I thought I had three problems with The Great White Whale... transmission, engine, and The Mystery Choking (fuel?). it was almost undriveable.
last weekend, I noticed the plastic capsule around both ignition coil packs was cracked and peeling. $180 later for two coil packs, it was better for a couple days. then I started getting chunks and sags again.
so today, plug wires. the box didn't have the longest one, of course, two shorties. ohmmeter said I had some life left in that wire. shotgunned the rest. there was a screaming tubload of rust and crud in each spark plug well, which I had to blow out. two hours later, it's running smoothly. oil change and a new air filter, after blowing out a ton of leaves in the housing, and we're up to 19 mpg from 15, and it's running well again.
there was some corrosion on the connection of #5 plug, which unfortunately is in a Heli-Coilled repair of a stripped cylinder head, so I scraped it with the old plug wire a few times. it's all better now. there are two coilled plug holes, so I didn't want to mess with them.
for the first time in months, I test drove with the overdrive enabled, and there is no transmission issue, either, it was all misfires. only one cylinder lit up the check engine light, but basically everything had to be honking off periodically for the engine to run that badly.
an oil change finished off a wonderful 60 degree day in the sun. tomorrow, thunderstorms turning to snow.