What is a Tune Up?

Why Does The Cost of a Tune Up Vary So Much?

Before you ask for a price on a "tune up", determine what it is you need and what is being provided. Too often parts are replaced before they are due or needed because of lack of records, not knowing what is necessary or thinking it will solve a performance problem.

Tune-up costs can vary enormously because of all of the different types of spark plugs that are now available, which can vary from around $4.00 to $20.00 or more for each spark plug. On some cars it can take 20 minutes to replace the spark plugs and the next vehicle may take 4 hours because of where the plugs are located.


There is also no standard in the automotive industry of what items are "packaged" with a tune up.

That is why all "tune-ups" are not equal, and the price you pay will reflect the quality of "tune-up" your vehicle is receiving. Before comparing prices, compare what is included in the "tune-up". Many of your coupon "tune-ups" include spark plugs only. In low mileage vehicles this may be enough, but other things may be necessary, especially in a higher mileage vehicle. By the time you add everything that should be done for preventative maintenance; the price may be more than other shops charge to begin with.

Always check your owner's manual for a guideline on spark plug replacement intervals and use original equipment spark plugs for best performance.
Fuel filters, distributor caps and rotors and PCV valves should be replaced every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Spark plug wires should be replaced every 60,000 miles.

On cars made after 1990, don't ask for a tune up, ask for the above specific services to get a comparable price estimate. Many later model cars do not have distributor caps or spark plug wires. On some vehicles, fuel filters are part of the fuel pump and are only changed when they plug up and ruin the fuel pump.

Tune-ups usually don't fix performance problems.
If you're having a problem with the way your car is running, don't ask for a "tune-up" and expect it to fix it. Of course if the spark plugs or fuel filter are overdue, get them replaced, but if they're not, have a qualified technician with the correct testing equipment for your car diagnose the running problem. Too many times money is wasted on an unneeded "tune-up" when the problem is a sensor or other problem causing the performance issues.

Wayne's Garage

333 Q St.
Springfield, Oregon 97477