It used to be when someone asked what a tune up cost, it was easy to give an answer that was close. It was understood that certain parts needed to be replaced routinely to keep the car running well. In recent years a lot of changes have come to engine designs that make the question harder to answer without the shop asking some questions about the engine and car first. It was also true years ago that if your car was running poorly, a tune up often cured the issue. Given the advent of fuel injection and computerized controls and more complex emission controls, this is not always as true today. The bottom line is that we do certain things and replace certain parts on a time and mileage basis to keep the vehicle running properly.
Spark plugs are always part of a proper tune up, however not all spark plugs are created equally. Standard spark plugs last for 30,000 miles. Then to save the car owners a little money, (and also to be able to say their car needed less frequent maintenance), car makers came out with Platinum spark plugs that lasted 60,000 miles, Double Platinum plugs that lasted 90,000 miles, and finally Titanium and Iridium spark plugs that lasted from 105,000 to 120,000 miles! The danger with these last three versions was that since many of these spark plugs are screwed into Aluminum Cylinder heads, it was sometimes difficult if not impossible to remove them without damage if the driver didn’t get the vehicle up to their replacement mileage in under ten years or so. Many shops will recommend replacing spark plugs if they have not been changed out in ten years and they are in a motor with Aluminum Cylinder heads.
A tune up used to always include replacement of the fuel filter. Most carmakers began to eliminate the replaceable in line fuel filters and instead rely on the fuel pumps intake filter inside the fuel tank. It’s almost unheard of to have one of these plug up and cause a poor running condition. The tradeoff is that the reason they do not plug up is they do not filter every little particle out, but rather pass it on to the fuel injectors. So if your car has a replaceable filter, changing it out is part of a full tune up, and if you don’t have a replaceable filter, you are even more interested in fuel injector cleaning services.
A Distributor Cap and Rotor may still be a part of your tune up if your car has a Distributor, however most newer cars now have their spark plug’s firing controlled by a computer. With Distributor systems, it was usual to replace the Cap and Rotor, and spark plug wires about every 90-100,000 miles. The first cars to do away with the Distributor had one coil with multiple terminals which fired the spark plugs through spark plug wires. Most cars today are what Is referred to as coil on plug, where each cylinder has its own coil firing the spark plug through a coil boot. These coil boots can and do wear out sometimes and so are sometimes part of doing a proper tune up.
Modern engines are nearly all fuel injected and fuel injectors need to be cleaned from the inside out to keep them injecting fuel properly. This requires special equipment that most shops have. Brons Automotive recommends performing this service about every 30,000 miles. Many newer engines are equipped with Direct Injection, which injects the fuel directly into the cylinder, instead of into the intake manifold on the back of the valves. Directly injected engines have problems with buildup of deposits on the back of the valves due to engine design. Its especially important to perform throttle body cleaning on these engines to prevent costly repairs down the road.
Of course, last but not least is that the air filter needs to be clean. So the bottom line in all this is that there are a great variety of engine designs and not all engines need the same parts replaced to be properly tuned. Different components have different replacement intervals and a good shop like Brons Automotive simply needs to know what your engine is equipped with to tune it properly and keep it running like it should. An added bonus at Brons Automotive is that the spark plugs we use are warrantied to last the same mileage as the manufacturer replacement interval. This means that if your car maker recommends replacing the spark plugs every 90,000 miles, we warranty our spark plugs will last that long.