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Decision time: 1994 Mustang - keep it running or move on?

I have a 1994 V6 Mustang - manual transmission with 130,000 miles on it. I bought it 5 years ago for $4000, have put some money into it (new convertible top, tires and head gasket are the major things) but I definitely don’t feel like it has asked a lot out of me. Mostly it’s just been an awesomely reliable, beautiful, nice-driving car. I love it so much that even though my dad went on vacation and loaned me his 2001 Vette, I parked the Vette and went back to my Mustang after 3 days.

However, I’m starting to look ahead at my car plan for the next 5 years and i’m concerned that the Mustang will wear down and start to become unreliable. I don’t have a lot of friends/family around so I really can’t be getting stranded out on the road very much. I really need a reliable car. I see 2 options:

  1. Sell the Mustang now while it still looks/runs good, spend $5000 on a reliable but not “cool” sedan type of car, and save up for a newer Mustang in about 2016
  2. Keep the Mustang, put the $5000 into some sort of mechanical overhaul, and save up for a newer Mustang in about 2016

Question is, can $5000 keep this car running reliably for 5 more years? Can this car be stretched to 180,000 - 200,000 miles? What things do I need to worry about?

Any advice would be much appreciated!

I vote for keeping it. The head gasket failures were a notorious problem for these engines, but if the repair was done properly, professionally, and completely, you won’t have to do them again. This is a fairly simple car to repair and maintain compared to a late-model car, and I think your maintenance costs on this car over the next 5 years could very well be quite lower than a newer car. Of course as age and mileage increase the chance of catastrophic and unwarned engine or transmission failure rises, but not so much that no one should drive an older well-maintained car. 200k miles is a quite reasonable mark.

Ever had the clutch replaced? That’s probably the next major item.

No matter what you buy, you’re going to wear out tires, brakes, fluids, etc. If you know the history of this car, have been happy with it and enjoy driving it, keep it and put your 5K in the bank.

Right…(asemaster)

Keep it. You haven’t put the $5000 into it yet and may not have to. I’d guess it has an auto transmission. Change the trans fluid about every 30,000 miles, change the brake fluid every 3 to 4 years. Keep up with the oil and coolant. There isn’t much else to it unless something fails, and that’s far less than $5000.

I say keep it also. It’s a convertible so it will always have value even though it’s heading for the 20 year mark. Keep it properly maintained and it will continue to give you years of service.

Like all convertibles, it needs to be kept in a garage…

I don’t see any real problems in the post, other than the car is getting older. Have a good shop do a complete inspection of the car, including compression tests, and leak down tests. If the compression is good and it passes the leak down test then the cylinders, valves, heads, and head gaskets should be good. If that’s the case, getting another $5,000 car might just present with more problems than the car you have now.

I don’t see any reason to worry. Saving up for a new car in the future is a good plan and the car you have now seems to allow you to do that.

My son has a 1995 Mustang with about 130,000 miles. His caf is a coupe with the V-8 engine and the 4 speed manual transmission. His wife owned the car before they were married. Due to a back injury, his wife can’t drive the Mustang–she drives the Chevrolet Uplander that they own.
My son was thinking about selling the Mustang and buying another used vehicle. SInce he doesn’t live in a rust belt state and his Mustang has a good body, I recommended that he keep the Mustang. The rear wheel drive is cheaper to repair than a front wheel drive. There are cars that get better gasoline mileage than his Mustang, but he could buy a lot of gasoline for what a newer vehicle would cost.

If the Mustang isn’t giving any significant problems I’d keep it. If the car has been cared for properly (maintenance and fluid changes when needed the Mustang will probably last many more years. With proper care and maintenance most cars are just getting broke in good at 100K miles. I personally own an '88 Ford Escort with 518,500 miles and about 1 1/2 years ago we moved from NC-KY, when it came time to move the cars I drove this Escort on the 500 mile trip with no problems. If your concerned about future problems you could have it checked out by a trusted mechanic for other potential problems. All cars have normal wear items that are going to need replacing regardless of what you drive, as long as most repairs are for such items and the car is in good condition I’d keep on driving it. If you buy another used car you’re not going to know who had it before or the maintenance background, so you may just be buying someone else’s problems. A newer vehicle doesn’t always mean less problems and more dependability.