The History of the Tune-up for Students in Auto Repair Programs
You hear this phrase all the time: “tune up.” When most car owners today say their car needs a tune-up, it’s no longer a literal request. Instead, it’s likely that routine or scheduled maintenance is required. However, before the advent of computer chips and sensors, it was possible for cars to go “out of tune.” Some mechanics even claimed they could listen to the sound of an engine and know if it was in tune or not.
The manual adjustments previously required to keep an engine in tune have changed over time, due to technological advancements in manufacturing and engineering. In fact, newer engines no longer have many of the components that would be serviced during a traditional tune-up. What exactly was a tune-up, and what has replaced it? Keep reading to find out!
Here’s How to Tune-up Like It’s 1999!
If you want to become a certified mechanic, you never know when someone might need you to look at an older car. Cars made after 1999 or so no longer need traditional tune-ups. Up until around that year, these are the parts that would be checked during a tune-up:
- Ignition components
- Carburetor (now obsolete because of fuel injection systems)
- Throttle body
- Oxygen sensors
- Timing belt (this is now a timing chain)
- Fuel filter (another obsolete part because of returnless fuel systems)
- Cap, spark plug wires, and rotor (these have been replaced with ignition coil packs)
What Was Once a Tune-Up Is Now a Maintenance Check
Requirements for vehicle servicing can be very different depending on the car. In order to know what car owners need, you have to be familiar with the year, make, and model of a vehicle. These variables, as well as usage, will affect when a vehicle needs attention. However, there are typical service requirements that have replaced the regular tune-up. This is often referred to as a maintenance check.
Tune-Ups Today Explained for Students in Auto Repair Programs
Keeping all the components of a car “in tune” is now less about the ignition and more about preventative maintenance. For example, car owners should be encouraged to check tire air pressure regularly, get those tires rotated, and pay attention to the car’s fluid levels.
While mechanics don’t literally tune an engine the same way now, their expertise is still needed. As for what might be involved when car owners ask for a tune-up or maintenance check on their newer vehicles, here are a few additional things that may need attention:
- Belts, hoses, and filters
- Fluids (for the engine, transmission, brakes, and power steering)
- Coolant check
- Spark plugs
The manual labour of re-jetting or replacing the carburetor, along with tinkering with its screws or changing the distributor cap and rotor, has evolved to keep up with new car technology. This is why taking your love of cars to training in auto repair programs is an important part of getting ready for a career in this industry.
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