Lousy 91-98 Lincoln Town Cars: How come everybody knew except me?

I had a friend in 1997 that had a Lincoln Town Car, I think that it was a 93 or 94. He had to get the engine replaced 3 times within one year. He had a warranty on it, but he had to spend a few hundred because there was a 100 dollar deductible. He told me that the mechanic, from the Ford dealership told him that these were crummy engines and that there was a design flaw and that he could look forward to many such replacements. Another friend of mine had one of athe same model,but it was out of warranty, so I didn’t tell her what I haed heard, but, sure enough, new engine within 2 months. I later told this to another friend of mine, a Mexican immigrant, that could barely speak English (but we knew enough of a common tongue to praise our own 88 Lincoln Town Cars.) He just started nodding and said “The 91’s through 98’s are all like that.” So, my one friend had to spend hard earned cash to gain this knowledge, but my Mexican friend knew all about it How did he find this information out? He isn’t even close to an engineer, he is not any kind of mechanic, no bona fides that should give him an inside track, so how does he know that these engines were lousy. Is there some website that tells of flawed, but not flawed enough to recall, vehicles?

Sorry, handsomeharry, I don’t have an answer to you, but wanted to just say that we just bought a 1985 Lincoln Town Car - it is to be my son’s first car (he doesn’t know about it yet! :D) and we’re really tickled about it! It’s a real beauty - and I’ve always loved Town Cars…

Ok, sorry, hijack over now.

If anything I would think he would be likely to be more aware of such a problem than white bread engineer. If your economic context determines you are going to be relying on used cars that are serviceable, you are likely to be interacting with service people who repair and service those vehicles. When I was young and out of college in 1981 I leaned more about the ins and outs of a Dodge Dart Sport ( a Duster) and the slant 6 225 engine, and body rust issues than I care to relate.

You probably know that Consumer Reports magazine surveys its readers to get reliability ratings for cars. I keep CR issues 6 years back, so I pulled the Apr 99 issue to look up their take on the Town Cars. Here’s what the chart says:

Engine- better than average 91-93 and 98, much better than average 94-97.
Cooling- better in 91, much better in the rest.
Fuel had a bad year in 92.
Ingition was awful 91-93
Transmission was bad in 92-94
Electrical was awful in 91-92, bad in 93-95, average in 96-97, better in 98.
A/C was awful in 91-92
Brakes were dreadful in 91-96, average after that.
Paint was bad in 91.
Hardware was lousy 91-94 and 96.

I checked in the Apr04 issue, and the remaining TCs also had better to much better engine scores. After 98, those other problems got better, too.

So, their readers’ Lincoln TCs had a lot of trouble, but not much of it was in the engine.

I’ve got to say, that car by and large uses the same powertrain as the Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria from the same years. I’ve never heard of a systemic issue on those vehicles’ powerplants during those years, and I spend entirely too much time reading about cars online.
If you were talking about the 3.8L “Essex” V6 found in that era’s Lincoln Continental and Ford Taurus police package, then yes, there is a fairly famous head gasket problem. I’m pretty sure you’re not getting the TC and the Connie confused.
Might I trouble you to describe the nature of your two associates’ mechanical failures?
I remember ONE TIME hearing (in person) about a systemic with… I’m thinking the heads on these things?

I don’t really know what it was. Just “New engine. Going to cost 3 thou”
btw, Mr. S
how did you find out about the head gasket prob?

I follow a “Taurus Car Club” message board [1] and the guys with the 3.8 (usually in used police Tauri) are constantly talking about redoing their head gaskets.
I’ve known the Connie has the 3.8-Liter Essex V6 since I read an Automobile magazine review circa about 15 years back.
Finally, if you want a cite, have at it:
“Oil leak: Ford extended the warranty on 3.8-liter Taurus’s to 7/100,000 and may compensate owners for repairs related to head-gasket failures. (1994)” [2]

[1] No link due to board policies, but creative googling will find it quick-like.
[2] Expert Car Reviews | Consumer Guide Auto | consumerguide.com
<---------- Scroll to bottom.

Didn’t the early 90’s Lincoln Town Cars have the 302 (5.0 liter) V8 engine in them? Those engines have been in Mustangs, Thunderbirds, Explorers, Crown Vics, Broncos, F-150s, off the top of my head. They’re great engines, they started off in the late 60’s in Mustangs and the block was still largely the same until the mid 90’s when Ford starting using the new 4.6 liter.

If there’s a problem with the 302 engine it’s something dumb Ford/Lincoln did in the Town cars.


The 302W was last available in the TC in the 1990 model year. Starting in '91 it was modular 4.6L only.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Town_Car#Second_generation_.281990-1997.29

Well I’ll be durned, didn’t know the 4.6 was out that early. I wasn’t familiar with it until ~1996 when it was put in the Mustang.

I miss the old Ford V8s and some of the mods people were doing on 'em, but I don’t miss the weak high-RPM response they had. I’ll tell you what else, though… the redlines on the 4.6 are also mind-numbingly low.

At one time, you could log into Ford’s website, plug in your car’s VIN and it would tell you about the various recalls on them. Don’t know if you can still do that or not, but it’s a handy way to find out such things. There also used to be an unofficial Ford forum ran by Ford mechanics who were more than happy to spill the dirt on problems with certain Ford vehicles.

I work at a Ford dealership, and I must say I hardly ever see any problems with that engine. The 4.6 v8 is a pretty reliable engine. The only problem you usually see is that cracked plastic intake manifold. I hate to generalize, but most town cars are usually driven sedately anyway, and have even less trouble than most.

This thread has me wondering if the OP’s friends live somewhere that they… I don’t know, have flooding problems, and keep hydrolocking their Town Cars when they try to use them as submarines…

At dealer auto auctions Lincolns are called “stinkin’ Lincolns” -------and for good reason.

Ever driven what we call a “low rider” stinkin’ Lincoln? Will jar the teeth out of your head -------and only repairable for thousands and thousands of dollars.

Funny thing is ------

------Ford Crown Vic’s and Mercury Grand Marquis are essentially both Lincolns ---------but usually can go easily over 150,000 miles and drive and ride like new with few or no service problems.

Ford Crown Vic and Mercury Grand Marquis are very well respected at auto auctions.

Stinkin’ Lincolns are not well respected at all.

And for good reason.

It is not really just the “low rider” problem for stinkin’ Lincolns-------

I mean everything seems to go to hell. All the bells and whistles that make the stinkin’ Lincoln distinguishable from a lowly Ford Crown Vic or a Mercury Grand Marquis (all 3 are essentially the same car) ------------all those bells and whistles turn to absolute shiit on a Lincoln within very few years.

No problem for the average Lincoln Town Car new car buyer who trades that dog in after a couple years and buys a new Lincoln before the tires or battery thinks about dying or even the ash trays get full ------




Town cars are the mainstay of limo and town car fleets. A while back I was taking a town car to the airport, and I asked why they did not use any Caddys. The drivers response was the Town Cars would last for ever with some maintinence, but they could not keep a Caddy on the road past about 150,000 miles. The car I was riding in had 652,000 miles on it. From where I sat everything seemed to work just fine.
I gotta believe that if they were as bad as some people say they are, business that drive cars for a living would not waste their money on them.
::: shrug:::

For a few years, you couldn’t buy a rear wheel drive Caddy, IIRC (GM having decided to abandon RWD cars), and FWD vehicles don’t do well with really long wheel bases. Limos are often heavily reworked by the company that builds them, and the better companies would naturally toss out components known to be problematic and replace them with better aftermarket units. And some companies would just slap the limos together anyway they could (which is why there’s a Lincoln SUV limo in Nashville that crabs sideways as it goes down the road).

Tuck I wasn’t talking about the units that have been sawed in half and made a block long. When I said limos, I am talking about stock big black factory cars. Another term for them is a town car. I did not use town car for fear that it would be confused with a Lincoln Town Car which is a particular model of a town car.

Ah, you’re probably meaning the Cartier editions, which have a slightly longer wheelbase and different options than the Town Cars (even though they share the same basic platform). If Ford’s doing the Cartier editions like they were the Blackwoods (highly likely) then they have a “zero defect” policy at the factory. Which means they go over the cars with a fine tooth comb and don’t allow them to leave if there’s the slightest thing wrong with them. When they were building Blackwoods, there was a serious delay in getting them out of the factory and into dealerships because of it (which is why they don’t make the Blackwoods any more, people got tired of waiting for them).