What is Included in a Vehicle Tune-up These Days?

shutterstock summer car service warranties

Actually, there is no such thing as a vehicle tune-up in the traditional sense of replacing parts to bring the ignition and fuel systems up to specs for maximum performance and efficiency, and there hasn’t been for years.

Vehicle Tune-Up

About the only things left from the traditional tune-up are new spark plugs, which is typically done every 100,000 miles and replacing the air filter periodically. The federal EPA and Department of Energy say that replacing a clogged air filter will not improve gas mileage but can improve acceleration 6% to 11%. The agencies do not say what benefit can be derived from fresh spark plugs, but computers that control today’s engines adjust the air-fuel mixture and spark timing to compensate for wear, such as when the electrodes on spark plugs are worn down.

Even so, some car owners still dutifully take their car in periodically to have it “tuned up.” Instead, service technicians will inspect and perhaps test the fuel, ignition and emissions systems to look for faulty vacuum hoses, oxygen sensors and other parts that can hurt performance. The federal government, for example, says a bad oxygen sensor can give engine computers false readings and reduce fuel economy as much as 40%.

Extending Vehicle Life

Having your vehicle serviced and inspected periodically is a good way to extend its life and keep it operating efficiently. However, walking into a repair facility and asking for a tune-up is a bad idea because it indicates you’re still living in the previous century and have extra money you would like to spend. Some in the auto-repair business will take advantage of those opportunities.

Check Owner’s Manual

Look in the owner’s manual for your vehicle (or separate maintenance schedule) to find what the manufacturer recommends, and see if you can even find the words “tune-up.” For example, we looked at the maintenance guide for the Ford Fiesta that also applies to other Ford vehicles. The first mention of anything related to a traditional tune-up was to replace the engine air filter every 30,000 miles. The only other related item was to replace the spark plugs every 100,000 miles.

Photo Credit: Vereshchagin Dmitry/Shutterstock

  1. Larry Rydell 4 years ago

    2007 Toyota Avalon, 95K miles, should I have the fluids ( auto trans & coolant ) changed or
    flushed and replaced and why ?
    ALSO – I sat in the drivers seat of a 2014 Avalon at a local dealership, very discouraged, everything
    I touched seemed very cheap, dashboard air vents have only one wheel for direction of air side ways,
    use finger to move vanes up &down, chrome strip on dash is cheap looking.
    My ’07 as more class sitting behind the wheel , where I spend all my time.
    You have a GREAT radio show, Larry

    • Jerry 4 years ago

      Thanks for listening to the show Larry. As I say on air, I don’t recommend ANY flushes past 75,000 miles, I think the risk is greater than the reward. I do believe in changing fluids, just not flushing.

      I actually like the new Avalon, and thought for the money, it was a good buy.

      Let me know if I can help you!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

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