The Basics of the Engine Tune Up

We go over repair tips for your engine, including removal of spark plugs, cables, fuel filter, distributor cap/rotor and more.

This paper describes how to perform a car tune-up with step-by-step guidance for most any car or medium-duty gasoline-powered vehicle produced during the last 20 years or so. We would assume that you are doing a tune-up because your engine has passed the mileage or time point to do so, and not to correct an output defect. We differentiate between these groups and not all problems can be solved with a quick tuning up.

Air filter mounting

Restarting the machine begins by removing the air filter. Oil Filters are most commonly placed next to the engine air intake. Many late model cars have rectangular or squared air filters and are housed in black plastic housing or cabinets. Removing the top of the airbox and unbolting it is as simple as undoing the clips which lock the air box in place. A screwdriver is necessary to remove the clips. It needs no equipment whatsoever to replace a filter.

Fuel filter repair

This fix takes a bit more time. Typically found beneath a car, it is near the fuel tank. Any repair procedures include removing a part mask. You will definitely spill any petrol, so it's safer to be careful than sorry. Make sure there is nothing burning and have a pan ready to capture the fire, but also cloths or rags to clean up the fuel. (These papers must be recycled.)

Make sure the fuel lines are connected properly. You would only require pliers or screwdrivers. In order to fasten these clips, you need special equipment. You may buy them. Remove the fuel cap to relieve the pressure inside the tank. To avoid backflow, locate the fuel filter on the fuel line, then loosen the fuel line fittings.

Remove the clamp holding the fuel filter, replace it with a new one, and reattach the fuel line. The arrow on the new filter points to the engine's area. Renew the gas cylinders. Don't hesitate to take the gas cap off again!

Spark plug repair

Next we'll analyze the engine's spark plugs. For most engines, you need to substitute one spark plug for each cylinder, but a few configurations can require two or three spark plugs per cylinder. Removing the plugs is not impossible, however, there is a clear sequence to follow. Removing the plugs from an engine that is hot or warm is not recommended. Wait at least four hours for the vehicle's engine to cool before replacing the plugs .

Any cars require the removal of certain components in order to access the spark plugs and wires. Next, draw rapidly at the plug wires or coils from near the top of the spark plug to free them.

When you've dislodged the wires from the terminals with a hammer, use a long extension bar and socket to remove the connectors. Why not use a traditional outlet? Spark plug sockets are smaller to fit inside of the spark plug's opening and foam or rubber is put inside of the socket. This cushioning layer not only prevents the plug from breakage, but also means that it is snugly fitted within the socket so that the plug stays inside the socket while you remove the old one and swap it with the new one.

Pull the plug out, and unscrew the threaded part. For a connector to be lifted, the plug should be inside. Please take a look at the spark plug electrode (tip). The substance should be brown in colour. If the spark plugs have very damp or sticky stains, or spark plugs which seem to be losing their ends, these are signs of other issues which a collection of new spark plugs would not address.

Inspect for holes on the current connectors and adapt to the specification, then using a suitable plug-gapping tool. (Some spark plug manufacturers say their plugs are “pre-gapped” and do not require replacement.) To begin installing the new plugs, you can first remove them with a wrench. Complete the installation with the exact torque requirements issued by the vehicle manufacturer. Re-verify the coil and connector wires by removing them, and switch to the next cylinder.

Spark Plugs cables

It is important to replace a new spark plugs after they have been fitted, so if the car is not equipped with an ignition coil it is often appropriate to replace the spark plug wires. The reason we say this is because most of today's modern vehicles have moved to a coil-on-plug ignition setup which prevents the wires from being replaced during routine maintenance.

If your car has normal form cable, it does wear out with time. Due to continuous exposure to friction, heat, and grime, electronic ignitions steadily deteriorate and lose their capacity to perform high-voltage levels required for ignition.

Note that each spark plug wire is assigned to a particular individual spark plug. This is why you cannot match them up. If this occurs, the spark will be sent to the wrong cylinder at the wrong time – causing misfires and loss of control

Owing to the wires being hard to discern, we suggest cutting one wire at a time, inserting plug and re-attaching the wire. In order to distinguish each wire, mark all wires before extracting all of them. If you are installing new spark plug wires on a vehicle that does not have an ignition coil on each cylinder, it can be noticed that each wire is of different length which coincides with how far apart each spark plug is. However, this approach is not recommended as a conclusive method to deciding wire placement.

The separators and clips are meant to hold the wires away from the hot and moving parts of the engine.

If the spark plug wires are difficult to remove, we suggest that you use a special tool designed to generate exactly the correct amount of leverage possible to remove them without risking extensive damage. Often called spark plug wire pliers, these instruments are fitted with rubber coated tips used for spark plug wires

Additional Tests when the hood is open

When the hood is open, you're dealing with hands that are dirty, and you're able to do those basic tests at the same time. Perform the following:

Look for the belt where the accessory drive or serpentine belt is mounted. The object does not have any frayed or cracked areas. Investigate the tension on the belt to ensure sufficient tension. The belt should be able to deflect by about 1/2”.

Of course, if an engine component is malfunctioning, you will need to begin diagnosing the problem or taking the car to a mechanic for more details. For your tuning up, take your car out for a run. Enable the engine to warm up before driving. Pay special attention for any odd noises. Overall efficiency can at least be similar to what you had previously, but hopefully there would still be some boost in fuel economy as well. Finally, be proud of doing a decent job.