Tune-Up Checklist

Tune-Up Checklist
August 26, 2021
Tune-Up Checklist

What Goes on a Tune-Up Checklist?

Learn What Tools And Parts You Need

It’s no secret that tune-ups were once considered vital to an engine’s performance but a lot has changed since carburetors were replaced with fuel injection systems and distributors were faded out for individual coil packs. So what is a tuneup now? How do I know when it’s time for a tune-up? What is a tuneup checklist? Here we will answer questions.

What Is A Car Tune-Up?

A service that is offered through most professional mechanic shops, a tuneup can improve the performance and fuel efficiency of a vehicle. A vehicle tune starts with an inspection of parts that are considered maintenance parts. Maintenance parts can be seals, gaskets, spark plugs, wires, wheels, brake pads, and much more. The tuneup of 25 years ago looks much different now as the tuneup of today involves more than just the engine.

The car tuneup of today is an inspection of the vehicle to catch early wear like deteriorating seals or a bad water pump pulley and to make sure fluids and maintenance parts like filters, and spark plugs are clean and operating at maximum capacity. You should always make a tuneup checklist before getting started.

*DIY Mechanic’s Note*: Create the checklist as you are inspecting the vehicle so you don’t miss anything like a rotting hose, corroded battery connections, or a gasket leaking oil.

The Car and Truck Tune-Up Checklist?

Your Basic Tuneup Can Include:

  • New Spark Plugs. 
  • New Spark Plug Wires (Always replace wires when replacing plugs). 
  • Air Filters. 
  • Cabin Filter. 
  • Fuel Filter.
  • Windshield Washer Fluid – A clean windshield makes a difference.
  • Windshield Wipers.
  • Engine Oil – Check level and last oil change date. Top it off or perform an oil change.
  • Coolant – Check coolant level and clarity. If it’s cloudy or leaving a residue. Flush the coolant well and fill it back up with the proper coolant for your vehicle. Also, check the proper water to coolant mixture for your vehicle and region. 
  • PCV Valve.
  • Brake Pads – And rotors if necessary.
  • Check Tires for Tread and Wear Patterns – replace if the tread has less than ¼ of the original tread or if the tires are wearing unevenly.
  • Check for alignment issues if the tires wore unevenly.
  • If The Tires Have Plenty of Life Left On Them - Check tire pressure and add or remove air as needed (do not exceed the manufacturer’s PSI rating labeled on the outer tire sidewall.
  • Serpentine and Timing Belts – Check for cracks, deterioration, and screeching sounds when starting or running your vehicle.

*DIY Mechanic’s Note*: This is just a standard list and isn’t limited to what you see here. Your list may vary depending on what your inspection reveals. When in doubt, replace it.

The more traditional tuneup or the one you put on your dad’s old 1969 Chevy Greenbriar station wagon looks a little different. Tuneup parts for the older vehicles could include a new distributor cap, distributor rotor, spark plug wires, spark plugs, PCV valve, air filter, fuel filter, cleaning a carburetor, etc.

When is it Time for a Tune-up?


Tuneups on today’s cars are certainly not as often or as laser-focused as the old cars and trucks but are still important to the proper upkeep of your vehicle. Your owner’s manual should give you a good idea of when certain tasks need to be performed like oil changes, air filters, fuel filters, etc. It’s best to read and stay on top of those necessary maintenance routines.

It’s important to remember that different vehicle makes and models may have different maintenance schedules. A GMC Terrain will likely have a slightly different schedule than a Ford Bronco but generally speaking, the more frequent maintenance tasks like fluids and spark plugs will be more routine around 10,000 to 15,000 miles. The less frequent maintenance items will probably start to wear around 80,000 to 120,000 miles.

Tune-Ups Are A Good Idea For:


  • Buying a used vehicle and you don’t know the repair history – Better safe than sorry.
  • If you don’t remember when everything was last serviced – Just bring it back up to date and start your records over.

What’s the Purpose of a Tune-Up?

This paragraph may sound redundant but we haven’t dedicated a section to the purpose of a tune-up. Don’t believe me? Read back… I’ll Wait... See? The purpose of a tuneup is to keep up with the general maintenance of your vehicle and to extend its life by getting ahead of major issues that may occur from either a poor maintenance schedule or a faulty part that may be wearing, breaking, or deteriorating before it’s time. If you skip a tuneup, you can easily miss signs of early wear and tear or the state of certain consumable maintenance items like brakes, plugs, belts, and more. For example, it’s better to catch a failing idler pulley or other accessories pulley before you have to replace the radiator, a water pump, or an alternator.

Through Tune-Ups And Routine Maintenance, You Can:


  • Improve engine performance
  • Improve fuel efficiency
  • Catch early wear and tear before components fail

What Will A Tune-Up Cost?

This is a loaded question and depends on several variables. But two things are certain, doing yourself is less expensive than hiring a mechanic, if you do it right. AND you will save money by buying your tuneup parts from PartsHawk.com.

If You Don’t Tune Up an Engine?

When you have an older vehicle with the carburetor and distributor, etc it was necessary to tune up your car to keep up its continued engine performance. If you didn’t provide regular tune-ups, your vehicle would lose horsepower due to poor air and fuel mixtures, bad plugs, corroding belts. The process for newer vehicles (mostly cars built after 1999/2000), is very different than vehicles of yore. On these modern-day cars and trucks, just follow the maintenance guidelines and timelines and you will be good to go.

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