CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

1993 4 cylinder LX Mustang

We want to give our 1993 Mustang LX, 4 cylinder with 105,000 miles that is in very good condition to our 6’2", 240 lb., 17 year old grandson. He fits in it nicely and he loves the car. We want to know if this is a safe car for this very reliable grandson.

Overall ‘‘safety’’ is in the driver.
Car-wise it sounds good to me.

I wouldn’t, driving is the most dangerous thing your teen grandson will do, why give him a car lacking the basic safety equipment, in particular crash resistance and side airbags? A 2000 or newer car with side airbags is the minimum for me.

There’s worse cars out there to give them, it could be a 5.0.

Before he gets anything, check with the insurance company to see how much it’ll cost. If you live where it snows with any regularity, RWD isn’t all that great in snow, and inexperience coupled with that will mean you’re going to be hurting in winter time.

The NHTSA frontal crash test results were 4-stars for the 1993 convertible and 1994 coupe. That’s all the information that is available.

As a reliable young man, he should be able to drive the car without many problems. What sort of driving will he do? If it is around town (not highway), the speeds will be low and any accidents he gets into will not cause him significant harm. ken green’s suggestion about driver safety is the most important aspect. If he is a reasonably safe driver, it is highly unlikely that he will be hurt. I’d give it a shot and keep an eye on him. His parents can always ground him if he does too many foolish things. And yes, no matter how mature a 17 year old is, he can and will do some foolish stuff.

I agree that there are safer cars out there, but you could definitely do much worse than a '93 four banger Mustang. At least it’s not a fast car (although your grandson will probably think it is as most 17 year olds are easily impressed). I drove all kinds of crazy stuff at that age (Z28 Camaros, 5.0L Mustangs, jacked up 4X4s, Corvettes, etc) and managed to not kill myself.

If you do give him this car, I suggest doing him a favor by replacing the timing belt and thermostat and gasket. These engines can develop a leak at the thermostat gasket, which will leak right into the timing cover and soak the timing belt, causing it to fail. If this happens, it won’t trash the engine like some other designs, but the car won’t be going anywhere under its own power, so this is good preventive work to avoid a breakdown, which will be at least inconvenient and at worst dangerous, like if it happens in heavy traffic or on the highway.

This is a pretty good car for him. It is true that it won’t go as fast on snow or ice as a FWD or 4WD, but then, how fast do you want your inexperienced driver going when he looses control for the first time, and he will lose control once or twice until he gains some experience.

If you live in the snow belt, you can put winter tires on this vehicle when he is ready to go a little faster on snow and ice.

I agree with those that say this is a pretty good car for him as long as it’s in good shape. While crush zones continue to evolve, it’s new enough for side door beams and an airbag, it has EFI (for reliability), it should be competant yet not fast, the handling should be decent, and…very important…it won’t be prone to rolling over or loss of control in an evasive maneuver or from entering a curve a bit too fast. It should stay in control pretty well, compensating for typical new-driver errors

The guys gave you good advice. The only I can add is no car is completely safe all of the time. Last year a girl near here died in a 2 year old car. It had side airbags too. She hit a tree at about 45-55 mph. The crash did not kill her. She was pined in it and it burned. It was not her fault. She was hit in the right rear. On other end of that is a good friend (17 at the time) driving a 71 VW Bug was hit head on by a 78 Caddy. He walked away. The Caddy driver went to the hospital. The point is you can do your best to protect him, but at some point he must do it himself. If this was 1996 you would not think twice about it. Also you felt safe enough to drive it and I will bet you drove him around in it. Give it to him and let him enjoy it. If it needs any repairs or maintenance I would have him pay for it. Also have him read the manual and show him how to check things under the hood. A good repair manual for it would be a nice gift too.

It has to be better than my 65 Fairlane which had one speed wipers, no washer and no back up lights. The loose nut behind the wheel didn’t help much either. I kept a bicycle in the trunk.

Every driver has to know the limits of the car. If this young one is a good listener then ok. Some folk are and some not. You know more about the driver than we do.