The Importance of Regular Tune-Ups

by Matt Solis

Most people know they have to regularly change the oil in their cars, but many vehicle owners don’t realize that regular tune-ups are equally important. For example, getting your transmission flushed every 18 months costs about $150, but ignoring this service can eventually cause the transmission to break, and new transmissions can cost up to $2,000.


If you notice problems with your car’s transmission, have a professional check for malfunctions instead of trying to fix them yourself. Over-the-counter additives that are supposed to stop leaks or improve transmission shifting often contain chemicals that cause worn seals to swell, which can interfere with the function of operating rubber parts and lead to severe transmission damage.

When it comes to oil, most people think they have to stick with a certain brand for the entire lifespan of their car, but that’s not always the case. If you’re at a gas station and you’re low on oil, don’t be afraid to add a quart of any brand—the $3 you spend could possibly save a $6,000 engine. When choosing between traditional and synthetic oil, the limiting factor isn’t the oil, but rather the oil filter. Some synthetic oils will last up to 7,500 miles, but your oil filter will only last 5,000.

If your car is constantly losing oil, the first step is to establish if it’s actually burning oil (usually indicated by blue or black smoke) or just leaking it. A minor leak from a worn-out drain plug or bad gasket can result in a surprising amount of oil loss. Also, oil that leaks onto a hot exhaust pipe can produce similarly colored smoke, even if the engine isn’t actually burning it.

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