Many of us gals, myself included, are diligent about the maintenance of our cars. We get the oil changed every 3000 miles, faithfully. We get the x-thousand mile check-ups. We replace our tires well before they get worn down. And we get regular tune-ups. We hand over $250+ for these tune-ups, knowing that they are important, but what is a tune-up anyway? In this article and in the attached videos See Jane Drill will explain not only what a tune-up is, but also, how you can easily do your own tune-up on your own car and save big bucks!
What is a tune-up? A tune-up basically consists of replacing your old spark plugs with new ones. Well, what is a spark plug? Here’s a quick note for history buffs: The first spark plug that actually worked well was invented by a gentleman named Oliver Lodge in 1903. Aside from the history lesson, in very simple layman’s terms, the spark plug is the mechanism that delivers the spark that ignites the mixture of air and fuel in the engine’s combustion chamber. The spark plug also transfers heat away from the engine’s combustion chamber. Think of it as an “igniter” of the spark that gets the car going. Spark plugs typically last for about 30,000-60,0000 miles, depending upon the material they are made of. Copper, which is a superior conductor, has a shorter lifespan than platinum, which lasts longer. Iridium spark plugs can last even longer.
A typical car will either have 4, 6 or 8 spark plugs (hence the term 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder or 8-cylinder engine). To do your own tune-up, visit your local auto parts store, where you can find out what spark plugs you need for your car. You will also need a set of corresponding new wires for the ignition coil. When you are ready to do the job, you will also need a ratchet set with a spark plug socket and a gap gauge. Some cars have a “coil pack” instead of an ignition coil. For an overview of how the coil pack works, view the attached video “Coil Pack Overview”. All of these parts can be found at the auto parts store or online.
Assuming your car has an ignition coil and not a coil pack, to find where your plugs are, locate the existing wires and follow them to the plugs. Following the steps described in the video, it is recommended that you remove and replace one spark plug and wire at a time. This is the best way to keep track of what you are doing. If needed, set the gaps on the new plugs. Note: Many new cars come with the gaps pre-set, in which case you can skip the gap-setting step. Refer to the owners manual for your car.
When you have replaced all the spark plugs and wires in your car, guess what? You are done!! That’s right, you will have just completed a tune-up job on your own car in about an hour for just the cost of parts, instead of the $250, or as much as even $350 that you would have likely paid at the mechanic’s shop. Cool, right? And remember, as we like to say at See Jane Drill, You Can Do This!!!
BY KAREN DEVENARO, SEE JANE DRILL