The tune-up of the 90s is "the single most effective measure motorists can take to protect our environment and conserve energy," says Jay Hunsaker, owner of the Precision Tune centers in the Salt Lake Valley.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, motor vehicles are responsible for about 70 percent of carbon monoxide, 50 percent of unburned hydrocarbons, and half the oxides of nitrogen in the air."A poorly tuned engine puts about 200 to 800 times the harmful emisions of a properly maintained vehicle," reports Hunsaker, "all of which could be drastically reduced through improved maintenance practices."

"The primary, yet most neglected tool at the motorist's disposal is the tune-up, which includes a 34-point engine diagnostic check and emmisions analysis," he says. "Not only does it reduce harmful emmisions but it can also boost gas mileage up to 33 percent, help preserve the value of the car and save thousands of dollars in major repairs."

"Oil changes are also important," he adds. "If an engine doesn't have clean oil, the car will emit more hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, and sometimes as simple as a clogged air filter can have a dramatic impact on a computer controlled engine: the car will run 'rich,' using more fuel and increasing tailpipe emisions."

"Our technicians utilize a Four-Gas Infrared Exhaust Anahyzer to read tailpipe emissions and determine the amount of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide being emitted," says Hunsaker. "We also check functioning of AIR (air injection reaction) Management Systems and catalytic converters. They are both critical in controlling polutants once they've left the engine."

"If only 100,000 owners who neglect tune-ups started having their cars tuned-up regularly, some 90 million pounds of CO2 could be kept out of the atmosphere annually."