DIY Tuning on Modern Engines: Easier Than You Think, But Be Wary of Major Component Removal!

Dear Mike,

I have a 2018 model car, and I am thinking about doing a tune-up myself. But, I am worried about the complexity of the modern car engines. Do you think it’s difficult to complete a tune-up on today’s modern engines?

I appreciate your advice on this matter.



Dear Abe,

I am happy to hear that you are taking an interest in the maintenance of your car. It’s always good to see car owners who are willing to put in the time and effort to keep their vehicles running in top shape. However, before you jump into a tune-up on your 2018 model car, there are a few things you need to know.

First and foremost, tune-ups on modern engines are not as complicated as they used to be. As you rightly pointed out, most late-model vehicles are completely computer-controlled. This means that the onboard diagnostic system of the vehicle takes care of a lot of the functions that required manual intervention in the past. Spark plug wires, distributor caps, and points are all things of the past. And even the fuel filter is located in the fuel tank and not easily serviceable.

That being said, there are still a few things that need to be done on a regular basis to keep your car running at its peak performance. For example, the engine air filter should be checked and replaced periodically. This is a simple task that most car owners can do themselves. And while the spark plugs in modern cars are designed to last 100,000 km or more, they will eventually need to be replaced. Again, this is something that can be done fairly easily by most car owners.

But, and this is a big but, depending on the make and model of your vehicle, some tune-ups may involve major component removal. For example, if you have a V-6 engine, you may need to remove the intake assembly to gain access to the rear spark plugs. This is not a job for the faint of heart and requires a certain level of mechanical knowledge and skill.

Furthermore, in some cases, modern vehicles require a scanner to reprogram or flash the onboard diagnostic system of the vehicle to reset it for the electronic throttle. This means that you may need to take your car to a qualified mechanic to have this done.

So, to answer your question, a tune-up on a modern engine is not difficult per se, but it does require a certain level of skill and knowledge. If you are someone who is comfortable working on cars and has experience doing so, then it’s certainly something you can do yourself. But if you are a novice when it comes to auto repair, then it’s probably best to take your car to a qualified mechanic.

In closing, I would suggest that you familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual for your 2018 model car. This will give you a good idea of what needs to be done and when. And if you do decide to do a tune-up yourself, be sure to have all the necessary tools and equipment on hand and follow the instructions carefully. But remember, if you’re not comfortable doing the work yourself or are unsure about anything, it’s always best to entrust your car to a qualified mechanic.

I hope this helps, Abe. If you have any more questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me.

Mike Urban