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So your car tune-up is due, but you can’t be without it for too long. 

Let’s explore the time it takes to get a service done and the individual checks and replacements needed.

On average, it takes a car shop between 2 and 4 hours to do a tune-up. The exact time will depend on the year, make, and model. Doing the tune-up yourself will take longer than 4 hours as you’re less experienced and may not have all the correct tune-up tools needed.

Let’s look into this in more detail. Before we do, it’s interesting how tune-ups have changed as cars have evolved away from mechanical systems to electronically controlled systems.

History Of The Tune-Up

A few decades ago, getting a tune-up involved a very different procedure than today. With no computer-controlled systems, there were a lot of parts that needed to be checked and adjusted. 

For example, the carburetor needed to be adjusted, and spark plugs, plug wires, distributor cap, and rotor were all replaced. Ignition points needed to be filed and adjusted. Ignition timing was manually adjusted, and valves needed to be adjusted. Because so many things needed to be manually adjusted, a tune-up could take 4 hours or more.

Cars made in the past couple of decades have computers to automatically control all of these systems. 

Electronic fuel injection and electronic ignition require no manual adjustment by a mechanic. As a result, a tune-up on a newer car may require much less time. Newer cars also don’t require a tune-up as often as older cars do. 

Older cars with carburetors sometimes required a tune-up every 20,000-30,000 miles. There are not many of these cars on the road now.

DIY Carburetor Servicing

Many newer vehicles can go up to 100,000 miles before needing a full diagnostic tune-up. This is because the car’s computer is making small adjustments to the car’s systems electronically as you drive. Of course, fluid and filter changes will still need to be completed regularly.

What Is Involved In A Tune-Up?

In the past, a tune-up usually referred to servicing a car’s engine. 

Today it refers to servicing the entire vehicle. 

Some of the most common replacements include engine oil and filter, air filter, fuel filter, and spark plugs. 

In addition to the parts being replaced, many things are inspected. 

These include checking and topping off all other fluids, including coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and gear oil. Belts and hoses are checked for wear or damage. The engine is inspected for any leaks. 

The tires are inspected for wear and sometimes balanced and rotated. The brake system, exhaust, suspension, and steering components are checked for any issues. 

Some shops also check lights, windshield wiper blades, horn, heater, and air conditioning. 

They may also plug in a scan tool and do a full system scan to see if the computer has detected any faults. 

A thorough inspection of your car will alert you to any possible issues that need to be addressed to prevent a breakdown.

How Long Does It Take To Do A Tune-Up?

On older vehicles that need several things manually adjusted, it could take 4 hours or more to do a tune-up. On newer vehicles that get a few parts replaced and several parts inspected, it can go much quicker, around 2 hours on average. 

The exact time depends on the year, make, and model vehicle. Each manufacturer will recommend what should be replaced and inspected and how often it should be done. The time will also depend on where your car is serviced. 

Some shops will take their time and be more thorough, while others will do the minimum to move on to the next customer sooner.

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Tune-Up?

Several factors will determine the cost. These include the shop’s labor rate, the time they spend, and the cost of the replaced parts. Those costs will vary depending on your geographical location. 

It will cost between $200-$800 for parts and labor. In most cases, the parts will account for $200 or less depending on whether the parts being replaced are OEM or aftermarket parts, with the rest going to pay for labor. 

Many visitors read this article next: Eight Must Have Tune-Up Checks

DIY Car Tune-Up

Can you do a tune-up on your own car? If you have a basic knowledge of auto repair, a basic set of mechanic’s tools, you can save money and do the work yourself. 

Even if you don’t have all the required tools, some auto parts stores will loan out tools for free or for a small fee to customers. The labor cost is the most expensive part of having a tune-up done at a shop. In most cases, the parts themselves will cost $200 or less. 

Things like engine oil and filter, spark plugs, and air filter are fairly easy to change. 

It will take you a little longer to do the work than it would take a shop, but it could save you hundreds of dollars. 

Look in your car’s owner’s manual for a list of services that need to be completed. You could also do the easier repairs, such as replacing the air filter, and hire a mechanic to do the more complicated repairs you don’t want to tackle. 

If you hire a shop to do some or all of the work but want to ensure you got what you paid for and didn’t skip any needed steps, compare their invoice with the service schedule in your owner’s manual.

Make sure they did all the recommended repairs. You can also do a visual inspection of your car. Check the oil filter, air filter, spark plugs, and any other parts the manufacturer recommends replacing to verify the shop did replace them with new parts. 

Why Get a Tune-Up?

Sticking to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for your car will keep it running reliably and efficiently. 

Neglecting maintenance on your car can cause it to get poor fuel economy, be low on power, and have a higher risk of breaking down. Cars that get regular maintenance also last longer and have a higher resale value.

Many visitors read this article next: What Does Car Mileage Mean – Are High Mileage Cars Worth It?

In Conclusion

A tune-up generally takes a car shop 2 to 4 hours to complete. The year of manufacture and model will determine the specific length of time. If you undertake the tune-up yourself, it will likely take longer than 4 hours because you may not have the necessary tools and have less experience to do it quickly.

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