What should a complete tune-up include

  • Electronic ignition, computerized engine controls, and electronic fuel injection have eliminated many adjustments that were once part of a “traditional” tune-up. Most would agree that a tune-up today is a preventive maintenance service and engine performance check.
  • Call it what you will, a complete tune-up should combine elements of preventive maintenance, adjustment and performance analysis. One of the main reasons people bring a vehicle in for a tune-up is because they are experiencing some kind of driveability problem.
  • Things like hard starting, stalling, hesitation, misfiring, poor fuel economy, or lack of power are seldom cured by a new set of spark plugs and a few turns of a screwdriver. Every tune-up should include a comprehensive performance check to verify that no driveability problems or trouble codes exist.
  • Taking into account longer service intervals and reduced maintenance requirements of today’s vehicles, a tune-up is probably only necessary every 30,000 miles, or once every two to three years. This is altered when a driveability or emissions problem arises that requires diagnosis and repair.
  • The best guide to tune-up frequency is probably the recommended spark plug replacement interval in a vehicle’s owners manual.
  • Our list of items that should be included in a “complete” tune-up include:
  • Replace spark plugs
  • Replace rotor
  • Check distributor cap (replace if necessary)
  • Check timing (adjust if necessary)
  • Check ignition wires (replace if necessary)
  • Check ignition performance (firing voltage and ignition patterns)
  • Check idle speed (adjust if necessary)
  • Check choke (carbureted engines)
  • Clean fuel injectors
  • Check compression and/or power balance (identifies bad fuel injectors as well as compression problems)
  • Check manifold intake vacuum (reveals exhaust restrictions)
  • Check battery/charging voltage
  • Check vehicle computer for trouble codes
  • Install new air filter
  • Check all vital fluid levels (engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brakes, power steering)
  • Check belts and hoses
  • Check safety items such as lights, wipers, tires (including inflation pressure), horn, etc.

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