I've taken to calling The Grand Marquis that, because only old men drive them, but I love mine. I've talked about it before, it's an '01 with 104K miles on it, with a new timing gear, chains, etc installed at 96K. Upper and lower ball joints last month, and I was driving it to work yesterday and noticed a miss in the engine, just about the time the Check Engine Light came on.
The last time I had that problem, my very competent mechanic son showed me how to diagnose and change the coil pack and spark plug on the engine. It's much different than I used to do that "back in the day" but it's not particularly hard, so after I plugged int he ODBII code reader and learned that the misfire was on #1, I stopped by the parts house and picked up a new coil pack.
When I got home this afternoon, I lifted the hood to let the engine cool, then went inside to let the dog out for his afternoon constitutional, then took out the tools and dove in. Thirty minutes later I was done. The engine idles well, and seems smooth, so we'll call that job done. It took me longer to figure out how to turn off the CEL light than it did to change the parts.
I still remember the Points, Plugs, Conderser drill that my dad taught me all those years ago. How to set the points, and adjust timing; how to listen to an engine and try to figure out which cylinder was missing, and how to say "to hell with it" and change all the spark plugs.
Nowadays, it's different. We plug in the code reader and work on the problem that it identifies. ODBII code readers are available at a wide price range and I won't pretend to tell you which to buy, but nowadays they are indispensable for working on cars. They sure take the guess-work out of diagnosis.
Thanks, son, for the tutorial those months ago. The old man thinks he got it right today. If I need you, I'll call you.