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I just bought a 99 Taurus and have no clue as to hp ratings and general maintenance ideas. If anyone out there could help me, I'd love it. One of the main things I'd like to know is the hp rating on my car and how hard it is ti slightly upgrade the performance without compromising the reliability of the car.
 

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first off, welcome to the club! secondly, what model Taurus do you have? GL, SE, LX?
if you have the Duratec engine your hp is 200 and your torque is 200.
if you have the Vulcan engine your hp is 145 and your torque is 170.

first mod you should do is get a custom performance chip from americanmotorsport. its an awesome chip!!
you can also make your own CAI (cold air intake) and do some exhaust work.
 

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Also, in the category of mostly DIY, if you're at least a little mechanically inclined, you can switch from the stock Autolite copper spark plugs to some platinum plugs. There are a couple things to watch with this though...

1) Only do 1 plug at a time. If necessary, when you pop the ignition wire off, take some masking tape and make some kind of easy-to-remember reference mark, so you don't cross any wires. Crossed ignition wires=screwed timing. Screwed timing=TEH BAD.
2) I'm not entirely positive, but I'm reasonably sure that for best effect with platinum plugs, it's a good idea to also install (or have someone install) a higher quality distributor cap, as well as installing new higher quality ignition wires. Considering I still haven't done this on mine, maybe I shouldn't talk, but unless someone here has contradictory info, I'd guess that platinum plugs should get higher quality wires and distributor.

Also, if installing a CAI seems like overkill, or you're not confortable trying to do it yourself, there's always the option of getting a K&N replacement airfilter for the intake system.

Hey, has anyone figured out for sure whether or not octane boost of injector cleaner actually does any good? I've gotten a couple different responses on that the past week or so.
 
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