Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2014   by Auto Service World

Knowledge Building Tune-up Tips To Build Sales

You could make a strong argument that the term “tune-up” no longer applies to today’s auto park. Originally coined for older cars on which you would perform the traditional work associated with the spark plug replacement, ignition contact point replacement, dwell adjustment, ignition timing adjustment, carburetor idle, and mixture adjustment, today’s vehicles are now equipped with electronic ignitions and at least one onboard computer that controls most of these functions.
The term “Engine Performance Maintenance” is probably a more accurate term to use when talking to customers. Now most adjustments involve a scan tool to identify engine codes and a laptop for software updates.
It’s helpful to point out to your customer that today, an automotive tune-up consists of an orderly process of inspection, diagnosis, testing, and adjustment that is periodically necessary to maintain peak engine performance or restore the engine to original operating efficiency. Also point out that they can and should still replace normal maintenance parts on a timely basis to maintain engine performance.
Here’s a refresher on the common maintenance parts that can be replaced to significantly increase performance and reduce major problems, that you can share with your customers.
Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are good indicators of engine condition. Removing and inspecting spark plugs will tell you a lot about how well the engine is running, and what may be causing problems.
All spark plugs should be removed and checked every 50,000 kilometres. Even though most OEMs recommend changing spark plugs at 100,000 kilometres, this prevents the plugs from seizing in the block, causing expensive repairs down the road.
Remind technicians to note which plug came from which cylinder. This tells you if a particular cylinder has a problem. New spark plugs can make a significant difference in a car’s performance.
Spark plug wires have become less of a problem than before. New materials and sizing have reduced failures. Electronic ignitions have increased operating ranges. Now these should be tested for proper resistance before ­replacement.
According to experts, changing filters on a regular basis may have more to do with your car’s longevity than any other single factor.
Oil Filter: Oil filters are easy to replace and help prevent unnecessary engine wear. The job of the oil filter is to remove soot, rust particles, and other solid contaminants from the oil. The oil filter capacity and filtering characteristics should be compatible with the type of oil to be used in the vehicle, whether it is semi-synthetic, synthetic, or mineral oil. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Air Filter: Air filters remove dirt by trapping particles as air passes through the filter media. They also protect the carburetor in older cars, preventing dirt from clogging the air bleeds and metering jets. They protect fuel injectors in later-model autos. Air filters should be replaced every 20,000 kilometres (more often if you live or drive in dusty areas). Any filter that looks heavily loaded should be replaced regardless of the number of miles, as should any filter that shows any type of damage.
PCV Breather Filter: The PCV breather filter assures only clean, filtered air is drawn in through the PCV breather. A clogged breather filter prevents the PCV from siphoning away the blow-by gases and moisture created by engine combustion, resulting in oil breakdown and sludge build-up. The PCV breather filter should be replaced every 30,000 kilometres; however, yearly replacements are a good preventive measure.
Fuel Filter: Contaminants can get into your fuel system, and if not trapped by the fuel filter, they can clog the injector inlet screens. If dirt reaches the injector itself, it can clog or damage the pintle valve and seat. In older cars, dirt can plug the carburetor’s fuel metering orifices.
If the fuel filter is not replaced regularly, fuel flow to the engine will become restricted, resulting in stalling, loss of high-speed power, and hard starting. The fuel filter should be replaced every 30,000 km; however, professionals recommend a yearly fuel filter change and a change whenever other fuel system parts are replaced.
Automatic Transmission Filter: Properly filtered transmission fluid transmits energy, plus it cools and lubricates the moving parts of the transmission. A clogged transmission filter can produce transmission slippage, engagement problems, and hesitation. Experts recommend this filter be changed every 12,000 to 15,000 kilometres to extend the life of your automatic transmission.
Other Maintenance Parts
Many maintenance parts are mistakenly seen as non-critical to many customers. While they may not be considered true “tune-up” parts, the functions of these parts can definitely impact the benefit of any tune-up. Plus, as emission laws continue to become more stringent, these parts have become more essential.
Oxygen Sensors: Oxygen sensors should be replaced at the recommended intervals. A worn oxygen sensor drastically changes engine settings.
Vacuum Hoses: Many major systems depend on manifold vacuum for signals and function. All vacuum hoses should be checked and replaced as needed. Even a slight leak can cause major problems with performance; in some cases, the car won’t even run if there’s a vacuum leak.
Temperature Sensors: Temperature sensors regulate various engine functions. They control the fuel injection system, cooling system, and even the exhaust system. And they can definitely be a cause of poor performance problems.

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