Need help on car purchase: Thunderbird and Lincoln Continental

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mark Larson, Jul 25, 2002.

  1. Mark Larson

    Mark Larson Supporting Actor

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    OK... I'm going to ask you guys for advice on cars i'm looking at and have already driven.
    I'm a college student, junior, in need of a car. My budget is ~$ 2000, the lower the better - more money for beer! [​IMG]
    Car 1: MY93 Thunderbird, maroon, maroon inside (blech!), 3.8L Auto V6.
    I drove this car, and it didn't give any problems, and felt reasonable powerful. Cost = $ 2300, hopefully able to bargain down to below $ 2000. 138,000 miles.
    Car 2: MY90 Lincoln Continental, some dark color, 3.8L V6, auto. Now, i wasn't able to drive this car (dead battery), but at $ 1250 advertised, i think it is a good deal - the KBB value for this car is > $ 4000. 96,000 miles.
    What do you guys think? Are there any specific issues with either cars i should check out before buying? The T-bird is nice, but the Lincoln is a darn sight cheaper (plus i'll get less cops pulling me over! [​IMG]).
     
  2. Jared_B

    Jared_B Supporting Actor

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    Sounds like the Lincoln has more problems than just a dead battery (you always get what you pay for). Stick with the car that is in the best shape, or needs the fewest repairs. The money you save up front will disappear quickly as problems arise.
     
  3. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    90 Lincoln.

    Check if it has air shocks. If it has were they recently replaced? Rear set of air shocks on this car cost $750 and then there is the cost to install of a few hundred dollars more. The front air shocks run about $350-400 each plus installation. Look around at other Lincolns and I guarantee you will see some with their ass draging. The rear shocks are blown and the drivers cant afford to replace them.



    Air Conditioning. The lines tend to collect crap and if not attended to will fleck off and lock up the compressor. An easy $1000 or more if it goes out. and 90-100,000 miles is a good time for it to go.

    A lot of electronic stuff than can go bad.

    Check for wear on the strutts as when they go they make it impossible to do an allignment and this will wear tires out fast.

    Has the water pump been replaced recently? At 90,000 miles you are due, but you have till December 1st. I think there is a sensor in the car that knows when it first starts to get cold and when you will be most inconvenienced, and that date is the first of December.

    Does it leak oil from any of a number of places?

    Do you live in a northern climate where they put lots of salt on the road? How is the body if they do?

    Transmission? The older Taurus from 86-87 were horrific with the tranmission, but the Continental seems to hold up a bit more.

    There is a reason this car is so cheap for its age. Get a battery and run it around for a bit. Take it to your mechanic and check all the lights, bells, wistles, etc. Do all the windows work? The sun roof? Check the radio and cassette deck. You will probably toss the stock radio and get something more functional.

    Get a Ford Taurus manual from your local auto parts store. I have never seen one for the Continental, but the engine is a Ford anyway. Got to a used parts store and get a pry bar to take off the serpentine belt. It is tricky to get used to, but these belts cost $26 or so and as an insurance policy you may want to keep one in the trunck. If the air conditioning compressor locks up, this belt will be shredded before you can do much to save it. It also should be replaced on a regular basis. If a shop charges $50 to replace it, get the pry bar for $10.

    What shape is the leather seats? Torn and stained or in good shape.

    Broken lights or trim? Get to know you local salvage yard to find pieces at a third less than new.

    If you haven't worked much on cars before, this will give you good experience.

    I would be interested in a $1,250 90 Continental for parts!
     
  4. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Avoid the Continental like a plague. This was a glorified Taurus with a lot of trouble prone expensive to repair luxo features tacked on. The 3.8 tends to blow headgaskets in the FWD models, sometimes cracks heads. The air suspension is junk, way too many poorly engineered gadgets. The Lincoln Town Car, on the other hand, ages quite well and is one of the more reliable domestics.

    I work in the service dept. of a large Toyota dealer, FWD Continentals that we get in trade are automatically wholesaled off--they always have too much wrong with them to be reconditioned, or come back with horrendous problems after they're sold.

    The T-Bird you mention is a much better car, well worth the extra money. A V8 would be a better choice. The 3.8 holds up better in the rear drive cars, less heat buildup under the hood as there's more room, but still can be trouble.

    That particular generation T-Bird or Mercury Cougar is one of the better domestics.

    Overall, when your budget is kinda low, it's best to get the newer plainer car than an older luxury model, fewer things to go wrong and less expensive to fix if something does go wrong.
     
  5. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    ditto Steve Schaffer
     
  6. Mark Larson

    Mark Larson Supporting Actor

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    OK, i got you guys. I was suspicious of not being able to drive the Lincoln anyway... I'll take a looksee tomorrow and see if there's anything wrong with the T-bird.
    I live in Iowa, moving to MN for Fall. I actually wanted to buy a car from a warmer clime, but that idea didn't pan out as well as i hoped it would.
    What should i look for in the T-bird? Any specific issues i can check for? I'm not too familiar with cars, so i'll be taking along a couple of friends, but i'd like to know if there is anything to look for.
    Thanks for the help! [​IMG] Buying a car, esp for my budget, is tough!
     
  7. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Mark,

    If at all possible, take the car to a Ford dealer's service dept., tell them you're thinking about buying it and ask them how much they'd charge to do a basic inspection. For about an hour's labor charge they should be able to inspect the brakes and generally look it over and test drive it to see if it's running and driving normally. A dealer for the make you're considering is a good place to go for a checkout, as they are most familiar with the car and can tell more from a test drive about whether the trans shifts normally, brakes and steering behave correctly, etc. They also know what particular trouble spots show up on that particular car and can more quickly see if the car you're considering needs attention.

    Have them make a list of whatever problems they find along with estimated repair costs--you can use this as a bargaining tool when negotiating the price of the car.

    While a dealership shop is most likely to more easily find any problems, the actual repairs can generally be trusted to any good shop that you trust, and independent shops generally have lower hourly labor rates than dealerships.
     
  8. Mark Larson

    Mark Larson Supporting Actor

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    One other thing - is it generally easy to find a V8 T-bird? Will it cost me a lot more than this one? ($ 2300).
    I looked up the Blue book value, and it seems to be $ 4300 or something... i think the car has a salvage title. Would you recommend buying a salvaged car? Bear in mind that i'm probably going to replace it within 18 months if i do buy the car, and I need it to hold up to long road trips - more than 1000 miles each way.
    Can i expect this from such a cheap car?
    Thanks!
     
  9. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    V8 T-birds are sorta hard to find, most of the ones built had the V6.

    Salvage title makes it much more likely that the car has major problems in most cases. If the salvage title is recent, it's more likely to be a problem as far as mechanical reliability. If it's older, and the car has run fine for a few years since the salvage, the mechanicals are probably not affected by the salvage, but improper body repairs can still be a safety hazard in the event of an accident. The body may not be as crash resistant as originally designed.

    In the price range you're looking at, it is possible after long and careful shopping to find a good reliable car that will stand up to long road trips, though it may need some fixes here and there before it's up to it.

    If you had 5k+ to spend I'd tell ya to find the newest good Toyota, Honda, or Nissan. At 2k almost anything is likely to need a bit of work to put into top shape, and it's generally cheaper to fix old domestics than old import brands.

    Rear drive is also an advantage in this price range as it's less complex and thus cheaper to fix most things.
     

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