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Bari's Automotive Repair Services in Rancho Cordova
What does a car tune-up involve?
This is a good question and it is difficult to give a simple answer in modern times. Originally, the purpose of doing a tune-up was to make the engine run better. It used to be spark plugs, spark plug wires, points, condenser, distributor cap, and rotor. An air filter or fuel filter would be included. Then we would adjust the points, timing and the carburator. The standard approach was that some of these components were worn out and the others would fail in the near future, so we should just replace them all at the same time. We would hook up the "scope" and check the ignition system. These tune-ups were done once or twice each year (depending on the number of miles driven) and cost about $150 and the car would run great when finished.
Cars today are very different. They don't even have carburators anymore. With the sophisticated engine management systems today, they just don't have these tune-up parts. They have sensors, actuators, electronic modules and fuel injectors. Everything is controlled by the engine management system.
So if a car engine does not run right, a technician plugs into the vehicle's data-port and downloads the engine data into a scanner. The next step is to analyze and interpret this data to conclude what is wrong. This is called a diagnosis. It tells us what is going wrong, but still there is no machine made that will tell us what part to change. Just like there is no machine made that a doctor uses to tell him what medicine to prescribe. The problem could be caused by one of two or even three sensors or units that is malfunctioning. This is where the mechanic uses his skill and years of experience to indentify the issue. It is actually cheaper to fix your car by doing a diagnosis and replacing only the needed part, than to replace a laundry list of parts all at once. It hurts to pay for a repair that does not solve the problem. This is why we recommend a complete diagnostics scan when your car does not run right.