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Buying and Maintaining a Car
40,000 Miles In My Grand Marquis

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By crobinso
October 12, 2006

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I won't promise my thread to be as eloquent and detailed as Milligram's was about his Grand Prix, but here goes.

I just reached 40,000 miles on the car today, while coming within a mile of my job. I bought the car on October 2, 2004, two years and 4 days ago. Yup, my car is a daily driver. But I'm hearing that nowadays, 40,000 miles in two years isn't a whole lot of driving - anymore. [shrug]

Since I was near my [replacement] dealer, I stopped off for an oil change, filter, and tire rotation under the service plan I purchased.

PROS

The 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Ultimate (say that 3 times without taking a breath) is a McLimo that is worthy to be parked in the garage of my McMansion. If you want a smoother, quieter ride, shell out $15,000 more for a Lincoln Town Car (and receive only marginally superior quiet, IMO). About the only other option that the TC has that the Grand Marq doesn't have is the individually controlled A/C - heat for driver and passenger. Not worth $15,000, but I sure needed it this morning. My DW was cold and I was not. I had to heat the car in order to keep her quiet.

On rainy days like today, the traction control comes in very handy. The old testosterone needed releasing today, so whenever I got to a stop light where I was first in my lane, I "took off" when the light turned green. The T/C gripped the white lines of the painted stripes with nary a slip. Grease and oil on the road surface? No problem due to the T/C's continually adjusting left and right rear tires to find "pay dirt". While others tried to keep up, they were literally spinning their wheels in the distant view of my rear-view mirror while I launched out of the tube like a torpedo. (No, I didn't drive like a bat out of hell: I know the limitations of this car, and I didn't push it that far.) I would accelerate to the speed limit and then watch the rest slowly catch up to me because they wanted to pass me badly. LOL

Handling/rear suspension: Large front sway bars and rear air suspension (works in two ways: adjusts up or down due to load, and also to speed of car with the load in motion) means taking tight turns faster than one should and still live. LOL Seriously, it makes for a sm-o-o-th ride for driver and passengers* (but see the asterisk in the CONS section).

Creature comforts: All fulfilled. Smooth ride, Laz-Y-Boy seating, automatic cabin temperature control to defeat the hottest hots or the coldest colds, multi-position front chairs, adjustable foot pedals and steering wheel, all ensure that you'll exit this ride fresher than when you got in.

Braking: I'm not recommending that one should tailgate, but if you do, and have to stop in a hurry, this car has brakes on top of brakes. In all seriousness: DO NOT TAILGATE. Beginning in 2003, all Grand Marquis have a feature, well, let me quote: "A quiet EBD brake booster with a mechanical panic assist system was also added." When the car senses that you are panic stopping, the panic assist system kicks in to fully engage the brakes. I do NOT know HOW it works. I just know that it works, and works greatly. Unless you are asleep at the wheel, you will NOT have to steer around the vehicle in front of you in order to stop in time. All you have to do is stomp on the brake pedal. The panic assist does the rest.

Economy: Not bad for a McLimo. Seventeen mpg city, 25 highway. I've averaged as low as 14.1 on a tank full of gas (due to hotfooting), and I've surpassed the 25 mpg mark on more than one occasion (I hit 26.2 last week!)

Performance: Bat outta hell. Some of that hotfooting I was talking about. Enough said.

Reliability: Can't have everything. See CONS, next. I must say though that the brake pads and the tires have FAR outperformed to my wildest dreams! Having just returned from the dealer, the pads and tread still have thousands of miles of useful life.

Paint: Oooh, pretty. Except for some boo-boos that I did myself from backing into concrete pillars at work, and a couple keyings while entering the car. Aack! I could really use a backup sensor. (Not available on the Grand Marquis, but is an option on some TC models).

CONS

Reliability: Don't get me wrong. Overall, this car is great. And my specimen has certainly outperformed "my boys" that were built in the 1980s. There have been fewer "gadget" breakdowns. But the big ones happened just out of warranty! At 36,090 miles, the A/C controller motor fails. $50 for extended warranty repair. The LS Ultimate has dual exhaust. The right catalytic converter failed, causing a rattle that was loud yet difficult for a couple of dealers to pin the noises' blame on. Fixed for free under a U.S.-mandated 8/80 warranty for cats. And when new, the right rear window rolled down but did not roll up. Fixed for free under warranty.

Performance: The fan belt slips loud enough for me to hear it when I floor the engine. No dealer has been able to duplicate the problem (because they're too afraid to gun a customer's engine around the shop or on the road). I'm probably losing a coupla horses as a result.

Maintenance: Approaching limits on radiator/cooling system, tires, brakes, and battery, before these items will require attention. Not a CON, really, unless you ain't gots no money... Example: I priced the Michelin HydroEdge tires today. $142 each plus installation. I might buy those, or the Michelin Pilot XGT Z4.

*Handling: stiffer suspension means a bumpier ride over those "washboard" roads. You feel every dimple in the road.

Economy: I really suffered when gasoline reached $3.20 a gallon. I cut back on my driving. It was awful. Suddenly, a Camry or a Civic seemed like a good thing. I'm glad the gas price has eased. LOL

Misc: There is a "thonk" when I plop down into the car. I guess I shouldn't complain, because think of it: after two years of someone weighing 500 lbs plopping down on you, wouldn't you "thonk", too? I mean, even my bed "thonks" (after 7 years) when I sit on it. LOL And no, you mean-spirited skinny-butts, I can't sit down without plopping!

The Grand Marquis can carry 6 people AND a 20.6 cubic foot load of "stuff" in its trunk and not even sweat. The rear air suspension keeps the car at a safe height, making handling a fully loaded car almost as easy as handling a driver-only car.

I'd really like to see Ford offer the his/her A/C controls, as well as ESC, which isn't even available on the TC. The LS Ultimate does come with the optional side air bags in the front seats. I just heard on the radio yesterday that they are a highly desired option as the insurance institute says that people are less likely to die in cars with these devices. Sweet.

That's about it, I guess. I am very satisfied with my car after two years and 40,000 miles. I feel a sense of comfort (as in, this thing is going to get me home without trouble) when I drive it. I don't have to put on overcoats, rain gear, or such because I can drive this car out of my home garage and into my job's garage. People probably wonder why I never wear a coat to work. I do keep a winter jacket in the back seat and an umbrella in the trunk, just in case.

Charles


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