Aside from a few items, like the tensioner pulley and NGK spark plugs that are required, just about every other equivalent component is significantly cheaper. This is on the average though, since I know there will be the component here and there that is more expensive on the Accord than on the T-Bird.
As for why I paid for shipping, www.rockauto.com. It's a website that keeps getting brought up in all the Honda and T-Bird forums I frequent. So, I decided to give them a shot this time around. I think after shipping, I ended up spending about the same amount for everything as I would have if I had just gone down to an AutoZone or NAPA. As for the parts being there same day, I know. But, I couldn't really work on this during the week and everything seems to be coming in tomorrow and Friday.
That's a good idea on the thermostat. I also want to flush out the radiator, but I'm not sure how to do that bit. Not sure I know how to properly flush out the coolant system without the appropriate tools though. As for how much anti-freeze, I like to use the Prestone 50/50 pre-mixed stuff. While it is convenient that it is pre-mixed, I don't buy it for that. I buy it primarily for the fact that I don't have to use tap water as tap water will eventually erode all of the engine's internal coolant system components over time. This prestone stuff doesn't do that.
The reason why I am considering the MAF is because my car is throwing a P01701 and P01702 which is left and right side o2 sensors are "bad". According to what I've read on the T-Bird forums, it may just need a simple cleaning of the MAF as it may be dirty. It could also be a vacuum hose is bad as well. I could agree with the vacuum hoses being bad as those are now old and they appear to be leaking? All I know is that there has been oil residue building up over some of the hoses over time now. Not sure if that's what bad vacuum hoses mean, but that's what's happening with the car's engine.
Specific plugs aren't required on cars, just certain cars run better on certain plugs. That goes all the way down to the classic cars too. I had to run Autolite double plat in my old 68 Mustang instead of Bosch or else it would run like ****. I thought it was weird, but just how it was. Most Jap cars run best with NKG, but it isn't required
As for Rockauto, it appears most of their prices are slightly cheaper but shipping negates that. Obviously, I'm only looking at parts for the cars I own. Everybody has their preference of purchase for anything. I just hate waiting on shipping for anything and usually if I need a part (and actually have the money) then it's a necessity and needs replacing now.
There is the easy way, and there is the proper way. The proper way is messy, time consuming, and you need to Google for each particular engine. The easy way is just like doing a computer water loop. This is why I said, don't waste money on anti-freeze because this can get costly. You have to drain the system by removing the valve on the bottom of the radiator (or remove the bottom hose which will make it all gush out in like 2 minutes and make a mess) and wait for the system to completely drain. Then take a garden hose and fill the radiator up backwards to flush any crap out. You can let it flow out of the cap, or let it flow out of the overflow if the car has one. You also need to take the therm housing off and at least one of the heater hoses. Take a garden hose and basically blast each area until you see clean water flowing. When you do this, you better hope rad stop leak was never used or you'll get nasty stuff all over the ground, engine, yourself, and engine compartment. Rad stop leak likes to take a hotel stay in the heater core and when you blast it all this black stuff comes out (I recommend never to use rad stop leak as it eats up your coolant system).
Once you're done you need to hook the hoses back up (minus heater core outlet) and leave the thermostat housing off and start filling the system up (if using anti-freeze you would need to use it here, and a lot of cash basically hits the ground). Let water run out until the whole system has pretty much all the air out. Then put your new thermo on, hook the heater hose back up and you should be good to go. Fill it the rest of the way up and let it run for a while with the cap off to let the remaining air out. I did this with my 68 and a 2001 Cavalier and worked like a charm.
I imagine the proper way is to take everything off and out then use proper cleaning materials (seafoam comes to mind). When I got my 68 Mustang it had been sitting for about 6 years and there was a mass amount of nasty stuff all in the coolant system. The garden hose trick worked, and after all the stupid rad stop leak stuff came out my heater worked! Go figure.
On the anti-freeze thing, anything you put in there will corrode because it has water in it. 50/50 pre-diluted still uses demineralized water which still has corrosive properties. Unless you can afford to buy Evans waterless coolant which has absolutely no corrosive properties then filling all the way up a green coolant car is a waste. I have used 25/75 in our Cavalier and it's going on 300k itself and it's a Dexcool system. I would use straight water but without 25% anti-freeze 2 things happen. The water evaporates in the summer slightly and has the possibility to free in the winter here. 25% rids the opportunity of either, and one gallon has lasted us over a year with no issues. Again, personal preference, but I got the coolant advice from my mechanic friend who restores classic cars in his own shop.
On the oil with the vac hoses, that I have no idea. I actually have the same problem on her Cavalier but it has no vac leaks. The worst area appears to be the PCV valve on the valve cover. When she had random stalling problems I had to take her TB apart and clean it. It and the rest of the intake was covered in oil. After cleaning it all, replacing the filter, PCV valve, hose, and intake box it stopped doing that. I still get some slight oil coming out though.