A motor vehicle service or tune-up is a series of maintenance procedures carried out at a set time interval or after the vehicle has travelled a certain distance. The service intervals are specified by the vehicle manufacturer in a service schedule and some modern cars display the due date for the next service electronically on the instrument panel. A tune-up should not be confused with engine tuning, which is the modifying of an engine to perform better than the original specification, rather than using maintenance to keep the engine running as it should.
The completed services are usually recorded in a service book which is rubber-stamped by the service centre upon completion of each service. A complete service history usually adds to the resale value of a vehicle.
The actual schedule of car maintenance varies depending on the year, make, and model of a car, its driving conditions and driver behaviour. Car makers recommend the so-called extreme or the ideal service schedule based on impact parameters such as
- number of trips and distance travelled per trip per day
- extreme hot or cold climate conditions
- mountainous, dusty or de-iced roads
- heavy stop-and-go vs. long-distance cruising
- towing a trailer or other heavy load
Experienced service advisors in dealerships and independent shops recommend schedule intervals, which are often in between the ideal or extreme service schedule. They base it on the driving conditions and behaviour of the car owner or driver.
Maintenance tasks commonly carried out during a motor vehicle service include:
- Change the engine oil
- Replace the oil filter
- Replace the air filter
- Replace the fuel filter
- Replace the cabin filter
- Replace the spark plugs
- Check level and refill brake fluid/clutch fluid
- Check Brake Pads/Liners, Brake Discs/Drums, and replace if worn out.
- Check level and refill power steering fluid
- Check level and refill Automatic/Manual Transmission Fluid
- Grease and lubricate components
- Inspect and replace the timing belt or timing chain if needed
- Check condition of the tires
- Check for proper operation of all lights, wipers etc.
- Check for any Error codes in the ECU and take corrective action.
- Use scan tool read trouble code.
Mechanical parts that may cause the car to cease transmission or prove unsafe for the road are also noted and advised upon.
In the United Kingdom, few parts that are not inspected on the MOT test are inspected and advised upon a Service Inspection, including Clutch, Gearbox, Car Battery, and Engine components (further inspections than MOT).
- The auto parts stores or motor-factors that also maintain service operations. This is not common in the United Kingdom but more common in the US.
- Automobile repair workshops that are independently owned and operated businesses. These may also include regional or national chains and franchises including OEM car dealership sites[clarification needed]. In the United States, these sites are commonly certified by their respective manufacturer to perform warranty and recall repairs by that manufacturer or distributor[clarification needed]. Independent automobile repair shops in the US may also achieve certification through manufacturer sponsored programs.
European Union law (The EC Block Exemption Regulation 1400/2002 (October 2003)) permits motorists more flexibility in selecting where their car is serviced. Maintenance and service work does not have to be done by the main dealer providing the garage uses Original Equipment ‘Matching Quality’ parts follows the manufacturer’s service schedules. The Block Exemption Regulation (BER) covers service and maintenance during the warranty period and prohibits vehicle manufacturers’ warranties from including restrictive conditions.
- Specialty automobile repair shops are shops specializing in certain parts such as brakes, mufflers and exhaust systems, transmissions, body parts, automobile electrification, automotive air conditioner repairs, automotive glass repairs and installation, and wheel alignment or those who only work on certain brands of vehicle or vehicles from certain continents of the world. There are also automotive repair shops that specialize in vehicle modifications and customization. Oftentimes, various specialized auto repair shops will have varied infrastructure and facilities (for specific jobs or vehicles), as well as technicians and mechanics with different qualifications.
- Online automobile repair shops (mobile mechanics) providing doorstep repair services and home delivery of new and used auto parts of different late model and classic cars whose parts are not widely available in the market.
- In countries such as the UK, the mobile car body repair sectors has experienced high growth by way of mobile SMART Repair companies providing mobile car body repair services, such as Bumper Repairs, auto body repair, paintless dent repair and paintwork defect repairs to private and commercial consumers, typically within the industry framework of refinishing vehicle damage on a localised basis, where the area of damage being repaired is not in excess of an A4 sheet of paper.