Last Updated: 02.12.2021

You might be wondering, “how much is a tune-up nowadays?”

All the components in your vehicle—the spark plugs, wires, filters, tires, and brake pads—need regular maintenance to keep your car running smoothly. Many tend to ignore these parts, especially when they’re not seeing a problem. 

But timely tune-ups are crucial if you want to stay away from sudden breakdowns. I mean, imagine your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere. This type of scenario could’ve been prevented with just a simple tune-up.

If you’re not familiar with maintenance, you might be asking how much you should spend. 

Well, it is good for you to know how much you should put aside for tune-ups because you could come across auto shops that would take advantage of you when you appear not to understand this sort of stuff. It is possible they might try to offer you services that you really don’t need.

Keep reading and learn how to save yourself from spending too much while caring for your car.

Average Estimated Tune-Up Expenses

a simple tune-up checklist

The cost for a car tune-up varies, although it would primarily start from $40 to $150 for a basic tune-up. This service would typically include a spark plug and wire replacement.

A regular tune-up service may cost you around $150 to $400. This may include changing the distributor cap, air filter, fuel filter, PVC valve, and more. Additionally, oil changes, computer diagnosis, emission testing, and other tweaks may also be part of the services.

You might be looking to spend between $500 to $1,200 for older vehicles with up to 120,000 mileage. This cost estimate may still fluctuate depending on necessary adjustments and repairs to your car’s engine parts.

Remember to check the vehicle user manual for the tune-up schedule. The manual contains important information on the repair schedule based on mileage and the age of your vehicle. 

It will be a helpful guide to you or the mechanic servicing your vehicle. Stick to those mandatory and recommended schedules, and your car will be running smoothly without those preventable problems. 

Common Factors Affecting the Cost of Your Car’s Tune-Up

car repair shop

Car Model

Your vehicle’s make and model have an impact on how much the tune-up will cost. You may find a service provider that can handle all types of cars or a wide range of models. But make sure that they also specialize in your car model. 

The value of your car also affects tune-up costing. A premium car has expensive parts; therefore, the cost of repairing or replacing its engine parts will be pricey too. And we’re not even talking about the type of service here. If your car needs to be serviced by a specialist, expect the labor to cost more. 

If the parts are imported, the tune-up price will likewise be higher. 

Labor Cost

An average tune-up will take at least two hours to four hours at most. The overall car tune-up cost includes the labor necessary to complete the job. It will depend on whatever tune-up services need to be done.

The price may also vary based on the hourly rate of your mechanic or service provider. For this reason, it’s tricky to pin the expense down to a specific price.

Transmission Type

Due to constant gear changes, it is not unusual to wear out the transmission. It works hard and goes through a lot of heat exposure and pressure when driving your car.

It is necessary to change the fluid once it turns brown to ensure that it has proper lubrication. Doing so will keep your engine running smoothly; hence it is as essential as changing the motor oil.

Replacement of Parts

Aside from your mechanic’s hourly rate, the costs also include the replacement parts. Mechanics would primarily start the tune-up process by inspecting the engine. 

A closer look and assessment helps them identify defective parts needing replacement. They will then make recommendations about what wear-and-tear parts need changing.

Some of these parts are wires, spark plugs, fuel filters—the list is quite long. It might mean spending a chunk of your savings, but it will undoubtedly help keep your car safe on the road.

How Much Do Tune-Up Services Cost?

Below are the most common services you would need to include in your tune-up budget

Oil Change

Among the several car care recommendations, an oil change is usually at the top of the list. Please note though that your car should have more than one oil change in a year, depending on the mileage. 

Changing the oil is usually part of a standard tune-up. You can consider this as essential maintenance since it does the job of lubricating your engine. Ensuring proper lubrication prevents friction and saves the other engine components from breaking.

An oil change can cost you around $20 to $100, depending on where you go and what type of oil you’re using, whether it’s conventional or synthetic. It’s best to know how much oil your car needs, so you can make a better cost estimate. 

Air and Fuel Filter Replacement

One air filter replacement a year is okay, except if you frequently drive on dirt roads. If you fail to do so when necessary, the engine will lack the proper amount of air. Besides, changing air filters will keep dirt from penetrating your car’s systems.

In addition, it’s also possible for the fuel filters to need replacement. These filters tend to clog over time, resulting in combustion issues. Nonetheless, replacing even just this part could be costly. 

So maybe you might want to consider changing the fuel filter yourself instead of going to a mechanic. If you decide to DIY, you may find this video helpful, especially if you’re doing it for the first time: 

Spark Plug Replacement

More often than not, a tune-up will only involve inspecting and cleaning your spark plugs. But sometimes, tuning up your car would also mean replacing your spark plugs.

You should never take your car’s ignition system lightly. Part of a tune-up process is checking that your spark plugs are clean and in optimal condition. Once you experience trouble starting your engine, it might be time to get new spark plugs.

It might be a burdensome expense, but it can help improve your fuel economy. Replacing spark plugs alone may cost you about $100 to $200. 

It would save you a lot if you could change them yourself instead of bringing them to a mechanic. You can get new spark plugs for only $10. 

Mileage of 50,000 or more may require a replacement unless you’re using platinum spark plugs. Such spark plugs have a longer lifespan, so there’s no need to replace them with every tune-up.

Tire Realignment

Your car’s wheels sometimes hit potholes when you’re driving. Hence, realigning the wheels is another vital part of the tune-up process. 

This ensures that the wheels have the right balance when running, hitting the ground at the right angle. Doing this regularly as part of the maintenance would save you the cost of a tire replacement in the long run.

If you don’t need to get new wheels, much of the spending for this service will go to labor costs. You may expect to spend up to $100 for a front-end alignment, while a four-wheel alignment may cost you an average of $65.

Brake Pad Replacement

To maintain the optimum ability of your car to stop quickly, you need to check the brake system. You would find it necessary to replace the brake pads at times when they begin to wear out.

One of the many indicators is when your wheels start to make a squeaking sound. You would also encounter difficulty in pushing the pedal or losing brake control. 

It often happens once the wheels have already reached 75,00 miles of regular use. Replacing the brake pads will prevent uneven wear and prolong the rotor’s lifespan. As should be expected, a brake pad replacement will cost more if you also have to replace the rotor.

These are the simplest tune-up services. If the car needs more attention, i.e., needs repairs, then it will definitely cost more and the will take longer to service

Final Thoughts

Getting your car running smoothly is a good thing, and this entails making regular tune-ups. Including it in your routine car care schedule will extend your engine’s lifespan. It will further help you detect minor issues before they turn out to become a headache.

If you can’t do tune-ups regularly, you may also opt for scheduled maintenance. It will take a lot of care to keep your vehicle running as it should. Even if you find a car tune-up expensive, it’s incomparable to the cost you incur if the engine breaks down.

When looking for the ideal car service provider, try to find the ones that can work on all makes and models. A tune-up cost may be as minimal as $40 to $150, but it can likewise be competitive, ranging between $200 to $800.

You may additionally consider buying and replacing defective parts yourself to save money. Start with doing a visual inspection and try to look for signs of damage. Remember that not everyone knows what to do the first time around.

Investing in a code reader seems a brilliant idea, too. This ingenious gadget can help you diagnose issues before taking your car to a mechanic. It will allow you to save a chunk of your cash in paying for labor, parts, or both.