The Ultimate Car Tune-Up Checklist

Car tune-ups will help expand the life of your vehicle and keep it in great shape.
Written by Alexandra Maloney
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Car maintenance
is one of the biggest responsibilities that comes with owning a vehicle. While bringing your car to the shop if it gets damaged or malfunctions is important, preventative maintenance to stop these issues in their tracks is even better. 
Whether it’s things you can do yourself, or tasks that require the help of a professional, we have everything you need to get started on routine maintenance with this ultimate car tune-up checklist. 
Car tune-ups will help expand the life of your vehicle and keep it in great shape.

What are tune-ups and why do they matter?

Tune-ups are essentially another name for preventative maintenance. They typically occur once each calendar year and cover many different areas of your car.
notes, the meaning of the term “tune-up” has changed over time. The term tune-up originated because on older vehicles, routine maintenance required the vehicle’s carburetor to be “tuned” as well as other tasks like adjusting and replacing caps, spark plugs, rotors, and condensers. 
Today, a tune-up is a lot less of an intricate process. Typically, they consist of routine maintenance like checking filters, belts, and fluids, as well as performing functions to make sure everything in the car is running correctly.
Regular tune-ups can help extend the lifespan of your car by keeping it in peak condition. This process can catch any small issues or malfunctions with your car early, before they spiral into expensive problems. Plus, in some cases, tune-ups can even prevent issues from occurring in the first place. 
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How you know it’s time for a tune-up

Generally, it’s a good rule of thumb to bring your car to the mechanic for a tune-up once sometime between every six months and year. 
The key to a tune-up is not waiting. You don’t wait to bring your car in until you notice a problem. Instead, you want to bring your car in when it’s running just fine, to prevent any future issues or troubleshoot things you might’ve not noticed.
With that being said, it can also be a good reminder it’s time to go in for a tune-up if you notice minor issues with your car. These might be things like low windshield wiper fluid, screeching brakes, lack of acceleration, or vibration, according to
Kelley Blue Book

Tune-up checklist

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There are a few things you can do throughout the year to keep your car in tip-top condition, before you bring it to a professional for its yearly visit. Remember to bring your car to the shop for regular oil changes—depending on how much you drive this might be more than once a year. Additionally, check your tires for any wear and tear.
When it is time to bring your car in for its regular tune-up, these are a few of the procedures you can expect to happen, according to
Kelley Blue Book
  • Check and potential replacement of spark plugs, oxygen sensor, PCV valve, and fuel filter.
  • Oil change.
  • Air filter, oil filter, and fuel filter replacements.
  • Check and potential replacement of belts and hoses.
  • Windshield wiper replacement.
  • Fluids refilled.
  • Battery test.
  • Tire check and rotation.
  • Wheel alignment.
All in all, expect the average tune-up to cost anywhere from $200 to $800. After your service is performed, the mechanic will let you know if your vehicle requires any follow-ups, or if you’re good to go until next time.
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