What is Included in an Auto Tune-Up?

What is Included in an Auto Tune-Up?

Your car needs to have regular maintenance to run at its best, and that’s why you should have regular auto tune-ups. All of the components, from the spark plugs to the transmission, need routine TLC to ensure they are giving you the best possible performance. When it’s time for your tune-up, what type of service can your mechanic to perform at the appointment? Here’s a closer look at what a car tune-up appointment entails, when you might need one, and how to ensure you don’t forget to have one done.

What Exactly Is a Tune-up?

An automotive tune-up is a type of preventive maintenance that checks and fine-tunes a car to ensure it is performing at its best. For most vehicles, a full system tune-up should be performed once per year, with other maintenance throughout the year as well. Sticking with this maintenance schedule will help your car perform well and have a long life.

What Happens at a Tune-Up

Each auto shop will have its own list of services offered at a tune-up. Typically, they will perform the following tasks:

  • Clean and replace ignition system components, like spark plugs, spark plug wires, ignition wires, and ignition coils
  • Replace the filters, including cabin air filter, oil filter, fuel filter, and engine air filter, if needed
  • Check belts and hoses, and replace if needed
  • Replace the oxygen sensor, if needed
  • Check and clean the PCV valve
  • On older cars, check or replace the distributor cap and rotor
  • Check the oil and fluid levels, including transmission and steering fluid

In addition, the tune-up gives the mechanic a chance to check all of the car’s systems. While these are not necessarily maintained at the tuneup, they are inspected. Your mechanic can tell you if you will need any upcoming maintenance, so you can plan it ahead of time. Systems checked include:

While the tune-up may not perform any work on these systems, the inspection can help you pinpoint problems that are brewing before they create serious issues on the road.

Tune-up Vs. Car Maintenance Schedule?

A tune-up offers basic maintenance and system checks, but you may be better served by following the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle. Every vehicle has different recommendations for recommended routine maintenance tasks, which are outlined in the manual. For instance, your maintenance guide may recommend engine filter replacement every 30,000 miles, but spark plug replacement every 100,000 miles. Both of these services are usually part of a tune-up, but they may not be needed every single year. A car maintenance schedule will also include routine oil changes and transmission flushes, which you need to tackle based on mileage, not a calendar date.

Tips to Stick with a Maintenance Schedule

Whether you choose to do the annual tune-up or a car maintenance schedule, sticking with your choice is critical to keeping your car running at its best. Use your phone to schedule regular checks, and get the car to the mechanic on time when it is due for one of these appointments. By giving attention to preventive maintenance, you will get better fuel efficiency and a longer lifespan out of your car.


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