In the old days, a tune-up was necessary about every 35,000 miles. It would usually consist of setting the ignition timing, replacing the mechanical breaker points in the ignition, cleaning and adjusting the carburetor and replacing the plug wires and spark plugs. Today, of course, the carburetor’s job is done by fuel injection and the ignition timing and spark are controlled by the engine computer. Few vehicles still have plug wires anymore either, as the distributor was replaced by the computer and a coil-on-plug design which delivers a spark at each spark plug.
But what about the spark plugs themselves, though? How often do they need to be replaced now?
Manufacturers tout an 80k-100k mile service interval on spark plugs now, thanks in part to improvements in plug design and materials. That might be stretching it, however. Remember that if you have a 100,000-mile spark plug, its electrode is worn down 4/5 of the way at 80,000 miles. A worn ...[more]
Even just a pound or two of underinflation in your tires can be a problem. Why, though? There are several reasons.
Fuel economy: If you ever rode a bicycle with a low tire, you know that it feels like you’re riding through wet cement due to the added rolling resistance. The same thing is happening with your car, and compromising your fuel economy. Over the course of 10,000 miles per year, that can add up to 150 gallons of gas or $500 out of your pocket!
Handling: Low tire pressure means poorer control and longer stopping distances. At high speeds, in particular, this can be downright hazardous.
Premature tire wear: Underinflated tires are under a lot of stress, especially their steel ...[more]
So you come out to start your car one morning and the Check Engine light on the dashboard comes on…and doesn’t go back off again. You can’t really notice any difference in the way the car runs and drives, but it’s on anyway.
What does it mean?
Since the late 80s, most engine functions have been controlled by a central drivetrain computer. This includes emissions controls, fuel metering and delivery, ignition timing, shift points and many other elements of drivability and performance. The drivetrain computer relies on information from a chain of sensors that monitor exhaust composition, camshaft position, throttle position and many other factors.
The voltage readings from any of these sensors are supposed to fall within a certain range. Whe ...[more]
Most will help your vehicle perform more efficiently, get better gas mileage and last longer.
Get rid of road salt on the undercarriage.
Road salt can damage your vehicle by eating away at its undercarriage. Use a garden hose with as much water pressure as your system can muster to loosen winter grime and salt. Or, if you have a movable lawn sprinkler that's low enough, set that under the vehicle to wash away what you can't reach.
Check the tires’ pressure.
Tire pressure changes about 1 pound per square inch for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit change in outside temperature, so it's important to check tire pressure after weather changes. Check your owner's manual for the recommended pressure f ...[more]
1. For performance and handling, the trend has long been toward fatter tires with a bigger footprint. That’s starting to change, though. Skinnier tires mean lower rolling resistance and better fuel economy, as well as a smaller aerodynamic profile. While fatter tires do handle better, tire engineers are making up the difference by designing skinny tires with a stickier tread formulation for traction and cornering ability.
2. Static electricity used to be a real concern for vehicles; if you’re old enough, you may remember seeing station wagons with a “ground strap” dragging along the pavement. It’s become a concern again, with newer tread compounds cutting back on the amount of carbon black in newer tires. The solution? Many tires are now designed with an “antenna strip” ...[more]
It can be a lot of work and attention to detail to get your car really clean…especially if it’s pretty dirty to start with…but here are some ideas for truly thorough cleaning that you may not have thought of!
--A cheap foam paintbrush can get into crevices (like A/C vents) that might be impossible otherwise. As you loosen up dust from these spots, keep a vacuum cleaner nozzle at work in your other hand to suck up the dust and prevent it from settling other places.
--A soft-bristled brush is perfect for cleaning around radio knobs and other buttons.
--While you’re cleaning, don’t forget to locate your cabin air filter and replace it. A dirty cabin air filter can lead to a lot of odd smells and stinks. Check your owner’s manual; cabin ...[more]
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