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1994 Lincoln Town Car - Low miles but old, need maintenance advice

I’m being given a 1994 Lincoln Town Car, Signature Series. It’s got only about 45K original miles. It was owned by my uncle and it was used basically for back and forth to stores and church, very little highway driving.

I’m going to be picking it up in Michigan and driving it to Colorado so my question is, other than the typical stuff, oil/filter change, brake check etc. given it’s age in years, what else should I have a mechanic check out before I take it on a 1000+ mile trip?

Good idea that you are having a mechanic look it over. Check the tires, if they are approaching 10 years old or have cracks get new rubber. Look for rust, at that age it may be the deal breaker. When my mother in law passed away we got a similar old car low miles -in Michigan. Drove it to PA and gave it to my daughter, it served her well for many years. Rust and failing AC caused her to trade it in.


Thanks for the reply.

The tires were replaced in 2008. Since then the car has been driven about 10K miles. So there’s not much wear on them but I will have the sidewalls looked at for cracking etc.

He didn’t do much winter driving but I agree, rust might be present. We’ll see.

Look for a date code on the tires. If they were bought in 2008, they could have already been 2 years old, and that would be from an honest tire dealer. Dishonest ones could sell tires even older than that. But those tires are 8 going on 9 years old, the recommended age limit on tires is 10 years, and yours could be that old or older.

Here is a link to a trusted source on reading the date code.

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If it were mine, I would replace all the water hoses and serpentine belt. I would change all the fluids, including a full flush of the brake fluid, but maybe not the rear diff. I would check over all the routine maintainance stuff–filters, etc. All that assuming it is not a rust bucket.

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Good items. Thanks.

Regarding rust, there’s none showing on the body itself so I guess I’ll need to get it on a lift and look underneath.

I have to say for myself I would just get up and go, for anyone else I would recommend a coolant flush, check hoses, fuel filter, air filter, trans service, tire check, oil change , brake check and inspection of suspension components, and do a 100 mile test drive at expressway speeds to note any problems.

I’m kind of like @Barkydog on this, except that I would check fluid levels and the tires. Unless the oil is like tar, I would not change it right before a trip. If the oil change place double gaskets the filter or doesn’t tighten the drain plug properly, you will be stuck in Michigan until it is fixed. Either do the oil change a week before you plan on leaving, or do it when you get home. The risk is low, but it is a risk none the less.

Put off everything you can until you can get it to your trusted mechanic, at home. But tires, that is a different story. Most of the time you see a stranded vehicle, it is because of a tire. Tires I take seriously.

Absolutely check the tire pressure before you leave. I would recommend that you add 3 psi above the pressure on the placard for a road trip. Highway miles cause additional heat build up in tires, the best way to mitigate this is by increasing the pressure a little.

OK, I am guilty of not reading the OP carefully. Many of the things I recommended can wait till you get home. However, before the tripI would look at the belts and hoses for cracks, check the tranny level,
and at least look at the oil.

@keith You are right, I leaped to a conclusion assuming fluid levels etc. would be checked, nice catch!

Service the transmission as they were prone to a few issues with aged fluid. The '94 Lincoln I had also had a drain plug in the torque converter which made servicing a lot better.

Check the motor oil level during the trip. This is to avoid any problems which might be caused by the short hop driving to the store, church, and so on.

These are good cars. With proper care you should be able to get hundreds of thousands of miles out of it.

The rubber and plastic parts are the critical things to watch as they wear out with time as well as miles. Not necessarily replace as long as you plan to keep your driving local, but keep an eye on them at least. Belts, hoses, tires especially. Make sure the spare tire is ok and filled up w/air. Any signs of cracks forming in the tires, tread or sidewall, especially the front ones, replace Suggest to also check the engine air filter and take a close look at the water pump and if it is the mechanical type bolted on the side of the engine, the fuel pump, both for any signs of weeping or leaks. If it was my gifted car I’d probably replace the fuel filter too, but that’s probably not a critical thing at this point as long as there are no signs of fuel problems.

@ok4450, I agree with you, but I’d wait until I got it home. But I did mean to add check the oil at every gas stop along the way just in case it is consuming oil. Good catch .