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Is the 100,000 mile tune up a joke or a myth?

June 3rd, 2009

Some would say the auto maker’s move to 100,000 mile “tune-up” intervals on many new vehicles will finally kill the tune-up as we know it today. Unlikely, what the car makers are really talking about are 100,000 mile spark plug change intervals — which does not include the need for other maintenance such as oil and filter changes or other repairs that might be needed during the life of the vehicle.

If the average motorist fails to grasp the true meaning of today’s 100,000 mile tune-up and thinks he can get away with gas-and-go driving for 100,000 miles without spending a dime on maintenance or repairs, he’ll find out the hard way that lack of proper maintenance can be very costly, like maybe the engine fails and need a replacement engine. Today’s vehicles don’t require as much maintenance as they used to because things such as idle speed and mixture adjustments, timing adjustments, etc. have been eliminated.

We call the problems one may have, driveability problems in this day and age.

Even so, regular oil and filter changes are still necessary to maintain proper engine lubrication. Most experts still recommend changing the oil and filter 3,000 miles or three to six months. The oil change interval can be stretched out to reduce maintenance costs if a vehicle is driven under ideal conditions or a synthetic engine oil is used. But the average driver is more often than not a “severe service” driver so should follow the 3,000 to 4000 mile change intervals.

Today’s 100,000 mile tune-up interval also skirts around the issue of fuel and air filter replacement, too. A number of new cars and trucks now have “lifetime” fuel filters, most of which are located inside the fuel tank with the electric fuel pump. Such a filter might go 100,000 miles. Then again, it might not. A couple of tanks of bad gas or some corrosion caused by accumulated moisture can cut short the life of any filter, even a so-called lifetime filter. Sooner or later even a lifetime fuel filter will have to be replaced.

Does it make sense to replace a lifetime in-tank fuel filter for preventative maintenance? You tell me. I like being able to change my fuel filter every year or 12,000 miles.

As for air filters, the service life depends more on environmental factors rather than time or mileage. If a vehicle is driven on dusty roads, filter life may only be a few months or few thousand miles.

It’s pretty unlikely that a set of front disc brake pads will go 100,000 miles in city driving — realistically speaking 20,000 to 30,000 miles is a more accurate and safe number. The same goes for radiators, belts, hoses, the battery, water pump, exhaust system and many other parts. No vehicle has been built that can even come close to going 100,000 miles without needing some type of maintenance or repair. So don’t worry about the 100,000 mile tune-up interval until the spark plugs need replacing.

When the spark plugs need to be replaced, many engines need some intricate dis-assembly, such as valve cover and fuel injector manifold removal. Some need the water pump removed. That is why you might expect a bill of up to 1000 dollars to change the spark plugs on a 100,000 mile tune up.

Do what we do at the GotEngines.com, and what we recommend on our GotEngines.com Blog. Take care of your car and it will take care of you..

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