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Is my car all used up?

I own a 97 Plymouth Breeze. It has just about 180,000 miles on it. Last winter on really cold days it would chug until it was warmed up. Now, in the fall, it is starting to do the same thing, and it hasn’t gotten all that cold out yet (like 25 Fahrenheit). Last night I started it up, and it began to chug real slowly. I put it in drive, and it took about 5 seconds to shift. Then when I got going about 5 miles per hour the thing went =POW=. Then it drove normal for the whole way home. I’m not sure what makes it do that, but maybe someone else has ideas?

Cars have several systems to compensate for different operating temperatures. Various temperature sensors control fuel mixture and air intake temperature. It sounds like YOUR car could use a good induction system cleaning and general servicing by a mechanic who knows what he is doing. A bad sensor, a dirty sensor, a stuck damper door or leaking vacuum hose or connection, any of these could cause your problem…

Is the check engine light on? If so, you maybe able to get the codes read for free at your local auto parts store such as Advanced Auto, or Auto Zone. Report any codes back here, and then maybe someone will be able to better answer.

When is the last time you gave the car a tune-up?

What’s a “tune-up??” Please define what that is…

I agree,we must stop using this term,no offense bobc455.

Slow to shift in gear - when was the last transmission fluid change?

Chugs when cold - does it smoke too? blue smoke = valve guides, white smoke = head gasket. How many miles on the spark plugs?

My view is change spark plugs; air filter. If gas filter is reasonably accessible, changing it at this mileage would be OK, too. At this mileage, consider changing plug wires, dist cap and rotor if so equipped. usually this service is on a 30 or 60K mile schedule (although some schedules allow for longer miles without plug change out). I agree with Caddyman’s diagnosis that the induction cleaning may also need to be done.

This is a trick question to see if the owner does any maintenance at all. Since he/she hasn’t answered, I’m not gonna waste my time typing a detailed response with all of the possibilities (which would have been narrowed down a bit depending on how he/she answered the question).

That =POW= sound was probably your engine backfiring. That would indicate a pretty serious problem and I would say it is either time to invest in a proper diagnosis and repair or invest in a good used car. Cars that get to this state you describe (hesitating, chugging, and backfiring), are either cars that were not properly maintained or they have something major (or a couple things) wrong. This probably isn’t going to be a simple fix.