Upgrading a Car

I have a 2012 Lincoln MKZ AWD with about 40k miles. It has been used regularly but mostly for short trips a couple of times a week.

Being low in miles but high in years, I’m not sure whether to consider the car in need of a thorough go-thru, still good for another 100k+ miles, or what?

My wife is also, currently, buying a new car and of course they all have the new nifty features that make it clear that my car is behind the times (its special features for the time now seem to be standard on the entry-level vehicles). And, even before, I had always been thinking about upgrading it to be a bit more special under the hood than it appears - I just didn’t want to while I was still under warranty.

Questions for those who know more than me:

  1. Should I be worried about things like rubber or plastic going bad, due to age? I.e., should I get someone to go through the car and replace parts or is that just a waste of time and effort, and more liable to break things than make them better?
  2. Should it be possible and safe to upgrade the car at a mechanical level (e.g., putting in better brakes, adding turbocharging, etc.)? Or would it be nigh impossible for anyone to do without wrecking all the algorithms and whatnot that run the AWD and other systems, and make the car run worse? How would I make sure that I can find someone who can do that correctly?
  3. Similarly, how feasible should it be to add new electronics features to the car? How do I ensure that the company I find can swap things over without losing a bunch of the other electronics?

not really. Belts and hoses last a long time now. My 2011 Ranger is still on the original hoses and just had the accessory belt changed at 139,000 miles.

with brakes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. just make sure your brake pads have sufficient lining thickness left and are wearing evenly. I guess the next time it needs its oil changed, do what you were thinking and take it to a place with real mechanics (no quick-lube places) and ask if they can look over that stuff. Might charge you an hour of labor, but it’ll be peace of mind.

doing things like adding a turbo would be nigh impossible. The “easiest” way would be if it or its Fusion twin had offered a powertrain with one, and do a swap. But it didn’t, and the cost of doing a a custom job would be probably 1/2 the cost of a new car. IIRC that year MKZ all had V6s, so they’ve got plenty of power.

the only real gotcha for that 3.5 liter V6 is that the water pump is behind the timing cover and not easily inspected. if it starts leaking, coolant will go into the oil. but 40k miles is typically way too soon to even worry about the water pump.

it’s a pain. the MKZ had the upper level SYNC system which integrates with the climate control module. changing the infotainment is possible but will be expensive.

It makes a big difference regarding exactly what electronic helpers you wish to add. Something like a backup camera would be fairly simple as long as you have a spot to mount the add-on screen somewhere that is both practical and safe for the driver. Other things are going to either be prohibitively expensive or just not realistic. If you can give us some clues about what you actually, specifically want then we could offer better advice.

This of course is such a subjective topic, how long to own a car but I wouldn’t even think of owning a Cadillac or Lincoln that wasn’t under warranty. Just me of course, but I’m dealing it off as soon as I can.

1/2 the cost of a new Yaris or half the cost of a new Lincoln? It’s not underpowered, so we’re just talking fun factor here. If we’re talking $10k then that might be worth it, but not if it will make the car unreliable or shorten its life or anything.

Basically, just putting in something that hands off to the phone for navigation.

I was thinking maybe it’s possible to swap components from a newer model in.

Swapping electronics from a newer model is getting to be harder and harder because of the way the parts supply chain works and how integrated all of the canbus modules are. I can give some examples of headaches I’ve had but the short version is it’s not worth it.

Fortunately replacing a radio is still possible – any stereo installer will be able to set you up with something that supports Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for less than a grand, or you can DIY it after telling the sales rep at Crutchfield.com what you want to do. I checked and it looks like you can keep your steering wheel controls but I don’t know what other integrations you might lose moving to an aftermarket head unit. I know you’ll lose Sync if that’s something you like, so no voice commands unless your phone is hooked up.

As far as power upgrades, I also checked that and I don’t see any supercharger or turbocharger kits available for your car, at least not with anything I’d consider close to reliable components. You could take it to a speed shop and throw 6 or 7 grand at it but at the end of the day it wouldn’t be worth it.

Too bad then, I suppose. I guess I just keep running her as she is till she drops.

Listening to sense is less exciting than being crazy but so it is.

If you want some encouragement, an MKZ with your mileage retails for around $10k, figure you can sell it for $8k on Facebook, take the $10k you want to spend on upgrades, and get yourself a 2017 Cadillac ATS 2.0T. You’ll get a lot of newer tech and a while it’s about the same power you have now, it’s a lighter, better chassis. And with the factory turbo you’ll have more options for go-fast parts down the road. Nothing wrong at all with treating yourself to a little Cadillac love.

What happened to question 3?

We don’t speak of him.

Or… It was lost in editing.

8 years is not “high in years” for a car. I’ve never bought a car that was less than 8 years old. One of mine lasted 10 years but deteriorated due to high miles (250,000), the others lasted 19 and 15 years. In my experience about 15 years is about when you start to see random electrical problems due to electronics going bad, rubber components deteriorating, and parts availability becomes an issue.

I’m not a fan of turbo-chargers. Those (and hybrid technology) are starting to become popular because of government mandates and consumer preference for cars with astronomical gas mileage while still not being absolutely terrible at acceleration. But those are something else to break.

If you’re not happy with your car, just sell it and buy something you want rather than trying to tinker with it. Modern cars aren’t meant to be tinkered with like you’d swap out a graphics card in your computer.