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Call us for all your car needs! 617-269-7799

On the corner of Park St & Clayton St

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.

ASSOCIATIONS

  • ASE Master Technician
  • BBB (Better Business Bureau)
  • Car Care Aware

Testimonials

  • Had trouble with 2013 A4 with 6-speed manual that would barely shift anymore with 36K and thought it need clutch/throw out bearing replaced. After disassembly Mike called and let me know what he thought was really going on was due to dual mass flywheel and unfortunately clutch replacement would not fix the issue. It ended up costing much more than original scope of only clutch kit replacement but thanks to Mike's time spent researching the issue we got it fixed right the first time!
    -Joe M.

  • Great great place. Can't say enough about Mike - he calls you back immediately, they don't try to get you to fix things that don't need fixing, they couldn't be nicer - he even remembers my face and my name! The car has been in great shape since I had it fixed up there - also, I've rolled in there with a flat tire and they've replaced the tire on the spot in fifteen minutes. They are just great and you cannot go wrong with the service. I don't think they are expensive at all compared to a dealer and they are far more trustworthy. Let me just say - I have a ten year old plain old Toyota Camry CE and I am getting the best service one can get, so they aren't even snobby about the cars they fix! Use this place if your car needs anything.
    -M.M

  • First off, I consider myself a car guy, not quite a 'gear-head'; but I love my cars. I don't drive the nicest of Benz's, or the fastest of Porsche's, but my VW is my dream car.. and I drive it, for lack of a better term 'enthusiastically' (spirited). I change fluids, I use good parts, and I take care of it (take care of your things, and your things will take care of you). This means that whenever I need anything handled, I bring it to Mike (Curry). Not only is he a whiz about all that is cars, he is the NICEST guy I've ever worked with.. Sure, the work isn't cheap, but I would pay MORE if I had to, to get the service and quality work that goes into my car, and my time with them. Options are always laid out, prices are always on point, and service is always through the roof.. Recommended? No, I URGE you to bring your car in for service here, get it done right the first time.. so that it won't break down on you in the future. You won't feel 'taken' when you leave here.. I Promise Promise Promise you will love the work they do.
    -Stephen H.

  • I have been bringing a BMW here for a few years. They do an outstanding job and are happy to explain any work. I feel very confident that I'm getting the real story. There have been times I know they could have told me something needed fixing, but instead they told me I still had life and didn't pressure a fix. They were always right. It's very comforting to feel like you can trust your mechanic. If you have a foreign car give these guys a shot because you won't be disappointed. Mike the owner is a straight shooter and easy going guy. He understands doing a good job equates to a loyal customer. He even has the cars washed before you pick them up. There is definitely a sense of pride in his shop. Basically I know when my car rolls out of this place it is in the best shape it can be.
    -Craig G.

  • Finding a trustworthy and fair auto mechanic is a very difficult task. I am happy to have found European Motorsport. Mike, the owner, has taken excellent care of me every since my first visit 4 yrs ago. He will be honest with you regarding any immediate service as well as tell you if things really dont need to be addressed at that moment. I brought my estimate from Herb Chambers of the number of things wrong my with my BMW that NEEDED to be fixed according to them. When I brought the car to EM, Mike put the car up on the lift and pointed out the areas of interest and their status. 2 of the 7 things actually needed repair. He also showed me a brand new part to compare it to the one that was on my car! Talking a customer out of buying a new part? Really!? It could have been a flux capacitor for anyone who doesn't know cars. My car runs perfect and I will continue to send all of my family and friends to Mike. A real class act Plus he washes the car and cleans it up before returning it to the customer.
    -Mike S.

  • Fantastic first time experience. Brought in my 2014 Audi S4 for a 10k interval oil change and wheel alignment. Made reservation quick and easy online. Great, prompt email communication (not easy to find these days). Dropped off car in the morning before work, picked it up same day after lunch. Car exterior and interior were also courteously cleaned. I can't imagine I would ever go to a dealership for service ever again.
    -Pete T.

  • I had been taking my VW to a garage in Cambridge for the past ten years. When I found it suddenly out of business, I needed a new, trustworthy mechanic. I found European Motorsport and just stopped in. Mike did a thorough examination of my car and provided individual quotes for groups of service. Despite no appointment, he stayed beyond closing time, and completed only the work I requested. And performed it well. Also, and I don't know if it's their standard practice, but they also washed my car. I will definitely be going back to complete the remainder (and any future) work.
    -Keith R.

  • I bought a used car last fall, and some issues started to crop up after I'd had the car for a few months. I had an idea of what the problems were and how to fix them, but I didn't have the time or space to do the work myself. Communication with Kelley to set up the initial appointment and follow-up on the repairs was great, and the process was very easy. Evan and Mike took a look at the car and diagnosed several issues, confirming my own analysis. Their suggestions to solve the problems were very reasonable, and the repair work was great. Mike went beyond the expected repairs and looked around for a sensor connector that is just missing missing from my car; I appreciate the effort and attention to detail. My car was returned to me with all of the problems solved, running better than it had been, and thoroughly detailed. Absolutely fantastic work all around.
    -Daniel W.

  • Excellent! Extremely skilled, trustworthy and professional.. takes the time to communicate what is needed and prioritize the work. Kept my BMW 327i in top shape for 15 years! The last auto maintenance person you will ever need.
    -Sherry C.

  • Friendly, clean shop with excellent equipment (Hunter Road Force Tire Balancer). They solved my vibration issue flawlessly the first time! Glad I found this shop and I will definitely be back.
    -Gregory F.

  • This is one of the best mechanic shops around. Their attention to detail, customer service and ability to diagnosis and fix problems is the best! Kelley (the front desk manager) is easy to get a hold of and book appointments by email or online. Mike (the owner/mechanic) explains things thoroughly and is very personable. I've never met a mechanic/owner that takes that much time with clients. They wash and vacuum your car before returning it to you. I especially love the honesty of this business; there were two things I thought I wanted fixed on my car and when I told Mike about them he explained to me that they weren't really big deals and weren't worth the money to fix them. I really appreciated this honesty; on an 11 year old car I just want to make sure it is safe to drive and not going to leave me stranded (fixing a broken cup holder probably isn't worth the money).
    -Darren P.

  • Mike and his expert crew are amazing! Very knowledgeable, professional and personable! I will definitely use them again and highly recommend them to others! Vehicle: BMW 530i
    -John W.