How To Perform a Basic Tune-up Inspection


Tune-up service is made up of two parts: the inspection and the actual tune-up. The inspection includes a visual check of the engine’s fuel-system components to ensure that the fuel filter is clean and unclogged, that no damage has been caused to the fuel pump, and that the fuel injector is also clean.

Performing a Basic Inspection

Checking your oil

The oil is what keeps everything in the engine running smoothly, and not having enough can cause serious damage. Checking your oil is an ideal place to start with your vehicle tune-up.
Step 1: Start with a cool engine. Turn off the engine and wait about 10 to 15 minutes for it to cool down a bit.
Step 2: Locate the dipstick near the oil cap. The oil cap is easy to spot when looking at the engine bay. It will be clearly labeled and will possibly be a bright color like yellow or red. Near this cap, there will be the handle to a dipstick. This dipstick will tell you how much oil is in the engine. Before pulling on the handle to remove the dipstick, get a rag (or paper towel) ready.
Step 3: Remove and reinsert the dipstick. Pull on the dipstick until it is fully exposed, and wipe it clean with the rag.
Take the clean dipstick and insert it back into the engine. Now pull it out again, and it will accurately measure the amount of oil in the engine.
Step 4: Check the oil level on the dipstick. There will be lines or notches in the dipstick marking the level that the oil should reach.
If the oil is low, then more can be added to the engine via the oil cap.
Step 5: Add oil if necessary and recheck oil level. Unscrew the oil cap and pour in a small amount of oil (a moderate amount if the oil is particularly low). Do not try to pour in oil through the tiny dipstick hole.

Clean the dipstick again and then measure the amount of oil. Repeat this process until there is an appropriate amount of oil in the engine.
If there are two lines or notches on the dipstick, try to get the oil to a level between the two marks.
If the oil is very low, there may be a leak. The engine could also be burning oil. Getting the problem diagnosed properly by a certified mechanic will save time and money in the long run.

Checking the transmission fluid

Since the transmission fluid reservoir is located in the engine bay around the engine itself, it can easily be checked right after the oil. Here’s what to do:
Step 1: Locate the dipstick near the transmission fluid cap. Pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean, then reinsert it.
Step 2: Check the transmission fluid level on the dipstick. Measure the level of transmission fluid by pulling out the cleaned dipstick and looking at the lines or notches to see where the fluid hits. Add more transmission fluid into the transmission fluid cap if it is low.

Check your other fluids

Step 1: Locate the reservoirs containing the remaining fluids. There are plastic reservoirs that are used to hold fluids for the brakes, power steering, and windshield washer fluid.
Step 2: Check the fluid levels by looking at the reservoirs. All of these fluid reservoirs should have marks on the outside of them that indicate what the fluid level should be.|
Step 3: Add more fluids as necessary. Brake fluid and power steering fluid might be at the right level already, but the windshield washer fluid should be refilled regularly. Add more unless it is already completely full.


Inspect the battery

Step 1: Check the battery for signs of leaking or corrosion. Inspect your car’s battery for corrosion and other signs of wear. The battery terminals can become caked with fluid from the battery’s components, which can gum up the contact points and cause trouble when you’re trying to start it up. If you’re noticing the car doesn’t start up as crisply as it used to, inspect these contact points.


Check the air filter

Step 1: Remove the air filter. Find the air filter box, usually towards the front of the engine.
If the air filter is easily accessible, remove it. Take note of how the filter was installed when you replace it with a new filter.
Step 2: Clean the filter or replace it. If the air filter is only slightly dirty, you may be able to knock some of the dirt out of it or blow on it with an air compressor.
If it is in bad shape, it should be replaced. Insert the new air filter in the same position as the old one, and replace the air filter box.


Inspect the tires

Step 1: Check the air in the tires. Using either a small handheld tire pressure gauge or a pressure gauge built into an air pump, check the PSI of the air in the tires.
Step 2: Check your tire tread and wear. Inspect the tread of each of the tires. If the tread is shallow (2mm or less), the tires probably need replacing.


Test your brakes

Periodically, when you’re driving around and the coast is clear, pump your brakes hard at a slow speed to get a feel for how they react. Do they initiate right away? Does the ABS engage at the proper moment? Do you notice any grinding, squeaking, or unevenness in the action? Any abnormality could be a sign of worn-out brake pads, which is a good indication that you’ve got some tune-ups to make.


Check the headlights

It’s a good idea to regularly perform light checks to make sure all your lights are functioning properly and that nothing is burned out. Have a helper turn on the turn signals and pump the brakes while parked to check for burn-outs or misalignments.
Step 1: You can park aimed at a wall and flash them. They’ll sometimes need to be aligned to make sure they’re illuminating the right amount of road and giving you the vision necessary for safe night driving.


You don’t need to be a mechanic, or even a car enthusiast, to perform basic maintenance on your car. You can save money and hassle by learning a few easy-to-remember steps and fixes to keep your car in good working order year-round. Perform regular inspections and tune-ups and your car will be reliable, safe, and road-ready.


Mr. Mechanic can come to you for any vehicle repair, service, roadworthy certificate, and inspection needs. Call us for a free quote!

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