If you’ve ever been around a member of the older generation and have spoken with them about cars, chances are that you’ve probably heard the term tune-up get thrown around.  You won’t hear many millennials discussing for what date their tune up is scheduled, because the practice of getting a tune up is considered to be terribly old-fashioned.  However, if you’ve heard the phrase repeatedly, over time, there is a chance you’re wondering what a tune up entails, and whether or not your car may need one.  The short answer is probably not, however, the long answer may be a little bit more complicated.

Maintaining your car is one of the most important things you can do if you’re looking to protect your investment.  No one wants to finally finish paying off your car loan just to have to turn around and buy an all new car because the old one hit the skids a couple of years before the car payment disappeared.  Not all that long ago, people recommended a tune up when your car hit one hundred thousand miles, but sometimes they were performed more often, especially in states that don’t require yearly inspections.

Practical car ownership dictates regular oil changes, scheduled maintenance to check fluids, and periodic tire and brake service.  If performed at the required intervals, your car will continue to run properly with minimal expense.  Certainly, there will be the out of the ordinary expense with car ownership, because things can go wrong with any car, whether it’s been routinely maintained or not.  There is no guarantee with car ownership, so you have to prepare accordingly as best you can, but a tune up may not be the way to go about that.

Previously, a tune up entailed checking out nearly every single function of the vehicle after it hit a certain mileage.  For many drivers, the magic number was one hundred thousand miles, but some people chose to have their tune ups performed more often.  However, these days, if a dastardly mechanic hears the magic words “tune up”, he’s going to see you coming and take advantage.  While getting your car serviced at a hundred thousand miles is certainly important, a so called “tune up” at this mileage is a waste of money.  There are certain mileage milestones at which your car may require service, but there are no hard and fast rules.

For guidance about maintenance, check your car’s manual.  Many cars recommend a major service at the thirty-thousand-mile or three-year mark, but if this is how you mention it to the mechanic, you may be overcharged.  During this service appointment, the mechanic will thoroughly inspect your tires, from the wear to the pressure.  Then the mechanic will check and refill all of your fluids; oil, windshield wipers, transmission, etc.  Finally, each of your car’s systems will be checked.  This system check will include your brakes, belts, suspension, and alignment.  One way to ensure a fair price is to have this check performed 2500 miles prior to or after the 30,000 rolls across your dashboard.

At sixty thousand miles, the same service should be performed as at thirty thousand, but you should also have your belts, valves, and hoses replaced.  If you’ve kept up with your oil changes, fluid checks, and tire maintenance, this visit to the mechanic should be pretty simple and pain-free.  Then, at 100,000 miles, the same multi-point inspection should happen again.  At this point, it is important to replace your spark plugs as well, as this is what many manufacturers recommend.   If you keep up with these simple mileage marks for service, your car should continue to run like clockwork.

Of course, car maintenance isn’t at the top of many people’s priority lists and we often allow it to fall by the wayside, but with simple maintenance checkups, we can keep our cars running past the point where we finish paying for them.  It’s no fun to try and sell a car that isn’t anywhere close to what it should be because you didn’t properly keep it maintained.  Save yourself the money in the long run and go ahead with scheduled maintenance now, and protect the livelihood of your car.