Front Wheel Drive



My husband and I are planning to purchase a new or gently used SUV. I notice that most of them now have either front wheel drive or 4WD or AWD. We had a Mercury Sable station wagon, 1989, which was the worst for repairs of any vehicle we ever owned and it was a front wheel drive. We are afraid to buy another front wheel drive vehicle. Do they actually have more repair issues or was the Mercury a lemon?


It’s not about FWD vs. RWD. It’s about finding a reliable make and model.

Pretty much all regular cars are FWD these days, and that’s been true for 20 years now. Check out a Consumer Reports Car Buying guide to see which cars have better than average repair records. I guarantee the top choices will be front wheel drive, also the bottom choices as well. If you want rear wheel drive you’ll have to spend some big bucks on a Mercedes or BMW or other luxury car, or buy a used Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis.

Again, the problem with your Sable was it was a worse than average car for reliability, but that had nothing to do with it being FWD.


There are a few rear-wheel drive cars available, Mustang, Grand Marqis (I believe), Lincoln Towncar, Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300,


Ditto to what Ranck said. The drivetrain layout has no bearing on a vehicle’s reliability.

The best thing you can do to improve your odds of getting a reliable vehicle is to stop by the bookstore and pick up a copy of Consumer Reports New Car Preview. That’ll give you empirical reliability data for every vehicle available. While no approach will 100% guarantee reliability, the past is the best predicter available of the future.

Happy hunting.


Rather than state your Sable was a Lemon or have it assumed to be a Lemon based on a complaint of needing repairs, how about listing some of those repairs, the mileage on the car, buy it new or used, etc and we’ll see if you owned a Lemon or not.

My 87 Sable was still running/driving well at 420k miles (one transmission failure) when I sold it a few years back.

While many don’t see it this way, most car problems are owner inflicted to some degree.


“While many don’t see it this way, most car problems are owner inflicted to some degree.”

Well, you can count me as one who also feels that a significant percentage of car problems are the result of the actions or inactions of the car’s owner. (Note: In the absence of details, I have no idea whether this applies to the OP and her Mercury Sable.)

Every day on this board, we are confronted with car problems that are largely the result of deferred maintenance, no maintenance, or deferred repairs. You know–like the guy last week who hadn’t changed his oil for 30k miles, or the people who tell us that their engine has been making a grinding noise for the past year, or the folks who ask if it is significant that their oil pressure warning light has been winking at them for several weeks, or the guy who told us recently that he has been driving a Honda Civic with SEVERE suspension vibration for several years and wants to know if this could possibly cause any damage, or the people who tell us that they have not changed their transmission fluid in 110,000 miles and are wondering if that could possibly be the cause of transmission slippage.

My all-time favorite was the woman who told us that the CEL on the dashboard of her vehicle (a Suzuki Samarai, IIRC) had been illuminated for 16 years and was now wondering what might be wrong with it. We collectively told her that at this point, the number of stored trouble codes could likely be in the hundreds, and that her best course of action would be to jack up the steering wheel and replace everything underneath it.

Yes, some cars are better than others. However, in both my personal interactions and in my experience on this board, it does appear that owner abuse/lack of maintenance/deferral of repairs is the root cause of a huge percentage of the problems that people experience with their cars.


I must have missed that Suzuki post about the CEL being illuminated for 16 years. That’s somewhere between amazing and comical I guess.

One that I do remember from a year or so ago was one in which the poster mentioned his CEL having been on for a long time and referenced the fact that “all of my friends have been driving around in their cars with the CEL on for years”.
And when something finally gives up due to this it will be the car’s fault no doubt.

The Lincoln Marks such as the one I own receive a very high rating across the board but some of those reviews that are used in determining the worthiness of a car are pretty suspect in my opinion.
One poor review of a Mark was by someone who purchased a 100k miles/8 year old car and complained that “it needed to have several things fixed” and “it’s hard to see the end of the hood”.


On cars or trucks that are available with 2 wheel drive (either front or rear) there are going to be less repairs than the same vehicles with 4 or all wheel drive simply because they have less components to go wrong.