Well, of course you will test drive your vehicle to be sure it’s in tip top shape and that you didn’t cross-wire the distributor cap. It’s okay, I’ve done it, too. But wait, you’re not done, and I don’t mean you missed something.
What I’m getting at is the old parts. They were probably still somewhat serviceable. Let’s start with the spark plugs. Check them over and keep out the one that is in the best shape and clean it up a bit. Then, keep out the longest spark plug wire, check to make sure it’s not damaged. If so, go to the next longest. If your vehicle has one, keep out the ignition coil to distributor cap wire, too, if it’s serviceable. The cap and rotor will probably have some time left on them. Keep them. Throw the rest out. During your next tune-up, any parts more serviceable than your “pulls” should be used to replace them. And if the distributor cap is a larger one, coil up the two wires, put the rotor and the spare plug in it and put it back in the new ones box. This is the beginning of your on-road survival kit. Now, isn’t that a lot cheaper than going and buying new parts to keep in reserve? Yes, you could just buy the whole kit and take that with you, and when it’s time for a tune-up use it and build a new kit later, if you get the time, the money or remember. No, this is better, it’s smaller and you’d be less likely to put off replacing the new kit.
Finally, you say, “I don’t do my own tune-ups, what now?” Two things here, first, learn. It’s usually not that hard, and even if it is, it’s valuable knowledge if you’re ever stuck with a blown spark plug insulator seal, damaged wire or carbon tracked cap or rotor. Do it a couple of times yourself and then resume going to your mechanic. I understand, I don’t like grease under my fingernails either. At the very least, you’ll make an on-road mechanics day if you’ve got spare parts! Second, if you do have someone else do your tune-ups, request the old parts. Now you’ve got the spares and didn’t have to do the work yourself and also got confirmation that the work was done.
More to come along this line.