I hear every day, "I Just Need A Tune-Up". My first response is to question why? The response usually is it's running rough or some other symptom that no tune-up will fix. So I suggest to fix the problem first, then tune the vehicle if it needs it. Think of what would happen if I asked no questions. Would I be wrong tuning a car when problems related to drivability will not be solved? Or should I tune it up and then find the real problem. Maybe in the tune-up I will come across the real problem. You make the call.
Proffessionally speaking, I always ask the questions and give the answers. I feel obligated to speak with some concern for finding out what my customer expects. If the customer comes in with the proper attitude and asks for a tune-up, thats what the customer will get. If the customer tells me all the problems we are expected to fix, we will have to talk some more. Are you starting to see how important communication and relationships can be? If the service person asks a lot of questions it is probably for your own good. If you fail to communicate your problems, if there are any, then you will get just what you ask for.
A tune-up is not defined clearly by anyone. Some outlets call a set of spark plugs and a scope analysis and checking the timing, a tune-up. Some outlets include adjustment of valves and fuel injector cleaning. Use the tried and true method of search for value - you pay for what you get. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. In general the biggest discrepencies in price will be because of the amount of parts involved in the service. Also some labor services could overlap. Most shop prices for tune-up labor are very competitive and relatively close. If you add the cost of spark plugs to tune-up labor you get a very in-expensive tune-up. If you include the fuel filter, PCV Valve, air filter, distributor cap, distributor rotor, emmisions filter, etc. The cost will increase proportionately. If you add fuel injector cleaning or valve adjustment, you can see why the terminology becomes important. It is important that when you ask for a tune-up you know what that includes.
Tune-up shops are probably as successful as they are for the reason that if a tune-up is sold properly it only improves the performance of an already OK running car. No diagnostic worries, it's a slam dunk. A tune-up sold improperly is responsible for the customer not getting what he expected. Notice I did not say that the customer was ripped off, he was just not properly prepared. Your expectations have everything to do with your satisfaction with the auto repair you recieve. Remember that the person taking your order needs your help to determine your needs and fullfill your expectations.
Tune-ups do not fix anything!!!! Get it? Tell us the symptoms you want to change if you want to get value for your auto repair dollar. Deal with people who are qualified and with whom you feel confortable. Talk as much as you can and be as descriptive as possible pertaining to the problems, if any, you have with your vehicle. Demand attention to specific symptoms for any service you purchase. What is included in the tune-up and what is not. When the service is completed your symptoms should be gone. Did say you HAD symptoms? The only symptoms an out-of-tune vehicle will have is a slight power loss, that is very gradual, and maybe poor fuel economy. Otherwise there is something wrong with your car.