I just looked at a 1988 Lincoln Continental. I'm somewhat familiar with
these cars. I know they're based on the Taurus platform, and have the 3.8
that is notorious for head gasket problems.
On this model year, does anyone know if the car would have had one of the
dreaded early years of the AXOD-E, or was this (as I hope) before the
electronic control was tried on the AXOD?
Secondly, I understand that this car has had the head gasket replacement.
If so, were the replacement head gaskets sufficiently re-engineered so that
they shouldn't prematurely fail again?
Lastly, the only mechanical problem I know of on this car is the air bag
suspension. I know that this was a high failure rate system. What usually
failed? My understanding is that the bags are just slow to pump up and that
they eventually do. Is it likely in that case to be an air bag, or perhaps
a ride height sensor or even a hose? The pump does operate.
Thanks for your help.
The transmission should be the AXOD. Non conputer controlled. How many miles
Failures after 50K miles tend to be hit-miss. I've had 3 in Tauri that never had
problems into the 150K mile range when I sold them.
If the gasket replacement was done properly (quality gaskets, new head bolts,
checked for flatness, etc) They tend to hold up as long as the cooling system is
properly maintained. If the original failure was catastrophic, it would wash the
bearing material off of the main and rod bearings and weaken the bottom end.
the oil pressure before you buy it.
High failure rate is a bit of a misnomer. The system won't tolerate
and the air bags on the struts deteriorate after about 10 years. If the vehicle
driven with leaky air bags it wears out the pump. Because the leaky bags may
eventually pump up, repair was often put off until the pump failed from being
overworked adding expense to the repair. By this time the car usually needed 4
and a compressor. Here's a link to the Arnott page for your car.
At this point on a 17 year old car, replace all 4 springs and the pump. Then
good for another ~10 years. The electronics rarely fail. IMHO, stay away from
Band-Aid coil spring conversions. Although tempting, they tend to ruin the ride
quality.My experience has been with the Mark VII conversion. YMMV on the Conti.
A good website for information about the Conti and other Lincolns is
www.lincolnsonline.com. Keep in mind, this car is 17 years old and they do not
good "$500 work cars".
Thanks for the input, Tom. I've bought/sold my share of used, cars, and
this is by a wide margin the finest car for its age I've ever seen. The
paint is original and flawless, the interior looks new except the non
functioning clock and premium sound radio. Fortunately, I have another
radio for it, so that's no issue. I've seen many 5 year old cars that were
not this nice. The owner kept it in a garage from day 1, and it's obvious.
The mileage is 97k. The engine seems tight, but I would like to verify the
The thing that concerns me is indeed the air bag suspension. These look
easier to change than a standard strut assy since there's no spring to
compress. Is that right? Lastly, can I just replace the bladder inside the
assembly or does the entire strut assembly have to be replaced as a unit?
That would be a good question for the folks at lincolnsonline. I'm not sure
think the entire strut has to be replaced. They are not hard for a competent
Easier than a regular strut due to the air bag. The ones from Arnott look to be
strut, air bag, and upper bearing plate. Not a bad price for all that. If the
compressor still runs you could replace the struts, srevice or replace the dryer
replace the o-rings on the spring solenoids and likely be ok. Just remember that
compressor replacement may be necessary in the future depending on how much the
was driven with the leaky bags. The front bags on my 84 Mark VII were bad when I
bought it and the PO had driven it like that for a few months. I got lucky and
You could also do it one corner at a time if only one bag is currently
the car up on all 4 corners then turn off the air ride switch in the trunk. This
out all of the electronics. Drive it a few miles and see which corner(s) drop.
will be the leaker. Replace that one right away and do the rest one by one at
leisure. You will eventually have to do all 4 because when one goes, the rest
Great advice again, Tom. The owner was asking too much for this car. I've
made an offer that I think is more than generous, due to the excellent
condition. After buying the parts to fix it, I'll be over what he was
asking to begin with, which I think is more than fair. In fact, I'm
probably offering too much because of the condition.
I'll let you guys know what I find out. In the mean time, if you know of
anything else I should look at, let me know.
My Mother had a used 89 or 90 Contiental. Bought it with 44,000 miles.
History below is over 20,000 more miles.
It was by far the biggest headache anyone in my family has ever owned
since my 1967 4 door Thunderbird.
The rear air bags quit. Bought 2 replacement struts. Could not replace
them myself because the lower mounting bolts had corroded to unmoveable
mass. Had to have them torched off.
Inner and outer tie rod ends always need replacement, just like the
Taurus it is based on.
The 3.8 was solid , It already had the head issue taken care of when we
The head unit for the stereo quit. Pulled the head unit and had it
repaired at an authorized site.
The starter quit. Known for positve cable corrosion too but this was
only the starter.
The digital dash would wink out for long periods and post vague error
codes claiming everything had to be replaced.
The climate control went nuts.
Went thru 2 rebuilt altenators
The plastic mounting tabs on the drivers door glass cracked and
seperated from the glass. Can't buy new tabs. You have to buy new
complete glass. Not covered by full glass insurance.
The power trunk release failed because the cheap plastic the latch is
made of cracked and failed.
I remember spending oodles of time tinkering with a black box full of
relays attached to the radiator. Think it was in a vain attempt to
correct issues with auto climate control failures.
The best thing that happened to that car was when my Mom totalled it on
a vacation trip..
Free at last.. FREE AT LAST..
Really.. hope you have a ton of spare time.
95 T-Bird LX 4.6
70 Torino GT
65 Fairlane 289
and a bunch of other schrapnel.
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