Given that a tune-up uses diagnostic testing and inspection to catch potential repair needs before they happen, a tune-up is generally worth the cost. However, the price range that garages charge for tune-ups varies widely, so comparison shopping is wise.
As of 2015, a standard tune-up can range between $200 and $800. These costs can include new spark plugs and wires, as well as a new distributor cap, fuel filter, rotor, air filter and PVC valve. Depending on the garage, a tune-up can also include a computerized analysis of the fuel; adjustment of the timing, dwell and fuel mixture; and a check of ignitions and emissions systems. The total costs include labor, which can vary between two and four hours, as well as any necessary parts.
As cars age, they need more extensive adjustments and repairs as more significant components within the vehicle wear down. A tune-up for cars between 90,000 and 120,000 miles can cost between $500 and $1,200, as of 2015, depending on what the mechanics have to adjust, repair and replace. The owner's manual typically lists what maintenance is necessary at each mileage point. Owners should discuss the procedures with the mechanic prior to approving the tune-up to ensure that the bill does not turn out to be an unpleasant surprise and that the car receives the maintenance it needs.