Tune ups used to involve replacing parts, such as spark plugs, spark plug wires, and the distributor cap and rotor.
Mechanics would change the air filter and fuel filter, replace points in the condenser – if the car was old enough – and even perform an oil change, depending on the time frame.
It could also consist of adjusting the distributor to change the timing, cleaning the throttle plate and the choke on the carburetor, and making air fuel adjustments, including setting the base idol.
Through the years, as vehicles have become more advanced with fuel injections and computers, what is considered a tune up has changed.
Changing the spark plugs is one service that continues to be offered. However, the mileage between spark plugs has gone from 30,000 miles to between 60,000 and 105,000 miles in most vehicles today.
This increase is due to the ignition systems being Coil on Plug (COP) and the materials that the spark plugs are made out of, such as iridium and platinum, lasting much longer.
Of course there’s still air filters, but a lot of the time the fuel filters are integral with the fuel pumps in the gas tanks, depending on the vehicle.
One service that helps greatly with today’s vehicles is cleaning the throttle body and doing an induction service. The way the PCV systems are made, more carbon gets built up in the intake and the valves than it used to.
While you’re driving, computers take care of a lot of adjustments you used to have to make. However, it’s more important than ever to maintain your vehicle or to do the tune up at the interval, even if your vehicle is running just fine. Computers will try to compensate for a problem that an automotive technician could catch during the regular tune up.
It is more important than ever to use the correct type of spark plugs for your car or truck. While a cheaper spark plug may technically allow your vehicle to run, you could be asking for the check engine to turn on for weird issues and possible damage to your engine.
The way vehicles are designed nowadays, it could be very difficult to get to the spark plugs. You used to be able to work on them in your driveway, but today it could take four or five hours to reach them, depending on what you have to take off to get to them.
SHOP TIP: Because some spark plugs are very hard to get to, when you go in for a tune up, ask to see your spark plugs. Unfortunately, when working with other shops, we have seen that the front three have been changed but not the three in the back.
This article was written by Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, a locally owned and operated business that has been in service for 36 years. It’s a big supporter of our local community.