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GENERAL MAINTENANCE

It's Time for the 21st Century Tune-up

Times are changing...cars are changing. One of the biggest changes in today's automotive industry is the perception of a "tune-up." Ask 10 vehicle owners their definition of a tune-up and chances are there'll be 10 different answers. The classic "tune-up" was once the heart of the automotive business and contrary to some beliefs; today's modern vehicles still need tune-ups to keep them performing at the most efficient levels.

The tune-up was historically associated with the routine replacement of key ignition system parts like spark plugs and ignition points, along with some basic adjustments to help "tune" the engine. Mounting pressure for increased fuel economy and lower emissions drove the car manufacturers to adopt electronics and to do away with ignition points in the '70s, along with the carburetor in the middle '80s. This eliminated the need for the replacement and adjustment of a growing number of ignition and fuel system parts.

As the pace of technology quickened, the procedures required to perform a traditional tune-up changed dramatically. Highly sophisticated ignition and fuel systems are now the norm, using one or more onboard computers to control critical engine and transmission management functions. Things that were once handled mechanically are now controlled electronically through the widespread use of onboard computer technology.

Because vehicles have changed so much over the years, the Car Care Council has introduced the 21st Century Tune-up. This program is designed to help re-define and educate motorists as to what a tune-up should consist of on today's modern vehicles.

"There is a misconception that today's modern vehicles don't need tune-ups because they never break down, but that simply is not true," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "If you're at work and your computer goes down, you can't get any more work done. It's the same with your vehicle. If the vehicle isn't being properly maintained, you're not going to get where you want to go."

As part of the 21st Century Tune-up on today's modern vehicles, the following systems should be inspected:

  • Battery, charging and starting
  • Engine mechanical
  • Powertrain control (including onboard diagnostic checks)
  • Fuel
  • Ignition
  • Emissions

Vehicle owners ask for tune-ups for a variety of reasons, including improving performance, maintaining reliability, planning a vacation, preparing for winter/summer or because they're giving the car to a friend or family member.

To help ensure good performance, fuel economy and emissions, the Car Care Council also recommends that motorists take the time necessary to become familiar with their vehicle from every aspect. Study the owner's manual to become thoroughly acquainted with the operation of all systems. Pay special attention to the indicator lights and instruments.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

Mechanical failure—an inconvenience anytime it occurs--can be deadly in the winter. Preventive maintenance is a must. Besides, a well-maintained vehicle is more enjoyable to drive, lasts longer, and could command a higher resale price.

Some of the following tips can be performed by any do-it-yourselfer; others require the skilled hands of a professional auto technician.

  • Engine Performance - Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters-air, fuel, etc.
  • Fuel - Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming.
  • Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual—more often (every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
  • Cooling Systems - The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
  • Windshield Wipers - Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you'll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.
  • Heater/Defroster - The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Newer models have a cabin air filter that should be replaced periodically. Check your owner's manual for the location and replacement interval.
  • Battery - The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Exhaust System - Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.
  • Tires - Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Check the tires when they are cold, before driving for any distance. Rotate as recommended. Don't forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
  • Carry emergency gear: gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flash light. Put a few "high-energy" snacks in your glove box.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Summer

Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic, will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of last winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through periodic maintenance. . . Your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale price, too!

Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a skilled auto technician.

  • Air Conditioning - A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner's manual for location and replacement interval.
  • Cooling System - The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
  • Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual-more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.
  • Engine Performance - Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended-more often in dusty conditions. Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.
  • Windshield Wipers - A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.
  • Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Tires - Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them while they're cold before driving for any distance. Don't forget to check your spare as well and be sure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there's uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side.
  • Brakes - Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly.
  • Battery - Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Emergencies - Carry some basic tools-ask a technician for suggestions. Also include a first aid kit, flares, and a flashlight. Consider buying a cellular phone.

Keeping Your Vehicle in Tune with the Environment

Car care is definitely a win-win situation. Besides helping the environment, a properly maintained and operated vehicle will run more efficiently, will be safer, and will last longer-up to 50% longer, according to a survey of ASE-certified Master Auto Technicians. The following tips should put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care.

  • Keep your engine tuned. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30%. Follow the service schedules listed in your owner's manual. Replace filters and fluids as recommended.
  • Check your tires for proper inflation. Under inflation wastes fuel-your engine has to work harder to push the vehicle. Wheels that are out-of-line (as evidenced by uneven tread wear or vehicle pulling) make the engine work harder, too. Properly maintained tires will last longer, meaning fewer scrap tires have to be disposed.
  • Keep your air conditioner in top condition and have it serviced only by a technician certified competent to handle/recycle refrigerants. Air conditioners contain CFCs-gases that have been implicated in the depletion of the ozone layer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, almost one third of the CFCs released into the atmosphere come from mobile air conditioners; some simply leaks out, but the majority escapes during service and repair-so it's important to choose a qualified technician.
  • Do-it-yourselfers: dispose of used motor oil, anti-freeze/coolant, tires, and old batteries properly. Many repair facilities accept these items. Or call your local municipal or county government for recycling sites. Never dump used oil or anti-freeze on the ground or in open streams.
  • Observe speed limits. Mileage decreases sharply above 55 mph.
  • Drive gently. Avoid sudden accelerations and jerky stop-and-go's. Use cruise-control on open highways to keep your speed as steady as possible.
  • Avoid excessive idling. Shut off the engine while waiting for friends and family. Today's vehicles are designed to "warm up" fast, so forget about those five-minute warm ups on cold winter mornings.
  • Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. Store luggage/ cargo in the trunk rather than on the roof to reduce air drag.
  • Plan trips. Consolidate your daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving. Try to travel when traffic is light to avoid stop-and-go conditions. Join a car pool.

Remember, how your car runs, how you drive it, and how its fluids, old parts, and tires are disposed of all have serious consequences on the environment.


What Our Customers Are Saying

Monica and Jimmy are awesome. Very friendly easy to work with. Working with them in a car trouble situation made it so much easier!! Thank you both


-Nicole - Tucson, AZ

First time customer that is really impressed with the service and stick-to-itiveness. I brought a complex issue to Jimmy and his team and they stayed with it communicating to me their process each step of the way.


-Neal - Tucson

Excellent, knowledgeable service for a complicated mechanical problem, as well as problems with door latch mechanisms that other service centers were not willing to even take a look at.


-Troy - Tucson

Very competent team at this Broadway location. They consistently solve very difficult repair problems. They never give up. I had an intermittent electrical/computer issue that was very hard to find. George and his team found it and fixed it. They even searched for the best price on all the parts and passed on substantial savings to me. They are the "go-to" experts for vehicle repairs and always have a great positive attitude. Highly recommended.


-John Hufault - Tucson AZ

Excellent service. They solved a very difficult intermittent electrical/computer problem. This is the "go-to" team for many vehicle repairs. They never give up and have always solved the toughest problems and always have a great positive attitude. Reasonably priced. Highly recommended.


-John Hufault - Tucson, AZ

Have used this location for years I had not been in in a long time then I got a call from Jimmy I had lost my keys about a month earlier with 2 key fobs for the handicap ramp about 200 dollars to replace. Someone brought them to him and he called me. They saved me a lot of money and have always been fair and honest. You have to remember if it sounds too high or you think it's not fair talk to them, ask for options or get another opinion. But it does no good to complain afterwards. Never have they done anything without calling me ahead of time and getting approval. There is value in using the same garage. They appreciate customer loyalty and get to know your vehicle better.


-Edward Hankins - Az

Just wanted to say how wonderful and happy I am with the service you did on my vehicle!!! George and the team are honest and trusting and do the job right!!!! THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!!! ALWAYS SATISFIED WITH THE WORK AND WILL ALWAYS COME BACK!!!


-Robert Crowl - Tucson,AZ.

I was impressed with the patience and time Jimmy showed in explaining the work my car needed. He walked me to my car and took the time to explain the part it needed and why. I was convinced I was at the right repair shop in AASTRO Transmission central location and highly recommend as conscientious and trust worthy.


-Jose Martinez - Tucson

After a vet appointment my dog and I were stranded on the west side after my SUV would not start. We were towed to AASTRO on Speedway and then shuttled home. By 4:00 I was home after getting a new Starter put in. Super quick same day service and hopefully over a year with this starting problem will be gone!! Yippee!


-duane gibson - Tucson

Great service


-Cesar Villarreal - San Antonio

George really took the time to explain my best options and the work was exceptional. They have followed up with me on the repairs several times. Great place to have any work done.


-James Hamblin - Tucson

I don't normally go out of my way to write reviews but the team James has built over at your Speedway location has always treated me very well, seriously knowledgeable and honest on whether a repair needs to be done immediately or can wait...it's honesty and service like that, that has made me tell my friends and family to get all repairs done there! Thanks for taking care of my car quickly and at a good price !!


-Zachary Anderson - Tucson, Az

My friend advised that I go the AASTRO Transmission on East Broadway and ask for John. He is a Master Mechanic and I was told he would run a diagnostic on my 2004 Lexus 330ES. I have 108K miles on it. When I brought it in I was thinking my transmission might be the problem (Sluggish, skipping during acceleration). Gloria was the gal at the front desk and actually asked John to come up front to meet me. She is an excellent representative and face for the business in meeting with the customers. I use Lexus of Tucson and also used a Mom and Pop shop for my 3K oil change. When I asked them about the sluggish performance they recommended that I use Premium gas. So, I have been doing that for a year but still couldn't out run my girlfriend's Prius. John has the capability and owns his own very expensive equipment to diagnose just about any car and along with that a very large TV screen to view the results. To make a long story short, John ran the diagnostics. He said I had a very well-maintained car but made a couple of changes and recommendations: He put back standard motor oil, he said based on the schematics and OEM recommendations of the 2004 Lexus to not use synthetic. In looking at my invoice the services provided: Motor Vac Fuel Injection & Decarb, which included: clean fuel injector, fuel rail, throttle body, combustion chamber and exhaust system all in compliance with OEM recommended maintenance. AASTRO did the 3K mile maintenance and I believe this shop automatically does a 41-point Inspection. I personally went back to see John's work station, tools and diagnostics area. Very impressive and clean. My invoice was around $300. So, now my car performs like never before, I find myself getting to the speed limit faster and getting to that speed without it skipping and not sluggish. I am so happy with my car and will continue to use AASTRO. I live by Ina Road and knew they had a shop there but my friend insisted I see John. My 3K mile oil changes will be done at this company but I will go to the Ina Rd shop. Anything major? Back to John. Oh, and on that note John also advised me that I could use regular as opposed to premium gasoline as per the Manufacturers' recommendation. I will save at the pump and I am grateful to my friend for the recommendation and appreciate John's incredible knowledge and passion for wanting to get things done correctly.


-PJ - Tucson AZ

Patrick and his team jumped on an unexpected problem with our Chrysler 300. The radiator cracked and we had just enough time to get it replaced. Between price, service and attitude I can't say which was better.


-Mark Finchem - Oro Valley, AZ

I took my car in for a problem. It was quickly diagnosed & the cost was minimal. The guys really know their stuff.


-Richard Deburmen

Just the usual great service.


-Linda Hands

I have always received great service & great advice. My questions are always answered honestly.


-Jennifer Hatcher

Your staff were very courteous & professional. They explained everything in detail and were exceptional in helping keep the repair affordable. They were honest & up front about everything. I came away feeling my repair needs were given the highest priority. Thanks.


-Tena Hawkes

Thank you for showing me my serpentine belt. I was told by others it needed replacing and you showed me that the belt was still O.K. - appreciate your honesty.


-Donna Hillner

Your staff is always very accommodating & go out of their way to help you.


-John Jinew

I am very happy because I have less worries about my car.


-Alice Limbres

Thank you for all the personal attention - I hope I can find as trustworthy & conscientious group of mechanics where I live now.


-Nola & Scott Lohman

They have been good people to deal with.


-Jim Magerino

Very courteous staff, I was taken care of right away. Staff went above & beyond.


-Mrs. Robert McCain

I was treated with care and given detailed explanations for everything.


-Jorge Rodriguez

I have been using AASTRO to service my cars for about 10 years. I have always received great service.


-H. Stanton

Your staff was awesome. Very professional, courteous, friendly & helpful.


-Paula Wright

Excellent repair personnel - nice people to deal with.


-Louis Jordan

So thankful for their assistance while traveling! Exceptional service by caring folks. Highly recommend!


-Tanya Wilson - Garner NC
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