We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Tune up?

By Katharine Swan
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A car is essentially a machine, and as such, it requires a certain amount of preventative maintenance in order to continue to perform. A tune up is a regularly scheduled opportunity, usually once a year, to do all of the preventative maintenance that needs to be done. Ensuring that your car gets a tune up regularly will help maintain the performance of your car and extend its life.

A tune up generally includes replacement of several parts on your car. These parts may seem superficial, but failing to replace them regularly can cause decreased performance in your car, and may even lead to other problems. For example, an air filter should be replaced at least once a year; failing to replace it when it's dirty will cause your engine to get less and less of the air it needs to run properly. If the problem is left unattended, the air-fuel mixture will continue to run richer and richer —- meaning that there will be too much fuel and not enough air in the mixture —- and eventually cause other parts to fail.

As you can see, a regular tune up is important to your car's performance. The process should involve replacing the air filter, replacing or cleaning the spark plugs, and replacing the distributor cap and rotor. It can also include replacement of the spark plug wires, fuel filter, PCV valve, and oxygen sensor.

Maintenance that is not included in the basic tune up may also be required, so a yearly check up provides a good opportunity to check the car's systems, such as the brakes and clutch; all fluid and oil levels; and the operation of any other systems that are not used or checked regularly. If the procedure is done in spring or early summer, the air conditioning system should be checked as well, as it likely will not have been used for many months.

A note on newer cars: most new cars use platinum spark plugs, which do not require frequent replacement. Platinum spark plugs are often claimed to last 60,000 to 100,000 miles (95,561 to 160,934 km), or even more. These spark plugs will not need to be replaced with every tune up. Some newer cars also use an electronic ignition instead of a distributor, and therefore do not need a new distributor cap and rotor. For most cars, it is a good idea to check the owner's manual or shop manual to see what maintenance is recommended.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon252603 — On Mar 06, 2012

Modern cars, that is, cars made in the last 35 years don't have points, rotors, condensers or "caps" in the old sense. They also don't get out of "time". So, a "tune up" is not tune up in the original sense. One would never know this from reading this article. Virtually all cars have electronic ignitions and really don't get out of "tune".

Prior to electronic ignitions, a tune-up was a big part of the car's efficiency, e.g. gas mileage, power, etc. Not so nowadays. Plug wires do fail, but only need replaced two or three times in the life of the vehicle. A modern car will usually run pretty much the same after "routine" maintenance.

By anon252457 — On Mar 05, 2012

Do not use flushing systems at oil change shops. I have a '99 Taurus here, and it has a bypass to heater. The crud from a flush just goes into the heater core and the heater plugs up. I had to isolate the heater and reverse flush to fix this. It was very messy, but I fixed it myself.

By Roberta Graf — On Jan 08, 2011

I agree with the person who said to do it yourself. My fifteen year-old son did his first tune up through an article he read online, and we saved a lot of money. He found some of the parts/tools on a website called Buy Automotive Products. Also, tune up prices vary depending on where you live and how well you shop around.

By anon83577 — On May 11, 2010

do it yourself. labor will run you about $0; parts slightly more.

By anon83070 — On May 09, 2010

Prices vary. You need to establish if you need a minor or major tune-up! --Spencer

By anon47505 — On Oct 05, 2009

There is no "set time" for a tune-up, or even a "set price" lol. My "dealer" charges $475 for the 30, 60, 90k mile tune up. lol. Go to the shop down the road (local resident, ASE certified mechanic) and he does it all for $300 - straight from my Owner's Manual. Other things they may check/recommend is radiator/coolant flush, fuel injector cleaning (either bench-cleaned, manually, removed and soaked in a solvent; or with some other "induction" process such as BG44k+, GumOut 2-Step, Seafoam, etc...), transmission fluid change/flush... Just make sure they do it within spec of the manufacturer. I know Kia released a "TSP" (Technical Service Bulletin) for all makes/models, and under no circumstance should any "flush" be done under an "automated" or "high pressure cleaning" type system, but simply an empty, flush with "clean" fluid, then refill.

By anon31425 — On May 05, 2009

What is an average price of a tune-up?

By anon15414 — On Jul 10, 2008

a "regular" tune up is a regularly performed tune up, meaning every certain set amount of time.

By anon9996 — On Mar 17, 2008

"As you can see, a regular tune up is important to your car's performance. "

what is a "regular" tune up?

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.