I recently spent a bunch for new tires, and don’t want to do this, but my car probably needs a tune up. It hasn’t had one since it bought used, and I want to take a trip of about two thousand miles. How much should this cost? I change the oil regularly, and have had no problems with this car.
Are you talking just basic or what it really needs?
Make model and year? When was the last time the transmission fluid was changed, fuel filter, cabin filter, brakes? If it has a timing belt (vs timing chain) when was it last changed?
Check the owner’s manual for the normal scheduled times/miles for this maintenance.
Note: the most expensive thing you can do to a car is to save money putting off maintenance.
As usual, I agree with Joseph. Don’t skimp on maintenance. It is the worst thing you can do to your car.
Also, the term ‘tune-up’ doesn’t really have a meaning anymore. Way back in the 80’s, it meant adjusting things under the hood and replacing a few items to keep the engine running in tune. Today, the computer makes all those adjustments on the fly.
There are maintenance items that need to be addressed, and these are typically listed in the maintenance schedule located in the owner’s manual. Things that were part of a ‘tune-up’ in the old days are now broken up into different intervals within the maintenance schedule, like spark plugs every 60K, 90K, or 100K, air filter every 24K or 2 years, PCV valve every 30K, etc…
You probably are behind in a bunch of these items. I encourage you to read the maintenance schedule and catch up to the items that haven’t been addressed before your 2000 mile trip or you may wind up spending much more before you get there. Nothing sucks worse than getting stranded on the side of the road because a $20 part than needed to be replaced failed.
There’s no such thing as a "tune up’ any more. Assuming your Town Car isn’t ancient, the car’s computer constantly monitors the engine’s performance and adjusts things like fuel mixture and ignition timing to suit the conditions.
That’s not to say that cars don’t need maintenance now and then.
Your car could probably stand a new set of spark plug, and maybe a filter or two. This adds up to less than $50 if you do it yourself.
Check the maintenance schedule that came with the owner’s manual and make sure everything is up to date for the age and mileage of the car.
Then motor on.
If you went to three different repair shops and asked for a price quote on a “tune-up”, you would accomplish two things:
First, you would likely get three very different price quotes, simply because the term “tune-up” went out of the lexicon somewhere around the time of the disco craze and is essentially a meaningless term. As a result, a “tune-up” can be whatever a repair shop wants it to be. This could mean skipping some vital services, or it could mean padding the bill with superfluous maintenance procedures.
Second, if the repair shop is unscrupulous (such as the chains tend to be), this will mark you as a rube who has no clue as to what is required for auto maintenance, and this makes you prone to being “oversold” or cheated as a result of your apparent lack of knowledge.
So, how does one deal with this situation? You simply open your glove compartment, take out the Owner’s Manual, and make a list of the service procedures that the car’s manufacturer lists for the major service interval closest to the car’s current odometer mileage. The major service intervals are usually 30k, 60k, 90k, 120k, 150k, etc.
However, some manufacturers have begun to omit the very important transmission fluid change from their maintenance list, so I strongly suggest that you add a trans fluid change to the list provided in your Owner’s Manual. Be prepared for a bill of anywhere from $300-400 for all of the necessary services. That may sound expensive, but since maintenance is invariably cheaper than the repairs that result from lack of maintenance, this is actually something that will save you money in the long run. Also, it is much more convenient to have maintenance done on your schedule, rather than having to deal with mechanical breakdowns that tend to come at inconvenient times and in inconvenient places.
Incidentally, if you don’t have an Owner’s Manual, you need to get one.
E-bay is a good source for low-cost manuals.
Additionally, you may be able to download a manual for your mystery vintage Lincoln from a Ford Motor Company website.
What VDC said should be considered the lesson of the day. Walking into a garage (after driving there in your post 1970 car) and asking for a “tune-up” will mark you as a rube.
Better to say “I have been looking my owners manual over and I see it is time for some maintiance”.
Thanks to all for the good advice! I AM a rube. You tend to get that way at a certain age. The car is a 2000 Lincoln Town Car (Oh, That age!) I included this when I signed in but forgot to put it in my question. I also have the manual, and will put it to good use. Any other advice would surely be appreciated. Thanks again.