What Is Included in a Car Tune-Up?

A tune-up on cars made before about 1990 consists of contact point, air filter and spark plug replacement, and the adjustment of igniting timing, carburetor and fuel mixture. A tune-up for cars made since 1990 involves spark plug and air filter replacement. Tune-up intervals are considerably longer for newer cars.

Cars made before 1990 required tune-ups every 10,000 to 12,000 miles, while cars manufactured after that often require spark plug replacement only every 100,000 miles. The more contemporary vehicles are able to go longer between spark plug changes, thanks to computers that control engines adjusting spark timing and air-fuel mixture to offset plug wear.

Despite the fact that post-1990s automobiles do not require traditional tune-ups, these vehicles still require periodic maintenance. During regular servicing, auto technicians test and inspect emissions, fuel and ignition systems attempting to find and repair any broken sensors or other parts that are capable of harming performance. Most post-1990 cars indicate that it is time for servicing through dash lights. Dealerships also often send car buyers notices reminding them to bring their vehicles in for periodic servicing.

Oil changes, while vital for a vehicle to function properly, are not considered part of a traditional or contemporary car tune-up.