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Need a quick tune-up? How about taking a shot at this rumoured Ferrari developed method?

21 Jan 2011 | Category: Car Maintenance Advice


Many car owners shares an idea that if a maintenance of a car will require it's owner to remove a bolt in any ways, then the maintenance should be done by a certified mechanic. Because there is more car owners that bought the car out of necessity compared to those who bought it out of hobby, this view is very common.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this idea, it's just that the more you send a car in, the more you have to pay. Someone with a tight budget or penny-savers might want to avoid sending the car to a mechanic too often.

For someone who still thinks that opening a bolt is too much, yet wants to save as much trip to the mechanic as possible, the following advice will be useful. This is a very simple maintenance procedure that is arguably less difficult than a car wash.

One of the maintenance schedule for a car is a fuel injector and carbon cleaning for the engine's combustion chambers. As the car burns fuel while it operates, the excess fuel not properly burned gradually leaves a residue which through time will build up on the combustion chambers and the injectors.

This happens more on cars used on the cities, due the shorter travel distance and lower traveling speed. The short travel distance and lower speed will inhibit the engine from operating at its most optimum condition, causing the inefficient combustion.

Because of those conditions, mechanics and dealers usually recommend the fuel injectors and carbon cleaning to be done at intervals ranging from every 20,000 - 50,000km. Most likely, if you live in a very dense urban area, the carbon build-up will occur much sooner before the scheduled maintenance.

The common symptoms of dirty injectors and carbon build-ups is when the car sometimes stutter and lose power during acceleration. Although knocking can also be a symptom, but knocking can be caused by a wide variety of reasons.

When these symptoms appears, do not rush to the mechanic just yet. Remember that the less appointments you have with your mechanic will translate directly to more money on your wallet.

There is a way to prevent these build-ups from happening too soon, many knows it as Italian Tune-Up.

Italian Tune Up is a method to burn off the carbon deposits in the combustion chambers by running the engine at its maximum load, forcing the injectors to flow more fuel to the engine which will purge all the junk in the injectors, and increase the temperature inside the combustion chambers to burn those junk off. The legend of the term Italian-Tune-up is that this is the method used by Ferrari engineers during maintenance.

As most Ferrari's usually spent most of its time in the garage, the fuel left unburned in the engine and injectors builds up these carbon deposits over time. So when the owner sends the car in for maintenance, the mechanic drives the car in the track aggressively for a few laps, and then return the car to the owner.

Whether the legend is true or false will be difficult to confirm, since it is quite rare for one to encounter a Ferrari owner, let alone the mechanic. However, the logic behind the method still holds true regardless. To make the term a lot simpler to understand, just think of it as a cardio-exercise for the car.

Performing an Italian tune-up is very simple, sometimes people do it without knowing that they are also performing maintenance. So what's the purpose of this article? It is to make sure that the process is done within safety limits, preventing damage to car.

Preparation

Before attempting to perform this method, do a routine inspection for the belts and fluids level. Make sure your car is not running low on oil and coolant. After finishing the routine inspection, turn on the engine and listen to the sounds. If the car makes a grinding or rattling sounds, chances are that there are some wear or problems in the moving parts and may break during the tune-up.

If the car makes squeaking sounds, chances are the belts needs to be replaced and may snap if you proceed to the tune-up. After finishing with the above mentioned, check for any leaks under the car or inside the engine bay.

If there is a coolant leak, it may caused by the water-pump. If oil is spurting inside the engine bay, it means that the gasket needs to be replaced. Either way, do not proceed, because if the water-pump locks or the gasket fail completely, that it will leads to serious engine overhaul. If there's a tiny stain of oil on the floor during on overnight period, the car is fine.

Make sure the car is in relatively good condition to handle the hard-work. When in doubt, do not proceed. After you are finished, warm the engine until it reach the normal operating temperature before proceeding to the next step.

The Tune-up

The idea of the tune-up is to let the engine reach its maximum load, which is at the red-line of the RPM indicator. Just to be safe, do this at 200-300 rpm below the red-line.

Find a long stretch road where the car can be driven at relatively high speed such as a freeway.

Drive the car at speed above 60 km/hr in 2nd or 3rd gear whichever gets you closest to the rev limiter. Most regular cars with a 6200rpm red-line will allow 80km/hr at 2nd gear. If the car that are being driven have different specifications, then find the best combination between speed and gear to reach the highest rev's possible.

The reason that the car needs to be driven at speed above 60Km/hr is because the wind generated at this speed will prevent the car from overheating. Drive the car at this condition for 10 to 15 minutes, while paying attention to the temperature gauge.


If the temperature gets too close to overheating, then shift to higher gear and let the car cools down. It is best to attempt this at a very late hour when the road is empty and the outside temperature is at its coolest. After 10-15 minutes, shift to high gear and drive the car around until it cools down.

Sometimes a faint smoke will arise from the exhaust pipe during the tune-up, this is normal. The smoke is caused by deposits getting burned. If there is too much smoke coming out or if the smoke is very visible, stop the process immediately.

Visible smoke indicates a leakage in the combustion chambers. Always let the car cools down after every attempt before shutting off the engine. The engine cooling system is the only means of the engine to cool itself, and it only works when the engine is running.

This tune-up will keep the injectors clean for a longer time and prevent the carbon deposits to builds up too much before the scheduled maintenance. The tune up does not, however, meant to replace the scheduled maintenance. It only serves as a supplement between formal maintenance. The best time for you to do this tune up is right before a scheduled oil change. Why? Because oil tends to lose some of its lubricative qualities when exposed to high heat, and also the tune-up may burn a little amount of oil.

By doing the tune up before the oil change, the brand new oil you just put in will not be compromised in any way.
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