Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingMaintenance and Servicing How Much Is A Tune Up? – Is It Really Expensive?

How Much Is A Tune Up? – Is It Really Expensive?

by Jordan Harris
How Much Is A Tune Up

If your car has not been serviced for a long time and you are not aware of its roadworthiness. A simple tune-up can do the job of bringing your car back to normal spec. But how much is a tune up?

A tune up is an old fashion phrase of doing preventive maintenance. By preventive maintenance, we mean that you need to keep all of your systems in check and replace some parts that are due replacement.

I personally believe in preventive maintenance and I think it’s one of the smartest things that you can do to your car. By doing this, you will be carefree and enjoy your car a little bit more than you used to. By this, I mean that you will not get overly frustrated when your car decides to give up on you.

If your car doesn’t want to start all of a sudden, it can be very frustrating. Or another example involves your car engine. For example, your engine overheats too often. You don’t know the culprit for this issue. But if you do preventive maintenance, all of these issues are going to be resolved before these components fail. And you will not come up against one of these issues when you need your car the most.

In this article, we are going to answer this question, how much is a tune up? We are also going to share a lot of interesting tips that will help you avoid some of the issues and much more. So, if you are interested, follow along.

What Is A Tune Up?

A tune up in simple words means preventive maintenance. This means that you take your car to a professional mechanic or you do it by yourself. A tune up involves a detailed inspection of all the bits and pieces that are in your car.

Doing all this checking by yourself will save you a lot of money in the long run. Because when the issues are identified in time, can mean that you can fix them for a cheaper price than fixing them later on when they fail.

When a part fails, it can prevent you from using the vehicle for a certain period. And if you need your vehicle every day, it means that you are not going to be able to use it for work or other purposes.

How Much Is A Tune Up

That’s why there is a tune up. The tune up is meant to help you with your maintenance of the car. For example, you make an appointment on Sunday when you are at home. You do your tune up at your mechanics shop, the mechanic replaces everything that needs replacing and you are good to go for another 30,000 miles.

Make sure that you follow the intervals and take your car for a tune up at your mechanics shop once a year if you are not driving a lot. If you are driving a lot of miles, it is recommended to visit your mechanic every 30,000 miles. This number of miles is usually the time when parts wear out and need replacement. So, how much is a tune up? We are going to answer that question a bit later, but first, let’s look at what is involved in a tune up of your vehicle.

What Involves A Tune Up?

A tune up involves checking various different systems and components in your car. To make sure that they function in perfect order. In this chapter, we are going to get through all of them and explain them in great detail, and see what is included in the tune up. We are going to start from the ignition system and fuel system, then move to the powertrain and discuss the engine and transmission, what type of preventive maintenance do they need.

Then, we are going to focus on the tires and brakes, and we also going to mention some miscellaneous parts that need checking as well. Lastly, we are going to discuss how much is a tune up?

Ignition System Tune Up

The ignition system plays a big role. It basically allows you to start up your car. If something is not in check. It can cause the vehicle not to start properly and if started when bad, it may cause the work of the engine to be uneven and cause engine damage or symptoms like increased fuel consumption, carbon buildup in the engine, and more.

Change Spark Plugs Or Clean Them

Spark plugs need to be checked every 30,000 miles. To see if they are running properly, and even replace them if needed. Although they are meant to last for 100,000 miles. Some of the spark plugs that are not made from a quality brand, are known to give up after a shorter period of time.

It is good to pull them out and see if there is some carbon buildup. If there is too much carbon on them and they are all black. It means that they need changing. If they still make a spark. You can get some sandpaper and remove the carbon build-up of them. This will make them run well for a few thousand miles easily.

Spark plugs also are not that expensive and you can find them for a really cheap price. They known to get expensive if you have a V8 with a twin spark engine. When you have to replace all 16 of them, it adds up really quickly.

Check The Coils

The modern car ignition system has coils installed on it instead of the old-fashioned single coil, distributor and wires. This makes things much simpler but also more expensive. These coils are not that cheap compared to the regular old wires. But the good thing is that you can only replace the ones that are affected.

Depending on the number of cylinders that you run on your engine, so it’s the number of coils. If you have an inline 4, it means that you have 4 coils. If you have a V8 then you will have 8 coils.

You can check these coils by connecting your car to an OBD scanner. The OBD scanner will scan your car for issues and if there is a bad coil, you will notice an error on that cylinder. When you get these errors from the scanner, it is good to look for them online and find out more about them.

A coil is about $100 depending on the brand. These coils are simple to do DIY and you can replace them very easily. After you replace the affected coil, just clear off the codes and you are good to go.

Check The Ignition Wires

In older car models up to the 80s, ignition wires were very common. They connect the distributor cap with the spark plugs. These wires are known to go bad after some time and need to get replaced for the ignition system to function properly.

Check Distributor Caps And Rotor

The older models also included a mechanically timed ignition. So, a little fine-tuning on the timing is needed to get decent fuel mileage. Ignition can also be tuned for performance as well. Depending on the goal you want to reach with your engine.

Also, the distributor and rotor are known to wear out with time and need replacement. A good mechanic will open the distributor cap and adjust the timing, and replace the cap and rotor if needed. This is an important step to do in order to get your car started.

If you have an old distributor with bad wires and spark plugs, it may cause the car not to start. These parts need to be serviced at intervals. For example, 30,000 miles, or every year if the car is not driven often. This will help you to keep your car on the road and not get stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Fuel System Tune Up

A tune up on the fuel system is also needed to make sure that everything is in check. This is important because there are a few parts that are essential for the engine to work properly. These include the injectors, fuel filter, fuel pump, and carburetors in older vehicles.

Replace Fuel Filter

Fuel filters go bad and need replacing every 30,000 miles. They are devices that make sure that your fuel isn’t contaminated with debris when it arrives in the engine.
If you didn’t know, fuel does not come perfect from the refinery. Especially refineries that have some old standards of refining fuel. Bad fuel can potentially ruin your injectors. Because the tolerances in the injectors are very low, and if they run with contaminated fuel, they will go bad.

A fuel filter replacement is a smart idea if the fuel filter was not replaced in the last 25-30,000 miles. This is will make sure that your fuel is properly distributed in the system.
A fuel filter is usually around $50. But the labor is a bit more expensive and can come to a total of $150 for the whole job.

Fuel Pump Check

The fuel pump is also an important part that is known to fail and needs checking. Not so often as other parts but they known to fail every once in a while.

The most important thing with fuel pumps is that you need to hear a clicking sound when you put the key in the ignition. If you don’t hear a click, it means that the fuel pump is bad. Changing it will solve the issue.

If you are running an old classic car, then replacing the fuel pump with a new one right away is probably going to be a good idea.

Injectors Check

The injectors are essential parts of modern fuel injection cars. They inject the fuel into the cylinders with a large amount of pressure. If they are in proper working order, they inject the same amount of fuel. If they are not working properly, it can cause your car to run rich or to run lean.

They can be inspected if you test your car with an OBD scanner tool. If there are some codes connected to the injectors, they are worth checking out. If there are any faulty injectors, then the best thing is to replace them. For gasoline vehicles, they are not that expensive. If you are running a diesel truck, injectors can cost you a lot of money. So, if you notice that one of them is going bad, a good thing to do is to repair it. There are shops that repair these injectors and bring them back to life.

Carburetor Adjustment

Carburetor adjustment is also needed in carbureted cars. After many miles of driving carburetors are known to go bad and cause uneven distribution of fuel in the cylinders. Uneven fuel distribution may cause your car to stall, or to run rich. You want to avoid both of these issues and stay in the middle, where your car will be most happy.

If your carburetor is running lean, your engine may have an RPM drop and it can stall. This is caused because there is not enough fuel in the cylinders to keep them moving.

If your carburetor is running rich, it means that you have too much fuel inside the cylinders and the fuel cannot burn in the given time and is thrown inside of the exhaust. This may cause explosions in the exhaust and cause white smoke.

As we said, you want to get your carburetor, somewhere in the middle, not too lean and not too rich. Adjust the carburetor in order to deliver consistent and stable performance.

If your carburetor is too old and worn out, maybe it’s time to replace it with a new one. Also, if you have a carbureted car, it is useful to crank it a few times a month. So, the fuel does not cause debris in the carburetor and makes it malfunction.

Engine Tune Up

An engine tune up is also needed, by engine tune up we mean all the belts, pulleys, and accessories to be all in check. Also, the water pump needs to function properly as well. And some basic maintenance like flushing the oil and replacing the coolant. How much is a tune up? Well, prices may vary, but we are going to answer this question later in this article.

Belts Check

All of your belts need to be checked in order to fine-tune your engine. Belts need to be replaced every 50,000 miles or at least every 5 years. If your car has a timing belt, it means that that your engine is an interference engine, and if not replaced on time. This belt may snap and ruin your engine.

A proper inspection will give a clear image of the condition of this belt. If there are cracks or the belt is dry and plasticky, it needs to be changed. Everything we said is also important for the driving belt. If your driving belt snaps, it can’t ruin your engine but will cause your car to overheat and lose power. You won’t get far without a driving belt.

Water Pump And Thermostat

Other important aspects are the water pump and the thermostat. The water pump circulates the coolant inside the engine. This pump is usually swapped when you are doing your timing chain or timing belt service. If your water pump does not work properly, your engine will overheat.

The thermostat is also an important piece of the puzzle. This thermostat is also replaced when you are doing your maintenance and replace the fuel pump and timing chain. This part is essential because it opens and closes. When open it allows the coolant to circulate through the system and cool off the engine. If not replaced, the engine might overheat if the thermostat fails.

Oil Flush

An oil flush is one of the things considered as a base tune up. Oil flush is also considered as regular maintenance. Make sure that your oil is changed every 8,000 miles or so. Regular oil flushes will help the longevity of the engine and also make it run better. With the oil flush, a new filter also needs to be installed, and make sure that you choose a quality brand. By getting a quality brand you will make sure that your oil filter will not let you down. When it comes to oil, make sure that you get the OEM spec oil that has all the standards necessary for your engine.

How Much Is A Tune Up

Suspension Tune Up

Your suspension also needs a tune up. Some wearable components need to be checked in order for the vehicle to deliver safe performance.

Check The Undercarriage

When you take your car to a mechanics shop for a tune up, they will lift the car in the air and check all of the undercarriages. They will test the suspension and the components if they are in perfect working order. They will inspect all the bushings and sway bars making sure that there is no play.

Check The Brakes

Brakes also need to be checked before you look online to search how much is a tune up. Brakes are one of the most important components of every vehicle. They guarantee your safety and the safety of the occupants. When checking brakes it’s also a good idea is to check the brake fluid reservoir to make sure that there is enough fluid inside.

Miscellaneous Tune Up

Another miscellaneous thing that is getting checked when performing a tune up is replacing the cabin filter. You need to always have a fresh cabin filter that will make you sure that you breathe fresh air into your car. These filters are usually replaced every 30,000 miles.

Also, a good idea is to inspect the car for rust and patch some holes if there are any. Especially on structural parts that are important in the vehicle’s overall stability on the road. Some major rust issues may even scrap your car out. So, how much is a tune up? Well, we are going to answer that question in the next section.

How Much Is A Tune Up?

The cost for a tune up may vary because there are a couple of tune ups available that you can do to your car. Starting from a base tune up, and moving up to a standard, and finally, an advanced tune up that will make sure that everything is in perfect order.

Base Tune Up

A base tune up is really simple and most car owners can perform on their cars easily. A base tune up involves checking out the spark plugs and coils and also involves a coolant and oil flush. Adjusting the carburetor if you are running a carbureted vehicle. A base tune up can cost from $50 to $150 depending on the parts and labor that are involved in this procedure. Here is a video how to do a simple tune up.

Standard Tune Up – $150 up to $450

A standard tune up takes things a step forward. With a standard tune up, most of the things that need replacing will be replaced. And this includes all of the above from the base tune up and also to add transmission fluid flush, replacing all the filters. These filters include the oil filter, fuel filter, and cabin filter. Also adjusting the timing if you are running a distributor. This can come to a higher cost and can set you back from $150 up to $450.

Advanced Tune Up –  $450 up to $2000

An advanced tune up involves all the things we mentioned in the standard tune up section and more. Depending on how far you want to take it. This includes all of the suspension components replaced, new disks, and brakes. New motor mounts, timing belt or chain replacement, accessory pulleys replaced, water pump replacement, all the fluids flushed. This job can range from $450 up to a few grand. Depending on what components you have to replace. It may be more expensive but in the long run, it is worth it.

Car Tune-Up Facts:

  • A car tune-up involves inspecting and performing preventative maintenance on the parts of a vehicle that are most likely to need replacing.
  • The cost of a tune-up depends on the specific services included and can range from $40 to $150 for basic services and up to $800 or more for a full tune-up.
  • An air filter should be replaced at least once a year, and failure to replace it can cause engine issues and wasted fuel.
  • Spark plugs should be checked or replaced during a tune-up, but modern cars typically do not need them replaced as frequently as older vehicles.
  • A tune-up may also reveal bigger problems with a vehicle that need to be addressed, and mechanics should check all general systems of the vehicle during a tune-up.
  • The cost of a tune-up may be higher for older or classic vehicles, which may require more extensive maintenance.
  • Comparison shopping and asking for price quotes with details about what is included in the tune-up can help save money.
  • Signs that a car may need a tune-up include decreased gas mileage, a lit Check Engine Light, frequent stalling, strange engine noises, and poor performance while driving.
  • Basic maintenance of spark plugs and air filters can be done at home, but a scan tool is needed to check for misfire codes in modern cars.
  • Consistent maintenance on a vehicle can help it last longer and keep overall maintenance costs down.


In this article, we answered the question how much is a tune up? And also explained in great detail which of the parts usually are affected when it comes to a tune up.
A base tune up can involve new spark plugs and wires but the deeper you go, the more problems you will find. So, the best idea is to have a budget when it comes to these things.

Always plan your money and save some for the car. A good budget will make sure that your car is in perfect working condition and all of the preventive maintenance is done. So, you don’t have to look online for how much is a tune up.

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1 comment

Afton Jackson 07/29/2021 - 5:25 AM

It’s great to know that there are different levels of tune-ups available to car owners nowadays. Owning a family vehicle is quite difficult, especially if it’s being used several times a week and could run into different kinds of problems throughout its use. To make sure we can still use it safely this summer vacation when we have a lot of trips planned, I’ll visit an auto service right away and get them to do their highest level tune-up on it.


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