Regular car repair and maintenance can help keep your vehicle on the road for many miles and years to come. Everyone knows regular oil changes can support your car’s overall health, but what other types of auto repair services are needed? One such car repair that has changed a lot in the past 30+ years is the tune-up which is especially important on european models such as BMW, VW and Audi. What constitutes a vehicle tune-up today, and how has this changed over the years?
Though the term tune-up is thrown around a lot, there’s no clear-cut definition as to what a tune-up really is. Many local auto repair shop specialists as well as do-it-yourselfers use the term tune-up to refer to any sort of maintenance job for your vehicle.
The Tune-up: A History of Auto Repair
Prior to the 1980s, when cars operated on non-electrical ignition systems, tune-ups were required about every 10,000 miles. During the tune-up, the mechanic would replace the threadbare spark plugs in order to support proper firing of the engine. In those days, the engine ignition system lacked precision and misfiring’s were more common. As a result spark plugs and other system parts wore out frequently.
Nowadays, cars have electrical fuel ignition systems so most vehicles can drive 30,000 to 50,000 miles before needing an engine repair such as a tune-up. (It’s worth mentioning that long-life or platinum- or iridium-tipped spark plugs can go up to 100,000 miles before needing to be replaced.)
Tune-ups May Be Needed More Frequently For European Models (BMW, AUDI, VW)
If you drive a European-designed vehicle such as a BMW, Audi, Volkswagen or Jaguar, they tend to need tune-ups and related BMW, Audi or VW services more often. This is particularly true for older makes and models. If you get a basic BMW or Audi service such as an oil change, it might be worth it to ask your BMW specialist if a tune-up is needed. The calibrations for BMWs, Audis and VWs are more fine and precise and as a result they need to be adjusted more regularly.
Signs Your San Diego Vehicle Might Need a Tune-up?
So generally speaking, any problems with the engine and the surrounding ignition system might signal the need for a tune-up or other small-scale engine repair. If your car:
- is not idling the way it normally does but instead is rough and jerky,
- does not start properly when you turn the ignition over, or
- stalls out frequently or more than it normally does.
Any of these symptoms could signal that a tune-up or related engine repair is needed. (The illumination of the check engine light on your dashboard could signal many things, including the need for a tune-up.)
Though the main reason sparkplugs no longer need to be replaced frequently has to do with the use of electrical ignition systems, the secondary reason is because this electrical system is computerized. Every firing of the engine is set and controlled by the computer with a precision that would have been unfathomable years ago. Misfiring of the engine used to be fairly common but today is more rare.
This automation has enabled the larger ignition system to last exponentially longer than before. It has allowed a level of efficiency that could not be duplicated otherwise. What does that mean for you the car owner? Fewer trips to the San Diego auto repair shop for tune-ups and engine repair.
What Does a BMW, Audi or VW Tune-Up Involve?
So now that we know we need tune-ups far less frequently than before, what else does a tune-up generally entail? We know a tune-up is related to replacing worn out spark plugs, ignition systems and related engine repair. Tune-ups also involve replacing the engine air filter, which thwarts dust and dirt from getting inside the engine and ruining it.
Moreover, the mechanic will inspect and test the larger ignition system for signs of wear. The shop may perform a fuel injector service, which is like a flush for the system and gets out any accumulated gunk. The related PCV valve may also need to be adjusted accordingly. Particularly for Audi or BMW service, the vehicle may need a timing belt or serpentine belt replacement. Learn more about common BMW repairs here.
Though a tune-up is primarily about engine repair and maintenance, your mechanic will likely review and perform other auto maintenance basics during this time such as an oil change. Testing the battery and related system is also done as part of the tune-up package. Again, because a tune-up is not a universally defined service, be sure to ask the service specialist at your auto repair shop what a tune-up entails. If they don’t, read our guide on how to choose an independent BMW repair shop and find an trustworthy expert here in San Diego.
Quality Tune Up Shops in San Diego
So if your vehicle isn’t running quite like it used to, particularly if your ignition systems is giving you a hard time, bring your car into your San Diego auto repair shop for a possible tune-up. But yes, your vehicle’s owner manual is correct when it says a tune-up isn’t needed for 50,000 or more miles.