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What does it mean to take a car in for a "tune up"

what do they do for my car when i get a tune up and how does it help? what will be improved by having this done ?
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  • edited August 2008
    Any mechanic or shop can define tune up anyway he wants. Generally it includes changing out plugs, may include changing out air filter, fuel filter, PCV valve. In the good old days, this was defined as a "minor" tune up. A "major" tune up included changing out distributor cap, rotor, plug wires.

    Ask the shop exactly what they will do.

    Value added is that this is required maintenance at some mileage level (differs by car brand and sometimes model) to keep your car running efficiently.
  • edited August 2008
    The traditional tuneup is a thing of the past. Today's cars should be maintained by what your owner's manual says.

    As per above post, the items that are addressed in a minor tuneup are spark plugs, air filter, oil and oil filter, fuel filter, and at high milegae cleaning out and inspecting the fuel injectors.

    The frequency of all these items differs by make of car, and you should follow the maintenace manual. Platinum plugs are good for 60,000 miles, while regular plugs are 25,000 miles at best.

    Other items necessary, but not normally called a tuneup, are changing transmission fluid and filter every 35,000- 40,000 miles, flushing the cooling system every 4 years or 50,000 miles, and replacing the timing belt (if the car has one) every 60,000 miles. These last 3 items can result in very expensive repairs if not performed on time!!
  • edited August 2008
    I'll just simply say that what a tuneup requires is based entirely on the particular car. They are needed though at some point on every vehicle.
  • edited August 2008
    The term "tune-up" is essentially meaningless, and if you asked 10 different mechanics what a "tune-up" entails, you would likely get at least 8 different answers.

    What you need to do is to consult the manufacturer's Maintenance Schedule (it is in one of those booklets sitting in your glove compartment) for the appropriate maintenance procedures for your current mileage as well as for all of the mileage and/or elapsed time intervals that you may have skipped along the way. Once you have a list of what the vehicle's manufacturer requires, then you can copy that list and shop around for price quotes on those procedures.

    How will it help? Well, depending on how far behind your car is on maintenance procedures, servicing it properly should extend the life of the vehicle to some extent, and may improve both gas mileage and engine performance. (Note: If the vehicle is very far behind on proper maintenance, nothing will extend its life.)

    Unfortunately, given the lack of information that you have provided, nobody can give you anything more than general information. If you want a substantive response, you need to post the following information regarding your vehicle:

    Make
    Model
    Model Year
    Odometer Mileage
    Engine Type/Size
    Manual or Automatic Transmission
    AWD or not AWD
    The date and odometer mileage of the last "major" service
    How many miles you drive each day, and each year
    Whether the timing belt (if so equipped) was ever replaced

    Once you fill in all of this vital information, you can get some responses that are more specific.
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