The Basic Car Tune Ups That Should Be Done Once In a Year

We all have heard of the old adage, “Prevention is better than cure”. Same holds true when it comes to cars and regular car tune ups can save your car from major breakdowns that poke a big hole in your pocket besides causing inconvenience.

Although maintaining a car is no piece of cake and professional help should be considered at most times, there are few basic activities that you can do at home. These can save you money and time but most importantly, you’ll get to spend valuable time with your loved car.

If you are wondering, “What does a car tune up consist of” or “how often should I get a tune up”, we have got you covered. Following is a car tune up checklist that compiles the most important maintenance activities that you can do all by yourselves.

1. Visual Inspection

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As the name implies, look for any damages, scratches or dents on the car body as well as inside it. Check whether the car lights, wipers, rear-view mirrors, seats, tires etc show any signs of damage or harm. A thorough visual inspection often reveals areas which need attention and must be taken to a specialist. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine!

2. Oil inspection/change

One of the most important tasks on this car tune up checklist, regular oil inspection is absolutely vital for your car’s health. The steps to check oil are as follows:

* Allow the car’s engine to cool off.
* Pen the car’s hood and locate the engine oil cap.

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* Next to the oil cap, there’ll be a dipstick (usually yellow colored). Pull it up.

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* Wipe the dipstick with a clean rag and dip it inside again.

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* Now pull it off and check the level of oil.

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* Refill oil in case it’s low and ensure to get it checked up professionally for any leakages.

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* Remember to replace used engine oil with fresh oil after every 3000 miles.

Also Read: 25 Car Cleaning Hacks to Keep your Car Spotless

3. Other Fluid level inspection

The steps required for checking engine oil must be repeated for other fluids also. In case you have difficulty in identifying the correct dipstick for respective fluids, simply refer to your owner’s manual. Following fluid levels need to be checked:

* Transmission fluid

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* Brake Fluid

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* Power Steering Fluid

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* Radiator Fluid

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* Windshield Fluid

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4. Battery Inspection

Your car’s battery can suffer from corrosion and shall be inspected for any such signs. If you notice any cake build-up on the terminals, then clean it up immediately as it affects starting up your car.

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* Make a paste of baking soda and water or simply use soda pop.

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* Use a toothbrush to clean the terminals thoroughly with this paste.

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* Loosen the bolts and clean the build-up there too.

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5. Brake Test

* Take your vehicle on a clear road.

* Apply hard brakes at a slow speed.

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* If your car doesn’t stop immediately or makes a squeaking/grinding noise, the brake pads might have worn out and need to be replaced.

* Also check if the ABS worked properly when you applied the brakes.

6. Lights check-up

Even a car rookie can perform this easy yet important car tune up. Properly working lights are necessary for safe driving at night.

* Park your car while facing a wall and check the brightness of lights on that wall.

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* Check whether turn indicators and brake-lights are working. Use help of a friend for the same.

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* Check the fog lamps too.

7. Tire inspection and rotation

* First, inspect the tires visually for any signs of damage.

* Check the condition of the tire treads and watch out for excessive wear.

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* Refer to your owner’s manual for the frequency of rotation of tires.

* Depending on the car type, you may need to change the position (front/rear) as well as the side (right/left) of the tires.

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* Rotating tires by yourselves can be a bit of a hassle if you are new to it. Take professional help in that case.

Also Read: 21 Must Have DIY Car Repair Tools

8. Windshield wipers inspection/replacement

* Look for any signs of damage, loosening, cracking or the presence of any gaps.

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* Pour some water on the windshield and test the wipers.

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* Replace the wipers in case they are not able to wipe-off effectively.

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* Note the size of the wipers from the owner’s manual or simply take your old ones to the store.

9. Air Filter cleaning/replacement

* Locate the air filter. In most cars, it is present on top of the engine under plastic or metal cover. Use your owner’s manual for help in case you can’t find it.

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* Remove the air filter and inspect it for any holes or damages. If present, you’ll have to replace it with a new one.

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* Otherwise, gently clean it with compressed air. It is generally quite fragile, so ensure the air is not too hard so as to blow a hole in it.

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10. Belt inspection/replacement

* Power-steering belt and serpentine belt must be checked frequently for any signs of wear and tear.

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* Although minor abrasions are normal, severe cuts or frays must be attended seriously.

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* Check your owner’s manual for a diagram of the belt positioning and replace accordingly if needed.

* Take professional help in case you are confused.

11. Replace the car’s spark plugs

* Worn-out spark plugs result in inconsistent combustion mechanism of your vehicle.

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* Take out spark-plugs one by one.

* Check if the wire, rubber insulation and body are alright.

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* Check for any signs of deposit on the head and clean if necessary.

* Replace spark plugs if wear and tear is high.

Also Read: 15 Essential Tips to Consider for Winter Car Storage

12. Cleaning and vacuuming

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One of the most basic car tune ups, cleaning the car thoroughly is highly recommended. The inside of a car is a hot-spot for germs and microbes. Steam-clean your interiors to get rid of them.

Your car’s life can easily extend by a few years if you perform these basic check-ups frequently. Moreover, the next time your friend or colleague asks you what does a car tune up consist of, you can brag confidently about this basic car tune ups checklist!

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