How Do You Perform a Basic Tune-up on a Car?

A basic tune-up includes cleaning out the air filter, replacing the spark plugs and replacing the distributor cap and rotor. A basic tune-up is simple to perform, even for novice mechanics.

Before beginning the tune-up, gather supplies. For a basic service, mechanics will need a new air filter, rotor, distributor cap and spark plugs. Necessary tools include safety goggles, a screwdriver, a spark plug gapper, a spark plug socket and a spark plug wire puller. All these things are found at most auto parts stores.

A basic tune-up begins with a cold engine. To begin, open the hood and visually locate the distributor cap and spark plug wires, then follow these instructions:

Step 1: Remove the air filter

Remove the air filter box cover and vacuum the air filter box. Replace the filter with a new one.

Step 2: Remove the spark plug wires and plugs

Remove the spark plug wire from the plug, then, using a ratchet and spark plug socket, remove the wire from the head. Using the spark plug socket, remove the old plugs. Check the gap and insert the new plugs.

Step 3: Replace distributor cap and rotor

Remove the old distributor with the spark plug wires still attached. Remove one wire at a time and replace it on the corresponding place on the new cap. It is important to not mix up the wires during this step.

Once completed, remove all tools and old parts from the hood of the car. Start the engine.