You’ve probably heard about how important a car tune-up is, but do you really know what it consists of? Simply put, while there’s no concrete definition of a tune-up, and the services performed will vary depending on where you go, a tune-up is basically routine, proactive service on the vehicle’s most important component – the engine.
What’s Usually Included in a Tune-Up?
Every auto mechanic has a different definition of what constitutes a tune-up. However, there are some common services. Spark plugs are almost always replaced. The air filter may also be checked, and replaced if necessary. A mechanic will usually closely inspect your vehicle’s engine to make sure it is running properly, and that performance is not impacted. It is not uncommon for fuel and ignition tests to be carried out at tune-ups. Emissions system tests may also be administered.
Many mechanics don’t even use the term “tune-up” anymore. Instead, they’ll offer oil changes and tire rotations with multi-point vehicle inspections, so that more than just the engine is inspected to ensure all-around vehicle efficiency. This inspection can be carried out at the same time that other routine maintenance is being performed, so there is little inconvenience to the customer.
How Often Should You Get a Tune-Up?
How often you should get vehicle tune-ups depends on the car you drive and what your auto shop’s definition of “tune-up” is. Cars built before 1980 should be brought in for a tune-up every 15,000 miles. Cars made since the 1980s may require a tune-up every 30,000 miles, and newer cars may only require one every 100,000 miles or so. Be sure to check your user’s manual to see what the appropriate timeline is according to your vehicle and your driving habits.
While these are the standard recommended intervals for tune-ups, there are other reasons to seek one, including before you’re going on a long road trip, if your check engine light comes on, if your vehicle engine misfires, or has been having regular rough starts.