A car tune-up is maintenance done to a vehicle periodically, to ensure it works within optimal parameters. This is usually done at least once every year. Depending on the type of car, the mileage and age and the vehicle’s make and model, the tune-up might vary, but you will usually have to replace the air filter, check and if necessary change parts like spark plugs and wires, fuel filter and other engine parts and also run full computer diagnostics.
How much will a tune-up cost?
On a normal tune-up, you’ll spend a minimum of $50-$100, but depending on the problems you’ll encounter, you could end up spending $800 or even more. For the minimum price, you’ll usually only get a general check-up and sometimes the replacement of the spark plugs and wires. If your tune-up will cost more, for $300 to $900 you’ll get a lot more, like the replacement of fuel filter, distributor cap, spark plugs and wires, air filter and PVC valve, rotor, along with full computer diagnosis or inspection, testing of the emission and ignition systems, adjustment of the dwell and any other tweaks that need to be taken care of. The final costs will depend on the hourly labor rate (You’ll spend around $40-$90 per hour for labor in repair shops and $75 to $200 at dealerships) and on the parts that need to be changed or fixed.
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If you have an older car, with a mileage of 90,000 – 120,000, you will spend more for a tune-up, at least $500 to $1,200, if not more.
Here are a few tips for your next tune-up:
First off remember to check the owner’s manual for your car, because you’ll find there a list of everything that needs to be checked and changed on your car by make and model. If you’re going to the mechanic, he’ll usually have a manual for most car makes and models. All vehicles have mandatory and recommended maintenance scheduled depending on the mileage, and not every tune-up will have the same mandatory and recommended checks.
Once you get to your mechanic, be prepared to leave your car there for at least two, three hours, because that’s the shortest time for a proper basic tune-up.
Some replaceable car parts will last 30,000 miles or even more, which means that you won’t have to replace them with every tune-up. For example, platinum spark plugs can last for 30,000 to 100,000 miles. Be sure to check the car’s manual for this info.
The lights for “service engine” or “check engine” shouldn’t be the only things to convince you it’s time for a tune-up. Do it periodically or any time you get one of these symptoms: an engine that stalls at a stop or makes weird sounds, a loss in power, a drop in mileage, “knocking” sounds, or an engine that doesn’t stop after you stop the ignition. If you take your car to a professional shop, they will be able to tell you if your problems will be fixed with a tune-up or if it’s something wrong with the computerized systems. Usually, a computer diagnostic test will tell you the exact problem and how to fix it.
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Cheaper is not always better when it comes to your car. Don’t take it to the cheapest mechanic for the tune-up, because they might not know how to properly run a diagnostics test, especially if you have a highly computerized car system. If you’re thinking of doing the tune-up yourself, then you need to know that the materials you’ll use will cost you around $50-$150. We don’t encourage you to do the tune-up yourself just to bring down the costs, especially if you don’t have any training or skills as a mechanic.
Before taking your car to a mechanic or dealership, be sure to check all local offers for coupons or discounts.
Always ask what will be included in the tune-up services, because you might find that a more expensive mechanic might do extra checks and add extra services for the money.
Should the average working Joe get periodic tune-ups?
Although it might seem expensive to go through tune-ups at least once every year, it will all be worth it. Some parts need to be changed to ensure the car works in optimal parameters, while other parts will be changed to make sure your car is safe on the road. Changing cheaper parts with your tune-up will keep other more expensive parts from breaking down. In the end, spending some money on a tune-up will be cheaper than fixing a broken engine.