The term "tune-up" is somewhat a thing of the past. It used to include adjusting ignition timing, and adjusting the carburetor on older cars. All of that stuff is handled by the Engine Computer now. It keeps those adjustments set perfectly for the lowest possible emissions.
You will want to replace the spark plugs and set the gap to the specified setting with a gap gauge. All hardware stores and auto parts stores have those gauges. There's an emissions sticker under the hood that lists the spark plug number and gap. If your engine uses a distributor, you'll want to replace the cap and rotor, and the spark plug wires. Auto parts stores have some plug wires that have a lifetime warranty but you'll pay extra for that. Hardware and farm and home stores have spark plugs and wires too for the common engines.
The air filter is relatively easy to replace. Also consider a new PCV valve. Most manufacturers recommend a new filter for the charcoal canister but those rarely get replaced. You may want to replace the fuel filter if yours is along the frame under the car. Fuel filters that can be ignored until they cause a problem are those inside the gas tank, and those on Chrysler products, except for diesel engines.
This may also be the time for an oil change. Those seem relatively easy and straight-forward but there are a lot of things that can go wrong. One thing to watch for when you remove the old oil filter is that the rubber o-ring gasket comes off with it. If it sticks to the engine, just pull it off. If it gets overlooked and you screw the new filter on over it, the old one will blow out, usually as soon as you start the engine, and make a mess. Every professional has done that at least once in their career, then we learn to watch for that.
If you're going to do much of the work on your car yourself you'll want to include a brake system check, steering and suspension component check, and an exhaust system check. You may want to leave those to the professionals, otherwise I can walk you through those too. The best place to start is by visiting the library of a community college to read through some automotive text books. That will get you started, but by far the best way to learn is by looking over the shoulders of an experienced mechanic.
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 AT 1:40 AM