1988 Crown Victoria - a good car?


#1

I know the Crown Victoria’s after 2000 are good reliable cars but how good is the 1988 version? Are parts still available for it (especially body parts)?

How easy is it to fix? Especially since it doesn’t have the OBD connector (may not even have a computer).


#2

If this 1988 Crown Victoria needs body parts now because of rust, run the other way. However, if you need to replace a dented door, you might go online to a place like Desert Valley Auto Parts. I doubt that there are still new parts being produced by Ford.
I would bet that engine and drivetrain parts are still available. As I remember, the 1988 Ford Crown Victorias were as reliable as any other car of that time period.


#3

Well, I have trouble calling any old, used, 1988 car a ‘good car’ for regular use, but the CV should be pretty easy to keep running. It does have a computer, limited as it is. I’d rather find a '96 or newer, though.


#4

I had an 87. My experience agrees with Consumer Reports that it was among the most reliable sedans of the period. No fancy computer, but easier to actually do work than a modern car. Solid and safe. The best gas mileage was about 20 highway. I agree with above posts. I would indeed rather have a late-90s model (or a Grand Marquis or a Lincoln Town Car) than an 88.


#5

My parents had a 1986 Crown Vic when I was a kid. My mom loved it because the trunk could hold all of her luggage when we went on road trips.

Sadly, the timing chain broke on the engine out of the blue, and my parents had to unexpectedly buy a new car right before Christmas 1987.

Good luck.


#6

My grandparents had a 1987, which is mechanically the same. low performance 302, AOD transmission. They are reliable and comfortable and have a large truck. But it’s a 25 year old car, and it will have a problem or two. It does have OBD I and it has Ford’s EEC-IV ECU. The engine is fuel injected unless you get the police model which might have a carbureted 351W.


#7

These are called “The Square Ones” In 1992, the “Aeros” came out, a completely new car, new overhead cam engine…

First thing to check is if it’s carbureted or fuel injected…If it’s carbureted, it’s liable to be an Autolite Constant Velocity contraption that are nothing but trouble. The whole emissions package was complicated and unreliable…


#8

I still see quite a few of the 80s era cars out there (easily identified because everybody went from “angles” to “curves” around 1989). They are almost always domestic, and generally RWD barges or trucks…with the occasional K-car tossed in.


Despite the Japanese cars’ superiority (and I was there, so yes I know they were much better at giving the customer what he wanted), I almost never see an 88 Camry or Civic, etc.


Rustproofing, perhaps?


#9

The best way to decide if body parts remain available is to try to locate some now, before you make the buying decision. Pick out two or three parts you think you might one day need, and ask your local mechanic, your local inde auto parts store, folks here for possible sources. Then then phone or internet them and see if they have any of those parts in stock. Since the CV sold in pretty high volumes, I expect you’ll be able to still find most parts even for an 88 without much trouble.


#10

Also, it seems domestics are to find parts for, even compared to cars that sold in similar quantites…so you’ve got that going for you.

Still hard to think of a 27 y.o. car as a good everyday driver…unless you’re quite handy.


#11

I don’t know about age being a killer for daily drivers. A local farmer who lived a few blocks away from me passed away not many years ago and was on the road every day with an old car.

He had a 50s GMC pickup and a 65 Chevy Bel Air (bare bones, tan 4 door grannymobile) and not a day went by that he wasn’t out all over the place with that Chevy. In spite of his very advanced age he was a good driver although he seldom reached the speed limit; always loitering 5 or 10 under.

To look at him in those old crates and with the faded overalls which he wore every day one would think that he didn’t have a dime to his name. He was loaded and his one sacrifice to spending was to build a new home not many years before his passing. He paid cash for it and parked inside the double garage of the new home was the GMC and Bel Air.

The only issue I could see with the '88 in question is that it’s an EEC-IV model with the problematic TFI ignition module but that’s an easy fix if ever needed; assuming it hasn’t been done already.

It does have a diagnostic connector for a simple code reader or which can be used with a VOM.
Pulling codes is easy on these once you learn the process and the process is not difficult.


#12

We bought a 1985 CV new and had no major problems in 150,000 miles. Oregon. No rust problems.


#13

@ok4450: Understand that I’m a guy that drove a 94 F150 as a daily driver (until I broke down and got a second, less thirsty sedan). It’s still my work-day ride, and I have zero plans to replace it.


It works for me because I’m handy. Both interior door handles pulled out of the sheet metal…I fixed it with a fender washer. I just replaced, today, the latch mechanism for the glove box with a u-pull-it part. I still struggle periodically with the tailgate latch.


An older vehicle like that gets expensive fast if you don’t do your own work, even if the motor and tranny last forever.


#14
I almost never see an 88 Camry or Civic, etc.

Drive around Lawrence or Lowell MA…and you’ll seem them by the droves. Along with plenty of Accords.

You won’t see too many prior to about 86. Around 86 was when most Asian vehicle manufacturers got smart on how to make a vehicle so it doesn’t rust out too easily.


#15

If I had to choose among the following cars–a 1988 Crown Victoria, a 1988 Toyota Camry or a 1988 Honda Accord, with all things being equal, I would choose the Crown Victoria. The Crown Victoria would be the easiest for me to keep in repair.


#16

If I had to choose between those 3, I might buy a bike. No '80s car would appeal to me now, between the age and the terrible engine controls/mpgs.


#17
No '80s car would appeal to me now, between the age and the terrible engine controls/mpgs.

Gee, wouldn’t mind me a Supra, a RWD Corolla, or a CRX. I also think an 80’s era muscle car–in an state where they are no longer subject to smog–would make for a decent budget build: lighter, better handling (to a degree), and the same basic engine/powertrains as their 70’s bretheren.

According to fueleconomy.gov, the CV came with either a 302 or a 351w. Seems to me, it’d be just as buildable as any other car with a 302 or 351w.


#18

No '80s car would appeal to me now, between the age and the terrible engine controls/mpgs

I drove a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass with a 260 V-8 engine from the time I bought it new in October of 1978 until I sold it in October of 2011. I drove it 240,000 miles and had no major engine repairs. I had no driveability problems and never had to touch the carburetor. It got about 16-17 mpg around town and 22-24 mpg on the highway. I had no problems changing spark plugs, fuel pump, water pump, alternator, etc. This car was a rear wheel drive. We bought a 1988 Taurus in 1988. It ran quite well, but with its transverse V-6 engine, I didn’t do any servicing except to change the oil. The gas mileage was about the same as the Oldsmobile. The Taurus did have the computer controlled fuel injection. It seems to me that a 1988 Crown Victoria might have been, for its time, the best of both worlds in terms of ease of servicing and driveability.
At any rate, when the temperature is below freezing, I would prefer either the 1978 Oldsmobile or the 1988 Taurus to riding a bicycle.


#19

Note, we’re talking about buying some used 25-year old car, not keeping and caring for a car for 25 years. Who knows what problems it’d have? I’d MUCH rather buy something newer.


#20

That’s good advice if you can afford it. But some folks just can’t. My niece just bought a 1993 Mustang 6-cyl for $600. She knew it would need some work, and they have $500 into it and counting. She thinks it still needs another $500 to put it in good working order. But that is what shoe could afford.