It is possible to inspect the rubber by looking in the engine compartment - use a good light. Also check that the crankshaft pulley is not working its way back toward the engine. You can verify this by looking at the edge of the drive belt to see if it is worn.
Thank for the input on your three cars. I thought about replacing my Honda with an Acura but I am hooked on rear wheel drive. My wife likes the look of the Jaguar but the reliability is questionable as well as the amount of Ford components. I just might hold off until the price of the 2001-2003 C240's come down. If I had it my way I would own a 1996-1998 SL600.
I replaced the plugs myself and spent around $75 just on the plugs alone (OEM). I am guessing that the labor is around 1 to 1.5 hours since the plugs are not real easy to get at and after 100K miles/4 years the boots are "welded" to the plugs. I used dielectric grease when I replace mine so they will come off easy next time.
1998 Mercedes E320, 200K Miles
2001 Acura 3.2TL, 178K Miles
1992 Chevy Astro, 205K Miles