Tuneup prices?



My mechanic wanted over $400 for a tuneup on my ~125k mile car, but I told him I want to wait. Specifically, because I wanted to ask here what it should cost. All that’s included is sparkplugs and ignition wires. Actually, it also includes a fuel filter, but they’re replacing that separately. How much should this cost? How easy would it be for somebody car illiterate to do? I get the impression the spark plugs would be easy, but ignition wires sounds intimidating. Thanks!


Actually, it’s usually the opposite, depending on the car. You need some mechanical literacy, along with the right tools, to remove and correctly torque the spark plugs, while the wires can be a unplug/plug operation, just do them one at a time so you don’t mix up the connections. Which year and engine do you have?


Hmm, if it took an hour, labor should be about $75
Plugs are ~$4 each (being generous here)so, 4,6 or 8 cylinder is 16, 24 or $32
Wires can be $100 (again, generous), so my max would be ~$200, and that is a lot.

On easy, if it is a transverse (FWD) 4 cyl, it is usually very easy. If it is a FWD minivan, the front 3 plugs are even easier, the back 3 can be nigh impossible.

If you can easily see all the plugs (follow the wires) it’s probably a snap - just do one at a time so you cannot confuse the wires, and use anti-sieze on the new plug threads and thermo-grease on the wire to plug connection. Most auto-places have little packets of each by the register for $.99 each, grab one of each.

The fuel filter should be no more than $50, unless it is buried somewhere silly, like IN the tank.


Replacing spark plugs is not necessarily easy. Some plugs are VERY difficult to reach and remove, especially with a transverse-mounted V-6 engine.

Look under the hood of your Regal. Can you see all of the spark plugs? Can you reach them? If so, then, yes, it should be relatively easy to do yourself, assuming you have the necessary tools.

Do you have a torque wrench? A socket set with extension and correct size spark plug socket? A way to check the plug gap? Anti-seize lubricant? If so, do it yourself and save some money.

The ignition wires are actually easier than the spark plugs.

Fuel filters can be tricky. If you don’t relieve the fuel pressure you can be sprayed with gasoline, which can be very dangerous.

If you’re thinking of doing these maintenance items yourself I suggest you invest in a service manual for your car, such as Haynes, which will have step-by-step instructions for these and many other tasks.


Oh, I’m not thinking of doing it personally. I’m thinking of asking my dad, who is VERY mechanically inclined (worked at GM fixing machines for 35 years and knows a lot about cars). But he lives 3 hours away, so if I can either do it myself or pay way less than $400 for it, that would be helpful. It’s a 3800 V6 engine.


McP’s right, those v6s can be a BEAR to change the rear 3 plugs. You can certainly shop around, use the Cartalk mechanic finder to locate another in your area. If this is what it looks like, I wouldn’t enjoy changing the back 3: