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Would you buy an older car with fewer miles or newer car with more miles?

I am looking at 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis with 36,000 miles and a 2004 model with 98,000 miles. The car went through some major changes in 2003 such as coil-over-spark plug, knock sensor, slightly more rigid frame. Otherwise the two years have similar options. They are both driven by caring senior citizens, so they are in good condition for their respective year and mileage.

Assuming the prices are not an issue (assume the two cars are appropriately priced respect to their model years and mileage), and you plan to drive about 15,000 miles per year for next 5-6 years before selling it, which car would you buy.

I am not a big fan of COP’s (coil over plug) so I’d likely go for the '01 with 36K miles.

I would look at each car and decide which I want. I would be far more worried that the prior owner of one or the other failed to properly maintain the car than the age or miles.

Paging Ken Green . . . Mr. Green, Please Pick Up Your Mouse And Come To This Discussion . . . Paging Ken Green . . .

I’d check with Ken Green. He works in Parts at a Ford dealer. When I managed a dealer Parts Department I had a pretty good handle on which cars were good, bad, and ugly and which ones weren’t. Sometimes certain powertrain options are desirable/less desirable.

Let’s see if Ken can shed light on these old Grand Marqs / Crown Vics.


I’d take the older one with 36K miles. You could drive it four years before it would have 98K miles, which the newer car has now.

“Caring senior citizens” can have a lot of variation when it comes to cars. There’s also lots of other variation.

If that '01 only went 36K miles in 10 years, how were those miles put on? If they went on 2-3 miles at a time I probably wouldn’t want that car. If the '04 miles went on mostly on the highway its probably got less wear & tear.

Was the '01 maintained strictly according to the service schedule - both in terms of TIME and mileage? In other words, if the manual says change the oil every 5,000 miles or 6 months - did the owners pay attention to the time spec? Or did they leave the same oil in the car for 2 years all the while driving it 2-3 miles at a time?

Has either one of them ever gotten new transmission fluid & filter?

In other words, mileage/age are only a couple of things among a large number of things to consider.

I would go with the 01 and have all fluids changed. I would also have the spark plugs changed. To make sure there not seized in the heads. If you keep up the maintenance it will last you along time.

I agree that the final decision is based more upon the maintenance history and how it was driven. 36 k miles is low enough to make it more worthwhile ONLY if the condition of the body is the same in each.

If the older car is suffering any more what so ever in age related deterioration, the newer is always better. It is so much more costly to rehab a body problem than prevent it in the first place. That reason alone, would make me jump on the newer car if rust were an issue what so ever. We have to assume that the " older is better" is only if the bodies are equal.

In this day and age where ethanol damage and contamination is more likely in an older car that sits, this could be another vote for the newer, higher mileage car. The turnover in higher mileage vehicles that haven’t been stored may actually make them more desirable.

Finally got my page. First of the month busy 'round here. Storm power outage yesterday afternoon plus all the goings on it takes after that in a computer dependant business.

Both years are c.o.p.
Both years are a car platform which we rarely see in the shop for anything major including the NM state and Gallup city police.
So, I’d vote for the overall condition angle to decide.

Myself, I’d lean toward the older less miles.

( It took me more that a half hour to compose this little ditty 'tween all the techs and things to do. )