Today, tune-ups are not as time-consuming as they once were. With computerised car engines, electronic ignitions, and more durable engine parts, the need for tune-ups is not as frequent. In fact, most manufacturers recommend that cars receive such services every two years or 48,000 kilometres. During a tune-up, repair professionals plug the car's engine into a computer, which reviews all the engine's components. Often, mechanics change spark plugs and air filters, check and top off fluid levels, and even rotate tyres.
Getting a tune-up improves overall engine performance and prevents minor problems from getting bigger. Although many consumers rely on auto mechanics for this service, some car enthusiasts and do-it-yourselfers prefer to perform their car's tune-ups at home. Knowing how the components of an engine work, as well as what parts are needed for a tune-up, is important when performing such routine maintenance. Finding the best deals on car engine tuning parts is up to the shopper, and parts are available from a variety of places, from auto specialty retailers to online marketplaces such as eBay.
In order to fully grasp the purpose of a tune-up, car owners should understand the basic parts of an engine and how each works. The cylinder, spark plug, valves, piston, piston rings, connecting rod, crankshaft, and sump should all be inspected for proper functioning during an at-home inspection. If anything seems amiss with these, further maintenance should be performed either by the buyer or a qualified mechanic.
The core of any car engine is the cylinder. Within the cylinder rests a piston, which moves up and down and compresses the gas that ignites and causes combustion to occur. The exhaust gases are then pushed out following the combustion, resulting in the crankshaft rotating and the wheels turning, thus allowing the car to move. At the very top of the cylinder is the cylinder head, which closes the cylinder. This is sealed by a head gasket, which prevents the leakage of coolant or oil into the cylinder. It also limits the heat generated from the combustion process. When there is a problem with any part of the cylinder, car owners must look for telltale symptoms that indicate a need for cylinder repair, such as the engine overheating, leaking, or misfiring.
Located at the top of the cylinder where air and fuel is compressed, the spark plug is the starting point for combustion in a car’s engine. The tip of the plug sits inside the engine, and is attached to the cylinder’s wall. The spark plug supplies the spark that, in turn, ignites the air and fuel mixture. For the engine to work properly, the spark must occur at the perfect moment. Older cars have spark plugs made from copper, but newer engines' spark plugs are made from platinum, which is more durable. Copper spark plugs usually require replacement every 16,000 kilometres whereas platinum spark plugs last up to 97,000 kilometres.
There are two types of valves found at the top of the combustion chamber in a car. These are the intake valve and exhaust valve. These are each discussed in the sections below.
The intake valve controls the flow of fuel and air into the combustion chamber. It opens to allow the fuel and air to enter and then closes when the chamber is filled. This process takes less than a second to complete.
The exhaust valve allows for the release of the burned fuel and air mixture from the combustion chamber. It opens and closes as rapidly as the intake valve does. Usually, valves only need replacing if there is a major problem within the engine and they somehow get bent.
A cylindrical piece of metal that is housed within the cylinder, the piston moves up and down, to compress the gas for combustion and push the exhaust gases out after combustion.
Piston rings have two jobs in an engine. First, they keep the fuel and air mixture from leaking into the sump during the compression and combustion processes. Secondly, the piston rings prevent oil in the sump from leaking into the combustion area. If the rings are old and worn, they may not seal the areas properly anymore, and this results in leakages that need to be fixed. Signs of worn-out piston rings include white or grey exhaust coming from the tailpipe.
The connecting rod joins the piston to the crankshaft. It rotates at both ends so that its angle can be altered as the piston moves and the crankshaft turns.
Similar to the way a jack-in-the-box works, the crankshaft transforms an up-and-down motion into a resulting circular motion. Specifically, the crankshaft turns the piston's linear movement into tire rotation.
Surrounding the crankshaft at the bottom of the engine is the sump, which contains some residual oil. This oil is re-pumped back into the engine.
Air filters are a part of a car's intake system. They remove outside dust and prevent particles from entering the engine. It is important to keep filters clean, because clogged filters cause a decrease in fuel economy. Changing filters regularly prolongs the life of the engine. There are a few different types of filters, and they are relatively easy to change at home.
Paper filters are stronger than their name implies. Made from industrial quality paper, these filters are affordable and widely used. Paper filters are especially good for smaller cars, and are effective in areas where pollution and dust are not big problems. Paper filters are not reusable, and must be replaced more frequently than other types of filters.
Foam filters are composed of a polyurethane foam soaked in oil, and have a high dust absorption capacity. Thus, these filters are a popular choice amongst those who drive on dirt roads or who partake in off-road motor sports. Even though they are more expensive than paper filters, many types of foam filters are washable and reusable, so they do not have to be replaced as frequently.
Cotton filters are made from cotton gauze soaked in oil. A high performance, expensive filter, it is most often seen in sport and racing cars. Cotton filters are extremely effective at increasing the engine's air intake and boosting the power of the engine. Many types of cotton filters are washable and reusable.
Oil Bath Filters
Although they are not used much anymore, oil bath filters were standard in cars up until the 1960s. They work by capturing any large particles in the air before they can reach the engine. Even though oil bath filters are inexpensive, they are extremely messy, and require constant cleaning.
One of the easier tune-up jobs to do at home is checking the car's fluid levels. If any fluids are low, they need to be filled. When replacing fluids, be sure to look for any potential problems, such as leakage. The following sections discuss the various automotive fluids.
The main job of motor oil is to lubricate the moving parts in an internal combustion engine. Motor oil also cleans, counteracts corrosion, and cools the engine by carrying heat away from the moving parts. There are three main types of motor oil: conventional, synthetic blend, and synthetic. Although synthetic motor oil is the most expensive of the three, it offers the best lubrication, lasts the longest, and most effectively regulates the engine's temperature.
When new, brake fluid is clear; however, as it ages and degrades, it becomes dark and dirty. Brake fluid is hydroscopic, so it takes the moisture from the air, causing the brakes to wear down and lose pressure. This trapped air destroys the braking response system and results in a delayed or failed brake response. Bleeding, or draining, the brakes rids the braking system of any air bubbles, allowing brakes to perform properly. After totally bleeding the brakes, the brake fluid must be replaced.
Also known as antifreeze, coolant prevents the car's engine from overheating. It does this by absorbing excess heat and keeping it away from the radiator. Without correct coolant levels, a car overheats quickly and becomes inoperable. Car owners can check for proper coolant levels by looking at the side of the overflow tank.
Just as motor oil lubricates and cools an engine's inner parts, automatic transmission fluid does the same thing within the transmission. It also must be replaced every so often to keep the car running as smoothly as possible.
Power Steering Fluid
Power steering fluid is pressurized by a small hydraulic pump within the engine. It allows the car to turn smoothly. If the steering wheel is difficult to turn in normal driving conditions, it means the power steering fluid is probably low.
Many cars have factory-sealed batteries that cannot be opened; these are referred to as maintenance free batteries. However, some cars have batteries that require their cells to be filled up with distilled water, also called battery fluid, occasionally. Doing so reduces the acidity of the batteries.
Windscreen Wiper Fluid
Windscreen wiper fluid, which is simply a type of liquid soap, cleans the windscreen of dirt and other particles. The frequency of its use dictates how often it must be refilled.
Finding the Right Car Engine Tuning Parts
When replacing any car engine tuning parts at home, buyers should first seek out manufacturer recommendations to ensure that the right parts are installed correctly. It can be time-consuming to locate some older car engine tuning parts, so buyers should be diligent and patient.
The cost of hard-to-find items varies by model make and year as well as how many parts were made by the manufacturer. When looking for the best prices, it is smart to shop around and compare costs. However, if the part is rare, consumers should expect to pay more for it.
Thanks to sturdier engine components and newer technologies, such as computerised car engines and electronic ignitions, the need for tune-ups is not as frequent on late model vehicles. However, tune-ups remain an important service to perform routinely, as recommended by the manufacturer. The goal of a tune-up is to pinpoint any small problems and fix them before they get bigger, and ultimately, more expensive. Although tune-ups are often performed by a mechanic at a service centre, some consumers choose to do several of the inspections and replacements at home; doing so correctly saves money.
Before doing any of the tune-up work solo, understanding the mechanics of an engine is important so that consumers can decide what jobs they want to take on and which services are best left to professionals. It is also a good idea for shoppers to know basic information about air filter and fluid replacement, because these services are usually fairly simple to do at home. When ready to complete a tune-up at home, consider eBay for a large selection of car engine tuning parts. Buying from one of the many sellers on eBay provides cost-savvy shoppers with an affordable, convenient, and enjoyable experience.