Auto Repair Santa Cruz

Phone (831) 425-1773


The expression “tune up” is from a time when automobiles were not computer controlled and an auto mechanic could actually adjust the timing, idle speed, fuel mixture and other things to “tune up” the operation of the engine.  A present-day tune up involves replacing and servicing the wear items in the ignition and fuel systems by replacing air and fuel filters as well as spark plugs.  We also check Engine Drivability.

After a tune up is performed, there will be a need to do some cleaning or decarbonizing of the throttle body and fuel system from the oil vapors produced by the positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) System. In general there are no adjustments needed (or possible) for the most part, because the engine computer controls all the functions of the Ignition and Fuel System.

Vehicle owners often ask how often should they should get a tune up.  Factors that contribute to the need for a tune up include older model cars and trucks, vehicles that are used mostly for short trips and do not get much highway speed time, car or trucks that are starting to show signs of lower performance, or vehicles that are at the mileage that manufacturers recommend a tune up.

The best time to get a tune up is when you sense that your car or light truck idles or runs rough.  Another sign is that when your vehicle has a difficult time starting or restarting when hot.  One of the tell tale signs that your car needs a tune up is if it has poor acceleration or hesitates or stalls when you step on the gas pedal.  Poor gas mileage is also another symptom that you should have your car or light truck tuned up.  One of the final signs that you should have a tune up on your vehicle is that it is shooting black smoke out of the tailpipe.

While a tune up solves many of the problems above, there can be other underlying factors that cause the vehicle to behave in certain ways that a tune up will not fix.

A tune up is often part of a large 30,000/60,000/90,000 mile service that includes inspections, fluid and filter changes, and these services are part of the manufacturer’s recommended scheduled maintenance detailed in the vehicles owner’s manual. Newer cars should not exhibit any performance problems by the time a tune up is due. If there are any performance problems, usually a check engine light turns on.