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Replacing a Town Car with a Grand Marquis

I prefer buying large, RWD cars because they seem to survive accidents better than small cars and because other drivers tend to give me a bit of respect I've not experienced driving smaller cars.

My mechanic has advised me to give up my 93 Town Car (188K miles) because it is reaching the age where some significant (read: expensive) repairs are going to have to be done. I will probably have to replace the AC compressor (it is already loud and slow to work at first), and maybe the transmission (although there's nothing noticeably wrong with it now). He advised me to get a Chevy Caprice.

Caprices are scarce as hens' teeth - I found one this weekend, but it had been wrecked and it had nearly 150,000 miles on it, so I dismissed it.

I've found a 97 Mercury Grand Marquis (75K miles) that seems to be in good shape except for (1) a rear shock absorber that has a slight leak, (2) a transmission with a minor leak and (3) brake rotors that cause a bit of a vibration when stopping. The user car dealer wants $8300 for it; he doesn't know that I hope to trade in my Town Car.

The GM has some features similar to the TC - the same 4.6L V8, rear air suspension, headlights that can be set to automatically go on and off.

I don't know why I feel like I shouldn't be trading in the TC. It's been a great car and has seldom given me trouble, but my bank account is still reeling from an AC repair that came in at $500 instead of the $300 estimate. We also have a 96 Grand Caravan with a bad transmission (under an Aamco warranty) with another year of payments still left on it, PLUS a 92 Civic LX that we bought my son recently. Three car payments doesn't sound like much fun, but a regular car payment sounds better than an occasional financial disaster.

So here's my questions: Does it make any sense to buy a GM that is essentially a scaled-down TC? True, I might not have any serious repairs for a while, but I'm wondering what they're like (repair-wise) after 120,000 miles? Since new GMs are less expensive than new TCs, does that mean I'm going to get into expensive repairs sooner than I would if I had traded in my TC for a new TC or Continental?

Also, since the GM is lighter than the TC, and since it has the same engine (only newer), it really HAULS BUNS from the stop light, although I rarely (I'd swear on it on a Bible) floor cars.

Thanks for any help, advice, warning, etc y'all may offer!

\/\/\

Comments

  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    are buying the opportunity of paying again what you have paid on the Towncar. At 75,000 you are looking at brakes, A/C, plug wires, & maybe rear axle. Our 94 Signature went 97,000 & up to then it was A/C nd brakes. Then within a month, $1100 on replacing two rear axles and gears inside the differential because the fluid turned to foam. A set of plug wires on 26 Dec was $326. Your TC will no longer depreciate like a later model and the infrequent repair costs a lot less than car payments. Having had the experience of repairing your T/C you know what to expect and can plan for it. IMO a GM is more of a fancy CV than an austere TC. If you are into car payments, buy a later model GM with less than 20,000 miles. Look at payments you can handle for no longer than 30 months as it isn't recommended to continue paying monthly for a depreciated asset.
  • GM and Town Cars are based upon the same platform, and I think you can find a 97 with lower miles for that price.

    Check out the internet, E-bay, etc. Any seller on the Internet can be e-mailed and contact done that way even if you don't actually buy the car during the online auction.
  • You can probably do better than the one you're looking at. My experience (extensive) with Town Cars and Grand Marquis would bode well for your replacement idea though. They are very similar in structure, running gears almost identical. A little different in suspension, but definite cousins. If you like the T/C, you'll probably like the GM too. They are at least as reliable as the T/C.

    All cars need brakes, even Caprice's. Sounds like your mechanic is just a Chevy man. The GM is equally good, maybe better in some ways. Probably not quite as easy to repair in some ways which is why most mechanics I know don't love Fords. They are a bit quirky under the hood. But I don't care, I like the way they run and it's the mech's job to work on them, not mine. It's more important to me how the car feels, drives, looks and sits than how difficult it is to change the plugs.

    I'd keep shopping for either a newer T/C or GM. YOu'll find a good one at a good price.
  • If you are really worried about reliable transportation then have you thought about buying new? With all of the current incentives like 0% financing and such it might not cost that much more to buy a new ride. You can check out the Crown Vic, or the Grand Marquis. The Crown Vic is going to be less cash, but you get less in return. Just an idea, I know you have the other 2 car payments to consider, and the dealer won't give you squat for your TC.

    Personally I would take my chances on the TC you already have. Even if you need to replace the engine, trans, and rear end it's cheaper than the car you were looking at. What I do to keep auto emergencies like that from causing a big crimp in my budget is keep a credit card free and clear so that when you need to make a major repair like a tranny it goes on the card and can be paid off in a reasonable ammount of time w/o a big burden. Average Ford trans is $1500 to $1800 compared to $8500 by the time you figure in tax and plates for a car that you know nothing about. Engines run from $2500 to $3000 depending on the engine and shop you choose. So you figure if you are that worried about it a heart transplant and tranny rebuild are still cheaper than the "new" car.
  • q45manq45man Posts: 416
    I have a 1990 Infiniti Q45 purchased new, now 13 years later with 240,000 miles. During the last 6 years [140,000 miles] it costs $24,000 in maintenance and repairs [to essentially rebuilt the suspension,AC,tranny & drivetrain, [to better than brand new] that's about $4,000 per year or 17 cents per mile.
    The car is worth maybe $3-4,000 [on a good day] due to high mileage but what kind of lux powerful V8 car can you acquire or keep for $4,000 per year.....$333 per month including maintenance.....it is nice once the car is worthless.

    I is always less expensive [but more time consumming] to fix what you already own!
  • I don't mind mechanical repairs, as long as the car is still reliable, ie: starts when I need to go, doesn't leave me on the road. But there comes a time when there isn't enough left to make me comfortable. That usually comes for me at about 150,000 or 10 years. But it's a personal decision. I have found that most people I know who have been in a Lincoln, aren't completely happy in the Mercury, even though blindfolded, you can't tell the difference. I tried it. I couldn't wait to get back to Lincoln. But that's just me. So you may want to fix the old Town Car, as g45man said.
  • My 88 Cartier with 340,000 miles on it is a gem. I nearly got rid of it at 183,000 after the OD was replaced. $1100. Decided to keep it and it was the right decision. NO PAYMENTS FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS. All the accesory units have been replaced, alt. AC.,master cylinder etc. If you are able to fix most of that stuff yourself, it's worth it. I'd be concerned about spending the money on a car with 75K on it.You might be just around the corner for a small bundle with the peripheral repairs due. And what's the car worth after you buy it? I wouldn't pay more than 5 or 6K for it, figuring $1500 for repairs it may need soon.
  • I have terrible wind noise around front windows or windshield area after 40mph speed is reached. Dealer has replaced moulding around doors and windshield. Still the same. Any ideas or similar problems??
  • paulo3paulo3 Posts: 113
    Buy and SUV! All of them have rear wheel drive with the bulk of them 4 wheel drive. They are a lot safer than a Town Car, Caprice or Mercury.

    By the way, some of the best cars on the road that are 5 star rated in crash tests are front wheel drive cars!
  • the I HATE SUVS crowd could be burning a Cherokee on your lawn if they see you saying that......
    But I agree with you too.
  • I know where I can get my hands on a 4-Runner.
  • dbc123dbc123 Posts: 105
    SUV's are 10 times more likley to roll over in an accident that a car. A large car with near equal mass to a suv is far safer and will certainly ride, handle, and brake better. I never cease to be amazed that people choose trucks over cars!
  • I used to feel just like you do about trucks. I avoided them, had no interest in them whatever. Would not have ever considered one unless I had the need. Then I had the need for a small PU, bought a Ford Ranger, just as a temporary third car to handle my hauling & camping issue, and found out how comfortable they were. I kept the Ranger 5 years as a spare car, driving it on weekends and for utility only, staying in my Continentals for business during the week. But when the Navigator came out, I decided to combine
    the two, traded in the Continental, gave the Ranger to my daughter who needed a car, and I've never been happier, and the reason mostly is - comfort. I have a bad left knee, and getting up out of a sedan is a killer for me. Stepping out of almost any truck is painless. My heart is still probably in a large Sedan, but my knee thanks me every day for the truck. And, as I have stated on other boards, I don't buy much on rollover statistics, seeing as how I drive pretty responsibly at this age, and don't run a lot of risk of a rollover. In a T-bone accident, I'd bet my Nav will protect me at least as well as a T/C, even if it were to go over on it's side.
  • GM's and CV's are essentislly clones. I think they give you the biggest bang for your buck in the industry if you can do without some options such as heated seats, memory seat, dual air conditioning, and autodimming sideview mirror.

    They are built primarily for law enforcement hence the limited back leg room because of the communications shelf in front of the trunk. They are rugged comfortable cars. I had a '97 with the handling and performance package and all the other goodies. It was a joy to drive. with no maintenance problems (other than the normal warped rotors at 30k). At 70k I traded it for a '00 Continental (I do not like to drive out of warranty) and still went without dual air conditioning and autodimming outside mirror). The Continental was traded for a '03 Town Car (out of warranty again) now I have all the options I want (plus an underpowered vehicle with a drivers seat from hell).

    If I could have gotten either a GM or CV with the wanted options and some back seat room I would have never gone to Lincoln. Gee do you think Ford is doing that deliberately to get you to upgrade? Both had memory seats in '95.
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    We're considering the 03 to replace our 94.
  • It is just uncomfortable. The seat is soft but there is something wrong with the design of the seat back. I thought it was me but Consumer Reports also had the same comment. After about an hour you are ready to get out and straighten out your back parts. The car is a vast improvement over the '02's and eariler of that body style starting with the suspension and steering. It is still underpowered for me but again an improvement going to 237 hp still on regular non-leaded. I don't say don't buy (there are some good incentives out there}, but do drive one at highway speed for about an hour before you decide.
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