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Ford Taurus vs. Volkswagen Golf

I own a 2001 Volkswagen Golf that has been okay so far. It has 132,000 miles, is a manual transimssion, and other than the occasional o2 sensor replacement, has not needed much in the way of repair.

My father has a 1998 Ford Taurus with 52,000 miles that he’s just willing to give me. I like the car because it is four doors (Golf is two doors) and my wife and I have a baby. So it would be easier getting the baby in and out of the car seat. Additionally, I feel like the Golf is due to start deteriorating into serious (expensive problems). And the Ford would have cheaper repairs.

But my general sense is that my Golf is a much better quality car. Keeping both cars is not an option. So my question is: Which would you choose and why?

Take the Taurus. The mileage is far lower and you’ll be much better able to carry all the baby stuff you’ll need as he/she grows. He/she will also be better able to fit into back seat of the Taurus as he/she grows. Trust me, that happens very fast.

You have a family now. You need a family car. You also have a great and generous dad. Be sure you honor him.

Both cars are old enough that liability insurance is all you need so the expense of having both is not a lot of money. Besides if one decides to not run you have a backup.

The Taurus, mostly because of the baby. The Golf really isn’t a high-quality car. In Europe it’s almost always the best-selling car and has been for years. That sounds like a good thing, but what it tells you is that the Golf is designed to be an ordinary family car, not something special. The materials used are ordinary and its reliability is very average. You’re right that it will start needing more expensive repairs as the miles and years increase. That’s true of all cars, but VWs seem prone to more costly repairs than most makes. The parts are not cheap and the repairs are often complex.

The Taurus is to America what the Golf is to Europe, an ordinary mid-price family car. Age matters as well as mileage, so don’t ignore that the Ford is older. A car of that age with that few miles has probably been used mainly for short trips, which are hard on a car. That same mileage run up by a commuter in three or four years would be much easier on the car. Also, has the car been sitting unused for some time? That’s also rough on a car. I’d have the Taurus checked out thoroughly by a mechanic. If they haven’t been replaced recently, have the fluids drained and replaced (oil and transmission fluid at least). I don’t know whether this car has a timing belt (most cars of that era do), but if it does it is probably due to be changed, not because of mileage, but because of time. Generally they specify a maximum mileage and a maximum time. The mileage is usually around 100,000, and always more than 52,000, but 16 years is too long. Check the age of the tires, too. They may well need replacing even if they don’t look worn out.

As you can see, the Taurus has a lot of potential costs. If it has been used continuously and the maintenance schedule adhered to, it could be a great car. If it has been unused for years or seldom used and the maintenance has been neglected, you may have to put some money into getting it back to proper running condition. The Golf you know more about, but you’re right that it may need expensive repairs not too far in the future. I’d take the Taurus to a mechanic and find out what it needs. If not too much, I’d keep it. They’re both oldish cars, but it’s a lot better family car with lower mileage. With a little luck you could get quite a few more years out of it.

Adios, Golf.

The Taurus may have . . . or soon will have . . . a plugged heater core. Very common on that model, if the coolant is neglected.

Personally, I think the 1998 Taurus had very mediocre build quality, as far as the interior goes

I don’t even know if that’s a factor

However, I’m fairly certain the Taurus will be cheaper to operate in the long run. European cars often require premium fuel. I’m not sure if that applies to this Golf. The Taurus gets by on cheapo 87.

Apparently, Ford transmissions don’t take kindly to neglect. Service it now if in doubt.

The good news is the Taurus definitely doesn’t have a timing belt

If you live in an area that uses road salt, make sure somebody puts the car on a hoist and goes over it with a fine toothed comb

Thanks so much for all the comments. True, my Dad is a great guy and this a nice problem to have. We’re taking both to a mechanic for evaluation.

taurus is a gift. it has value. would your dad be mad if you sold it? and use money to buy a better car when you also sell your golf? the taurus is not thought of highly. its a cheap version of the GM midsize cars like grand prix or regal. a low mileage taurus has almost no extra value vs a higher mile version. a clean, low miles, car should be easy to sell to someone.

Take a look at the maintenance history for both cars. How long has it been since replacements have been made on the golf?

If the Taurus is still on its original tires and original brakes, chances are you are going to need to replace these very soon.

That’s a smart move having both cars evaluated. You already know how the Golf was maintained. What about the Taurus? If you know that Dad maintained it well, then it is probably the better choice. You will dread putting your child in the car seat in the Golf soon if you don’t already. Our family car was a Taurus from 1986 through 1997 and it served us well with 2 kids in the back.

I grudgingly vote for the Taurus as the lesser of two evils. Sure wish there was a third option you could afford as a newer car but many have done fine with older sedans that were well maintained. The Taurus gets the nod with generally better serviceability with his caveat. The body needs to be in at least as good shape as the golf.

I vote for ;
Take the Taurus.
Sell both.
Get a newer ( 08-9-10 ) vehicle that suits your current needs.

The Taurus will probably serve your interests better than the Golf. I’d lean in that direction, if the choice is between one or the other. You could get an opinion about what others buying used cars say too. Look up the value of both cars as used cars. Make sure you compensate for the low mileage of the Taurus when doing this. And add/subtract the options as applicable. When new they probably were about the same price (adjusted for inflation). So if one is now worth a lot less than the other, that would provide a clue about what experienced used car buyers think.

I’ll chime in and vote with Ken up there. If both are in good working order, take both, sell them, and get a newer vehicle.

I doubt dad is offering his gift horse to be sold. If he is, well, it’s an old Taurus. Even with low mileage it isn’t a popular car and isn’t going to raise much cash towards something newer. That’s the problem with both these cars. They just aren’t worth much, to you or anyone else. At least with the Taurus the inevitable maintenance and repairs should be cheaper. Gas should also cost less per gallon, but the gas mileage will likely be worse. For me the biggest factor is the child. It will be much easier to get the seat in/out of the Taurus. Your back is not a cheap part to replace.