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How to Tune a vehicle?

I love fixing my project cars, but hate doing maintenance on the daily drivers. One is enjoying my hobby, the other feels like work. But, sometimes I can’t avoid it.

Thankfully, my wife’s 2005 Honda CRV hasn’t needed much outside of oil changes, air filters and drivetrain lubrication service. Recently it hit the 98K mile mark and is still maintenance free. But if it’s going to stay that way, a tune-up couldn’t hurt.

With the help of my 15 year-old son, the job took about 90 minutes. If you want to perform your own tune-up, here’s how:

1. Make Sure You Have the Tools You Need

For this job, I used an 8 mm socket wrench, a 10 mm socket wrench and a good spark plug socket wrench. I also used a rachet handle and long extension, and a philips head screwdriver.

2. Expose the Coil/Spark Plug Boots

We started by removing the plastic cover/retainer from the valve cover to expose the coil/spark plug boots. With some cars you have to unplug the connectors at the coils and then remove them one at a time. With the Honda, I was able to carefully lift and move all four coil/plug boots at the same time.

Loren Nauss3. Inspect Spark Plug Tubes and Plugs

When the spark plugs are located in the center of the valve covers, as they were in this case, I always like to inspect the spark plug tubes and plugs carefully. I have seen valve cover gaskets or spark plug tube seals (parts of the valve cover gasket sets) fail, resulting in oil build-up that can short out the plugs. If I see any sign of leaking, this is the time to fix it. Also, when removing the old spark plugs, you should examine them for even wear and coloration.

4. Check the Gaps in Your New Spark Plugs

After your inspection, it’s time to install the new spark plugs. Be sure to first check the part numbers and gap. Most plugs come pre-gapped, but I like to check them just in case one got dropped somewhere along the way and was damaged. When you do check your spark plug gaps, be very careful as the plugs can be easily damaged.

You should never take a chance with installing a dropped plug, as improperly-sized gaps can cause misfires, loss of power, plug fouling, poor fuel economy and accelerated plug wear.

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