Between August of 1996 and February of 2002, this was my primary means of transportation. I acquired the car as a gift from my grandmother before she died. At time of transfer, the car had 47,000 miles on it and had a Blue Book value of $11,000. In February of 2002, I traded in the car at $1100 on a 2001 Honda Civic, after having several mechanical problems with keeping the car running, mostly because of its age and extreme wear.
Things to watch for
Note when in 1992 your car was made. Mine was manufactured towards the end of the 1992 model run, and there was a design change that prompted for a different engine to be placed in the car. My mechanic discovered this when a fan belt for a '92 Grand Marquis did not fit securely around all the pulleys. My car required a fan belt from the '93 Grand Marquis to run properly.
Another thing to take note on is that the Grand Marquis has rear-wheel drive. People who live in areas where winter snow is really bad (like in Ohio) may want something with front-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive to make the snow easier to pass through. Rear-wheel drive pushes the car along, while front-wheel pulls the car down the road.
This is a more general tip for automotive maintanence, but watch the color of the smoke that comes out the tailpipe of your car. If the smoke is a bluish color, then that means that your car is burning up oil. Usually, you can tell your car is burning oil if you find yourself pouring a quart or two into the engine every time you fill up the gas tank, and there's no evidence of a leak while your car is parked. A recommendation given to me by my mechanic is to use 20w-50 motor oil because of it's thickness.
Another one for general maintanence is make sure your mechanic is ASE certified, or is willing to stand behind his work 100% if he isn't. Keep in mind that an ASE certification exam does not test you on knowledge of certain manufacturers, but on the general design and repair of automotive parts and vehicles (much like the A+ hardware exam covering hardware in general, and not focusing specifically on systems made by one hardware vendor, such as Dell).
Below is a list of the repairs that were done to this car.
- Replaced a door seal on the passenger side. I thought this was causing the flooding to appear in the rear passenger floorboards. Turns out the water was coming in from the trunk area, and the drain hole that drains the water from there was plugged.
- Repaired power window pulley system on the front driver's side. The cable that controlled the entire mechanism slipped and the power window was inoperable until that could be repaired.
- Blew a fan belt and tensioner while on the road. This repair job prompted me to go look for a new car. The replacement belt was for a '93 Grand Marquis (see above for detail). What was worse was the ordeal I went through with the shop that I was able to get my car to. You won't be hearing about that here (if there's enough of a demand, I'll see if I can create a daylog entry for the day of the repair).
- Had the transmission replaced while I was away on vacation. Due to the car's age and massive wear, the transmission started slipping. Took a lot of gas just to get the car in motion once it was in D.