Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
October 1, 2004

Horse Sense:
When it comes to tuning up your Mustang, the search for the right spark plugs can be frustrating. If you have stock heads, the teenager behind the parts counter should be able to set you up right. But when you're running a set of AFRs or Trick Flows with gasket-style plugs a few heat ranges colder than specified, you'll need to know exactly what plug you want for the parts-counter types to find them on the shelf for you. If you didn't do the work on your Mustang, call the shop that did for plug recommendations, or pull out an existing plug to get the part number. Use that number as a cross-reference to the new plugs you want.

As the saying goes, "The plumber's house always has the leaky pipes." It's often the same situation when it comes to project cars around the 5.0&SF offices-I end up working on everyone else's project but my own. Throw in my office mates who want me to "take a second and listen to this strange noise," and it's amazing I get any work done around here at all (insert snide comment from Editor Turner here).

My '90 LX began running poorly a few months ago. As I grumbled about its gas mileage during lunch with the staff, Editor Turner quipped, "When was the last time you tuned it up?" I had to count back a calendar year or two, but suffice it to say it had been too long. The 14-year-old Mustang I drive to work everyday needed some tuning and TLC.

A tune-up is far more than slapping eight plugs into the engine and slamming the hood shut. A good maintenance schedule prevents many problems, but in the real world, when was the last time you even checked your Mustang's tire pressures-including the spare you hope to never use? Right. You're probably of the same mindset as I am-drive it until something happens. In my case, it's the severe drop in gas mileage accompanied by poor cold idling and a daily check-engine light to brighten my morning commute. It's time to do something about it.

So get your fender cover, chill your favorite beverage, and follow us out to the garage as we go through my Mustang's primary and secondary ignition systems, inspect the wiring and vacuum systems, and perform a thorough tune-up.

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