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By Jessie Devine
Updated on Apr 11, 2022
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff, Staff Editor.
You already know you should change your oil regularly, but getting a full tune-up is also essential for extending your car’s lifespan. A tune-up includes additional services like a belt and hose check, filter replacements, and a wheel alignment.
Preventative care is the best way to ensure the health and long life of anything—including your car! Regular auto tune-ups keep your vehicle in its best condition, running well with the highest gas mileage. But if you’re going to pay a couple hundred bucks, you should know what you’re getting.
That’s why car insurance genius and car super app Jerry has created this complete car tune-up checklist. Read on to find out what a tune-up is, exactly what’s included, and how often you should get one.
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What is a tune-up?
A tune-up is a set of routine maintenance tasks that extend the life of your vehicle. It’ll include the basics, like changing the oil and topping up fluids, and also minor part replacements. Your mechanic will check all the major systems in your car or truck—like the engine, transmission, fuel system, electrical system, chassis, and more—and make adjustments as necessary.
You can do an auto tune-up at home, but many people choose to have it done in the shop because it’s faster and they don’t want to miss anything. A mechanic tuning up your car can also spot and alert you to any major mechanical problems so you can fix them before they cause a lot of damage.
Do I need a tune-up?
You may need a tune-up if you have a check engine light or other warning light on. While those lights sometimes indicate major issues, they can also be triggered by minor part failures that will be addressed by anyone following a car tune-up checklist.
After your tune-up is complete, you should see if the check engine light is still on and ask the mechanic any follow-up questions you might have.
If you don’t have a warning light on, you should still get a car tune-up if your car has reached a routine service interval checkpoint, meaning if you’ve driven a certain number of miles, your car needs a tune-up.
Your owner’s manual will tell you the exact number of miles that is for your specific car, but generally, older cars need a full tune-up every 10,000 to 12,000 miles. Newer cars can go 25,000 miles or more between tune-ups—but you should check your manual.
What does a car tune-up include?
A car tune-up will include basic maintenance and the replacement of minor parts. The mechanic will usually complete an inspection following a car tune-up checklist and then perform the required tasks. Here is your complete car tune-up checklist:
- Oil change: New oil
- Sparkplugs: Sparkplugs and any worn out wiring
- Filter replacements: Cabin air filter, oil filter, fuel filter, PCV valve
- Belts: Timing belt and serpentine belt
- Hoses: Radiator hose, heater hose, power steering hose, fuel hose
- Windshield wipers: Front driver, passenger, and rear blades
- Fluids: Coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid
- Tires check, balance, and rotation
- Battery check: Usually doesn’t include the cost of a new battery if the check determines that you need one
- Wheel alignment
How much does a car tune-up cost?
A tune-up will cost between $200 and $800 depending on your vehicle. It’s a large range because some cars—especially luxury vehicles—require specialized training to work on them safely. This increases the cost of labor. The parts in luxury vehicles also cost more, even the basic ones like sparkplugs and belts.
If you have a BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, or another luxury gas-powered vehicle, your tune-up will cost more, whereas standard production vehicles will cost less.
How can I save on car insurance?
If the cost of a tune-up has you groaning, we’ve got good news. You can reduce the amount you’re paying for car insurance to offset it! How? By comparison shopping—even if you currently have a policy.
We heard more groaning, and we get it. Comparison shopping for car insurance is long, tedious, and boring—unless you use Jerry. Jerry is the #1 rated insurance app because it makes comparison shopping a breeze (and saves drivers a ton of money).
Enter your info in 45 seconds, and Jerry will find the coverage you want from top insurance companies at the best rates. Then, Jerry’s team of experts will help you purchase and finalize your money-saving policy in no time, and they can even help you cancel your old plan.
“I felt like I was paying too much for my insurance policy, so I downloaded Jerry. I literally only typed in 3 pieces of info and Jerry found my current insurance. In a few minutes, they pulled up 2 Progressive policies that showed $900 in savings over 6 months!” —Maeve J.
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What is included in a full tuneup?
A full tune-up includes a host of checks, part replacements, and minor repairs.
A complete car tune-up checklist includes sparkplug replacement, filter replacements, the replacement of belts and hoses, wheel alignment, an oil change, a battery check, tire balance and rotation, fluid check and top up, and windshield wiper blade replacements.
What comes with a tuneup for a car?
A tune-up will come with all the replacement parts needed to complete the tune-up. This can include sparkplugs, wiring, windshield wiper blades, cabin air filter, oil filter, timing belt, serpentine belt, new fluids and oil, fuel hose, radiator hose, power steering hose, and more.
It won’t include major parts. If a mechanic determines that you need a major repair during the tune-up or inspection, you’ll have to pay for parts and labor on that repair separately.
When in doubt, ask the mechanic what their tune-up includes.