The Tune-Up: Is it Really Needed and What is Included?

It can be a bit intimidating when a mechanic tells you it is time for a tune-up. Meanwhile, you are thinking “what exactly does a tune-up include and is it really needed”.

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Tune-ups have changed over the years with the advancement of technology in cars. A tune-up used to include checking and changing the components in the fuel, ignition, and intake system. These components included checking your spark plugs, air filter, fuel filter, fuel injectors, the compression of your engine, and battery performance.

These inspections and replacements were needed when the mechanic was the only option to monitor these systems and components. Below are the different checks included in a traditional tune-up.

Fuel and Ignition System

During a tune-up the fuel system is inspected to ensure fuel is being delivered to the engine properly. This inspection includes checking to make sure the fuel injectors are clean and free of grime and residue. The fuel filter is also checked to ensure there is no build up restricting proper filtering of gasoline.

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As mentioned above, traditional tune-ups also included checking the spark plugs which are the part of the ignition system that ignites the fuel in your engine. This can be beneficial; however, your car’s electrical system will usually help diagnose any issues with the spark plugs by notifying you with a check engine light. (Tip: You can get your codes read and described to you at many local parts stores)

Even though checking these systems can be very helpful, many modern cars have maintenance schedules that account for the wear of these components. Most cars can also readjust the fuel system to compensate for certain components not performing properly.

Intake System

During a tune-up the mechanic might also check your intake system which includes your air filter and PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system.

The air filter will be the first component of the intake system that the mechanic will check. The air filter works to protect the engine from damage by ensuring that the air going into the engine from outside is clean. Over time, this filter gets dirty. However, if following your car’s maintenance schedule, the air filter will be changed regularly.

It is debatable as to whether a dirty air filter affects gas mileage or the overall function of the intake system.

The PCV system, in English, is a vent for extra gases that may accumulate in the engine. The PCV was designed to help eliminate emissions by recycling unused gas. When the PCV gets clogged it can affect the engine’s function by causing it to run rough when idle (at a stop). Many times a dirty PCV valve gets misdiagnosed as dirty spark plugs due to the rough idle. Most newer vehicles no longer have the PCV system.

Overall, tune-ups can help with the maintenance of your car, but they are not needed as much as they were in the past. Modern cars now have mileage maintenance which is a lot easier to manage and more proactive when it comes to maintaining your car. If you are following your suggested maintenance schedule, a tune-up should not be required.

Therefore, it is important to beware of dishonest mechanics who might use tune-ups as a way to charge you for services you may not need.

If you have any questions or comments drop them below or send us a message here. We’d love to hear from you. And remember – knowledge is the key to a fair repair.

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