Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Advice on buying a 1999 Ford Expedition with 30k miles

I am looking at a 1999 Ford Expedition with 30k miles, but I’ve never purchased a car this old before and I wanted some advice on whether it’s worth it. I want something that can haul people around, drive well in the snow, and that I don’t have to worry about scratches and dings.

  1. They are asking $6k, but the KBB value is $3600, so I can probably get them down to 4-5 grand. Is that a decent deal, if the car is really good condition?

  2. What do I need to inspect on the car before purchasing? i.e. what could have deteriorated after 2 decades of garage and little use that I need to be cautious of.

  3. Can lots of mechanics work on this car, or is it going to be expensive to fix?

Anything else I should think about?

Thanks, all!

$6k is way way too high. I wouldn’t pay more then $2k. And that’s if it has good service records and the mileage can be verified.

1 Like

Is that just a gut feeling @MikeInNH? I am struggling to find a good way of determining the value of the car.

An old car with few miles sets off alarm bells for me. I’d want to see that all maintenance was done by the book, according to the time limits. I’d worry about deteriorated rubber parts, and fuel systems clogging. Why pay more that the book value?


A 1999 Expedition has essentially NO VALUE. No dealer would want to take it on a trade as it would be hard to resell and just take up space on the lot. I agree that if it has NO FLAWS between $1000 and $2000 would be maximum.

These a cars you normally give away to relatives or children of fiends who just got their license.

I doubt if you took it to a mechanic that it would check out OK in all areas. Repairs will be expensive.

An 8 passenger newer minivan with good winter tires would be a better choice unless you live in Alaska or on Mount Washington!

Just to clarify this excellent point for the OP, almost all car maintenance items have an either/or odometer mileage OR elapsed time value, with the proviso of “whichever comes first”.
However, a HUGE percentage of the population is apparently unable to wrap their heads around the concept of “elapsed time”, which can actually be more important to the health of an engine than odometer mileage.
What am I talking about?
I am telling the OP that–despite the reality that this old vehicle was driven less than 1,800 miles per year–it should have had the oil changed twice each year, at a minimum.
If not, then the engine is likely choked with an incredible amount of damaging oil sludge.

So, over and above the issue of how much to pay for this 17 year old Explorer, I would suggest that the OP ask for copies of maintenance records.
If the vehicle was maintained properly, those records should show that the oil was changed over 30 times during those 17 years.
If there is no proof of that maintenance, just walk away–or you are going to put yourself in the position of buying a potential money pit.

You already determined the fair value for the car from KBB.

My advice is, before you sign or pay anything, take the vehicle to your trusted mechanic and pay for a complete inspection. Don’t take anyone else’s word for the condition of the vehicle and don’t let the seller pay for the inspection. You don’t want there to be any conflict of interest, and you don’t want to buy any used vehicle without doing this first.

1 Like

Dealers take in vehicles like that all the time. They then just sell it at auction.

1 Like

The one thing I would check for would be oil sludging. If the oil was only changed a few times in going on 2 decades then that would worry me more than anything.

Check tires and accessory belt for dry rot.

Lots of mechanics can work on this vehicle. Whether it’s expensive to fix depends on what has failed. Your ho-hum everyday maintenance and wear and tear items are no worse than anything else.

Clean trade for an 1999 Eddie Bauer 2WD Expedition is $3112 for my area, per Clean retail from a dealer might run $4600, so the 6K is ridiculously over-priced. XLT package and 4WD would cause the valuation to be higher. Somewhat unusual that KBB prices this vehicle higher than

Do I remember right that the engine in this could have problems with stuck spark plugs that break/strip upon removal?

I think there was a thread about that, about there being a specific procedure for removing the spark plugs that required using a precise amount of penetrating oil and letting it work overnight.

The stuck/broken off spark plugs were on the 2005 and later 3 valve V8, not the 2 valve mod motor in the 99.

Edit: I think the problem was pretty much fixed by 2008, though.


You talk about driving in snow. Does the Expedition have rust damage? I live in a rust free zone. A co-worker from Iowa was complaining that he could get the $4,000 cars here for $1,000 in Iowa. I asked if they were rust buckets. He replied “Yeah, but they are the same make model and year”. I rust my case.

I’m late to the party, but here goes . . .

this engine is a 2 valve Triton

2 valve Tritons are known for blowing the spark plugs out, taking the coil with them

The original style heads had an extremely limited number of threads for the spark plugs, and the timeserts have a more appropriate number of threads. Also, the original plugs had only a few threads. Any replacement plug nowadays will have a normal appearance

IMO . . . if the threads have not been updated to timeserts, the plugs can blow out at any time, without warning. This is not a case of some dope undertightening them. It’s just a lousy design on Ford’s part

I realize some of the regulars will VEHEMENTLY disagree with me, but that’s life :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Along the lines of what’s been stated, if I were in your shoes, I would:

  1. Pay a good independent mechanic $100 to look it over.
  2. If the inspection shows the car is in good mechanical shape, then offer $3000 tops!

I’ve had cars this old that I’ve junked because once undercarriage rust starts, it gets expensive and time consuming to stay on top of it (even when I did the work).

The 99 Expedition has the updated P.I. heads, they have more threads that the NPI heads found on the 97 and 98 models. The PI heads didn’t completely solve the problem, but it’s much less likely to happen.

I just saw your message

Perhaps the '99 with the updated heads really are much less likely to blow out the plugs

But I’ve actually installed a few timeserts on 2 valve triton engines even newer than '99

5.4 liter for the most part, but also a few 6.8

Can’t imagine how common it might be on a '97 or '98 :astonished: