The easiest way to save money on a car tune-up is to do most of the work at home. A basic tune-up involves changing the vehicle's fluids, filters, spark plugs, and spark plug wires. For a small investment into special tools, such as filter wrenches and spark plug sockets, an owner can save several hundred dollars that would have been spent on product mark-ups and labor charges at a repair shop.
The definition of a tune-up can vary from person to person and has changed over the decades. Today, a driver may take his car in for a tune-up because of decreasing gas mileage or a situation where the car is not starting as properly as it used to. Despite the complexities of newer cars, the benefits and cost savings of regular maintenance still hold true today.
Regular oil and oil filter changes are the single most important maintenance procedure for vehicles, should be performed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles and take less than an hour. Air filters are found under the hood of the car, and can be replaced in minutes. Fluids, such as transmission fluid, coolant, and brake fluid, can also be changed at home with a little working knowledge of vehicles. Spark plugs and wires can also be replaced at home by searching for the vehicle's properly fitting plugs and wires through a parts website such as RockAuto.com.
After replacing the above parts at home, the vehicle can then be taken to a repair shop for more complicated procedures that are performed by experienced technicians with access to the proper equipment, such as adjusting the car's alignment and replacing worn tires.