What does retarded timing yield?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1988 Mazda B2200 pick up truck with 34,000 miles on it. Up until recently, I've been pleased with it's performance. Now, the acceleration is sluggish and it guzzles gas. I've recently changed the oil, and gotten a tune up. Any suggestions?

RAY: Well, Susan, you don't tell us whether the problem started before or after the tune up. If it started after the tune up, it's possible that your timing was set incorrectly. Retarded timing would cause sluggish performance and really lousy mileage.

TOM: On the other hand, if the problem started before the tune up, it may have nothing to do with the engine at all. Believe it or not, what you need may be a new clutch! If your clutch is slipping, that would cause poor performance and horrible mileage because the engine is turning, but not all the energy is getting transmitted to the wheels (much of the energy is going into burning up the clutch).

RAY: 34,000 miles is on the low side for a clutch replacement, but it's certainly possible. If this is your first stick shift, it may take you a few clutches to get the hang of it. It took my brother quite a while. In fact, he ended up enrolling in the Clutch-of-the-Month club!

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