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Are you paying attention to the signs your car needs a tune-up?

A tune-up usually refers to the regular maintenance you do on your vehicle to keep it running well. This includes things such as oil changes, spark plug replacements, and fluid changes.

Following the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle is the best way to keep your car running smoothly. But if you miss some of those tasks, your car might start showing signs that it needs a little work done.

Scheduling maintenance when you notice those problems can help you get your car back into optimal condition. It can also allow your mechanic to spot bigger issues that are lurking.

Check out these 10 signs to know when it’s time to schedule a tune-up for your vehicle.

1. Certain Mileage Points

Many maintenance requirements for your vehicle should happen on a regular basis. The vehicle’s mileage is the most frequently used indicator to tell you when to have those things done.

Auto shops might tell you that certain tasks need to be done more frequently than is actually required. Always refer to your owner’s manual to figure out when you really need to go in for different services.

If you’re wondering, “How can I find my car’s manual?” you can often buy new copies online. The manual for your specific model is the best source of information for maintenance.

2. Warning Lights

The warning lights all over your dash are your car’s way of telling you it’s time for a trip to the mechanic. A general check engine light is one option.

Many newer vehicles have lots of different warning lights. The different symbols make it easier to figure out what type of problem is happening. Refer to your manual if you’re not sure what the symbols mean.

Warning lights might not indicate a major problem. The issue might be resolved with a simple tune-up.

3. Strange Sounds

Cars aren’t exactly quiet, but you know what sounds your car makes normally. If you start noticing other noises, there’s probably something going on.

Brakes often make a squeaking noise when they need attention. You might also notice a difference in how your car is braking.

Squealing from your steering wheel could indicate that your power steering fluid is low, especially if it’s also harder to steer.

You might also hear squealing, knocking, or other sounds from under the hood. Always get those sounds checked out right away. If you don’t fix the problem, it could cause more damage.

A squealing belt that’s worn or loose could break and cause engine damage, for example.

4. Decreased Fuel Mileage

Do you feel like you’re filling up a lot more than normal? If the gas mileage decreases, it likely means your car isn’t using fuel efficiently. That often happens with something’s going on with the engine.

Tuning up a car that’s out of tune can boost your gas mileage by 4% on average. If there’s something majorly wrong with the vehicle, it could improve gas mileage by up to 40%.

Low tire pressure can also decrease your car’s fuel efficiency. Keeping them at the proper pressure can give you an average gas mileage increase of 0.6% and up to 3%.

Keeping a log of when you fill up and how many miles you drive can help you spot a fuel efficiency issue early. But even if you don’t log that information, you might notice that you’re not getting as much out of each tank as you normally do.

5. Stalling

If your car starts stalling, it may need a little work to get it back on track. Stalling is sometimes related to your spark plugs, so you may just need them replaced. Other possible causes include clogging in the fuel filter or a bad sensor.

Pay attention to when your car stalls. Let your mechanic know if the car stalls mainly when it’s cold or hot.

Taking care of stalling quickly is important for your safety. If your car stalls while you’re driving down the road, it could cause an accident.

6. Starting Difficulties

A car that’s working correctly should start right up when you turn the key in the ignition or push the button on a push-start vehicle.

If your car takes longer than normal to start up when you turn the key, it’s time to figure out what’s going on. It could be a number of issues causing the car to struggle with starting. One issue is a weakening battery. 

It could also be an issue with your starter. Other potential issues include problems with the fuel line, fuel pump issues, and a sensor issue.

7. Slow Acceleration

Your car won’t always take off quickly. If you’re hauling a heavy load or driving up a steep hill, you’re naturally going to accelerate a little slower.

But sometimes when there’s a problem under the hood, normal acceleration slows down significantly. 

If your vehicle accelerates too slowly, it can put you in a dangerous situation on the road. You could get hit by another vehicle if the driver isn’t paying attention.

8. Vibrations

Is your ride suddenly a lot more rough than normal? Vibrations while driving can signal that your car needs some work.

Low, worn, or unbalanced tires can cause vibrations while driving. It could also signal a problem with the universal joint or other internal problems.

9. Low Fluids

Checking your car’s fluid levels regularly lets you spot an issue early. Your oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid are things you should check regularly.

Low fluid levels can sometimes mean there’s something wrong. Low oil levels can show that you have a leak or that the engine is burning oil, for example.

If you notice some of your fluids are frequently low, it could mean you have a leak.

10. Shifting Difficulties

Your vehicle should shift through the gears smoothly. If you notice a jerky sensation when you shift your car into gear, it could need some work.

A common issue that causes this is the transmission. Your vehicle might need a new transmission filter or fluid. It could also be something more serious, so having it checked out is a good idea.

Look for Signs Your Car Needs a Tune-Up

Are you noticing signs your car needs a tune-up? Investigating anything that’s out of the ordinary is a good idea to prevent more serious problems in your vehicle.

Visit our Auto section for more useful information on keeping your car in optimal condition.