How to Find a Good Car Tune Up Service Near Me

Annually, more than 35,000 fatal car crashes occur in the United States. Some two percent of these crashes are due to faulty and degraded vehicle components. These are engine performance defects that a regular maintenance service would not detect. To avoid ending up as a victim of a road crash, you should find a good auto mechanic near you to perform your car tune-up services as recommended. It is recommended to tune-up your old vehicles at every 10,000 mileage and the new ones at every 25,000 mileage. When in search of a car tune-up mechanic nearby to help improve your engine efficiency, you should generally ask the following questions:

  1. Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?

    Automotive technicians or repair shops are usually required to obtain a state-issued license before operating. However, the requirements and ambit of these licenses differ by state, and some states issue licenses to automotive technicians and repair shops separately. For example, Michigan issues an operating license to auto repair shops and a separate license to automotive technicians. Similarly, in Florida, automotive technicians and repair shops must separately register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services before commencing operations. Other states issuing separate licenses also include New York and Hawaii. However, some states like California issue a general license to both individuals and businesses performing a repair or diagnostic task on motor vehicles.

    Accordingly, before hiring an automotive technician or repair shop near you, it is vital to ensure they have obtained the necessary licenses in line with your state of residence's requirements. You can typically find out the licensing status of a technician or auto shop by contacting the consumer protection agency of your state. The agency may directly answer you or redirect you to the relevant agency responsible for overseeing auto repairs in your state.

    Also, some organizations, such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, conduct training on automotive diagnosis and repair and certify technicians who undergo this training. It is generally better to hire such certified technicians as they are more likely to understand complex vehicle operations and give a better evaluation of your car's condition. In addition, technicians may sometimes join automotive associations like the American Automobile Association and the Auto Care Association. Ideally, you should also hire technicians with an association membership because these associations typically have professional standards expected from their members. This generally increases your chances of receiving an efficient service delivery.

  2. How Much Does a Car Tune-up Service Cost?

    On average, a car tune-up service costs between $150 and $1,000. However, the kind of tune-up service required, the components needing replacement, and labor hours are factors that determine the exact cost. Other factors include your location and your car's make-up or model.

    Regardless of the exact cost of a car tune-up service near you, you can take certain steps that can help reduce your out-of-pocket expenses and make the service more economical. These steps include:

    • Contacting your insurance provider: Regular car insurance policies do not usually cover routine car maintenance costs. However, some insurance providers may offer policies that include routine maintenance costs to an extent, albeit at an additional fee. Hence, before hiring a car tune-up service, contact your insurance provider and find out if your policy allows this. If your policy allows it, this can reduce the personal fees you may spend on the service.
    • Having a reserve of your car's components: The cost for getting component replacements is one of the factors that influence the overall cost for a car tune-up service the most. In particular, there are specific car components that auto technicians typically look out for when conducting a tune-up service. These components include the fuel filter, spark plugs, wires, and rotors. They usually experience faster wear and tear and are prone to occasional replacements. As a result, having a reserve of some of these components can help you save extra costs if a need for replacement arises during your car's tune-up.

What Are Common Car Tune-up Expenses?

The common car tune-up expenses include the cost of getting component replacements and labor charges. Because a tune-up involves the inspection of several components, the cost for component replacements largely varies. Similarly, the labor hours spent on fixing faulty components may vary and may also influence work charges for the service. However, always ensure that your technician or auto shop provides a detailed list of any components replaced to ensure that you are not being overcharged. Also, confirm from your technician or auto shop whether labor fees are flat fees or billed hourly. Although hourly charges typically amount to a higher overall cost than flat fees, they usually ensure that the technician or auto shop focuses on handling your car and does not try to rush up the service.

Who Will Do the Work?

In general, one or two experienced automotive technicians can perform a car tune-up service. However, when you hire an auto shop, multiple technicians may be assigned to conduct the car tune-up. In any case, whether you opt for an individual technician or an auto shop to perform a car tune-up service, it is advisable to hire one that is experienced and has a record of efficient service delivery. Ideally, hire a technician or auto shop with specialized expertise or experience with your brand, model, or kind of car. Also, confirm who exactly will be working on your vehicle, particularly if you hire the services of an auto shop. Since auto shops typically have a different mix of technicians, ranging from expert technicians to apprentices, it is essential to know who your car has been assigned to. Inquire about the assigned technician's qualifications and overall expertise from the auto shop and request a new technician if you are not satisfied with the responses you get. Finally, ensure that a technician or auto shop is licensed to operate in your state of residence before finalizing any agreements. In this regard, you can make inquiries on a technician or auto shop's licensing status by contacting your state's consumer protection agency.

What Qualifications Should a Car Tune-up Technician Have?

In 2020, there were an estimated 620,000 personnel performing car diagnostics and repair in the automotive service industry, indicating an employment decline of 18 percent from the previous year. With this employment decline and other factors such as the complexity of diagnosing and repairing a car, some qualifications are necessary for anyone who wants to be a part of the automotive service industry. For auto technicians, the necessary educational qualification is a high school certificate and a postsecondary nondegree award. Technicians can additionally improve their skills by maximizing apprenticeship opportunities offered by car dealerships, labor unions, organizations like the American Institute of Innovative Apprenticeship, and government agencies such as the United States Department of Labor. After obtaining any required licenses and joining the auto industry, technicians typically develop their expertise by taking specialized courses, receiving training, and getting certifications from professional auto organizations such as the Society of Automotive Engineers and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Finally, on-the-job learning and occasional automotive training programs conducted by various organizations and auto shops are avenues for auto technicians to develop their skills continually.

Will You Provide References?

Because of the complexity of car operations, a poor tune-up service can result in more damage to your vehicle. Hence, finding a competent technician or auto shop is crucial. One way to evaluate that a technician or auto shop can efficiently perform a tune-up service is through references. References are essentially reviews from previous clients on a technician or auto shop's overall service delivery. As a result, it is vital to ask a technician or auto shop for references from previous clients before retaining their services. You can specifically ask for references from clients who had a similar brand, make, or kind of vehicle as you. If the technician or auto shop does not have many previous clients with a car similar to yours, you can either request other references from other clients or find another technician or auto shop. Generally, contacting a technician or auto shop's previous clients and making inquiries about this individual or facility can help determine the technician or auto shop's professionalism, work ethic, and expertise.

In addition to asking for references, you can find reviews on auto shops or technicians near you through review-dedicated platforms. Examples of these platforms include Yelp, Google Review, and Better Business Bureau. They are also a good starting point for finding credible auto shops or technicians with a record of satisfactory service delivery.

Finally, you can contact reputable auto organizations for credible technicians or auto shops near you. For example, the Automotive Service Association and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence both have online referral pages that you can use to find member auto repair shops and ASE-certified shops respectively. Generally, hiring technicians or auto shops from auto organizations gives extra assurance because they have to uphold the professional standards of the association or organization. However, it is still vital to ask for references from such technicians or auto shops to ascertain their level of professionalism and record of effective car tune-ups.

Quick Facts about Car Tune-up Technicians

Car tune-up technicians belong to the Automotive Servicing Industry and below are quick facts for this industry:

2020 Median Pay
$44,050 per year, $21.18 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
On-the-job Training
Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2019
Job Outlook, 2019-29
-4% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2019-29

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about a Car Tune-up Service

What Is a Tune-up?

A car tune-up is a maintenance process that involves the assessment, inspection, and adjustment or repair of your car's engine operation by a technician. The goal of this process is to improve the working condition of your vehicle and reduce the likelihood of a breakdown. It may also involve replacing some engine components such as spark plugs, fuel filters, and spark plug wires.

What Does a Full Tune-up Include?

While basic tune-ups usually focus on a car's engine, a full tune-up typically involves a complete assessment and inspection of a vehicle's operating system. This includes inspecting the car's engine and other operational parts such as the brakes, air conditioning, and wheel alignment. However, note that the services covered under a basic and full tune-up may vary by technician or auto shop. Hence, you should ideally ask a technician or auto shop what they offer under their basic and full tune-up services before making your choice.

When Should You Tune-up Your Car?

Generally, it is advised to tune up your car after every 50,000 miles on average. For older cars without electronic ignition, you may need to tune up the vehicle more frequently. Additionally, most manufacturers typically suggest how long their vehicle can efficiently operate before needing a tune-up. In such cases, it is ideal to follow your manufacturer's recommendation. When unsure of the recommendation, you can contact a technician or auto shop for assistance.

What Are the Signs That Your Car Needs a Tune-up?

Although a car tune-up service might be a preventive measure, certain instances may make it urgent and necessary. Consequently, the following are signs that your car needs a tune-up:

  • Slow ignition response
  • Steering or brake vibration
  • Lagged acceleration or a turbo lag
  • Squeaking noise when you brake, turn the steering wheel, change gears, or accelerate your vehicle
  • Increased exhaust smoke
  • High fuel consumption

Generally, when you notice unusual or irregular changes in the way your vehicle operates, it is ideal to contact a technician or auto shop near you to help inspect the vehicle and deal with any problems that it may be developing.

How Long Does a Tune-up Take?

How long a tune-up takes largely depends on the kind of vehicle, the condition of the vehicle's engine, and the technician or auto shop. Taking into account these influencing factors, a car tune-up typically lasts between two and five hours.