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2004 Taurus SE....104,000 miles....what could I be in store for

When you say “drive a car hard” exactly what does that mean?

I have been scouring the web all week and it appears that most the cars in my area in my price range are falling under the same type of car type. Most of the Toyotas and such have much higher milage on them, many near 200000 and are at least 2-3 thousand dollars more.

Seems you want a $4k car with 100k miles. Hard combo to find.

Not exactly, I can go up to 130-135,000 miles and be okay, they are out there…

Driving a car hard means punching it to pass other vehicles on the road, accelerating rapidly and loading the car. I don’t abuse them because you can destroy the best transmission by doing that. When you baby a car…you drive slowly, never accelerate rapidly or carry anything more than yourself to the store or church. You know…it’s how an elderly grandmother drives.

Guess I am a elderly then…I don’t ever drive that hard or fast…:wink:

Any warranty won’t be worth the money you pay for it–it is an expensive insurance policy. Have the Taurus inspected by a trusted mechanic and then make your decision.

Our son was looking for a compact pickup truck. The common wisdom was to buy a Ford Ranger or a Toyota Tacoma. The Toyota trucks were way out of his price range. He did find a couple Ford Rangers, but when he took each of these trucks to be inspected, his mechanic advised him to take a pass. Ultimately, our son found a good CHevrolet S-10 that met his needs.
Don’t be in a hurry. Have a mechanic check the Taurus. If it doesn’t pass inspection, keep looking. There are other dealers and other cars for sale. You don’t have to settle for the Chrysler Sebring or the Dodge Neon.

@bertrand I used to drag race in my early years and it’s a habit that’s hard to break. Everyone drives like an elderly grandmother to me. That doesn’t mean I’m not safe though. No wrecks in almost 50 years of driving, no insurance claims and no tickets in the last 25 years.

Unfortunetly I doubt I am going to be able to have a mechanic check out whatever car I get before I buy, I really just don’t have the extra income to spend on it, I know that isn’t good, but it’s my reality and will have to hope for the best.

It’s the best $100 (usually) that you can spend. I see people almost every day that buy something with an obvious problem that a good mechanic will find in a heartbeat. Cut back on cigarettes, pack a lunch and slow down on the fast living. The money will be there. :slight_smile:

could try a salvage car. but the sellers think they are worth 99% of value vs non-salvage cars. of course they say they are repaired perfectly. but than there is that pesky “salvage” title. nothing that affects driving of course, just resale value. its not an issue if you keep it forever and than junk it. dont tell anyone you have a car with a shady past.

Problem is we are not talking about just $100. We are talking multiple $100 if you do that with every car you consider.

The key is making the proper selection. It’s not easy to do but it’s certainly possible. Take a mechanically inclined friend with you. They will help you get through the chaff.

Try a few simple things to narrow your selection before you take the car to a mechanic.

  1. Check the level and condition of the coolant, oil, and trans fluid. Is the engine compartment clean or caked in grease and grim. I’ve walked away from a few cars based on this.

  2. Check tires for even tread wear front and back.

  3. For cars with a timing belt, assume it’s never been changed unless the seller can provide written proof.

  4. Condition of the interior, whether it’s clean or filthy is an indication of how the previous owner treated the vehicle.

As an aside, every vehicle I’ve traded in the dealer puts on the lot with at least a 2k markup (3k trade, 5k selling price). Last year I traded my 2000 Blazer in on a 2013 Equinox. The dealer gave me $1300 for the Blazer which I was satisfied with. They put it on the lot for $4995 for it but I doubt they sold it at that price. This was in the weeks following Hurricane Sandy and used car were at a premium at the Jersey shore.

Ed B.


I disagree with #4

I’m a mechanic, and the inside of my various personal cars has always been dirty

yet they’re excellently maintained, by me

Many of my colleagues are the same way

On the flip side, I’ve worked on plenty of vehicles that were spotless inside and out, yet were very poorly maintained

There are many people out there that only care what the vehicle looks like, and they don’t actually take care of it


Point taken, well said. I was thinking of a 1st generation Honda Odyssey my wife and I looked at in 1998. It was a lease return and hadn’t been prepped yet. I honestly couldn’t tell you the color the interior it was so filthy. I opened the hood and checked the oil. From the chunks on the dipstick I’m pretty sure it had never been changed. We continued looking.

Ed B.

Well after reading the comments here and looking at the cars this weekend I have decided to stick with the van and just repair the issue. I just wished I could understand how I keep getting the leak marks on the ground from the R/P and yet my reseivor does not reflect any loss of fluid nor does any other fluids in my car as I am checking then 2-3 times a week. But into the shop it will go in the next month or so to get the issue resolved hopefully.

An 01 Sedona is worth maybe $1200? A new rack might cost $600? You said hvac control might also cost a lot to fix. I think any $1k car is not worth $1k in repairs. It might be time to step up to a newer car.

But if the newer car is a Taurus with 104K miles and unknown maintenance history, then the Kia Sedona might be a bargain.

While a 2001 Kia Sedona may be worth only $1200, the problems the OP is having are known. A newer used car may have worse problems. IMHO, fixing the Sedona makes sense as long as it isn’t rusted out. Repairing the steering rack and HVAC switch may make sense in this case.