How Much is a Tune-Up?


The Most Common Question

At S&S Service Center we receive an average of 185 incoming telephone calls per week. These consist of appointment requests, questions about repairs or maintenance operations, approvals of estimates, telemarketers, hang-ups, and several other kinds of calls. Without a question, though, the most common thing we hear when we answer the phone is the question “How much is a tune-up?”

The More Important Question: What IS a Tune-up?

Where our frustration comes from is the fact that there is no correct answer to the question. What is the definition of a tune-up? Many years ago, a tune-up was the same pretty much everywhere you went: Replace spark plugs, points and condenser, fuel and air filters at 30,000-mile intervals, and at 60,000-mile intervals, we also replaced distributor cap, rotor, and ignition wires. Today’s high-tech vehicles don’t have points, condenser, distributor cap, rotor, ignition wires, and fuel filters are inside the fuel tank and do not need changing under normal conditions. That leaves air filters and spark plugs as the tune-up parts, and today’s iridium tipped spark plugs will usually go 100,000 miles without needing replacement. So how much does that cost, you ask. Well, this is not a situation where one answer will do. For some 4-cylinder vehicles, you might unbolt 4 ignition coils, remove the coils, unscrew 4 spark plugs, then reverse procedure to finish the job. The cost? Maybe a little over $100. Then you have the vehicles that require hours of labor to access the spark plugs and those that have a design that causes the spark plugs to break off inside the cylinder head. We have seen bills as high as $2000 to make these right.

Many people that ask us “How much is a tune-up?” think a tune-up is an oil change service. Some think a tune-up is a major maintenance service including fluid flushes. Others don’t know what a tune-up is, but they don’t know what else to ask. Still, the #1 reason that people call us to ask “How much is a tune-up?” is because their “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” warning light has come on. This warning light indicates that one of the vehicle’s computers or control modules has seen a problem with one or more of the tests that they are constantly running to verify that all of the computerized systems are operating the way they should. To fix these concerns requires high tech equipment and a sharp technician to properly analyze the data that the testers give him. To explain this in detail will require another article, so be waiting for the next episode and in the meantime please remember: How much is a tune-up?  Nobody really knows.

By on October 13th, 2020 in Tune-Up