You Don’t Need a “Tune Up” (Here’s Why)

tune upHave you ever asked for a tune up? Most people have.

That’s an easy thing to ask for when you want your engine to run better.

But cars have changed so much that tune ups are a thing of the past.

Today I’d like to share some fun facts about how your car works. Read this and you’ll never ask for a tune up again.

How Tune Ups Came to Be

Cars weren’t always as high-tech as they are today. Old cars included parts like carburetors, distributors with points & condensers, and mechanical fuel pumps. Do any of those terms ring a bell? If not, don’t feel bad. My kids don’t know either. These parts aren’t even included on modern vehicles!

Vintage cars required more frequent and thorough inspections. Why? They didn’t come with a fancy computer that monitors their performance. These cars were equipped with mechanical parts that literally made the car spark. Those parts needed to be replaced or adjusted every 6,000-12,000 miles.

Old car engines were very simple. Each spark plug attached to one ignition wire. For best performance, these wires needed to spark the same intensity. Ignition wires make a buzzing sound when they work. A mechanic could tell the adjustment was complete when they all buzzed in tune. That’s where the term “tune up” came from.

Why Tune Ups Are No Longer a Thing

Modern cars are completely electronic. They don’t even have mechanical parts that can be tuned up. Some auto shops continue to use the phrase “tune up,” because it is familiar to customers. Most people aren’t aware of how much cars have changed.

It’s marketing that needs a tune up. Your car is run by sensors and relays. A computer in your engine controls ignition. Dashboard lights alert you to a need for more specific maintenance. A check engine light identifies potential onset of fuel and emission problems.

Don’t ask for a tune up. That might not solve your problem. There isn’t a set standard for what that service includes. It’s different at every shop. If you have a specific problem, describe its symptoms. Your mechanic will offer a solution based on that information.

Preventive maintenance is the tune up of the 21st century. Find this post helpful? Share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Click here to check out the brand new Women Auto Know.

Mechanically Yours,



4 thoughts on “You Don’t Need a “Tune Up” (Here’s Why)

  1. Idiots ask for tune ups. I don’t know where to begin with a question like that . I say ‘do you want a major or minor tune up’ my old boss used to do that 20 plus years ago.

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