When your car starts sputtering and jolting, one of the first things you’ll probably hear is, “Well, did you bother to go in for a regular tune up?” If you’ve had a friend ask this, well, we understand the urge to roll your eyes at their helpfulness, but that raises an excellent question. Your parents or grandparents may have drilled into you the importance of regular tune-ups to keep your car in excellent working order. But is that really necessary? Does a tune-up actually help keep your car working well, or is it just a way for mechanics to earn a bit of extra money? These are questions we get fairly regularly here at Your Import Car Doctor, and it’s important to ask! We pride ourselves on providing honest assessments and estimates to your customers, so we’ll tell you when a repair is needed versus when it can wait. And, when it comes to car tune-up services, they can be useful, but aren’t always necessary.

What Is A Tune-Up?

In order to really answer how necessary a tune-up is, it’s important to understand what it is. There is no single set of services that designate what a car tune-up is, so each mechanic may have a somewhat different explanation. In the days before we had a handy internal computer system built into every car, a tune-up every so many miles was a way to ensure that potential problem points remained in good repair. Things like spark plugs and air filters, that can affect the overall operation of your vehicle, would be checked over and everything would be tightened or checked to ensure nothing was coming loose as you drove your car. The biggest difference between then and now is that now, we have a built-in warning system that is designed to catch most issues within your car’s system. Given that we now have a way to catch most problems as they occur, and how much mechanical technology has improved in general, many drivers today question just how necessary those regular tune-ups are.

What About Car Service?

The modern idea when it comes to car care is less tune-up and more car service. Some things still need regular care and attention, but less so (or, rather, differently) than the full tune-up of years gone by. In essence, a tune-up and car service are terms that can be used more or less interchangeably; the only real difference is a subtle difference in connotation. Tune-up is a term still used, but most mechanics will refer to that routine care as car service now. In addition, the work entailed has changed somewhat. Previously, a tune-up was supposed to be done as a set of general adjustments done every few months to keep a vehicle operational. Now, improvements in technology mean time is less the issue; instead, how much a vehicle gets used is the matter in question.

Car service today generally starts with an oil change, rather than checking the spark plugs or distributor points. It can also include checking fluids, wheel alignment, battery health, power steering, brake function, and may include a tire rotation. In essence, the difference between a tune-up and car service is when you ought to get it done, and to some extent, what it checks. Whichever way you prefer to refer to it, the service is intended to keep your vehicle running optimally and help lessen the need for extensive and expensive repairs down the road.

Is It Necessary?

A list of car service features may seem like it’s full of unnecessary services—after all, you’re perfectly capable of checking your tire tread and you’ll feel if your wheel alignment is off, right? More often than not, a car service starts with a more necessary service, an oil change, and the rest of the items on the list are simple enough checks that a mechanic can do while they’re looking at your car’s inner workings. It’s not a bad idea to accept that full inspection because your mechanic is more likely to catch potential problems than you are. However, some mechanics will tell you to come in more frequently than is strictly necessary for that oil change and inspection. So, if you find yourself questioning the necessity of taking your car in to get serviced, the best place to start is the manual that came with your vehicle (or the online version, if you’ve lost yours somewhere along the way). Usually, the mileage/time span that a mechanic quotes you for your next service is going to be a more generalized set of numbers; if you want numbers more specific to your vehicle, the manual will tell you what to expect.

Whether you call it car service or a tune-up, that basic maintenance is important for your vehicle’s well-being. Contact Your Import Car Doctor in Colorado Springs to schedule today!