The frequency with which your car needs a tune-up depends on the make, model, and year of the vehicle. Older vehicles might require a tune-up every 30,000 to 45,000 miles, while newer cars can operate for a lot longer without a tune-up. Your owner's manual will tell you the recommended mileage range for tune-ups for the vehicle that you drive. However, the recommended mileage range that's listed isn't set in stone. It's possible for a car to need a tune-up before it reaches the minimum recommended mileage. You need to watch for these signs so that you know when you need to take action. 

Warning Lights

Warning lights aren't put on dashboards for decoration. They are there to tell you when there's something wrong with your car. If the Check Engine light appears, your car may need a tune-up. However, an illuminated Check Engine light could mean a wide variety of things, so you should take your car to an automotive repair shop and allow a professional to determine the actual problem.

Horrible Gas Mileage

If you notice that your car's gas mileage has lowered, there's a chance your car could be ready for a tune-up. If a car isn't operating as well as it should be, the gas mileage will often be affected. If you've gone from filling your gas tank once a week to multiple times per week and aren't driving any farther than normal, chances are there's a problem. Check your tire pressure first—low tire pressure can also cause low gas mileage—and if your tire pressure is fine, consider taking your car to a mechanic.

Loss of Power or Trouble Accelerating

When you drive the same vehicle for a long time, you become aware of the way the car runs when everything is in tip-top shape, which makes it easy to spot a problem, even if you don't know the cause of the problem. If your car all of the sudden feels a bit sluggish while you're driving or you notice that it's taking you longer than usual to gain speed, you need to have your car looked at by a professional. Chances are a simple tune-up could resolve the problem completely. Also, if your car randomly stalls when you start to accelerate, the spark plugs might need to be changed; this is a task completed during a tune-up.

The fact is, there are several different factors that determine when your car needs to be looked at by a professional. However, if you know what type of warning signs to look for, you'll be able to take your car to an automotive repair shop for a tune-up quickly.

For more information, talk to a mechanic, such as one from Arringdale's Engine Rebuilding & Auto Repair.