How To Tune Your Car: A Full Guide

Tuning your car can significantly affect how it handles and performs. Although it can be expensive and time-consuming to get your car specifically tuned, the benefits are well worth it. The right tuner can make all the difference in your car’s performance, handling, and performance on the street and track.

You’ve come to the right place if you’re ready to tune your car. The tips and information in this article will help you get started. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about tuning your car, whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned pro.

What Is Tuning?

Tuning is a broad term for modifying your car’s engine and other components to enhance performance and adjust the handling. In its most basic form, tuning can refer to making adjustments to the settings on your car. If you want more power or better gas mileage, you can “tune” your vehicle by adjusting the settings, much like you would adjust the volume on your stereo or the temperature setting in a house.

A car is a complicated machine, and it’s important to make sure it’s running at the best performance possible. To maximize efficiency, tuning the car means adjusting all of its settings – fuel, spark, throttle, and engine timing. This is accomplished by using vehicle-specific tools and devices that we will be discussing in this article.

Knowing how to tune their car can help drivers save money on gas and feel safer behind the wheel! So let’s get started with what tuning a car means in detail.

This video is a good general introduction to car tuning and explains how to check basic things on your car. For example, checking the oil level, tire pressure, and coolant levels.

How Do You Tune a Car?

There are several steps involved in how to tune your car:

1. Check Engine Idle Quality

How well is the engine running at idle speeds? Things like an engine knock or hesitation mean that there may be issues with fuel delivery or spark timing. Bad oxygen sensors can also cause this, so it’s worth having these replaced before you change the air/fuel supply or ignition timing.

2. Check Engine Performance

You can adjust fuel timing or air/fuel ratio to see if the engine can run better. Perhaps the idle quality is good, but the engine still seems weak at part-throttle acceleration. Increasing the fuel delivery may help this and reduce pollution, as cleaner-burning fuel will be used.

Closeup view of a fuel filter in a car.

3. Adjusting Idle Speed

Increasing idle speed by a few hundred rpm will provide more heat in the combustion chamber, which will help burn off any residual fuel/oil that may have come out of the crankcase during low load conditions (i.e. part throttle).

4. Adjusting Spark Timing

We’ve already seen how to adjust fuel delivery and air/fuel ratio, but what about spark control? In cars equipped with electronic ignition (EGR), you must adjust the firing order to optimize engine performance. If your car is not equipped with EGR, you can use a plastic timing strip to see if the spark is timed correctly.

Start a compression test at the top of each cylinder and see what happens in terms of combustion index (Cl) and combustion pressure (CP). Try to keep your engine in a normal operating range and increase Cl by 0.75-1 point on each cylinder.

5. Adjusting Carburetor (Ignition System) Settings

After having your plugs replaced and the plugs cleaned, it’s time to adjust the carburetor settings to optimize your airflow (more air for better performance). Once again, refer to your manual for details about adjusted settings.

Carburator inside the car’s engine.

6. Measuring the Engine’s Air Consumption

After adjusting carburetor settings, you are ready to test the car again to see if it has improved. If your engine is running better at part throttle and high rpm, you’ve done a good job tuning the carburetor settings and ignition timing. If it still seems slightly off, you may need to change or clean all the plugs and your fuel filter. You can also take a look at your air cleaner, which may be affecting things as well.

7. Cleaning and Replacing the Air Filter

If your car is not running well, it’s good to replace the air filter. While in the shop, they will check all of your fluids and perform some general maintenance that probably needs to be done already but this is a good time to have it replaced since it won’t be damaged by being in the shop or on idle for long.

Areas of Car Tuning

There are three main areas that tuners focus on when modifying cars:

  • Engine tuning
  • Appearance
  • Aerodynamics
Mechanic car tuning an engine (left), car body repair (middle), and air intake flow replacement (right).

Engine tuning generally refers to making changes and adjustments to the engine and its components. These changes can increase overall performance and provide you with better gas mileage.

Appearance tuning focuses on external modifications that enhance the look of your car. Some common appearance modifications include spoilers, body kits, and different paint jobs.

Aerodynamics tuning focuses on changing how the car handles in different conditions, especially when driving at high speeds. Common aerodynamic modifications include low-restriction exhaust systems, carbon fiber hoods, new air intakes or ducting, and spoilers.

Can Tuning Your Car Hurt It?

In recent years, there has been an increasing trend around the world of turning to tune companies to increase the performance and longevity of cars. But just because you have a car tuned doesn’t necessarily mean it will be speeding past start lights with impunity.

In certain instances, tuning your car can hurt its performance. For example, if you are driving in a country where public transportation is not readily available and driving your car is your only option for getting somewhere. Turning to a tuning company may not be wise because that person might drive under or over the speed limit, resulting in accidents.

Furthermore, suppose you are tuning your car for street racing or on a road course. Having a tune will not help in such situations as the car has to be placed in a very specific powerband that is usually quite different from the normal driving ranges.

Expert Tip: So, remember that if you have chosen to modify your car, you must know what you are doing and understand the consequences.

So, why can tuning your car hurt it? The short answer is that it can overcomplicate things. For example, a car’s engine makes the most power at certain RPM ranges, and that is where you want the car to make the most amount of power.

However, by making changes to the car’s ECU (Engine Control Unit), like removing air restrictions, changing fuel maps, or remapping it to run on E85 or other fuels with low octane levels for maximum horsepower, you are messing with these important parameters. As a result, what had worked well before may suddenly not work once your car has been modified and you must adjust these adjustments so that things will work again.

Tuning increases power and improves gas mileage by 10%. While tuning can improve performance overall and make other changes to optimize the performance of your car, it doesn’t always have the desired impact.

For example, suppose you have modifications in your suspension that can be responsible for losing control of a car when driving on the road at high speeds. In that case, these modifications will affect your car’s handling even when tuned.

How To Tune Your Car Yourself

If you are a novice, it may take some time to learn the skills involved in tuning your car. As with many things, there’s no substitute for experience. However, to make sure that you have a good understanding of how the various components of your car work and interact with each other, read through all the information available on this website.

Since we do not recommend that you attempt to tune your car yourself without first reading through this article and learning as much as you can about tuners, we strongly encourage you not to attempt to tune your car.

How Much Does Tuning A Car Cost?

Tuning a car can be one of the most expensive routine maintenance tasks and is not recommended as an alternative to routine oil changes or other necessary repair work.

Tuning a car is also known as “chipping”, and will set you back anywhere from £150-£2,400, with the average cost being around £220. Again, this option should only be taken with your chosen garage’s consultation and agreement. The full car’s computer will be removed and taken to a specialist tuning company. The engineer will then update the software inside the computer, which controls your car’s power, torque, timing, and fuel injection.

A common complaint amongst people who have had their cars tuned is that they have a lot of trouble re-starting it after they have switched it off. After you switch off the engine, if you try to start it straight away, there won’t be enough fuel in the system for everything to start at once, so you’ll need to take a few seconds before starting it again. It will be back to normal as soon as you’ve driven for 20 minutes or so.

Highest Tuning Costs:

A Ferrari coupe on the road.
  • Ferrari F430 – £2,200 / £24,800
  • Fiat Palio – £1,400 / £22,100
  • Holden Cruze Eco – £1,600 / £22,400
  • Honda S2000 – £2,400 / £3,200
  • Hyundai Veloster Turbo – £1,100 / £21,500
  • Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport – £1,400 / £2,100
  • Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series – £2,350 / £23,500
  • Mercedes SLK 55 AMG – £1,350 / £22,100

The price of tuning depends on several factors, including the model and year of the car itself, also the company that is doing it, even a garage’s location affects their charges.

A full tuning job will often add £120 – £2,250 to the cost of owning a car. For example, an Audi A4 1.4TDI Quattro with a manual gearbox and no extras will cost around £2,100, but adding a full tune-up would cost around £250 in parts and labor.

Most cars come with extra parts that are not needed, and so they are sold separately on top of the price of the full tune-up which includes programmers, scanners, sensors, and fuel injectors.

How Can I Find A Good Tuning Shop?

Finding a good tuning shop is not always easy, especially for someone who wants to protect their money by ensuring that the work done on their car is good. With so many shops in the area, it may be hard for a beginner to make an educated decision about which shop to go with.

Expert Tip: When you’re looking for a shop, it’s important to consider your priorities and what you’re willing to put up with to get your car tuned.

A car mechanic examining a car using a laptop.

Before knowing where and when to find a good tuning shop, one has to know what they should prioritize:

1. Price

The price of work will vary from place to place, plus the cost of the parts that need replacing and labor. Some shops will charge more money by hiding the cost of parts and parts replacement.

2. Quality

Most shops have a reputation for doing it well, so you need to find out if that’s true for your business or not. Before going there, you can check reviews or ask around about a shop like Yelp or Google+ to see what others say about it

3. Credibility

A good shop will have a name and they should be able to show you evidence of their experience and knowledge in your area. You should check up on them by asking questions, looking at their website, and talking to people who have had dealings with them.

How Much HP Can A Tune Add?

The amount of power that a tune can add depends on the type of engine you have and how much tuning work is done to the engine. For example, a new, high-compression engine may make more power than a stock one.

However, if the tune is wrong for your car and doesn’t completely remove all the restrictions in your exhaust system, likely, you won’t experience any more power from your tuned car.

It’s not just a song and dance. Adding horsepower to your car can better gas mileage. Find out how much a tune-up of this caliber will add to your car’s mileage and what you can expect from the results.

Auto mechanic man working on tuning up the engine.

A tune-up for your car is something that every driver should do periodically. It usually includes checking the belts, fluids, filters, and spark plugs and adjusting or replacing some parts of the engine. The term “tune-up” comes from the fact that a car needs to be tuned like a musical instrument.

For most people, this term means increasing the performance and efficiency of their engine by improving its fuel consumption. Before we can talk about how much it does improve your car’s mileage, let’s first talk about the size of the engine and what happens when you make changes to it.

The engine is an energy converter that converts chemical energy from your fuel into mechanical energy (the power) that gets your vehicle going. The components inside are arranged in such a way as to increase the power output while reducing fuel consumption. This means increasing efficiency while preserving or even improving drivability.

Before you’d even think about tuning your car, you first have to consider the size of the engine. Instead of thinking about horsepower, there are many types of cars with varying approaches to speed and efficiency. This is because the size of an engine is directly related to the power it can produce and its associated consumption.

For example, a small car has a small engine that produces relatively little power to conserve fuel consumption. A large truck or sports car has an engine capable of producing great horsepower. However, if these vehicles gained all their power by increasing efficiency instead of using more fuel, they would be impractical as daily drivers and useless on the highways.

Is It Worth Getting Your Car Tuned?

This is a question that many people ask, and the answer is not always simple. There are a few factors to consider when making this decision.

  • The first factor is how often you drive your car. If you only drive it on the weekends, then there is no need to get it tuned. However, if you use your car for work or for getting around town, then you should get it tuned more often.
  • The second factor is how well your car is running. If your car is running well and you don’t have any problems with it, then there is no need to get it tuned. However, if your car has problems or needs some repairs, then you should get it tuned.
  • The third factor is how old your car is. If your car is more than 10 years old, then you should get it tuned more often. Older cars need more frequent tune-ups to keep them running well.

How Much Horsepower Does A Stage 1 Tune Add?

A Stage 1 tune can add a significant amount of horsepower to your vehicle. Depending on the make and model of your car, you can see an increase of up to 50 horsepower with just a simple tune. This can be a major boost for drivers who are looking to get more power out of their vehicles without making any major changes.

Powerful car drifting.

If you are looking for a little more power, a Stage 1 tune is a great option. Not only will it give you more horsepower, but it can also improve your fuel economy and reduce emissions. In most cases, the installation of a Stage 1 tune can be completed in less than an hour, making it a quick and easy way to get more performance from your car.

If you are looking for even more power, there are a number of Stage 2 and 3 tunes available that can provide even more horsepower. However, these tunes typically require more extensive modifications to your vehicle, so be sure to consult with a professional before making any major changes. Thanks for reading!


Tuning your car can make a significant difference in how it performs. Although it can be expensive and time-consuming to get your car specifically tuned, the benefits are well worth it.

The right tuner can make all the difference in your car’s performance, handling, and performance on the street and track. If you have any questions about tuning your car and the effects that tuning a car has, ask in the comment section. You can also share your thoughts about this topic in the comment section below.

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!

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