Do Today's Cars Still Need Tuneups?

If you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about the next time your car needs some work, don’t tell your mechanic it needs a tuneup. That’s because the term “tuneup” specifically refers to maintenance that modern cars don’t require anymore. Traditional tuneups on older cars help keep them in good shape and enable maximum gas mileage. The cut-off year for whether or not your car needs a traditional tuneup is 1999. If your car was built in the last 20 years, you need routine maintenance — sometimes referred to as scheduled maintenance — rather than a tuneup. This routine maintenance includes changing the oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid; replacing the coolant, inspecting belts and replacing them when necessary; inspecting hoses and replacing them with necessary; and replacing the cabin air filter. Pricing for routine maintenance varies based on where you live, the type of car you have, and whether you’re going to a local mechanic, a dealership, or performing the work yourself. In short, if you have a car built in the last 20 years or so, you don't need to worry about tuneups as they're traditionally defined. Just maintain your car according to the schedule laid out in your owner's manual and deal with problems as they arise.