8 tasks performed when you pay for a tune-up

Tune-Ups: Do It Yourself?

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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Hi Bob,
In your current issue, the auto answer guy mentioned engine tune up. That's something I've been wondering for a while. The local mechanics charges about $50 for a tune up, but I could change the spark plugs, air filter for a lot less than that, so my question is what else is usually done at a tune up, do they really adjust something too (that I cannot do without special equipment)?

My car is six years old and hasn't gotten a tune up for several years now, except I change the spark plugs and air filter regularly. Is this good enough?

$50.00 for a tune up done at a repair facility seems cheap! Even though you are right, there is not much that needs to be done, some of the spark plugs are a bear to get to. You need to be a contortionist to get to some of the ones in the back on transverse v-6 engines! Typically this is what you would want to do during a tune up

  1. New and gapped spark plugs
  2. New air filter
  3. New fuel filter
  4. New PCV valve
  5. New breather element (if so equipped)
  6. New distributor cap and rotor (always change in pairs)
  7. New spark plug wires (NOTE on mid 80's Chryslers, the wires make up the contacts in the distributor cap, so when changing wires or cap, the other must also be changed)
  8. Adjust timing as per manufacturer's specifications

Not an auto club member? Compare roadside assistance plans.

If you really want to get into it, you could do a throttle body and intake service on vehicles with multi port fuel injection. To do this, you need to remove the throttle body (the little door at the end of the air intake hose before it enters the motor) and the upper intake manifold. These 2 parts will be coated with carbon residue. This residue is from several places. One from the PCV system, another from the EGR system. These are both emissions components that aid in reducing tail pipe emissions by re-burning some pollution. Some of the gases that are re-burned, get coated on the intake manifold. BEFORE YOU REMOVE ANYTHING, read your "bible". For those of you that don't remember, I refer to the service manual for your vehicle as the "bible". Don't do anything with out first reading what is specific for your engine. For the frugal ones out there, you do not have to purchase it because most libraries have them on the shelves. After you are confident that this is something that you can handle, go to the parts store and buy all the gaskets first! You car will be inoperable while these parts are removed and you will not be able to get these gaskets. DO NOT REUSE THE OLD ONES! After that, there is not much else to do. Now on newer cars, there is even less to do. There are no longer distributors on cars, just multiple coils. There are still plug wires though. With out getting into more detail, new cars have less for the back yard mechanic to repair.

For all of you that have sent in letters that have gone unanswered, we receive lots of letters and it is hard to get to them all. To those of you that have had a letter answered, please let me know how it went for you. Please keep the letters coming!
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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