Do I need a tune-up?


I have a 2003 Ford F-150 5.4 liter. It has almost 60,000 miles. I’m about to take a 5000 mile road trip. I planned to have it tuned up, but I’m discovering that it’s going to be $400, not including the transmission service it also needs. Do I really need the new spark plugs, etc? Thanks in advance>


[list]spark plugs
air filter
fuel filter[/list].


What does the owners manual call for?

I think Ford uses platinum plugs in their engines, so you won’t need to change the plugs yet, but I would do the following:

Inspect and replace if necessary the air filter
Inspect and replace if necessary the fuel filter
Change the oil, and transmission fluid (which it seems you’re already going to do.)

That’s about all I did to my 02 Accent prior to a 13,000km(8000 mile) road trip last fall. But again, do whatever the manual lists for service at 60,000 miles according to the severe duty service schedule. If it includes plug replacement, then by all means do it. But go to an independant mechanic, as their labour and parts costs will likely be cheaper.


JMHO, and in spite of those foolish factory recommendations about leaving them in there longer, spark plugs should never be allowed to stay in an engine for 60k miles.

Platinums, Iridiums or not, even slight misfiring can occur long before 60k miles. Allowing plugs to remain in an engine also gives them a chance to freeze in the threads. When finally removed the plug may bring the threads out with them and then you’re going to spend a lot more money curing that problem.


First, open your owner’s manual and there you will have a list of what the manufacturer recommends. It is important that all those items need to be done. I would likely add spark plugs, assuming the manual recommends something like 100,000 miles. While the plugs usually are OK with that mileage, they tend to become very difficult to remove at that time and you end up paying more by doing it once than twice.

Tell us more about the transmission issue?  What does it need and why?  Who determined what it needed?  Note: Dealers tend to be more expensive for service than independent mechanics and they don't tend to be better or worse.


Thanks for the help. There’s no transmission issue, it’s just due for the service at 60,000 miles according to the manual. Surprisingly, the maintenance guide never mentions spark plugs. I thought it would be a good idea ahead of the trip, but I had no idea it would be so expensive. The air filter was done at the last oil change and I do plan to replace the fuel filter, which is also called for in the manual.


The maintenance guides for just about every car out there omits a lot of things anymore and it’s done for one reason.
To promote the image of the vehicle as being as close to maintenance free as possible and use it as a sales tool.
You have car makers manufacturing solid valve lifter engines with recommendations to not ever check valve lash until a 100k+ miles. This is utter stupidity and engine problems are cropping up because of this - after the warranty has expired of course.

Sometimes you will find a “severe service” disclaimer and this applies to the real world we all live in.

The auto trans fluid/filter should be changed about every 30k miles and while you can certainly leave the plugs in for as long as you like, I still say that approx. 50k is long enough.

Changing plugs on newer vehicles is a lot more time consuming (on average) than on older cars and with labor rates being higher then of course it gets pricy.
There really is no such thing as a tune-up anymore. Any so-called tune-up should consist of plugs, wires (not applicable in your case), air and fuel filters, and PCV service along with possibly running a scan.

That old Fram oil filter catch phrase, “You can pay me now or pay me later”, still applies today, and not only to oil changes.