It's Time for the 21st Century Tune-up

Times are changing...cars are changing. One of the biggest changes in today's automotive industry is the perception of a "tune-up." Ask 10 vehicle owners their definition of a tune-up and chances are there'll be 10 different answers. The classic "tune-up" was once the heart of the automotive business and contrary to some beliefs; today's modern vehicles still need tune-ups to keep them performing at the most efficient levels.

The tune-up was historically associated with the routine replacement of key ignition system parts like spark plugs and ignition points, along with some basic adjustments to help "tune" the engine. Mounting pressure for increased fuel economy and lower emissions drove the car manufacturers to adopt electronics and to do away with ignition points in the '70s, along with the carburetor in the middle '80s. This eliminated the need for the replacement and adjustment of a growing number of ignition and fuel system parts.

As the pace of technology quickened, the procedures required to perform a traditional tune-up changed dramatically. Highly sophisticated ignition and fuel systems are now the norm, using one or more onboard computers to control critical engine and transmission management functions. Things that were once handled mechanically are now controlled electronically through the widespread use of onboard computer technology.

Because vehicles have changed so much over the years, the Car Care Council has introduced the 21st Century Tune-up. This program is designed to help re-define and educate motorists as to what a tune-up should consist of on today's modern vehicles.

"There is a misconception that today's modern vehicles don't need tune-ups because they never break down, but that simply is not true," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "If you're at work and your computer goes down, you can't get any more work done. It's the same with your vehicle. If the vehicle isn't being properly maintained, you're not going to get where you want to go."

As part of the 21st Century Tune-up on today's modern vehicles, the following systems should be inspected:

  • Battery, charging and starting
  • Engine mechanical
  • Powertrain control (including onboard diagnostic checks)
  • Fuel
  • Ignition
  • Emissions

Vehicle owners ask for tune-ups for a variety of reasons, including improving performance, maintaining reliability, planning a vacation, preparing for winter/summer or because they're giving the car to a friend or family member.

To help ensure good performance, fuel economy and emissions, the Car Care Council also recommends that motorists take the time necessary to become familiar with their vehicle from every aspect. Study the owner's manual to become thoroughly acquainted with the operation of all systems. Pay special attention to the indicator lights and instruments.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

Mechanical failure—an inconvenience anytime it occurs--can be deadly in the winter. Preventive maintenance is a must. Besides, a well-maintained vehicle is more enjoyable to drive, lasts longer, and could command a higher resale price.

Some of the following tips can be performed by any do-it-yourselfer; others require the skilled hands of a professional auto technician.

  • Engine Performance - Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters-air, fuel, etc.
  • Fuel - Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming.
  • Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual—more often (every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
  • Cooling Systems - The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
  • Windshield Wipers - Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you'll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.
  • Heater/Defroster - The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Newer models have a cabin air filter that should be replaced periodically. Check your owner's manual for the location and replacement interval.
  • Battery - The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Exhaust System - Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.
  • Tires - Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Check the tires when they are cold, before driving for any distance. Rotate as recommended. Don't forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
  • Carry emergency gear: gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flash light. Put a few "high-energy" snacks in your glove box.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Summer

Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic, will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of last winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through periodic maintenance. . . Your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale price, too!

Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a skilled auto technician.

  • Air Conditioning - A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner's manual for location and replacement interval.
  • Cooling System - The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
  • Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual-more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.
  • Engine Performance - Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended-more often in dusty conditions. Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.
  • Windshield Wipers - A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.
  • Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Tires - Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them while they're cold before driving for any distance. Don't forget to check your spare as well and be sure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there's uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side.
  • Brakes - Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly.
  • Battery - Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Emergencies - Carry some basic tools-ask a technician for suggestions. Also include a first aid kit, flares, and a flashlight. Consider buying a cellular phone.

Keeping Your Vehicle in Tune with the Environment

Car care is definitely a win-win situation. Besides helping the environment, a properly maintained and operated vehicle will run more efficiently, will be safer, and will last longer-up to 50% longer, according to a survey of ASE-certified Master Auto Technicians. The following tips should put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care.

  • Keep your engine tuned. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30%. Follow the service schedules listed in your owner's manual. Replace filters and fluids as recommended.
  • Check your tires for proper inflation. Under inflation wastes fuel-your engine has to work harder to push the vehicle. Wheels that are out-of-line (as evidenced by uneven tread wear or vehicle pulling) make the engine work harder, too. Properly maintained tires will last longer, meaning fewer scrap tires have to be disposed.
  • Keep your air conditioner in top condition and have it serviced only by a technician certified competent to handle/recycle refrigerants. Air conditioners contain CFCs-gases that have been implicated in the depletion of the ozone layer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, almost one third of the CFCs released into the atmosphere come from mobile air conditioners; some simply leaks out, but the majority escapes during service and repair-so it's important to choose a qualified technician.
  • Do-it-yourselfers: dispose of used motor oil, anti-freeze/coolant, tires, and old batteries properly. Many repair facilities accept these items. Or call your local municipal or county government for recycling sites. Never dump used oil or anti-freeze on the ground or in open streams.
  • Observe speed limits. Mileage decreases sharply above 55 mph.
  • Drive gently. Avoid sudden accelerations and jerky stop-and-go's. Use cruise-control on open highways to keep your speed as steady as possible.
  • Avoid excessive idling. Shut off the engine while waiting for friends and family. Today's vehicles are designed to "warm up" fast, so forget about those five-minute warm ups on cold winter mornings.
  • Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. Store luggage/ cargo in the trunk rather than on the roof to reduce air drag.
  • Plan trips. Consolidate your daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving. Try to travel when traffic is light to avoid stop-and-go conditions. Join a car pool.

Remember, how your car runs, how you drive it, and how its fluids, old parts, and tires are disposed of all have serious consequences on the environment.

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TESTIMONIALS

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Chuck at A.G. Automotive & Diagnosis is Amazing!! My check engine light was on and I needed to get my car smogged! I went to a few shops and was charged A LOT OF $$$$ and no one could Find or Fix the problem. Chuck was able to find & Fix the problem in a few hours!! He was able to fix it the First time... Not through replacing random parts until he got the right one!! He Knows what he's doing! He diagnosed the problem, got the part, fixed the problem!! Reasonable, Professional, Knowledgeable, Trustworthy! pretty much what I have been looking for in a Mechanic!!! THANK YOU CHUCK!! YOU HAVE A CUSTOMER FOR LIFE!!


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Excellent, intelligent, knowledgeable, friendly, and efficient. This was my second visit and it was the same as the first I was greeted promptly, they actually listened to me and fixed my car perfectly and I'm not easy. At last I now have a mechanic I not only can trust but refer to friends.


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My Dodge Cummins Diesel pickup suddenly started running rich and misfiring, had it towed to AG Automotive after talking to Chuck about the problem. He worked on it and found that the injector pump gear was bad, they never go bad but mine did and Chuck found and fixed it. My pickup runs great I will definitely recommend AG Automotive to others.


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Chuck has been working on my vehicles for years. I won't have any other mechanic look at my car. When I have AG AUTOMOTIVE do any work it's done right the first time, no comebacks!! AG is very reasonable and the job is done in a timely manner. Thanks Chuck for being there for me.


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Excellent and quick service. Chuck and Jonathan we're great help and attentive as well. Thank you for the work and advice as well.


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Thank you Chuck for helping a 75 yr old lady, my mother said you were so nice & caring she is VERY happy with your work and says she has a NEW mechanic, she knows she is in good hands.....and the price was about 200.00 less that what the dealership wanted to charge her. Thank you.


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I was very satisfied by the service AG Automotive & Diagnosis provided. I had taken my Honda Accord to the dealer who quoted me for service that was not needed. Chuck fixed my car for a reasonable price and in the future I will have him take care of all services and repairs for my car.


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Very helpful and very polite. Tells you straight up what's wrong and gives you options.


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My wife scheduled a last minute brake and oil change for me. He waited for me to bring in my car close to after hours, so that he could be able to work on it the next morning. He did an amazing job! You just earned yourself a permanent customer. Thank for taking care of my Truck Chuck!!!


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Chuck was very knowledgeable as well as personable. He took time to ask all the right questions in order to accurately diagnose what was going on with my car. We will definitely be bringing our car to him from now on.


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Great service! Chuck have me an honest diagnosis and fair pricing! I'll definitely be back.


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Professional,polite,and finished the job on time and on budget. not only are they excellent mechanics but they truly fix what others can't. I recommend AG without hesitation At last a mechanic I trust and that's saying a lot.


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Chuck goes above and beyond for his customers.


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Excellent customer service, great work...dependable. I told them i needed my car the next day. It was ready to go and they washed it for me. They don't take advantage!


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Excellent service and work as always. Chuck takes time to explain everything and is completely transparent and upfront about what needs to be done. A truly honest guy who does great work on time and at fair prices.


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The Most honest mechanics in Los Angeles ! the most trustworthy people in that Garage waiting to answer you question and help you with your car! I highly recommend these people to everyone is seeking to deal with honest people and my thanks to every single person in that shop, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!


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A+++!!!! After 10+ years of living in LA and seeing various mechanics, A.G. Automotive & Diagnosis was by far the best service, expertise, and workmanship I have experienced. Chuck is HONEST, extremely knowledgeable and experienced (more so than any other mechanic I've ever been to)


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Was just given a good amount of prices and things that need replacing from Galpin, found this place and made a call. Chuck made this day a bit more bearable for me saving me money and educating me on my car situation! Thanks again, I'll definitely be back.


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What can I say other than these guys know what they are doing and give you an honest and fair experience. From the first phone call I knew they were the right choice. They talked us through the complete repair and showed a genuine concern for our situation. The prices they quoted were accurate and the work they did was first rate. So happy we found these guys! If you want the job done right the first time, this is the place.


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It's simply the best service shop I've been to. Professional and courteous staff. I Had some serious issues with my engine, tried 2 other shops prior A.G. and they couldn't solve the problem. Chuck diagnosed my pickup truck, found the problem and fixed it in a timely manner. For a reasonable price, too!


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A&G Automotive did an awesome job on my mini. Fast and efficient service. Fair pricing. They get straight to the point. I'll continue to bring my car to here for maintenance and recommend them to all my family and friends. Thanks A&G


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I had an oil leak and I could have been taken advantage of very easily...but they were honest and told me it was a simple fix, and I walked out paying less than originally quoted. I understand every business has to make money to strive, but I can see they value their integrity over making a quick buck. They've gained my respect and future business. I highly recommend this company!


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I found this AG Automotive through yelp. So I decided to give it a try. I sent in one of our inventory (2006 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor) in for steering wheel stiffness diagnostic. Owner Chuck was able to identify the problem in the first place. His crews are very professional (more professional I thought I was at a car dealership service department). Great experience throughout. Most importantly, got the job done right. They know what they're talking about. Certainly not some BS mom & pop shop just there for your money (if they fixed it right the first time). Price is fair. If you ever have problem with the repairs they done, there's always a warranty to back you up. Thank you chuck. I will be back at your shop for our other vehicle recondition. From: Ideal Motor Group in San Gabriel Valley.


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I went here with a really bad brake problem. Chuck took the time to explain the cause of the issue and what could be done to not only fix it but how to prevent it in the future. He and his team are professional and highly knowledgeable. I feel confident and grateful to these guys. I definitely recommend this shop and will continue to refer friends and family here. His prices are more than fair and the work is top shelf.