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Don't fall in love with a creampuff

I recently realized that my car was almost paid off, and I started thinking of upgrading again.

But first a bit of a backstory.

I've bought my last four cars off the same dealer, and he's been pretty good to me. I fell in love with the first car (a baby-blue Taurus wagon -- so sue me, I have odd tastes). I bought the thing outright, and was thrilled.

It lasted 18 months. Within a year, I'd blown both head gaskets. I somehow recovered from that, and 3,000 miles later the water pump went out and took out the entire engine.

(Lesson 1: do NOT trust Ford 3.8L V-6 engines.)

The dealer took sympathy with me, and steered me to a P.O.S. on his lot -- an old, beat-up Buick LeSabre 2-door. Naturally, it had a history -- 173,000 miles, and had been totaled at 68,000. It was ugly, uncomfortable, and the climate-control system was cranky.

I got 18 months out of that beast. Maintenance was less than $200 and when I traded it back in, it was up to 198,000 miles and needed a new blower motor -- otherwise, it was still going strong. He sold it off to a guy for junking, who saw it still had plenty of life, fixed it up, and gave it to his son. As far as I know, it's still soldiering on.

(Lesson 2: trust GM 3.8L V-6s. They are BULLETPROOF.)

I stepped up to a Dodge Intrepid. Goldish color, top-of-the-line engine and trim, all the toys and gadgets. Rode like a dream, was gorgeous, only problem was it needed an antenna. I was in love again.

Six months later, the engine melted down and totaled the car.

Once more in a jam, I went back to the dealer. He told me I could have my pick (he trusted me on the financing), but recommended this P.O.S. Cavalier. He said it didn't look like much, but it was cheap and he'd just done some major work on it -- it oughta last a while.

I sneered at it and oriented on a beautiful Pontiac Bonneville. Forest green, great shape, comfy and powerful as hell. I WANTED it. I didn't care how long I'd be in debt over it, I loved the cats-eye look of the headlights, the general styling, all the power toys, the power and handling. It even had the GM V-6 I'd learned to trust in the Buick. This was THE car for me.

So I took the Cavalier. I'd learned my lesson about loving cars. It was small and rough-riding and looked like crap, but the dealer swore up and down it'd last.

It's been a year, and so far I've spent barely a hundred dollars on servicing. Wiper motor, some brake and exhaust work -- that's it. I'm not all that fond or proud of her, but she's never let me down. I think I'll keep her a bit longer, maybe even see if I can run her into the ground.

She ain't much, but at least I know she won't break my heart.


Comments (58)

Ford, Chrysler, GM - tsk, t... (Below threshold)

Ford, Chrysler, GM - tsk, tsk.

Don't you know there are others (like Honda, made in Ohio) to choose from?

I'm just a girl, so what do... (Below threshold)

I'm just a girl, so what do I know, but I loved and bought a used red '86 CRX si Honda. I've done bad things to it, like autocross it a bunch, and it is still going after me owning it for 6 years and almost 200,000. I do take it in for regular maintenance, but the only thing I've had trouble with was the fuel pump.

I've owned 2 American cars,... (Below threshold)

I've owned 2 American cars, both became rattle traps and had mechanical problems. Swithched to Hondas. 135,000 miles problem free.

Over 400,000 on a Mercedes ... (Below threshold)

Over 400,000 on a Mercedes I owned.

"Mercury...is a real good c... (Below threshold)

"Mercury...is a real good car." At least some of their engines.

You did well to skip the Bo... (Below threshold)

You did well to skip the Bonne. Ours has all the power and do-dads you mentioned but it is a LEMON!!!

You don't mention anything ... (Below threshold)

You don't mention anything about oil changes :)

...or are they in bad enough shape that when you pull in for a fill-up, that includes the crankcase too?

Oh, how can I ever forget (... (Below threshold)

Oh, how can I ever forget (as I did for a moment there) a Plymouth I had while in school? It had this engine called a "slant 6" and was just an all around work horse of a vehicle. I mean, it was a simple but somewhat "after the deluge" indestructible, utterly non trendy but rugged old car. I ended up selling it for something like five hundred bucks more than I paid for it, five years later and after adding forty thousand or so more miles.

Kept it oiled, polished, shined and serviced and the thing just kept on going like nobody's business. Truly remarkable old car.

Lesson #4 - buy Japanese fr... (Below threshold)

Lesson #4 - buy Japanese from an individual.

My last car was a 1984 Toyota Corolla wagon. I got her when she had 200,000 on the odometer and paid $500 for her. I rode that pony until I was sure she would leave me on the prairie - 8 years and more than 100,000 miles later. I'm not sure because the odometer/speedometer broke a few years back. I sold her to a man down the road for $200. He got her a ring job and she's back up a trotting. Man, I loved that car because she did me right. A real trooper. If I could do my own mechanic work I would've kept her and fixed her up real pretty.

Now I've got a little Toyo truck. Paid $3000 for her. She's in much better shape than the wagon and fewer miles. But I expect I can run him til the doors fall off.

Prior to those, I've had a series of old Hondas. None cost more the a thou or two. All lasted me longer than 3 years. None sucked me dry on maintenance and all got me near what I paid when I ditched them. Breaks redone, clutch work, that's it.

I'll never buy through a dealer. And I'll never buy new again. Not if my persistance with the classifieds can get me a decent ride with decent resale value.

Of course, a lot of this hinges on the fact that I avoid autotransmission, power anything or any other niceties that are sure to break down.

Good luck with the Cavalier though. View her as a tool, not a toy and you probably won't be dissappointed.


"Dad," I didn't include oil... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

"Dad," I didn't include oil changes, as they're routine expenses. Nor did I factor in the replacement wheel, tire, and hubcap from the time I hit a curb. I only counted stuff that I could in good conscience blame the car for, not my own ineptitude.

And Suzy, Mercurys are simply rebadged Fords. They've been on the verge of following Plymouth and Oldsmobile for some time now.


You bought a Chrysler and y... (Below threshold)

You bought a Chrysler and you were surprised it died?

Get a toyota and be done with it.


Only one minor problem w/ t... (Below threshold)

Only one minor problem w/ the Cavalier as I see it, and thats the residual value as they age. An '04 Cavalier loses 70% of it's value in the first 2 years (thats if you park it and don't drive it). IMO the best economical American car made is the Ford Focus (thanks to the EcoTech 4 engine under the hood), GM needs to get with the rest of the world and get rid of the push rod in favor of the overhead cam.

Having owned American (Chevy/GM, Jeep, Pontiac, Ford), German (VW, Audi, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes), British (Jaguar), Japanese (Honda, Subaru, Toyota, Nissan, Isuzu) and Yugoslavian (Yugo, don't ask).. The most bang for the buck out of any thing I ever owned was a Volkswagen, hands down the winner in the least expensive to own and operate.

I love my 1988 Nissan Sentr... (Below threshold)

I love my 1988 Nissan Sentra.

Just about 9 years ago I bought it for $2000 with 51,400 miles on it. It had been totaled, partially fixed, sat a few years, then fixed the rest of the way so I could buy it.

It always had some personality, but in the time I've had it, including a grand last year, I've spent around $3000 in work on it. Except for a bit of an electrical issue, it never failed to start for me, no matter how cold, how long it sat, etc. The motor is indestructable. The structure of the car is what's going to die, and where most of the work has gone (tires, struts, etc.).

Meanwhile, the 1993 Plymouth Voyager I got for $2500 with 83,000 miles on it 5 years ago is almost up to 120,000 miles, has had a transmission, will clearly need another at some point, and has cost over $3000 in repairs. But damn, it looks nice, the radio works, has excellent heat, is roomy, etc. Sometimes I think I can even afford the gas it uses.

I'm going to mourn my Sentra's passing like no other car I've ever owned, and that's been an awful lot of cars since 1978. First one was a 1969 Chevy Nova that I of course loved, but would never have been able to keep running and intact without my father's help. At one point we had to replace the motor mounts, of all things. I use that car versus the Sentra and even the van as an example of how cars are so much better quality these days.

I bought an old Volvo with ... (Below threshold)

I bought an old Volvo with nearly 200k miles on it for $200. Less than $50 of work to get it street-legal, and it was good to go. Drove it for a year without any problems, but my wife made me replace it because she was worried about it breaking down.
We then bought a '95 Civic. Put 60k miles on it without a problem.

In the past I had an '89 Pontiac Grand Am that I put 75k miles on. It had a big coolant system problem for a while, but once I got that fixed (about $200) it gave me no problems and got excellent gas mileage (29/34) with plenty of power from its 4-cyl mated to a 5-speed manual.

Right now our cars are a 2001 Honda Civic and a 1991 Toyota Corolla. We bought the Toyota in Alabama for $2800 with 110k miles on it. We drove it to West Texas, I commuted with it for a year, then drove it Spokane, where I've commuted with it for 3 years. At one point either me or my wife hit something, because the bottom of the radiator was driven into the power steering fluid reservoir...replaced the 1st gear and the reservoir for a total of $350, and have had no other problems. I nearly sold it last year when two door handles ended up broken, the headliner started drooping down, and the break light went out. So I started going to Pick-n-Pull junkyards, and ended up being able to replace every single minor breakage for a total of less than $60, including a headliner in pristine condition. Everything in the right color, too.

If you think about it, if you have a car that is starting to have some problems and it makes you want to replace the car, consider that you may end up paying $200 a month for the new car...now consider what putting $200 of work into your old car would end up resulting in. Within a year you'd probably have enough saved up to get a new paint job or redo the interior upholstery and carpeting. Especially if you do much of the work yourself. I highly recommend that, because the more work you put into your car, the more you will love it.
So the Toyota is still going strong, and still gets 30 mpg in commuting driving. It has plenty of power to get over the mountain passes, too, when I take it to Seattle.
There really isn't any reason to buy a new car when there are so many good used cars available...unless they make something so good you can't get one used...but those aren't that common. Like, for instance, it might be hard to get something like the Ford Freestyle used yet...

Bah, I'm rambling once more. Bloggers' hazard.

Jay, Mercury is safe now (e... (Below threshold)

Jay, Mercury is safe now (even though it's still rebadged Ford product). The new cars (and trucks) are actually attractively different-looking versions of their Ford counterparts.

Your post made me think of a buying experience I had several years back.

I had a 1995 Taurus sedan that I bought with 58K on it. 3.0 V6. Loaded. Not fast, but very comfy. Nice car. I ditched it when the A/C system went south, but it was still a strong runner, and I had no other mechanical problems with it during its tenure.

I had to laugh, because when I bought the Taurus, my mechanic (who sold it to me) said, "I only sell the 3.0L cars. The head gaskets go on the 3.8 motor."

I guess he wasn't kidding. And I guess that's why you don't see very many old Thunderbird SCs on the road today. The SC had a supercharger attached to that 3.8L motor. Man, talk about a recipe for disaster.

Fords? GMs? Dodges? You a... (Below threshold)

Fords? GMs? Dodges? You are happy to get 18 months out of them? If that Taurus had been a Honda Accord, you'd still be driving it. If you but a Ford, it had better be a pickup truck. I've been a Honda guy forever, but foolishly bought a Ford Contour. It still lasted longer than any of Jay's cars, but the petty annoyances became too much. I dumped it and I'm a happy Volvo owner. Not as reliable as a Honda but better than any domestic brand.

Ford, Chrysler, GM - tsk... (Below threshold)

Ford, Chrysler, GM - tsk, tsk.

Don't you know there are others (like Honda, made in Ohio) to choose from?

The whole Japanese cars are made in America & American cars are made in Japan has some truth, but not anywhere near as much as it is made out to be.

SteveL, the Accord comment ... (Below threshold)

SteveL, the Accord comment makes me laugh as well.
My Taurus replaced my 91 Accord Coupe, which I sold to a friend who once asked me to let him buy it if I ever decided to get rid of it. I had just spent some money on it and was afraid it would become a money pit, and I sold it to him for a song.

he did spend some money on it, but that thing is over 200K now and still going. My Taurus? Somewhere in car heaven.

Those Hondas really are bulletproof.

I'm on my third Subaru, and... (Below threshold)

I'm on my third Subaru, and they've been nothing but awesome. Not only are they extremeley reliable, but the all wheel drive has saved my butt numerous times.

Plus, they're made in the US (Indiana).

Jay:About the Merc... (Below threshold)


About the Mercury comments I made earlier...

-- the quote is dialogue from "Sling Blade" (the film), and it's meant to be quite deceitful (as per the character who used the dialogue in the film);


-- my modification about the engine part was in reference to a time when I was driving a Ford wagon, the engine blew out and I managed to buy a very, very clean engine block from a wrecking company nearby to where I was stranded when the Ford engine blew, and yank the old engine and install the Mercury engine (well, a machinist friend did the work, I just paid for it).

So, sometimes, it depends on specific parts and situations. In that one case of mine, a Mercury engine was a real good thing to get my hands on, and at a good price. And it chugged along really well for a while after, until I sold that little vehicle. I made a profit on that one, too.

But a Mercury Sable is pret... (Below threshold)

But a Mercury Sable is pretty nice.

Any vehicle really depends on how well you service the thing. If you disregard subtleties over time, they become huge problems later. So, best to just frequently service any vehicle and try to avoid mishandling it based upon particular capabilities, and things will go relatively well.

With used cars, you have to be prepared to deal with problems but purchase despite what you are prepared to deal with. Meaning, it's a given that you'll need to do some service and/or work on any used vehicle if you plan on reliability and longevity, so you really have to busy whatever you can afford to upkeep and maintain afterward but something you like and enjoy driving. Someone told me once that new cars depreciate thousands when you drive them off the lots, so, it's more economically sensible to buy used cars.

Speaking of, I was just looking over some ads...

I stopped at a Toyota deale... (Below threshold)

I stopped at a Toyota dealer on the way to picking a friend up at the airport and bought an 85 Celica after a 2 minute test drive in the parking lot. I junked it after 12 years with 195,000 hard miles. I saw it in a parking lot six months ago.

Suzy, we had a Dodge Dart t... (Below threshold)

Suzy, we had a Dodge Dart that had a slant-6. Those things ARE indestructable.

(btw Dodge=Plymouth)

Well, let's see. My first c... (Below threshold)

Well, let's see. My first car was a '71 Vega that had had an engine fire. I replaced a carburetor (myself), an oil pressure switch (also myself), a clutch (not myself) and a few other doodads, but when it suddenly started getting coolant in the cylinders (cracked block? blown head gasket?) I had it towed away. I'd been driving it for quite a few years. Haven't even looked at another Chevy since then.

Next car was a '65 Dart. Driver's side door wouldn't unlock with the key; it had what I now consider to be the curse of '65 Dodges, a bad radiator (my Dad had a '65 Dodge van with the exact same engine when I was a kid); sometimes the motor wouldn't turn over when I tried to start it. One time I screwed up and tried to start it while it was in drive, and when nothing happened I did what I was used to doing, arced off the starter with an old screwdriver (my Dad's trick with his '67 Chevy pickup); the car drove itself into a neighbor's fence and hit the corner of their house.

Dodges are off my list too, now.

Fords? Well let's see. I had a '75 F-100 pickup that, when I got it, had a rotted out heater core, a bad alternator, and a couple of other issues I've made myself forget. I had to leave it behind when I moved to Alaska because a truck without a heater isn't much use up there.

Up there I drove a '93 Ford Escort we bought from a car rental company. Actually held up pretty good, except when I got stuck in a snowbank and the idiot who tried to help me ended up yanking the grille off and bent the hood latch. And the driver's seat -- well, at the time I weighed somewhere between 300 pounds and aircraft carrier, so it never stood a chance. When we sold it, there was a piece of rebar stuck into one of the aluminum tubes of the seat frame, only thing really holding the poor thing together.

Next, a 1981 Ford Bronco with a bad starter, bad brakes, bad rear axle, and a rusted hole in the floor right in front of the driver's seat. I gave it to charity two years ago because it wouldn't start. Broke my heart.

Now it's a '96 Bronco, had it since last March. I've replaced the alternator and that's about it. It was a fleet vehicle for the State of Alabama originally so it's been in damn good shape.

After the first three you might say I'm a slow learner when it comes to Fords, but I think I've found a good one.

After living overseas, I sw... (Below threshold)

After living overseas, I swore I'd get an American car when I got back. I got a 2000 Cavalier (Z24 model) and LOVE it. Both front quarter panels, and hood have been replaced (DC Traffic being what it is...) but the car is rock solid.

I'm sorry to see they're discontinuing the line. Hopefully the replacement is a solid.

Oh -- as for Japanese? My m... (Below threshold)

Oh -- as for Japanese? My mom had an '83 Nissan pickup. It had only two really serious mechanical problems, a rusted-out freeze plug and a blown head gasket. The latter was too much for her budget at the time so she sold it to a mechanic.

And then there's the '91 Jeep Cherokee my mother-in-law gave us a little over five years ago. Blew a head gasket only a month or so after we got it. Last year, the crankshaft pulley started to separate from the shaft and chewed up three serpentine belts before we could get the real problem fixed. Three years ago it was stolen and -- to add insult to injury -- recovered and returned to us.

How we managed to get the money we got for it when we sold it last spring, I'll never know. I just hope the new owners arwe getting their money's worth. We sure did -- yeah, it was a gift, but we paid a lot for it in maintenance and repairs.

Buy another Jeep? Let me trya another Chevy and another Dodge first.

One more -- last one (this ... (Below threshold)

One more -- last one (this thread), I promise. My wife hasn't driven an American-made since she was a teenager. Swears by Hondas. Now she drives an Isuzu Rodeo and loves it, and it's holding up pretty well. The only issues it ever seems to have are dashboard lights that go on when there's no problem with any systems.

And going back to Ford for a moment: J., all of my Fords have been either V-8s or a transverse I-4 (front-wheel drive). My Bronco now is a 5.8. None of the Fords I've had has really had an engine issue per se. Closest thing was the bad starter on the first Bronco.

Henry: I wish I'd kept the... (Below threshold)

Henry: I wish I'd kept the engine in that car, rather than sell it intact. But, then, not like most of us have room to keep spare engines here and there...just saying. That particular car also had a Hurst shift...was an utterly noiseless engine, just as rugged as could be, all those miles, never even a sound out of it but instead a purrr and down the road it'd go.

One more -- last one (th... (Below threshold)

One more -- last one (this thread), I promise. My wife hasn't driven an American-made since she was a teenager. Swears by Hondas. Now she drives an Isuzu Rodeo and loves it, and it's holding up pretty well. The only issues it ever seems to have are dashboard lights that go on when there's no problem with any systems.

If she only knew that Rodeo was a restyled Chevy Blazer.

But I guess you get what you expect.

John,"If she only ... (Below threshold)


"If she only knew that Rodeo was a restyled Chevy Blazer."

The Rodeo is Isuzu through & through... I believe you're thinking about the Isuzu Ascender, which is basically a GMC Envoy/Chevy Trailblazer.

The Rodeo and the Honda Pas... (Below threshold)

The Rodeo and the Honda Passport are the same truck though -- or at least, they were in the mid-'90s when my wife's was made.

And would be still, if Hond... (Below threshold)

And would be still, if Honda were buying any more trucks from Isuzu, which they aren't. (Incidentally, Isuzu is wearying of being owned by GM, and has bought back some of its stock, with the intention of buying back all of its stock and becoming its own company again.)

The Ford 3.8 V6 had an iron block and an aluminum head and no apparent way to compensate for their different expansion rates, a problem long since solved by other automakers.

The Rodeo and the Honda ... (Below threshold)

The Rodeo and the Honda Passport are the same truck though -- or at least, they were in the mid-'90s when my wife's was made

That would be a breakpoint. The version I was speaking of was the mid to late 90's version (the smaller GMC Jimmy/Chevy Blazers). Park next to one sometime and take a good look (if the age applies).

Otherwise, I'll drop the issue though because I shouldn't really be trying to break the spell.

John, McGehee's right. The ... (Below threshold)

John, McGehee's right. The Rodeo has never, at any time, been a rebadged Blazer/Jimmy. The Jimmy was the only rebadge of the Blazer model to which you refer.

If I'm not mistaken, Izusu DID sell a rebadged version of the Chevy S-10 pickup in the time period you speak of.

I have been stationed in so... (Below threshold)

I have been stationed in some of the most extreme environments on earth (Antarctica, Iceland and the mojave desert). The only evhicle that ever ran reliable in all 3 was an old GMC diesel pickup. Since moving to the PacNW I have been driving Subarus and they have been good to me up to about 200,000 miles, but I have to say I put on extremely hard miles. Anyway my recommendations are Subaru and GMC.

Alex, you are correct on th... (Below threshold)

Alex, you are correct on the rebadged S-10 pickup.

As for other rebadging and useless info:
Honda Odyssey/Isuzu Oasis minivan
Isuzu Rodeo/Honda Passport SUV (as previously mentioned)
Ford Explorer Sport 2-door/Mazda Navajo
Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute
Mazda Pickup/Ford Courier
Ford Ranger/Mazda B-series
Mazda MX-6/Ford Probe
Mazda 323/Mercury Tracer (I owned one... nice little car)
Suzuki Sidekick/Chevy Geo Tracker (many other Suzuki/Chevy Geo models... too many to remember)
Toyota Corolla/Chevy Nova
Seems like there was some Pontiac/Renault rebadging in there somewhere.

Oh yes, I neglected to thro... (Below threshold)

Oh yes, I neglected to throw in my 2¢ worth on reliability.

'91 Honda Accord purchased new 09/20/91
- wife drove it for 7 1/2 years (still looked new).
- teenage stepdaughter drove it for 2 1/2 years (interior beginning to show it's age).
- teenage son, now in the military, is still driving it, logging 2400+ miles in the last 2 weeks coming home for Christmas (interior is really showing it's age now - exterior looks surprisingly good).

This same son is behind www.artitumis.com (which is how I came to find WizBang).

Good list, Dad. We could go... (Below threshold)

Good list, Dad. We could go on with this forever, as it gets really interesting when you expand the rebadging discussion into platform sharing (i.e. The Mercury Montego is a rebadged Ford Five Hundred, which uses the same platform as the Volvo S80).

I could go on and on, but i think that that would be the equivalent of emptying a banana clip into the dead horse.

I loved this thread, though.

So, all you car freeks, I f... (Below threshold)

So, all you car freeks, I found a 2004 Lincoln Town Car for sale, at a pretty good price, service records available, about 26,000 miles...

Anyone want to citicize the vehicle?

I drove an elderly friend of mine around in her Mercury Sable (believe it was a 2002) and the it was a very nice, speedy and responsive passenger car. Which is why I've wandered back into Mercury/GMC territory lately.

And was looking around for a comfy and reliable sedan lately, not a sports car, not another MBZ (now beyond my reach), just a nice sedan that will live for a while, with highway driving and a few road trips but nothing radical, big trunk space, a little plush, just something like that to keep for a while.

-S-Nothing but pra... (Below threshold)


Nothing but praise for the Lincoln Town Car. It's a well established rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform, with a high-performance V8. As far as how well built it is, you could probably compare it to a pickup truck or SUV. When it comes to American made cars, I prefer RWD. No problematic CV joints to be found anywhere.

I understand that many police departments, instead of buying new cars, are having their older RWD units refurbished... the big Chevy Caprice & Ford Crown Victoria. They don't want the new FWD cars. New businesses have been created for just such a purpose.

The only thing I've actually seen go wrong with older Town Cars (10+ years old) is the air-leveling rear suspension (if so equipped). If you ever see an old town car going down the road with it's rear sagging, that's what's wrong with it, and they haven't bothered having it repaired.

Dad: thanks for that. I l... (Below threshold)

Dad: thanks for that. I liked the car, think I'll look into it. I am hoping to find a comfortable sedan that's a good five year investment, reliable and capable of long distance trips (thus, I need a large trunk space) and is a little heavier than some of the smaller sedans due to some of those trips being to and from higher altitudes with weather conditions in mind.

Saturn. Preferably built i... (Below threshold)

Saturn. Preferably built in Tennesse, but a Saturn. Have it serviced regularly at the dealer. They just keep on running. I like the styling on the '97 Sedan, but I know I'm weird.

If you can get by with a lightweight smallish vehicle, there just isn't anything that hits the price/perfomance/safety/endurance curves the way baseline Saturns do.

Also...by folding down the front seat and the back seats, you can fit a huge chunk of rolled up carpet into the sedan and just blow the minds of the guys at the warehouse. If you're planning on hauling a lot of stuff, the wagon is probably a better choice, though...

Look hard at a Saturn next time. Of course that will limit your opportunities to post on the subject again, because you won't be getting another car for a while.

-S-The car is desi... (Below threshold)


The car is designed precisely for your intended use... it is a land yacht. The ultimate in cruising comfort. It sounds like I work for Ford :) Not so, just fond of the big Fords.

You will not find a larger trunk on ANY car. Ford/Lincoln/Mercury full-size RWD cars have traditionally have large trunks... so deep that you can stand your suitcases up in them.

As far as handling inclement weather & slick roads, the RWD capabilities usually lag behind a front-wheel-drive (FWD) car, unless the RWD has a limited slip rear differential, which I imagine the Town Car possesses. I have a Mitsubishi Montero Sport 2WD so equipped, and it is very sure-footed... I prefer it over the FWD Honda on snow.

Dad, thanks for that, and y... (Below threshold)

Dad, thanks for that, and yes, having lived in and driven through more blizzards and over sheets of ice than I care to list here/anywhere, I do know the value of a front wheel drive vehicle in upper altitude, alpine conditions.

But, that's not the dedicated use of what I need now, but just something that's great for the two day trips to and back from the Rockies and CA and then can handle with some weight the roads in CO when needed. I drove a little Ford wagon around CO and through many blizzards (same vehicle that I described earlier as blowing the engine, which I replaced later with a Mercury engine) and did so reasonably safely and well by just keeping a great set of spiked mud&snow tires on the thing.

But, the biggest handicap of small vehicles such as that in higher altitude, snowy/icy conditions is their lack of weight, not so much their lack of front wheel driving (unless you have to go offroad and/or up steep inclines on unplowed roads or even offroads in snow or mud).

So, a larger sedan that I'm looking for now is more so for comfort in and on freeways and something that has substantial trunk space so I'm attracted to the Town Car and sorta even like the Mercury Sable after driving that friend's car for a few trips with her.

So, yes, you're right, the Town Car seems ideal for what I want right now, and I don't have it in mind for any dedicated sports activities and/or full season use in high altitudes, just trips to and from, for the most part (I'd buy a Saab for that before I'd buy a Town Car if I lived fulltime at present in the mountains).

Patrick Lasswell: I drove another friend's Saturn wagon and although I found it nice, very reasonable, easy and all that, it was too basic a vehicle for what I have in mind...I really want a larger sedan, a closed trunk so as to keep the interior of the car clear during distant trips (or any trips)...but I think that the Saturn is a very nice vehicle and quite practical for most daily, usual use, particularly with children, around town, easy and reliable vehicle to own and use, just not what I have in mind right now. But, thanks.

I -- actually -- really lik... (Below threshold)

I -- actually -- really like a Ford Ranger (extended cab version), but I am pretty well, at this time, focused on a heavy sedan with carrying capacity and lot of engine to do what I have in mind for the next few years...so the Town Car seems ideal, plus I love that it has a V8.


I worked at Budget Rent-a-C... (Below threshold)
Red Five:

I worked at Budget Rent-a-Car in 1995, so I drove Ford after Ford after Ford, with a smattering of Toyota, Mazda, and Hyundai thrown in. Our fleet had one remaining Excel (POS) and a Mercury Lynx (POS). I think my favorite cars were the Mazda Millenia, the V-8 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Lincoln Continental. How they got that powerful of a V-8 mounted *transversely* over the front-drive is a mystery to me, but laying down nearly 100ft of rubber leaving the parking lot in one was kinda cool...

I hated the Taurus/Sable, though, especially in late '95 when the "curvy" ones came out. You know, the ones with no straight lines on the whole exterior, and most of the interior as well. Ugly as sin, just like the Contour/Mystique (or as I called them, the Contortion and the Mistake). Had a '95 Taurus come back in with a totally burned-out transmission. Put it in any gear, and no go. Had to run the engine in neutral to get power-steering so 4 other guys could push it up a short steep rise and coast down to the parking lot for later towing to the repair facility, 2 hours away.

Also, the Mercury Villager mini-minivan was a rebadged Nissan Quest.

My cars? 1. A 1984 Olds Omega 4-dr. 4sp manual, 2.5L 4-cyl. Some minor tang or tab in the tranny wore out, leaving me without 3rd and 4th gears, but boy could I tool around in 2nd... 2. 1981 Subaru 1800 GLF. 2-dr hardtop, 5sp, FWD. I hit at least 100mph in that thing. Boy did it shake and rattle... 3. My current car, 1995 Nissan Altima GXE. Bought in late '95, former rental car with over 26K miles at time of purchase. 9.5 years, 157K miles, and 1 engine replacement later, it's still running well. Need to fix a wobbly wheel (probably a wearing ball-joint), power-steering pump, fix the front bumper and grille, and the rear bumper and taillight.

I should note that since 1998, Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler et. al. have shared more and more hardware. I think that the current Chrysler 300/Dodge Magnum are essentially the Mercedes E-class sedan and wagon, respectively. And I've heard that the Ford Focus (with the Mazda 3 as a rebadge) has some major customer complaints against it.

My cars:1. 1967 Ford... (Below threshold)

My cars:
1. 1967 Ford Custom 500, severely thrashed by my brother first, but it stilled kicked butt. 289 V8
2. 1969 Ford Falcon station wagon I6, my dad's, but drove it just long enough to trade it in for...
3. 1973 Ford Gran Torino Sport. What a car! 351C V8, headers, dual exhaust... OOORAH! It's still running. My cousin's nephew has it.
4. 1969 Ford F100. 360 V8, headers, duals (see a pattern here?)
5. 1980 Mercury Bobcat 2.3L I4, headers, glasspack. Hot little car. It would get 2nd gear rubber with 4 people in it.
6. 1982 Ford EXP. Worst car ever... basically an Escort. Ford didn't do their homework on IRS.
7. 1984 Ford F150 300 I6. Torque monster. Nice, but then I got a family and moved into a...
8. 1980 Buick LeSabre 301 V8. 2nd worst car ever... tranny went out in less than a year.
9. 1988 Mercury Tracer (Mazda 323 rebadge). Nice little car. Ex-wife managed to pretty well trash it.
10. 1971 VW Bus. What fun! My kids called it "the school bus." It was a blast, but electrical problems tarnished my enjoyment. That and virtually no heat in the winter. Looked great for 17-years-old. No rust. Dude that bought it drove it to California (I'm in Arkansas).
11. 1988 Ford F150 300 I6 fuel injected w/5-speed. Torque out the wazoo! Loved that truck!
12. 1990 Honda Prelude. Sweet! My 2nd wife's car when we got married. Between us, we had 3 kids in the house full-time, so we sold my '88 F150 and bought...
13. 1991 Honda Accord. Still running well. My son is driving it now on his way back to NC. Worked okay for us and 3 kids, but we traded the Prelude for...
14. 1992 Ford Aerostar XLT EXT 4.0L V6. That van would haul! Front & Rear Air... a real family Truxter. Traded it in for...
15. 1998 Mitsubishi Montero Sport. My wife drives this. It replaced the Accord that the daughter started driving. That's when I got...
16. 1999 Ford F150 Stepside 4.2L V6 5-Speed. It's what I'm enjoying now, but I'm getting the itch again.
The Honda, Mitsu, and current F150 are all running strong, and virtually trouble-free.

I had an old girlfriend who... (Below threshold)
Red Five:

I had an old girlfriend who had one of those miserable little EXPs. What a POS! The Escort that Wanted to be a Mustang. The master cylinder wore out, causing brake fluid to leak into the vacuum assist and get sucked into the engine. Ever see hydraulic fluid burn? Me neither.
BTW, I never knew the Tracer was a 323 rebadge. I knew the Tracer was also the Escort, especially in the mid-'90s.
Also, did you know that interference engines suck? That was part of the cause of the engine replacement I mentioned above for my Alty. Timing chain broke at ~143K miles, while I was on the way to the mechanic to fix the timing chain. %^&()*$& It was cheaper and faster to replace the whole engine rather than fix the one I had, plus my mechanic had just pulled a cherry engine from another '95 Alty with only 83K on the ticker. I need to get the current timing chain looked at soon, though, to avoid a catastrophic repeat...

Red Five,You are c... (Below threshold)

Red Five,

You are correct on the later Mercury Tracer being an Escort clone, but the original Tracer in '88 (introduced midyear '87) was indeed all Mazda, and far, far better than the later Tracer/Escort.

I don't know why Mercury didn't stick with the rebadged Mazda... probably much more profit in the Escort clone. The biggest drawback to that maneuver was that they lost the single most redeeming value of the Tracer... it was a Mazda!

Interference engines seem to dominate the market today, with all the DOHC/SOHC stuff necessary to wring all the HP they can out of them. However, I don't know if all OHC engines are interference type. Manufacturers aren't kidding when they reccommend new timing belts/chains at certain mileages, and that's a good reason why. It's especially critical with timing BELTS.

I've owned two cars, an '89... (Below threshold)

I've owned two cars, an '89 Ford Probe and a '98 Chevy S-10. The Probe, although a bastard love-child of Ford and Mazda was a true champion. I loved that car. It was reliable and sporty-enough for my tastes. It was doomed to resale after it was damaged in a flood. The engine survived, but the transmission was going to cost more than the vehicle.

The S-10 has been every bit the trooper the Probe was. Except for some spotty brake rotors (which seem to be a curse for the S-10/Blazer) I'm yet to have a serious problem with it.

My wife on the other hand. She currently owns a Ford Focus (which really is a great car). However, then car the Focus replaced was a '97 Chrysler Sebring. The hydraulic lift for the rag top blew out, so it was now a really loud non-convertible. But what doomed the car was the blown head gasket seal. I discovered that problem one night when I noticed her car was overheating. I opened the hood and saw that her coolant was brown. Oil in the coolant. Apparently that is a recurring problem for that particular car.

I have a 98 3.8L V-6 Ford M... (Below threshold)

I have a 98 3.8L V-6 Ford Mustang. It has 80,000 miles on it and is in mint condition. It's never left me stranded...I'm very happy with it. When this car dies....I'm buying another Mustang :o)

Purr,That's great!... (Below threshold)


That's great! Nothing like a Mustang, and judging by how good the 2005 models look, I don't think I'd wait until my old one died! I want one!

I was reading all these com... (Below threshold)
James F:

I was reading all these comments about how the older cars are rough looking but still have alot of life in them. Right now I'm driving a 1953 Oldsmobile with a Rocket V8 engine. I owned a 01 Pontiac Sunfire and the thing died at 80,000 miles so I spent $500.00 on the old Oldsmobile and put another $500.00 worth of parts and work into it and had it up and running in no time. I had it up and running in no time. I've put almost 60,000 on this old car and the only trouble I've had with it in that time was a clogged fuel filter. But like all of you have said, the quality of American cars has really gone down hill in the past 10 to 15 years and if I were going to buy a new car, it would probably be a foreign car. But I will hang on to my old girl though.

Bought 2000 Mustang. and in... (Below threshold)
Joan L.:

Bought 2000 Mustang. and in 4 years Transmission and gone out 2 times. Am I being foolis to buy andother Mustang?Posted by Joan L , april25,2005 at 11:00 PM

It's unlikely that your exp... (Below threshold)

It's unlikely that your experiences will be repeated with another Mustang.

My experience with Ford RWD (rear-wheel-drive) vehicles is that they are normally rock solid.

Sounds like you truly had a lemon. It happens... or a poor repair on the first tranny could have easily led to the second failure, too.

Hondas are certainly NOT bu... (Below threshold)

Hondas are certainly NOT bullet proof.
Our 93 Accord, which my wife bought new, just died at 135k. My 82 Escort wagon died at the same mileage.
It blew a main seal, and something about the interference engines...
Talk about catastrophic failure.

And the car is now on it's was to the Ebay Parts section.

Honda Accord- My FOOT!

You should be able to get 135 out of any Plymouth Acclaim.

I cannot believe what I am ... (Below threshold)
Mel P:

I cannot believe what I am hearing....I have had two Ford Taurus', my experience: 1986 at 174,000 miles was broad sided-ran smooth with ice cold air still. Drunk driver hit me car wastotaled, but still run. Got $1,000.00, and sold the car for $500.00. Where the guy bought it drove it from Columbus , Ohio to Cinncinnati....it had the 3.0 motor in it. All I ever did was keep the oil changed. So, then I bought an identical car 1988, with the same motor with 90,000 miles drove it until 204,000 miles.....the only fix was the starter. Now, I in the mean time married my wife whos parents retired from GM. So, I bought a Beretta with 56k, at 87k the freeze plugs blew, and we traded that for a 2002 new Cevy Cavalier Sport.....the fix it list never ended.....Ecotec motor ran good, but everything from the sensors to the power door motors, to the fuwl pump, struts, strut plates kept going out repeatidly.....We kept that car in 2003 bought an 03 Malibu new-no problems, we also bought a 94 Ranger 4.0 with 58k -no problems-have had a year now with 74k.....and I have just purchased a 06 Mazda Tribute with the 3.0 again....Im headed back to Ford Products....always had good luck with them. I detest Hondas, I live in Marysville, Ohio where a majority of them are built-worked for Honda and was hurt on the job-Honda does everything they can to not pay you workers comp. So, I went back to school and earned my Bachelors....If I did work for a Union Shop, they would have paid for the 30k worth of shoulder surgery. Instead of Honda doctors saying it is work conditioning. Always get a second opinion before you quit. At Honda you are merely a number making there bland cars...bitter not anymore, but I would like the 30k owed to me from lying internal doctors!!!!! AJapanese owned company making profits here-my eyes are opened-wide...and dont you think everytime my Honda driving neighbord ask to use my tools or jack I give em hell...its mostly how you treat a car, yes there are lemons. But compare a car maker that makes 9 or 7 million cars a year to one that makes one or 2 million......Toyota is more compaable of a company. They claim to be a full line automaker (lived in Japan while I was there owned 2 celicas, nissan). No Jpanese companies make full size vans......business really use vans, as well as [email protected] Stop Helping Our Nation Destroy America....Buy from American Owned American made companies. If GM does go under we will all feel the effects.....Dont be fooled......Peace Mel

Driven fords all my life, g... (Below threshold)
Aaron N:

Driven fords all my life, great products. As with any vehicle, you should keep them serviced regular. Most problems with your automobiles derive from your own abuse and neglect. But if you are the type who doesnt keep maintenance on your mind...the old dodge slant 6's or maybe a jeep cherokee would be best for you. Take care of your vehicle and it will last longer than 18 months....geez.






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