How Much Is A Tune-Up?

While a lot of people know how important it is to change the oil in their cars regularly, many people forget about all of the other little things that are so much more important to maintaining a vehicle. One thing that’s vital but is often overlooked is getting a tune-up every once in a while.

The truth of the matter is, neglecting your car like this can be extremely damaging to your car’s performance. It can lead to you having to do much more work on your vehicle than was necessary after neglecting regular maintenance, which makes spending money in tune-ups much more cost-effective as compared to having car repairs done later down the line.

You might be asking yourself, at this point, how much is a tune-up?

In this article, we answer your questions and explain what a tune-up is, how to know when it’s time to get a tune-up, what happens during a tune-up, and how to do it yourself if you want to save money.

Several factors such as the cost of parts, time, and labor will determine your overall tune-up cost. You can usually find deals at local shops rather than getting it done by a dealership.

You may pay more to have it tuned up if you’re driving a classic car. An older or classic vehicle may require anywhere from $500 to $1,200 to inspect and tune-up its various parts. Older vehicles need more maintenance and repairs than newer models.

Before taking your car in to get a tune-up, it is important that you compare prices. When calling a mechanic to ask for a quote, make sure you have an idea of what the tune-up will entail and determine if the price you are quoted is competitive with other mechanics in the area. Having the capacity to negotiate discounts is also vital, so make sure you attempt this with each of your mechanics when comparing quotes.

Many people would rather do their own tune-ups to save some money. Basic maintenance like replacing spark plugs, timing belts and air filters can be done at home at a fraction of the cost. For vehicles with computer systems, it may be better to leave repairs to the professionals.

Due to the vague terminology, the specifics of the work and the parts that will need to be replaced vary depending on the vehicle, how often you drive, and your driving style.

The benefits of tuning up your vehicle are numerous. Your vehicle’s lifespan will be prolonged, and its maintenance costs will be reduced if you maintain it regularly.

If you fail to keep your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, you could incur costly repairs that you could have avoided. Having your car tuned up regularly can improve its performance and fuel economy.

The air filter in your vehicle will likely be checked when you take it to get a tune-up. This specific component should generally be replaced at least once per year.

However, the driving conditions of certain individuals may dictate how often you need to make this type of replacement.

If the air filter isn’t replaced right away, the engine will not receive enough air to run properly.

Your engine’s air-fuel mixture will become too rich, resulting in excess fuel molecules to air molecules, which means wasted fuel as well as premature aging or wear-and-tear of your car’s other parts.

Tune-ups are a mechanic’s way to inspect and clean your car. If you have an older car with manual ignition, there’s a chance it may need a tune-up to keep running well.

Tune-up services can include checking your distributor cap and rotor and replacing fuel filters, spark plugs, wires, oxygen sensors, and more!

Tune-ups will be different for each type of vehicle, but some aspects will be similar. If you have a car with platinum spark plugs, you would probably not need to replace them as often.

Also, you don’t need to replace the distributor cap or rotor if you have an electronic ignition.

Depending on your specific situation, a tune-up will let you know if your vehicle needs something more significant done to it. Your mechanic should inspect all of the equipment in your vehicle (brakes, AC, etc.).

Each car requires a different level of maintenance, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual before letting a mechanic know what needs to be done.

Periodic tune-ups include an oil change. It’s recommended to have your oil changed at least once every year or 15,000 miles. A tune-up is done on a case-by-case basis based on when the car is due for service.

Signs You Need A Tune-Up

Signs- You Need A Tune-Up

There are obvious signs that you need a tune-up, such as misfiring or difficulties turning. But others may be subtle and more difficult to spot, such as decreased gas efficiency or unusual sounds coming from the engine.

Here are some warning signs that your car needs a tune-up.

1. The Check Engine Lights Turn On

For some people, seeing their check engine light flashing can be frustrating. Many people ignore these warnings, which is a bad idea since they can signal a serious maintenance issue that requires you to have a tune-up or otherwise address an urgent repair.

Car drivers can be frustrated when their car won’t move even though they press the accelerator pedal. However, this is only a sign that there’s an underlying problem.

It is worth having it checked to ensure your car can operate smoothly in the long run.

2. Low Fuel Economy

You should familiarize yourself with your car’s specific fuel requirements. This will make it easier to spot when things are changing.

You should definitely visit the service center if your car requires more frequent fill-ups on occasion. This is a sign that your car requires a tune-up.

3. Vibrations And Shaking

A car can give you an indication of when something is wrong with its basic functions.

A vibration or shake in your engine, for example, could be an indication that you need to bring your vehicle to the repair shop so mechanics can perform routine maintenance and check for any more serious problems.

If you discover any irregularities in your vehicle’s performance, make sure you have it checked out by a qualified technician as soon as possible.

The service can notify you of what’s wrong and help keep your vehicle in good shape at all times.

4. Brake Problems

Brake-related issues can cause serious road safety risks. Consequently, it is hugely important to ensure your vehicle’s brakes function properly before getting behind the wheel.

Usually, these concerns reveal themselves through several telltale signs – and with them being so crucial in terms of road safety, they need to be addressed as soon as possible.

Issues with your car brakes are a sign that you need to take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for a tune-up.

How Do A Car Tune-up

If you have a car, it is likely to break down sometimes, even if it has been running for years without any problems.

The best way to deal with breakdowns is by getting a tune-up every once in a while. However, doing it yourself can save some cash, so long as you keep your owner’s manual handy and visit the auto parts store that keeps all the parts required for your specific car model on hand.

Below, We have provided a brief description for each of the tasks done in a tune-up, so you know exactly what to expect.

Most tune-up tasks are easy enough to complete in a matter of minutes, including changing spark plugs or fluids.

Here’s a video on how you can Tune-up your cay yourself

What Is Done In A Tune-up?

To keep your car running smoothly for the long-term, it’s important to regularly receive a tune-up.

This process involves installing the latest updates to help your car reach its maximum potential, and an expert in the field can perform it.

The best part is that you can rely on professional specialists to maintain your performance and customize your car to perfection!

Your mechanic will likely have you review the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule to ensure your car is performing at its optimum.

Consult your car’s computer system as well as that of the manufacturer. This should give you an idea of what to expect during the tune-up process.

You should also make sure that each of the tasks below is completed during this process. These steps may be completed at any time, depending on when you do some routine tune-ups for your car.

1. Oil And Oil Filter Change

An oil and oil filter change is one of the tasks performed in a tune-up. Check the oil filter for any sign of dirt or debris. This can cause unwanted oil clogs, which lead to untimely engine wear and tear.

If you want to drain all of the oil from your engine, you should pull off the plug underneath the car. An expert can help with this step. And after that, it’s best to determine what type of oil should go back into the engine and how much oil your car needs.

Oil replacement costs $30 to $50 on average. The cost to replace your car’s oil depends on how much and what types of oils it is.

If you’re unsure, consider consulting a professional who can help you determine whether or not synthetic oils or high-mileage oils will be best for your vehicle.

This will save you money in the long run since synthetic oils are a better investment and will come with more benefits for you and your engine.

2. Wheel Alignment Tuning

If you’re having a problem with your car darting in one direction or vibrating when you go over bumps, the chances are that your tires need to be balanced or aligned.

If you don’t get this taken care of, you could end up doing more damage to other parts of the car and end up spending more money at the mechanic.

An automobile wheel alignment refers to the realignment of an automobile’s wheels so that they are set to the manufacturing specifications.

In order for your vehicle to run smoothly and efficiently, each wheel must be properly aligned.

A wheel alignment should be done every 10,000 to 15,000 miles depending on your driving habits and can typically cost about $75-150 when performed by a professional.

When choosing a shop for your wheel alignment, it’s best to shop around for the best deal.

Also, ensure that a technician uses an electronic measuring system to ensure that the tires are properly aligned and fit according to manufacturer specifications.

However, if the suspension inspection shows that other repairs are needed during alignment services and wheel balancing, let them conduct the service.

It is vital to keep your vehicle optimally tuned. Wheel Alignment doesn’t take as long as we would first expect. It can be done in a relatively short amount of time.

Also Read: How Long Does An Alignment Take?

3. Replacing Air Filters

For an engine to run, you need gas and air. The gas is used to generate the spark that ignites internal combustion, which causes the engine to run.

Air purification done by the air filters of a vehicle helps remove impurities from the outside air so your engine can keep running better.

By changing the filter regularly, you can ensure that your engine receives clean air.

When shopping for an automotive air filter, there are various types of filters available. Most of them have a rectangular shape; however, some older autos may have donut-shaped filters. This type of filter is made from a porous material that looks and feels like paper.

These air filters are pleated and folded. They will help you filter out dirt and other debris from your car’s engine in order to let in the clean air you need for your vehicle to run smoothly and effectively without any problems along the way.

Two air filters are important for the operation of your vehicle: a cabin air filter and an engine air filter.

Both work together to keep larger particles from entering your engine, so it’s good to know what each one does and how often they should be changed.

It is easy to find replacement air filters for your car, and most of them cost $10.

Usually, the information found in an owner’s manual or reference book is sufficient in locating the correct filter for your vehicle’s make and model. You can then purchase it and install it yourself.

4. Fuel Filter Replacement

There’s a tendency to have some small pieces of debris floating with the liquid in your gas tank. This can cause your gas tank to rust and result in other problems for your engine.

Fuel filters perform a fairly important function in automobiles because they prevent debris and rust from entering its fuel supply.

A fuel filter is usually found between the vehicle’s fuel pump and the engine. Fuel filters on cars and trucks range from $20 to $30, and a fuel filter replacement at a service shop is normally around $100.

5. Spark Plugs Replacement

Spark Plugs Replacement

The purpose of spark plugs is to ignite the air and fuel mixture in a vehicle. These are typically located at the top of each cylinder inside an internal combustion engine.

One wire transmits the electricity required to generate a spark and another transmits power from the alternator. Once a specific mileage has passed, they tend to wear out quickly.

The type of material used when constructing spark plugs can impact their longevity. If your car is running rougher than usual, this is the first sign that a spark plug might be deteriorating.

Tune-up for spark plug replacement

Most passenger cars use four spark plugs, but trucks and SUVs can have up to eight. Your vehicle’s spark plug replacement cost will depend on the number of plugs that need to be changed in the vehicle.

Most auto repair shops can replace the spark plugs in a vehicle for prices between $100 and $200.

Replacing the spark plugs on your car is a task many people like to take care of themselves. Instead of waiting for the mechanic to get the job done, sometimes it can be more cost-effective to do it for yourself if you have the right tools and know-how to replace them.

Usually, spark plugs for cars can be found at your local auto parts store. Prices can range from $45 to $65, depending on what brand you go with.

6. Replacing The PCV Valve

The positive crankcase ventilation valve (PCV valve) is a simple but important device. It releases pressure from gases in the crankcase.

This helps avoid blow-by problems that could be harmful or fatal if they were not handled properly. The PCV valve should be replaced approximately once every year or whenever it shows excessive signs of damage.

There are no special tools required for this replacement, and it is easy to complete!

7. Brake Pad And Rotor Replacement

When you press the brake pedal, your vehicle’s brakes first make contact with the brake rotors. Separate and identical brake pads are found above the brake rotors so that your brakes will be ready for you as soon as you engage them.

It is important that you make sure your car’s brake pads and rotors are always in the best condition to ensure they perform reliably when needed while driving.

If either of them is worn out or in poor condition, it can cause your car to shake when braking, which could lead you to lose control of your vehicle and cause an accident.

Brake pad replacement prices typically start at $150 per axle. New rotor prices can cost as much as an additional $100 per axle.

It’s easy to find both of these repairs done by an experienced mechanic. Brakes are crucial for your car, and it’s important to get them fixed right away if they have any problems!

8. Transmission Fluid Flush

Transmission fluids are easy to recognize because they’re typically reddish-green and have a low viscosity.

This substance is used in the transmission of manual and automatic vehicles, providing the lubrication that makes the gears inside the transmission slide more easily to prevent wear.

Mechanics often recommend a Transmission Fluid Flush, but it’s not always necessary. Before you make any recommendations, be sure to check the condition of the transmission fluid.

It is recommended that your vehicle be flushed with transmission fluid for the best results. You can expect to spend between $150-300.

Mechanics often recommend Transmission Fluid Flushes, but you need to be sure that it’s needed before your go ahead and do the job.

You can check the transmission fluid condition by examining the transmission fluid color. As a rule of thumb, expect a transmission fluid flush to cost approximately $150-300 and take from one to two hours.

9. Timing Belt Replacement

You can find a timing belt located under the hood of your car. This is the only rubber belt located inside of your vehicle. It’s responsible for keeping camshafts and crankshafts running smoothly within the engine. To keep the engine in top shape, make sure that you replace worn belts, pulleys, and other components that interact with the timing belt in a precise way to maximize efficiency at all times.

If any of these components fail, it could prevent your car’s engine from working properly. If the timing belt breaks, you could end up having to replace all of your engine’s pistons and valves, which costs a lot of money. The timing belt needs to be replaced as soon as you start hearing strange squeaking noises from its pulley.

Timing Belt Replacement Tune-Up

The average cost of replacing the timing belt can range from $100 to $900. Most of this expense is for labor, which can rise to $800 if several components need to be removed to access the belt.

A timing belt replacement costs about $500 for a car, and it can cost up to $750 for larger vehicles such as trucks or SUVs. It’s the most expensive part of any tune-up, but it is an important part of your car’s maintenance. Don’t skip this step, thinking you will save money. It could end up costing you more in the long run.

A timing belt replacement costs about $500 for a car, and it can be more depending upon what type of vehicle you have. It is currently the most expensive part of having a tune-up; however, they are necessary.

Don’t skip this step, thinking you can save money by doing so because it will cost you more in the long run if damaged completely.

Doing your due diligence regarding vehicle maintenance will put you in a good position over time because cars are expensive. Any avoidance or negligence concerning maintenance may easily result in much costly repairs.

How often should you get an engine tune-up?

If you own an older vehicle, particularly one with electronic ignition and fuel injection, you should have a tune-up every 10,000-12,000 miles or once a year. Similarly, suppose your vehicle has electronic ignition and fuel injection, then according to car experts. In that case, you can get at least 25,000 – 100,000 miles out of the engine before having to deal with major maintenance or tune-up.

What is the average time it takes to have a tune-up?

Around two to four hours

An average tune-up can take 2 to 4 hours, depending on the vehicle and any additional services required. The newer, more computerized vehicles require less time than older vehicles with many mechanical parts.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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