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Old 03-15-2010, 09:49 PM   #1
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$200 Tune Up

I was driving along the other day, Saturday to be exact and I loose what I think is a cylinder, I come to a stop and blub blub blub. I figure I'm running on 3 cylinders, my Focus has just turned 86K and I'm thinking to myself, these modern factory platinum spark plugs are supposed to last 100 thousand worry free miles, was I wrong.

I pulled all four spark plugs, replaced them with new factory platinums, the old plugs 3 of which erroded off half the grounding electrode were in the order of an .080 gap. Started the car and a dead cylinder again. Back to the parts store, new wires, start the car again, dead cyclinder, getting worried now, no smoke, smelly exhaust, that dead cylinder is getting gas, so the only thing left is the coil pack. Back to the parts store, $106 for the coil pack, $50 for wires, $20 for plugs, and $30 for a set of Torx bits to get the coil pack off the block.

Start the car and it purrs like it has never purred before, I used to have a choppy idle, smooth as a sewing machine now. The car used to take extra gas pedal to break 70, easy to cruise and never get a ticket. Now 75-78 is where it goes to so I have to watch my speed now, I'll check my gas logs and see if there is an MPG improvement.

So I check the Ford book and its reads like the old days: "Inspect plugs at 30,000 (I guess that means pull them out) Replace at 60,000." All this modern coil pack, digital distributorless computer ignition stuff and at 60,000 replace plugs, wires, and the coil pack for 200 bucks.

How many people have heard from either a dealer or friend or mechanic, " All you need to do now-a-days is replace the plugs, that's a tune up." Well I want my money back from all of the future forcasters who say modern cars require less maintenance.
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Old 03-15-2010, 10:12 PM   #2
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OK...86k miles and the first tune up. Compare that to every 10k miles with every car I had with points...plugs well worn, install points. Adjust points (good for weaving a tapestry of obscenities). Also swear a lot at the 2-4 plugs you just can't get to easily. Easily kills 2-4 Saturday mornings/year. Wires didn't last as long, carbs to adjust, etc.

Also, no internet. Had to spend a couple hours calling around to get best price on stuff. Nowadays, you can go online, order the coil pack for your car for $39.79 from RockAuto, or from Autozone for $69.79.

I don't miss that part of the old days...
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Old 03-16-2010, 04:19 AM   #3
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I clean and regap the plugs in my Saturn every 6-8k miles or once per year. It's a good way to see what's going on in there.

A $200 tune up isn't that big of a deal at 80k+. I'd say you're rather fortunate with having gone so long without any ignition problems/expenses.

You could've diagnosed it and only spend the money on the coils, had you looked into the issue (with an in-line spark checker) rather than tossed parts at it hoping to fix it.
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Old 03-16-2010, 03:41 PM   #4
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I guess the Focus is the exception; AFAIK most vehicles come with 100,000 mile ignition components nowadays.

Wires, plugs, and coils are easy. I'm glad I don't have to deal with points.

Lesson learned: We should all check our maintenance schedules once in a while lest we forget which car has which intervals, and we should buy the parts before they're so urgently needed to avoid paying whatever the nearest store charges.

Come to think of it, at nearly 194,000 miles I'm almost due for a second replacement of ignition stuff in my GMC...I should shop around and order what I need.
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Old 03-16-2010, 07:29 PM   #5
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Really...it's a lot better than the old days. I actually had a motorcycle that the plugs had to be replaced every 2000 miles! And, after about 1k miles, I had trouble starting it with the electric starter...this was back when bikes still had kick starters! And had to adjust/replace the points often.

About 3 years later, I bought a bike that had a coil pack and electronic ignition...never had to touch anything, bike always started right up (that bike had no kick starter).
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Old 03-16-2010, 07:46 PM   #6
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I was working on the ignition of my 74 Chevy every couple of months until I got pissed off and replaced the distributor with an electronic one from a 75 Chevy.
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