on Bluetooth connectivity; therefore, your vehicle won’t have wires hanging around, which is an advantage for you. The transmitters could be:

  • USB-powered
  • 12V-powered, or
  • Battery power

Their price ranges also vary; accordingly, you should set a budget to get the item that matches up to your spending limits.

Get a Bluetooth cassette adapter

I drive an OLD car and I recently discovered a product that shocked me by its very existence:
A cassette adapter with bluetooth connectivity.
What a crazy marriage of old and new tech. The sound quality leaves something to be desired but it still brings me joy ?

— Michael Richardson @ Stir Trek (@AnAccidentalDev) May 1, 2019

If your old car doesn’t have an aux-in jack, but it features a cassette player, you can get a Bluetooth cassette adapter for your listening needs. Intriguingly, this type of unit doesn’t demand much; you only need to insert it into the stereo slot like you would a regular cassette.

Some models of Bluetooth cassette adapters also allow you to make and receive calls wirelessly because they have built-in microphones. Keep in mind that the condition of your tape head determines the quality of the audio.

Look for aftermarket audio units

Alternatively, you can get an aftermarket stereo system to help you stream music and enjoy hands-free calling in your old car. You should make this replacement when you want to have a wide range of audio functionality, but you may need to review the basics of adding Bluetooth in your car.

Luckily, a majority of these devices include easy-to-follow instructions, but you could also get an expert to make the installations. Aftermarket products function like original parts. However, you have to watch out for the price ranges because you will find different products on the market. Besides, you have to get an audio unit whose color and design matches your car’s stock setup.

Get a Bluetooth car kit

You can also get a Bluetooth car kit to improve functionality in your old automobile. A Bluetooth car kit can obtain power from your vehicle’s cigarette lighter, and you can connect it to your car’s stereo through the auxiliary jack to listen to music. This kit also allows you to make and receive calls because most models feature built-in speakers. Others also allow you to control your favorite tunes from your phone.

How to tune up an older car

Cars that have sat un-started for months, maybe even without oil, don’t take kindly to an abrupt wake-up call. They can be as nasty as a grizzly bear prematurely jolted out of hibernation, and you will pay the price of its wrath.

Whether a car has been sitting for three months or three years, certain steps must be taken before you can just fire it up and head down the road, especially if you want to ensure many happy years on the road. Before jumping in, do some basic checks, which include looking for leaks, corroded fittings, rotted hoses, or compromised seals. Also check for leaks in the power-steering system, engine, transmission, rear axle, and brakes.

Replace Fluids

The length of time the car has been sitting will determine what fluids should be drained and replaced. For instance, if you discover an oldie but goodie in someone’s barn that has been sitting for years, you’ll need to drain, bleed, and/or flush all fluid systems and then refill them.

If on the other hand, your car has only been in hibernation during the winter months, do a complete oil and filter change, then drain any gas in the tank and carburetor float bowls. Then flush the fuel lines, and drain, flush, and replace the radiator coolant. Check all other fluids to make sure they are filled to the required levels, and fill your tires with plenty of air.

Check the Battery

Hopefully, before the car was parked for the long term, its battery was disconnected, removed, and stored safely away from moisture. Then all you would have to do is clean the battery posts and terminals with a baking soda and water solution, give it a good charge, and reinstall it.

If on the other hand, the car had been sitting for many years with the battery left in place, you should buy a new battery and install it with new cables. The copper in the battery cables loses its conductive properties as it ages.

Prepare for Ignition

If the car has been sitting for over 90 days, you should remove the spark plugs and introduce some form of lubricant like Marvel Mystery Oil into the cylinders. Your spark plugs fire in a specific order, so you should label each plug wire before removing them. Be advised that new plug wires can be expensive, so make sure you pull them out by grasping them at a point that’s closest to the engine. Inspect the car’s spark plugs and replace them if they look corroded, white, or oily.

With the spark plugs removed, turn the engine over with the key several times to allow the oil you put into the cylinders to lubricate the cylinder walls and to prime the oil and fuel pumps prior to ignition. You should keep cranking the engine until the oil pressure gauge reads normal or your oil pressure light goes out before returning the spark plugs and leads back to their correct position.

Since you’ve removed all the old gasoline, you’ll need to remove the air filter cover and liberally spray some engine starter fluid into the mouth of the carburetors. Then, with a couple of pumps of the gas pedal and giving it a little choke, your sleeping beauty should come to life.

Before You Leave the Garage

Don’t take the car out just yet. Don’t even rev the engine—just let it idle and warm up. With the car running, return the air filter cover, check the transmission fluid level, and check underneath the car for leaking fluids. Then turn off the engine and check all the hoses for dry rot and look for belts that are cracked or in need of tightening.

Give the suspension a good lube job and look for worn or loose ball joints, deteriorated bushings, rusted shafts, leaks at the shocks, and missing or broken bump stops.

Thoroughly check your brakes as well. With the car up on ​a jack, rotate each wheel by hand with someone working the pedal. Each wheel should brake solidly and release cleanly. Your inspection should include making sure the friction linings, drums, and rotors look in good order. Calipers and wheel cylinders are subject to corrosion, as well as leakage, so check those, too.

Finally, don’t forget to check your running lights. With an assistant, activate turn signals, headlights, brake lights, and high beams to ensure they are functional. Replace any blown fuses and recheck.

Now You’re Ready to Roll

A 20-minute drive close to home will loosen everything up and evaporate all the moisture in the exhaust and in the engine. It will also give you a chance to listen for any rattles and engine misses, while keeping an eye on the car’s gauges for abnormal engine temperatures, battery charging, and oil pressure.

Once you get back home, make a list of what you uncovered on the trip, like knocking engine, brakes pulling to one side, stiff steering, etc. Also, re-check your fluids and look for any new leaks that the “loosening up” could have created. Only once you’ve addressed all issues should you take the car out for longer trips.

This may seem like a lot of work just to get a car running, but if you want the engine to give you years of hassle-free service, a little elbow grease now will save a big headache later.

How to tune up an older car

Get this totally free software program for tuning the car chips and extract the beast from your car motor!

Microchip tuning represents adjusting or updating an erasable programmable read only ram micro-chip in an automobile’s or different vehicle’s electric control unit (ECU) to reach outstanding efficiency, regardless of whether it be more force, better emission , or perhaps much better petrol proficiency.
Inserted program in ECUs always improvement in range count, advanced features, and refinement. Controlling the growing complexity and amount of ECUs in an automobile is now a vital issue for actual vehicle companies (OEMs).

Autos Making Industry: Toyota, Volkswagen, General Motor, Chevrolet, Dodge, Opel, Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Peugeot, Citroën, Nissan, Renault, Ford, Suzuki, Fiat, Land Rover, Mercedes, BMW or Audi.
at least 30 thousands tuned data files , you must select one , that should match your car or truck .

Chip tuning refers to changing or modifying an erasable programmable read only memory chip in an automobile’s or other vehicle’s electronic control unit (ECU) to achieve superior performance, whether it be more power, cleaner emissions, or better fuel efficiency. Embedded software in ECUs continue to increase in line count, complexity, and sophistication. Managing the increasing complexity and number of ECUs in a vehicle has become a key challenge for original car manufacturers (OEMs).
The Tuning Soft tool works brilliantly on any car, auto or van. It is compatible with brand or model. The restrictions are truly very few and no-existent. The ECU Tuning tool works on your car but must be a brand new or bought 14 years ago. The tool will help you either ways.

What exactly is Chip Tuning RBN?

Chiptuning RBN is considered the most complete software optimization service for electronic digital control engine and most extreme perform of its type in European countries and North America:
In fact Tuning ECU Soft is what Tesla are doing now with their cars, selling the same cars but some have options limited from automobile software, paying something extra and you will have all the options unlocked.

How to tune up an older car

Boost power and torque from 12 – 35%
Adaptability increased engine.
Enhanced overall performance together with acceleration.
Reduced heat range regimes in the motor.
Decrease noise levels of the car engine.
Levels reduced engine vibrations.
Disturbances and vibrations ranges very carefully evaluated utilizing oscilloscope.
Lower gas consuming.
Increased reliability as a result of a regime of reduced temps and lesser inner dilations.
Reduced emission quantities due to software program progression using fuel analyzer.
Unrestricted in software program and time guarantee.
Total tech support (customer service).
Full specialized options this includes models equipped with Anti-Tuning.

On this page you can download free Chip Tuning Soft for your car that is probably locked to standard torque. The car ECU works just fine, it is in a good condition, work with any car brand and mark and everything will be perfect with your mechanics. In case all the electronics in the car resets and some problems may occur the rest of the electronics would probably continue working as it did before, but the ECU will need some small modifications before it could be able to turn on with more horsepower.

Guide to use the tool
1. Download the tool from below;
2. Click on the icon that is presented on the desktop of your laptop;
3. When the tool opens enter the requested data;
4. Enter the model and band of the car as well as its serial number. (Normally, the serial number is printed in the motor. But, since you don’t have it. You may need to pull out the car documents. Look for the serial number on one of the sides of the engine. Make sure that you write the serial number correctly. As this information is of great importance for the whole process to finish happily;
5. Click on generate recomanded ECU options and wait for a few seconds for the OK button to appear;
6. Backup your engine existing settings;
7. Enter the test mode to see if the options are for good;
8. Try new setting that’s work best for your car.

You could try also Handybook Mechanic and OBD Scanner now.

Download this software (from a no limit high-speed server and with no waiting time, but with private access)!
Download from here:

How to tune up an older car

It’s a fact that the average age of a car in the UK is almost eight-years old. Given that millions more motors will be older still, many drivers are singing along to car sound systems that pre-date music streaming using Bluetooth. Plenty more are driving cars from a time when an apple was something you ate.

If that sounds familiar, there is some good news: it’s possible to upgrade an old car’s sound system. This means you’ll be able to play your latest digital music collection, or even use music streaming services, such as Spotify.

A wide range of clever accessories is available, and upgrades start from as little as £10. You might be keeping an old car going to get maximum value for money from it. Or you may own a classic car that’s from a time before iTunes. Whatever’s the case, you can use modern technology to upgrade your car’s sounds. Here’s how to put an end to the days of doing the time warp.

How do you play music from a smartphone with a cassette player?

A quick browse of Amazon, eBay, Halfords or Maplin will reveal an exhaustive supply of pocket-size, affordable gadgets that can take music from a modern smartphone and play it through an old car sound system.

For example, the best-selling type of device at Halfords is a cassette adapter, made by Belkin. It looks like a tape cassette with a headphone wire attachment – because that’s effectively what it is. It plugs into any smartphone or MP3 player with an ‘Aux-in’ or headphone socket. The cassette then inserts into the stereo’s cassette player (it’s compatible with front or side-loading units). Thanks to the magic of technology your old car is then able to play your digital music collection. For just £13, and with a lifetime warranty, it’s possibly the best value music playing device drivers could own.

Bluetooth music streaming via an FM radio

How to tune up an older car

Again, an online search will reveal any number of small, smart accessories that enable digital music streaming through an old car’s sound system. But a word of advice: always check the suitability with your make and model of smartphone.

Most do this using a combination of Bluetooth data streaming and the radio’s FM frequency. It sounds complicated but the units are surprisingly affordable. For example, Amazon’s best-selling product with the highest customer rating is the VicTsing Wireless Radio Adapter, which costs £16.99.

It’s powered by the 12-volt cigarette lighter socket, and has a digital screen that can be rotated to face the driver or passenger.

Impressively, the VicTsing can do more than stream digital music from a smartphone or MP3 player. It comes with voice recognition technology, so drivers can change tracks without taking their hands off the steering wheel. It’s also able to turn your old radio into a speaker system for a phone, so drivers can make hands-free calls.

Upgrade your car stereo to a digital unit

Drivers who aren’t concerned with maintaining the original fixtures and fittings of any old or classic car could consider having the stereo system upgraded to a digital unit.

It’s a more expensive approach, but it gives a finished look to the dashboard. It also means you don’t have gizmos plugged in to the 12v socket, which could be put to good use powering something else.

Prices start from less than £40. That buys something from Pioneer or JVC that will offer FM and MW radio. In addition there’s a simple USB cable port. This enables a smartphone or MP3 device to plug n’ play music.

Spend a little more, over £70, and you could afford a DAB digital radio player than can also be plugged into a smartphone or music player.

How to tune up an older car

By Andre Simon

While we all love driving our cars, nobody ever really enjoys shelling out their hard earned cash when it comes time to fill up. While us performance car owners are usually going to skip the manufacturer spec sheets for fuel usage, and head straight to the power and torque numbers, living with poor fuel economy can really eat away at your bank balance. In this article we are going to look at why your engine uses so much fuel and what can be done to improve it.

If you paid attention in chemistry class, you would have heard of the term ‘stoichiometric’. This term defines the ratio of air and fuel that will result in theoretically perfect combustion, ie all of the available oxygen and fuel is combusted. For normal pump fuel, this stoichiometric air fuel ratio is 14.7:1 which means that for every kilogram of fuel the engine burns, it consumes 14.7 kilograms of air.

Now this stoichiometric ratio is important because every auto manufacturer in the world uses oxygen sensors in the exhaust system to make sure the engine runs at an air/fuel ratio of 14.7:1 when it is idling or cruising down the street. This is called closed loop mode, and the ECU monitors the oxygen sensors and either increases or decreases fuel delivery until a stoichiometric air/fuel ratio is achieved.

So what happens if we choose to run a leaner air/fuel ratio than the magic stoichiometric ratio? My own testing has proven that using an air/fuel ratio of around 15.5:1 will actually show a small but noticeable improvement in fuel economy.

Now if we get an improvement in fuel economy with a leaner air/fuel ratio, why don’t we just keep going leaner? With a conventional engine that uses fuel injectors in the intake ports, if we keep leaning the air/fuel ratio, we will get to a point where the engine begins to misfire. Basically the combustion charge is too lean for the spark plug to properly ignite, so an air/fuel ratio around 16.0:1 is about as far as we can go.

There are exceptions though and direct injection technology can show some worthwhile improvements in fuel economy. Direct injection engines inject fuel straight into the combustion chamber and they have excellent control over when the fuel is added and how it is mixed with the air. Remembering that the lean limit is defined by when combustion becomes unstable, or the engine begins to misfire, lean burn DI engines employ a strategy called stratified charge. With this technique the fuel is injected in such a way that the overall air fuel ratio is very lean but the mixture distribution throughout the cylinder is also not uniform. The fuel is directed primarily towards the spark plug so that the air fuel ratio in the vicinity of the spark plug is sufficient to promote stable combustion. This allows for extremely lean overall air/fuel ratios while retaining reliable combustion. Air/fuel ratios as lean as 20:1-25:1 are not out of the question.

Lean cruise mode

So if we can see a good improvement in fuel economy with a leaner air/fuel ratio, then why don’t cars come out of the factory like this? The answer unfortunately is emissions. That stoichiometric air/fuel ratio of 14.7:1 also just happens to be the point at which the minimum amount of nasty pollutants will pour out your tail pipe, and the factory fitted catalytic converter can do its job best. This is the bottom line for manufacturers as if they don’t pass the emissions drive cycle test, the engine will never go into production.

Some manufacturers get creative though and design their engine controls around the drive cycle test, providing a lean cruise mode but ensuring there is no way that the engine will enter this mode during the drive cycle test. GM’s LS1 engine is a classic example with a discreetly hidden lean cruise mode included in the factory PCM. In the aftermarket we can see reasonable gains in economy by changing the control parameters and allowing the engine to enter lean cruise faster and more frequently.

Pumping losses

One of aspects that limits the part throttle cruise efficiency of a petrol engine is called pumping losses. That probably doesn’t mean too much to you so let me explain. Imagine you have one of those big plastic syringes, and you push the plunger all the way in and then pull it all the way out. There is little resistance to the air moving in and out of the syringe, hence it is easy to move the plunger. Now imagine what happens when you block the end of the syringe with your thumb. The air can’t move in or out of the syringe and it becomes difficult to move the plunger.

This is what happens in an engine when the throttle body is closed during cruise. The engine is working hard to pull the air past the throttle butterfly and this is why we see a vacuum in the intake manifold. This is called pumping loss, and it reduces the efficiency of our engine at low throttle openings as the engine needs to work harder to do its job.

If you have ever been in the situation where you have tried to jump start a car by rolling down a hill, you can really see pumping losses in action. As you roll down the hill with the engine turning over but not running, you find that you can adjust your speed with the throttle. If you open the throttle completely, you minimize pumping losses and the car will accelerate (despite the engine not running). If you close the throttle completely, the car will slow as the engine must work harder to pull air into the engine.

Minimising Pumping Losses

In the perfect world, our engine wouldn’t need a throttle butterfly at all. The throttle would be permanently wide open and the power would be controlled by some other means. This is the case in most modern common rail diesel engines, where power is adjusted by the amount of fuel injected and this is one of the reasons a diesel engine shows better efficiency than a petrol engine.

Doing away with the throttle body on our petrol engines isn’t as straightforward as it is with a diesel but manufacturers still have some tricks up their sleeves. Variable cam control systems can be used to help the situation at cruise by optimizing the cam overlap to minimize pumping losses. I think we are going to see some big developments in the next decade here though so watch this space.

What you can do

Unless you happen to do your own engine development, chances of achieving major gains through redesigning your engine aren’t too realistic. The good news is that many of the modifications we do to increase power, will also help out fuel economy too. A better exhaust design or a less restrictive intake all allow the engine to breathe easier, improving volumetric efficiency, and this aids economy. If you are getting your engine tuned, talk to your tuner about lean cruise options and what you can do here as it is a great place to make gains.

Asked by: Mrs. Ofelia Schulist

Typically, if you have an older vehicle with a non-electronic ignition, you should get a tune up about every 10,000-12,000 miles, or every year. Newer cars with an electronic ignition and fuel injection can go from 25,000 to 100,000 miles before needing a major tune up. Need to know more about a tune up service?

What are the signs that your car needs a tune up?

  • Difficulty Starting the Engine. It’s a pretty glaring sign that your car has some problems when it becomes habitually challenging to start the engine. .
  • Stalling. .
  • Strange Noises. .
  • Reduced Braking Ability. .
  • Warning Light. .
  • Increased Fuel Consumption.

Are tune ups necessary for cars?

Whether you have a car with an older ignition system or a new one, it’s necessary to have a tune-up done when your vehicle’s owner manual requires it. If you don’t, you run the risk of having your vehicle run poorly. A properly tuned vehicle will run smoothly and perhaps even see better fuel economy.

How long can a car go without a tune up?

Most older vehicles with non-electronic ignitions should be tuned every 10,000 to 12,000 miles or every year, whichever comes first. Newer cars with electronic ignition and fuel injection systems are scheduled to go from 25,000 miles to as many as 100,000 miles without needing a major tune-up.

What happens if your car needs a tune up?

The tune up car service depends on the results of the inspection, but in order to ensure your engine receives the right proportions of air, fuel and spark, this may include replacing the cap, rotor, spark plugs, wires, and PCV valve. It can also include replacing air, oil, and fuel filters.

Does Your Car Need a Tune Up? Myth Busted

32 related questions found

What happens if I don’t get a tune up?

What happens if I don’t get a tune-up? If you don’t take your car in for a tune-up at your manufacturer’s recommended intervals, it could put unnecessary stress on components of your ignition system or even damage your catalytic converter. It could also cause you to experience longer, harder starts.

Will my check engine light come on if I need a tune up?

If there’s a warning light on, it’s probably an indication that you should have gotten a tune-up a while ago, but more importantly, it’s a reason to bring your car into an auto repair center immediately. The problem here is that most people don’t take their check engine lights very seriously.

At what mileage do you need a tune up?

Typically, if you have an older vehicle with a non-electronic ignition, you should get a tune up about every 10,000-12,000 miles, or every year. Newer cars with an electronic ignition and fuel injection can go from 25,000 to 100,000 miles before needing a major tune up.

Do you need to tune your car after exhaust and intake?

For a quick answer – no, you don’t need to tune your car after installing a cold air intake. Tuning your car is expensive and for doing it only to optimize a cold air intake is not worth the money. A cold air intake is a cheap and easy upgrade that does not require tuning.

New tires and spark plugs, backup cameras, data monitoring systems, and more: all easy upgrades that’ll breathe life into your old ride.

How to tune up an older car

How to tune up an older car

It’s easy to think that you need a mechanical engineering degree — or, perhaps, to be Dominic Torretto from The Fast and the Furious — to work on your own car. That’s hardly true, however. You should have some mechanical know-how before you unbolt any engine covers and start removing things, but there are still plenty of tweaks that are well within the grasp of most of us.

How to tune up an older car

How to tune up an older car

And in fact, there are a handful of upgrades almost anyone can do that can make a big difference to your daily driver. From new tires and spark plugs to installing backup cameras and data monitoring systems, here are a few easy upgrades that’ll breathe life into your old ride.

Upgrade Your Car’s Performance

Spark Plugs

Better spark plugs are an easy, affordable swap that can make all the difference. The better the quality of the spark, the better the combustion — translating to more power and better fuel economy. (Here’s a complete rundown on how to check yours.)

How to tune up an older car

Engine Control Unit (ECU) Flash

The ECU in your car is set up from the factory to control the fuel-air mixture in the engine, which maximizes efficiency and power. Problem is, manufacturers program the ECU’s parameters well below the engine’s true capability, mostly as a safety net. A quick reprogramming can unlock all sorts of engine performance — and in some instances, even return better gas mileage.

How to tune up an older car


Replacing bushings is a bit more involved than swapping spark plugs, but you’ll be glad you did it. Sitting between the suspension and frame and the chassis and engine, factory rubber bushings help prevent vibrations throughout your car.

The problem with rubber bushings is that they wear out and crack over time. Polyurethane bushings not only last longer than their standard rubber counterparts, but also do a better job of quelling vibrations and minimizing weight transfer.

How to tune up an older car

Cold Air Intake

The better your car breathes, the better it runs. A cold-air intake not only frees up the air flow to your engine, it also feeds it cooler, denser air, which engines love.

How to tune up an older car

Upgrade Your Car’s Tech


The age of infotainment systems is relatively new, so it’s understandable if you feel behind with an older car. A new, modern interface and speaker system is an easy way to re-energize your daily commute or weekend drive. Some of the better ones (like this one) even offer compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

How to tune up an older car

Backup Camera

Backup cameras only recently became standard across the industry. Once you use a backup camera, parallel parking and reversing in tight spaces without one feels like serious work.

How to tune up an older car

Data Monitoring

Even if you consider yourself handy under the hood of your car, diagnosing a single specific problem based on the all-encompassing check engine light can be near-impossible. Data monitoring systems keep you in-the-know, revealing problems in plain English.

How to tune up an older car

Remote Start

Warming up or cooling down your car before even getting in it is a true luxury. But you don’t need a personal driver on the payroll — all you need is a simple remote starter.

How to tune up an older car

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Whether you’re going on a long road trip or making your way through the daily commute, few things can ruin a drive like a flat or slow leak. Keeping the correct PSI in all four corners isn’t just safe; you’ll also extract better handling and performance from your tires when they’re properly inflated.

Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Popular Science, Medium’s OneZero, Android Police, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Prior to joining How-To Geek, Eric spent three years working at Lifehacker. Read more.

How to tune up an older car

While you’re still waiting on your refrigerator or your microwave to be as smart as your phone, the car in your garage is already ahead of the curve. If you own a vehicle made after 1996, you can connect to it with a simple device called an OBD-II adapter and find out your fuel efficiency, diagnose check engine lights, and gather a ton of other useful data.

Most cars manufactured since the 80s have an on-board diagnostics (or OBD) computer inside. These computers allow mechanics and regulators to troubleshoot any computer-controlled parts of the car. From January 1st, 1996 onward, all cars sold within the US were required to have an OBD-II compatible port. This allows anyone with an adapter to read information from the car. You may have seen this when a technician checks your emissions.

For the most part, OBD-II tools were only used by professionals to do things like figure out why you check engine light is on, or to make sure your car is meeting emission standards. However, OBD-II ports can be used to read a lot more helpful data. Recently, cheap Bluetooth adapters have made it possible for everyone to get access to that information.

What You Can Do With an OBD-II Adapter

While this might all sound dry, everyday consumers can do a ton of cool stuff with even a cheap OBD-II adapter. You can buy a basic Bluetooth adapter for as little as $20, though there are more expensive ones that offer even more features. I own this one which is $22 on Amazon. With it, you can connect to apps like Dash (Android/iOS) and Torque (Android). It’s important to note that many of the cheaper Bluetooth adapters may drain the battery if they’re left plugged in. These should be okay as long as you drive your car every day (or if you’ll only plug it in when you want to diagnose a check engine light), but if you leave your car idle over the weekend, you may want a more high-end adapter.

The more expensive whole-package OBD-II systems like Automatic ($80 for Lite, $130 for Pro, Android/iOS) come with adapters that connect to 3G networks, include GPS, and power-saving features, plus their own app. Depending on which adapter you get, you can do all kinds of things, including:

  • See how much your trips cost in gas. You probably know off the top of your head about how much it takes to fill up your tank. But how much does it take to drive to work? How much do you spend every time you drive across town to see a friend? Apps like Dash track how far you travel, compare that to the cost of gas in your area and how efficient your car is. For each trip, it can show you how much you spent to get there. It’s weirdly comforting to see that each trip to work costs $0.40.
  • Diagnose your check engine lights. The check engine light can mean any one of a hundred things are wrong, and you’ll never know until you go to your mechanic…unless you have an OBD-II adapter. Apps like Dash and Torque can give you a more specific error code. Sometimes the app can tell you exactly what that means, or you can Google it for more information. With this information, you can figure out whether you need to hurry to the mechanic right away, or if you just lost your gas cap.
  • Remember where you parked your car. Basic adapters like the cheap ones listed above can connect to Dash and use your phone’s location to mark where you parked your car. When you leave, you can track it down from your phone. If you’re using Automatic Pro, it can locate your car even when it’s away from your phone. So, if a family member uses your car (or if it’s stolen), you can track exactly where it is from your phone.
  • Get help from emergency services. This one alone may justify the cost of Automatic Pro. This adapter can detect when you’ve been in a severe car crash. An operator will then call your phone and ask if you need assistance. If you say yes (or if you don’t respond), they’ll call emergency services for you and send them to your location, which Automatic can also see. Their operators will also stay on the phone with you until emergency services arrive.
  • Connect to IFTTT, Alexa, and other smart apps. As if these tools weren’t powerful enough on their own, you can pair them with your host of other smart home gadgets through IFTTT. There are IFTTT channels for both Dash and Automatic that let you log check engine lights, turn your lights on when you get home (or turn them off when you leave), or send your partner a message when you leave for work. Automatic can also connect to Alexa so you can ask where your car is or whether you need to get gas.

That’s a lot of power for a basic diagnostic system from the mid 90s. If you want to add your car to your arsenal of smart home gadgets, you don’t need an expensive head unit or a brand new car. The cheaper Bluetooth adapters are an easy way to get started if you just want to dip your toes in, though Automatic offers a lot of benefits that you don’t get from generic OBD-II adapters.

How to Get Started With Your OBD-II Adapter

Once you’ve decided which type of adapter you want to use, you’ll need to plug it into your car. The OBD-II port on your car looks like this.

How to tune up an older car

The port may be in different places depending on your model of car, but it’s legally required to be within two feet of the steering wheel. Usually, it’s just underneath the wheel, or near the fuse panel. Once you find it, plug the adapter in like so.

How to tune up an older car

Next, open up your phone. Most adapters will use Bluetooth, so you’ll have to pair it to your phone. This process may be slightly different for each phone, but we’ve detailed the process for most devices here. Start by heading to your Bluetooth settings.

How to tune up an older car

Find the OBD-II adapter in the list of devices and tap on it.

How to tune up an older car

You’ll then be asked to enter in the four-digit PIN for your adapter. You can find this in the instructions that came with your adapter, but as the prompt says, it’s usually 0000 or 1234. Once you’ve entered the PIN, tap OK.

How to tune up an older car

You should now see your adapter in your list of devices.

How to tune up an older car

You can now open up your various OBD-II apps we mentioned earlier connect to your car. We recommend Dash in particular for logging information about your car and tracking your trips. Automatic Pro will have a different set up process, since it uses 3G to track your car rather than Bluetooth, but Automatic Lite should work just like any other Bluetooth adapter.

How to tune up an older car

An overheating engine is more than an inconvenience, it can be an expensive engine killer. It may even leave you on the side of the road then on to the repair shop for a serious repair bill.

If your car has been running hot, you know the feeling. You’re sitting in traffic, the light turns green, and you hope that traffic breaks fast enough for you to get some air flowing through the radiator so the temperature needle will go down. It’s beyond stressful, and there’s no reason you should be forced to endure this.

The fact is, there are usually a few culprits to look into when your engine is running hot.

Your Engine Overheats on Short Trips

If your engine is overheating shortly after you leave, or it heats up even on short trips, you should check the following possible causes and repair suggestions.

Symptom: Engine quickly overheats. Engine runs fine but gets very hot shortly after you start it. This problem usually occurs after only five minutes or after traveling about a mile. You may or may not notice steam coming from the hood or smell coolant.

Possible causes:

  1. Engine coolant level may be very low. The Fix: Refill the coolant to the proper level.
  2. Engine’s drive belts may be broken or slipping. The Fix: Tighten or replace the belts.
  3. The electric cooling fan may not be coming on. The Fix: Repair or replace the cooling fan. Repair wiring. Replace the cooling fan temp sensor.
  4. The ignition timing may be set wrong. The Fix: Adjust ignition timing.
  5. There may be a vacuum leak. The Fix: Check and replace vacuum lines as required.
  6. The engine may have mechanical problems. The Fix: Check compression to determine the engine’s condition.
  7. The engine’s thermostat may be stuck closed. The Fix: Replace the thermostat.
  8. There may be a leak in the cooling system. The Fix: Repair the leak and refill coolant.
  9. Cylinder head gasket(s) may be bad. The Fix: Replace any bad gaskets.

Your Engine Overheats After Extended Driving

In some cases, your engine may be running fine and the overheating problem only occurs on extended drives or long waits in traffic. If this is the case with your car or truck, check on the following possible issues.

Symptom: Engine overheats. Engine runs fine but gets very hot while driving. This problem usually occurs after moderate to extended periods of driving. You may or may not notice steam coming from the hood or smell coolant.

Possible causes:

  1. Any of the above causes for overheating on short trips.
  2. The car is overloaded or being driven too hard. The Fix: Lighten the load and back off the gas.
  3. The radiator or block may be clogged. The Fix: Reverse flush the cooling system and fill with fresh coolant.

Fixing the Most Common Overheating Problems

Some of those possible overheating causes apply to both situations and these are among the easiest repairs you can tackle in your own garage.

Low Coolant

By a large margin, the most common cause for engine overheating is simply a low coolant level. Your engine’s cooling system relies on coolant to circulate and remove heat from the engine. If you don’t have enough coolant in there to do the job, heat will build up and your engine will overheat.

No amount of running the heater in the summer will help if you don’t have enough coolant in the radiator to transfer the heat. By far, the first thing you should do if your engine seems to be running hot is check your coolant level.

Electric Cooling Fan Failure

If you have an electric cooling fan that isn’t coming on, this can cause your engine to overheat. This fan draws cooler air through your radiator when your car isn’t going fast enough to do the job naturally.

You can test this by letting your car idle long enough for the engine to heat up. If you have an overheating problem in traffic, keep an eye on your temperature gauge. When it starts creeping into the danger zone, look under the hood to see if your electric fan is running. If it’s not, you’ll need to figure out why. Typically, it comes down to one of two problems.

Bad Electric Fan: Sometimes your fan motor will just burn out and your fan won’t come on at all. To test this, find your radiator fan switch and disconnect the wiring harness. Get a jumper wire and insert it into both contacts, your fan should come on. Another way to test the fan is to turn on the air conditioning. The cooling fan is activated in most—but not all—cars when you turn the AC to either a medium or high speed.

Bad Radiator Fan Switch: There is a switch that tells your cooling fan to come on when your coolant reaches a certain temperature. The easiest way to test this switch is to disconnect the wiring harness and run a jumper wire across the harness contacts. If the fan comes on, you need to replace the switch.

Thermostat Is Stuck Shut

The most common symptom of a failed thermostat is overheating at highway speeds. Your engine may be able to stay cool at low speeds because it’s not working that hard, and therefore not creating as much heat. When you hit highway speeds, however, your engine needs a lot of coolant flowing through to keep it cool.

If the thermostat doesn’t open, there isn’t enough flow to keep things cool. In this situation, you may find yourself looking more like a steamship than a sedan going down the highway.

Broken Fan Belt

There are still many engines out there that have a fan belt to drive the engine cooling fan. If you see a belt attached to your fan, you’re in this club. The good news is your repair will be cheaper than electric-driven fans and you can easily replace the fan belt yourself if it’s broken.

Clogged Radiator

If your car has more than 50,000 miles on it, your radiator may begin to get gummed up. You can avoid this and other problems associated with old coolant by flushing your radiator once a year.

Regular Maintenance Can Keep Engines Cool

There’s nothing good about an overheating problem. If your engine is running hot you should try to fix the problem as quickly as possible. A hot engine can do damage to itself, even if it isn’t fully overheating.

Regular maintenance can help with this issue. Beyond flushing your radiator, check your oil regularly to be sure you are providing adequate lubrication to your engine. Keep up with other maintenance as well because anything you can do to reduce heat buildup helps.

Remember, it’s important to keep an eye on your engine temperature. Many people mention that their engines are “running hot,” though they don’t seem too concerned. Fixing a cooling problem is usually fairly inexpensive, even if it involves a trip to the repair shop. On the other hand, engine damage due to a neglected cooling system and regular overheating can be expensive. You may even lead you to think about getting rid of the car altogether.