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Image: Photo: Getty Images / Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy; Illustration: Vicky Leta

Do you feel it? The air is warming, the ground is thawing, the sun may even still be visible when you get out of work. Springtime is around the corner, and here at Jalopnik, that can only mean one thing: It’s time to get into some DIY car projects, or just teach yourself exactly how an automobile works.

See, over the nearly two decades that Jalopnik has been obsessing over automobiles, we’ve published a ton of articles geared toward helping you get the most out of your car — from how-to guides on car buying and basic maintenance, to overviews on the best ways to modify and improve your ride, to deep-dives that explain the inner workings of the modern (or classic!) automobile. You say you’re not interested in turning wrenches? No sweat: We’ll also show you the best ways to keep your car neat and clean. Now that the fun driving months are approaching, we figured it’s a great time to brush up your wrenching skills and learn something new about exactly what’s going on under your car’s hood.

Throughout March, you’ll see updated and expanded versions of some of our best articles on DIY car maintenance, upgrades and mods, and the science that powers our beloved vehicles. There’s something here for everybody, whether you’re a newbie who’s never checked their tire pressure, an experienced amateur looking to take your wrenching skills to the next level, or a seasoned shadetree mechanic ready to learn the masters-level stuff.

Of course, we’ll be writing about wrenching, modding, DIY maintenance and car tech all year round, but now that winter is fading in the rearview mirror, we wanted to put all this knowledge in one place. If there’s a topic you don’t see here, a question you’ve always wanted answered, or anything else you want out of Jalopnik’s Spring Tune-Up, let us know in the comments below. Keep checking back all month. No matter who you are, or how much wrenching you’ve done, I guarantee you’ll learn something you never knew before.


Image for article titled Welcome to the Jalopnik Spring Tune-Up, Where You Can Improve Your Car and Yourself

Image: Photo: simazoran (Getty Images), Illustration: Vicky Leta / Jalopnik (Getty Images)

New cars are confusing — intimidating even. With all the computers, sensors, and gadgets, and now, even hybrid technology, it may seem like there’s some sort of magical witchcraft taking place under the hood. We’re here to lessen the mystery and show you how modern automotive computer control systems work. Today, we’re talking electronic fuel injection.

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Image for article titled Welcome to the Jalopnik Spring Tune-Up, Where You Can Improve Your Car and Yourself

Image: Photo: Timitrius (Other), Illustration: Vicky Leta / Jalopnik

Back in the day, a car’s intake and exhaust valves opened a specific amount at a specific point in the four stroke cycle, and for a specific amount of time. It was that simple. Nowadays, however, many engines can not only change when their valves open, but also how much they open and for how long – that is, new cars can change valve timing, valve lift, and valve duration. Let’s have a look at how variable valve timing (VVT) works.

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Image for article titled Welcome to the Jalopnik Spring Tune-Up, Where You Can Improve Your Car and Yourself

Image: Photo: Anze Furlan / psgtproductions (Getty Images), Illustration: Vicky Leta / Jalopnik

Okay, so almost no new cars use carburetors (but some two-wheeled vehicles, mostly dirt bikes, still do). Still, it’s important to understand how engines got to where they are today. It all began with the good ol’ carb before everything went more… digital.

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Image for article titled Welcome to the Jalopnik Spring Tune-Up, Where You Can Improve Your Car and Yourself

Image: Photo: Jalopnik; Illustration: Vicky Leta

LED headlights throw extremely intense light with very little draw on your car’s electrical system. Now that they’re trickling down to the aftermarket, you can buy a simple plug-in “LED retrofit kit” that straight swaps your halogen bulbs. We installed a set to see if that’s actually a good idea.

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Image for article titled Welcome to the Jalopnik Spring Tune-Up, Where You Can Improve Your Car and Yourself

Image: Photo: Lalita Chemello / Jalopnik, Illustration: Vicky Leta

Ever been tempted to buy a Rebuilt Salvage vehicle? Formerly wrecked but now legal to drive, the former salvage vehicle might be substantially less expensive than another similar vehicle without that designation. I would caution you: Rebuilt salvage vehicles are the fool’s gold of the automotive world.

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