Treating your car to both regular and major tune ups will certainly improve its performance, prolong the life of its engine and dramatically increase fuel efficiency. With today’s constantly increasing fuel prices, it pays to keep your engine in top condition to minimize gas consumption. Major engine tune ups can be pretty expensive when done by the dealer. It will be more practical to get to know a mechanic who owns a garage to ensure you won’t get ripped off. Or you can perform a do it yourself tune up and maintenance of your car’s engine. Here are some basic tips. Ignition and electrical systems Inspect your car battery levels four times a year at the very least, at each season change. Top off low levels with distilled water. Remove corrosion from cable clamps and terminals by using a wire brush and a little baking soda. This practice will extend battery life. Spark plugs should be replaced every 35,000 miles, or if they’re platinum, replacements are required every 65,000 miles. Check the spark plug for cracks and corrosion and change them if damaged. Get high quality cables for added durability and reliable performance. Get a new distributor cap with each major tune up, if the cap is not attached permanently to the spark plug cables. Also replace the rotor of your distributor, if it has one, as some new model cars don’t have either a distributor cap or a rotor. If your car is a 1978 model or older, replace the contact points and condenser. Newer car models have electronic ignitions and don’t require condensers or contact points. Contact points should be aligned or replaced two times a year. Oil and fuel systems Unless your car has hydraulic valves, adjustment of valve covers is a necessity. While you’re at it, also replace the valve cover gasket. If done properly, this will prevent oil from leaking out on top of the car engine. Inspect the timing belt and readjust or replace it if needed. Electronic ignition-equipped cars don’t often come with timing belts, while some do, so you have to be certain. Inspect the fan belt and other belts. If they are cracked, frazzled or worn out, consider replacing them at once. If your car has a fuel injector, you don’t need to clean it regularly. Clean it only if it gets clogged and use only clean fuel bought at a gas station. The fuel filter needs to be changed every 35,000 miles. The air filter has to be replaced every 15,000 miles, or if it is already covered with dirt. Keeping your air filter clean ensures a more efficient fuel burn, thus minimizing gas consumption. Brakes and clutch If your car has a manual transmission, the clutch will require certain adjustments. Newer model cars are now equipped with adjustable clutch. Consult you manufacturer’s manual to be certain. Oil, brake and transmission fluids should have their levels checked every week, or before and after long drives. Have an oil change and oil filter replacement every 3,000 miles as having clean engine oil prolongs the engine’s life. You can do your own tune ups to increase fuel efficiency, gain better engine performance and offer a smoother ride. This is not an assurance that you won’t run into any car troubles, but do it yourself car tune ups will save you a lot of money in maintenance and repairs.