The term “tune-up” has come to mean many things in today’s world of modern automobiles. It wasn’t too many years ago that a tune-up could be defined by a particular list of procedures performed on your car. No matter who you asked in the automotive world, the definition was always the same. Back then, your car more than likely had a carburetor and a distributor was the major part of the ignition system.
A tune-up would include changing out the points and condenser, some spark plugs, an air filter and, if it was needed, the distributor cap and rotor would be replaced as well along with the spark plug wires. That old carburetor had some adjustments that could be made and so did the ignition system with its adjustable points dwell and ignition timing. Today’s modern cars have done away with those systems, making carburetors and distributors a thing of the past and introducing a new era of electronically controlled fuel and ignition systems that have less adjustable parts and even last longer with better reliability.
So now if you go to a shop and ask for a tune-up, what are you really going to get?
Many times, motorists will take their cars to a shop and ask for a “tune-up” because they have a problem with their vehicle. The response they will usually get from the mechanic is a question asking them why they think their car needs a tune-up and what kinds of symptoms the car is displaying. The main reason for this line of questioning is because a tune-up for today’s cars usually doesn’t require much and it probably won’t fix the problem that the motorist is experiencing.
A tune-up for the modern car should mostly be thought of as maintenance and not a solution, or fix, for any sort of problem with drivability. The mechanic is trying to help solve your car’s problem by asking you the questions that they do. That way, they can come up with a better course of action rather than just a simple tune-up. If they didn’t ask these questions and just performed the tune-up that you asked for and the problem was not solved, you would have to pay for a repair that you may not have needed. Does that make them responsible for the repair or you since you are the one that asked for it? Good communication between you and your repair shop is essential.
When does your car need a tune-up? Think of a tune-up as routine maintenance and consider that a service interval of 30,000 miles is average. I know it’s difficult to do, but forget the term tune-up and stick to a maintenance schedule with one repair shop. That way you will never have to be concerned if your car is getting the proper maintenance or not, and you will never again have to utter the words “tune-up”.