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Old rubber

My ex has just purchased a 1999 (model and make unknown, but probably American made) sedan that was garaged for nearly 10 years. The vehicle has only 10k miles. I let her know that she should check “rubber” parts for signs of aging…tires, wipers, and belts. Should she also be wary of possible problems with the membranes in the cruise control, etc.?

She’ll never take my word for it, but might from an experienced amateur or pro.

Thanks in advance,


You are correct on all counts. It’s also possible that problems could develop in the brake hydraulics, engine or transmission seals, etc. Your ex should not be surprised or upset if any leaks develop.

Thanks. I’ll pass it along.

I think that if the tires are ten years old, they need to be replaced, not checked.

In order, I’d

  1. replace oil and brake fluid, coolant
  2. replace the tires and wiper blades
  3. check transmission fluid for level and color
  4. inspect the other rubber parts

Thanks. I’ll pass that along.

Thanks. I’ll pass that along too.

The advice given so far is by knowledgeable professionals who have the driver’s safety at heart. I would defintely replace all the drivebelts as well (alternator, etc). Some cars only have one serpentine belt. It will need repacing after nearly 10 years, and the cost is not excessive.

We don’t know your ex, but we want her to be able to drive safely on the freeway once she gets the car going.

I drive a '99 sedan. I can’t really think of any rubber parts I have replaced outside of worn-out tires and wipers. I did buy a new FEAD belt last week, but it is still in the trunk. Does that count? It certainly would not hurt to carefully inspect the belt and hoses. The radiator hoses are easy to see, but some of the smaller ones can be hard to even find much less get a good look at so good luck.

Don’t forget the seals on the AC compressor. The compressor needs to run to lubricate them. Tell her to run the AC to see if there is any cold air (you don’t day where you live). If you live where it’s cold, hake sure the engine is warmed up and the heat is blowing hot before running the AC test.

Beadsandbeads mentioned the radiator hoses. Look for bulges in the hose.

Thanks. As usual, when I passed on the info she said that I was just trying to discourage her rather than trying to make certain that she has a safe, reliable ride for our 13 year old son. I will continue to pass on all the advice that I can get. I have found out that the vehicle, which was stored in a garage with just 10,000 miles on it for 10 years, is a Crown Victoria and she paid $7,600 for it.

That should be a good car. Just follow the service schedule in the service manual. She probably has one given the description of the car, but if you don’t you can download them at or Be sure the trans is serviced with Mercon V fluid at 30 K. Any shop can do it by dropping the pan and pulling the torque converter drain plug. The gasket on the trans pan is reusable. Be sure to use the parking brake now and again. They need use to keep in good shape.

If you are going to continue to advise her or she needs a web site specific for this car, is very very good. As far as the AC goes, o-ring seals are going to be replaced long before the compressor. Ford must have sourced them from the company that did the original space shuttle o-rings.


Google “tire service life”. That brings up several bulletins on the subject and ought to help document what others think on the subject.

If someone giving out tire life advice in terms of time does not address the difference in climate between the northern and southern US or even Mexico, they are likely addressing the south to err conservatively. The northern sunshine is not as harsh nor is the ambient temperature as high in the north. In my view and from personal experience, 10 years is acceptable in the north. One site’s advice had information from England where 10 years was judged acceptable. England, also in a northern latitude has sunshine that is not as harsh as in the southern US.

The rubber parts will be just fine…The biggest problem will be dealing with the 10 year old gasoline in the tank. It will have to be drained completely and replaced before any attempt to start the car is made. Sometimes, gas this old can turn into a tar-like substance, and the fuel tank will have to be replaced and the lines purged before starting. If some “Helpful Harry” has already attempted to start the car and failed, I would walk away from this deal…

As for the rest of the stuff, including the tires, I would adopt a wait and see attitude. If the tires have been allowed to go flat, then yes, replace them…