Tune Up

I have a 1997 Ford Thunderbird with almost 180,000 miles on it. The car is my primary car and used daily for work. occasionally it gets used for a road trip or longer drive but it does still get driven at least five out of seven days. Lately I do not feel like the car has as much get up and go when I first turn it on. It still accelerates fine but I am wondering if I need a tune up. I have my mechanic do regular oil changes and anything else he tells me that the car needs. I got a tune up years ago when the car hit 115,00o or 120,000. I am pretty sure I would like to get a tune up done on the car but I am confused as to what exactly I should ask my mechanic to do. Can anyone on here give me some specifics that I should be thinking about? Thanks.

Basically all you do is replace the spark plugs and the air filter. Some plugs are good for 100,000 miles or more, but your air filter needs to be changed every 30,000 miles. If you are overdue for a new air filter, it will definitely rob your engine of power.

thank you for the advice. I was also thinking of changing the hoses and all the fluids but I did not know if that is a good idea or not.

Those are preventative maintenance items, but are not part of a “tune up”. Before electronic ignitions and fuel injection, a tune up was plugs, points, condensor, air filter and timing and carburetor idle adjustment. Of all that, only the plugs and air filter are left on todays vehicles.

Coolant should be changed every 5 years and the hoses should be changed every other coolant change. Belts should be changed when the hoses are changed, but they can be done almost any time.

You have other maintenance items that will be listed in your owners manual. You will need to consult it for specific information on your car. Check the PM schedule for the transmission ATF change schedule as transmissions are not cheap.

If the coolant, transmission fluid & filter, and brake fluid haven’t been changed they are probably overdue. They’re not considered tune up items in the traditional sense but are periodic maintenance items.

Good advice above re tune-ups in general. If a tune-up including new plugs (and possibly wires and distributor cap/rotor depending on how the ignition is configured) and engine air filter doesn’t return the car to the same power it had before, ask your shop if the problem might be the fuel filter, the cat, or valves needing adjustment.

I would strongly suggest that since the spark plugs are out that a dry and wet compression test be done at the same time.

That will keep you up to date on the condition of the engine’s top end. Lowered compression due to valve and/or ring issues can hinder engine power.

If problems are shown by the compression test this will allow you some breathing room while thinking about the future of the car; whether to drive it to the end, fix it, or trade it off.

I further suggest that when the spark plugs are removed you have the mechanic mark what cylinder they came from and post photos of them here. Since it’s been 60,000 miles since they were installed, there could be clues on how healthy your engine is right on the tips of the plugs. The process is called “reading” the plugs, and it can be very informative.

Post the compression readings too.

Oh, and I agree with the fluid change recommendations as well.