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Old 03-26-2007, 02:13 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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When does a car need a tune-up?

I recently inherited my mother's 2002 PT Cruiser that she had bought new 5.5 years ago. It has only 23,000 miles on it, and is an automatic. Even though she took it in for scheduled oil changes, etc., I know that the car has never had a tune-up. Is it overdue for one, based on its age, or not yet, based on the mileage.

(I'm asking you guys first, rather than the dealer, who'll insist on a tune-up whether it needs it or not.)
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  #2  
Old 03-26-2007, 02:35 PM
Absolute Absolute is offline
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"Tune-up" is a somewhat outdated word. Cars have electronic ignition systems now, and don't really need tune-ups. The most you have to do is replace the spark plugs - and many cars have plugs rated to 100,000 miles.

The best thing to do is just check the owner's manual for the recommended service intervals. Unlike the dealers, the factory is usually pretty honest about what's required and what's not.

Other than fixing things when they break and wear items like brakes, the preventive maintenance schedule on my car is something like this:

7,500 miles - engine oil
15.000 miles - air filter
30,000 miles - transmission fluid, differential fluid
60,000 miles - power steering fluid, fuel filter, spark plugs
1 year - brake fluid
2 years - coolant

With 22,000 miles, you're pretty far away from having to do anything major. But my experience is primarily with German cars - perhaps domestic cars have shorter intervals. Again, check the manual.

Last edited by Absolute; 03-26-2007 at 02:36 PM..
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Old 03-26-2007, 02:39 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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You need to get the owner's manual. The schedule for maintenance should be in the manual somewhere. If it's not still hiding in the glove box somewhere, the dealer should be able to get you one.

I don't know the specifics of a PT cruiser, but generally speaking cars don't need tune-ups anywhere near as often as they used to. There's a lot more fancy computerized controls that don't need adjustment these days, compared to older cars which had all sorts of mechanical adjustments that needed occasional tweaking to work properly. Some cars are recommended to have a tune-up once every 100,000 miles. Most of the time it will be more like every 5 years or 50,000 miles whichever comes first. You haven't hit the mileage limit, but you have hit the time limit, so you are probably due. Again, without knowing the exact schedule for your car, this is just a guess. For all I know it could be 7 years/100,000 miles, or 4 years and 30,000 miles.

One word of warning: Your car has very low mileage on it. Cars don't like to sit. Water in the air condenses inside the engine and the exhaust, and if the car is only used for very short trips it may not get hot enough to burn off the water (ok, technically it's not burning it, it's just converting it into water vapor and expelling it, but you get the idea). Cars should be run at least once a week or so for a period long enough where they reach full operating temperature.
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Old 03-26-2007, 02:44 PM
Queen Bruin Queen Bruin is offline
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Look at your manual. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.
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  #5  
Old 03-26-2007, 03:23 PM
robcaro robcaro is offline
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I live in Colombia and my car manual says to change oil and maintenance every 5000 Km. That is only 3106 Miles. In the US, the same car recommends oil change and maintenance every 7,000 miles. They are having me pay double over here. But, I have to do it to be up to date with the warranty. Why the big difference?
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Old 03-26-2007, 03:55 PM
TV time TV time is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robcaro
I live in Colombia and my car manual says to change oil and maintenance every 5000 Km. That is only 3106 Miles. In the US, the same car recommends oil change and maintenance every 7,000 miles. They are having me pay double over here. But, I have to do it to be up to date with the warranty. Why the big difference?
Often elevation will be a factor. Also the type of driving has a great deal to do with it. In addition, the roads drivin on is a very big factor.

Living in rural Colorado, I will change my oil about every three or four thousand miles, and generally speaking, it needs it.

Now you may not live in a mountainous part of Colombia. You may not drive on dirt roads much. You may not do much stop and go driving much, but if you do, it might be wise to change it a bit more often than you would in the states.

It also might have something to do with the oil or gas available, too.
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Old 03-26-2007, 04:13 PM
robcaro robcaro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TV time
Often elevation will be a factor. Also the type of driving has a great deal to do with it. In addition, the roads drivin on is a very big factor.

Living in rural Colorado, I will change my oil about every three or four thousand miles, and generally speaking, it needs it.

Now you may not live in a mountainous part of Colombia. You may not drive on dirt roads much. You may not do much stop and go driving much, but if you do, it might be wise to change it a bit more often than you would in the states.

It also might have something to do with the oil or gas available, too.
Yes, I live in a high elevation, more than 8000 ft. Mostly city driving. No dirt roads. Perhaps you are right, but oil and gas is about the same quality as in the US.
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Old 03-26-2007, 06:13 PM
Translucent Daydream Translucent Daydream is offline
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In Texas for my old man's PT, the oil change is 3 months / 3,000 miles... We are listed as a severe climate (Dallas area)
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  #9  
Old 03-26-2007, 08:19 PM
Common Tater Common Tater is offline
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Generally motor vehicle manufacturers define "severe service" with regard to engine oil changes, as the kind of driving virtually everyone does - stop and go, short trips, etc. Long cross-country trips are not the norm but oil change intervals can be extended considerably.

"Tune-up" isn't really appropriate, but "maintenance inspection" is a better term. I suppose you could change the plugs on general principles, as they are inexpensive. Fuel filter, definitely. After that, a modern car or truck is mostly checking fluids, belts, hoses, electrical system, brakes, A/C, tires, shocks - a lot of things to be looked at for safety and to protect your investment.
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Old 03-27-2007, 02:05 AM
Mr. Slant Mr.  Slant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robcaro
I live in Colombia and my car manual says to change oil and maintenance every 5000 Km. That is only 3106 Miles. In the US, the same car recommends oil change and maintenance every 7,000 miles. They are having me pay double over here. But, I have to do it to be up to date with the warranty. Why the big difference?
The automakers may have decided that since most drivers in your country qualify for "severe service", they'll put all drivers on that schedule.
Your car may legitimately go 7,500 miles in light-duty highway-only driving, but with short trips and all city driving, be best served by 3,000 mile intervals.
I believe several automakers have decided that all of Canada = Severe Service due to the winters.
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Old 03-27-2007, 03:05 AM
Eleusis Eleusis is offline
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I've bought four new cars and I've never been asked for records when bringing one in for warranty work.

As far as they knew, I never even changed the oil at all, even at 50k miles. They never said a word.

In reality I try to change it every 8-9000 miles or so, regardless of the sticker on the windshield. In fact, my M.O. is to change it after 5-6000 miles after the sticker says.

edit: the sticker always says: "3 months/3000 miles"

Last edited by Eleusis; 03-27-2007 at 03:07 AM..
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  #12  
Old 03-27-2007, 08:20 AM
Common Tater Common Tater is offline
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One angle that I would look at is to not skimp on is the battery - in the past, it was great fun to squeeze 8 years or more and a trip to Disneyland out of the die-hard, to ignobly fail at the most critical time, but hey we had bragging rights.

Cars have changed quite a bit in the last 20 years - far more sensitive, low current electronic/computer controls, sensors and the like, so it pays to ensure the battery itself is up to snuff. Auto charging systems and other critical components can be damaged by a weak battery. Once a battery is 5 years +, I'd think about a new one regardless, and re-seat all the main electrical connectors/grounds with a shot of good electrical contact cleaner.
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  #13  
Old 03-27-2007, 09:17 AM
crazyjoe crazyjoe is offline
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I recently traded in my '03 PT Cruiser, so I k now a little about them. Mine had a differnt engine than yours, but that only meant I had to make sure to be a little more meticulous WRT the maintenance.

Whenever you buy/inherit any vehicle, the onus is on you to check it out. Don't take it to some dealership where they're going to clean out your wallet just because they can, but instead do a little work yourself.

The air cleaner (a large, plastic box in the lower right quadrant of your hood...open it and look inside and pull out a pleated paper filter) should be checked. Replace it if it is noticeably not white anymore, or even just for good measure. New ones are about 13 - 20 bucks.

Do an oil change on it. You can buy all the tools you will need for under 20 dollars (a couple wrenches, an oil filter wrench, and an oil catch tub) and the supplies (oil, filter) should cost less than 20 as well. If it's been sitting that long, there's likely some water and other contaminants in the oil, and it doesn't hurt to flush them out. You'd spend just as much having the oil sent out for testing, so why not just replace it?

Check your trans fluid (actually not sure where that is on yours, but it should be a yellow hook under the hood that doesn't say "oil" on it. When the car engine is warmed up, shift from Park to D slowly, and then back into N (chock the wheels so the car doesn't go anywhere) then pull the trans dipstick out. wipe it onto a WHITE paper towel or cloth. If it's bright red, it's good. If it is reddish brown, it needs to be replaced. You *can* do this yourself, but it's probably better to have it done. Because Chrysler transmissions are VERY VERY picky about the fluid type they use, this is the one service I would recommend having done at the dealership. It will run about 150 from the dealership.

Replace the spark plugs. They're about 6 or 7 bucks for new copper plugs and they change out easily if you have some tools.

Enjoy your PT Cruiser. Thewy are very versatile cars for their size. I hauled a dhishwasher home in one, and you can fit 8 foot lumber in there are well if you fold down the front passenger seat.
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