Front end hit today on my 2002 Lincoln Continental - time to move on?


Active LVC Member
Aug 25, 2017
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Southeast Connecticut
What a bummer. 5-10 mph collision directly on the front end that knocked the bumper assembly clean off damaging each part of it. Not really repairable. My first estimate shows $2800 to repair the damage...2/3 of that in parts. The bumper plastic and grille alone are $698. The main impact steel assembly was only slightly dented. Hood push around 3/8" to the side. Maybe that can just be realigned. Head light assemblies drooping a bit....those might have to be replaced.

Figure the car is not worth more than around $2500-$3500 with 82K miles. It is clean and rust free though. I'd be tempted to get another if there was a clean one with under 65K miles nearby and no more than around $4000. Or is it time to move on from these 16 yr old cars into something newer? I'm also looking at 90K-100K maintenance coming due on this car to include serpentine belt, idler pulley, water pump, valve cover gaskets, spark plugs and wires, rear brakes/rotors, weeping power steering pump, and tires in 3 yrs. That's all going to run $2K minimum.

I'm looking around to at least see what's out there. And so far not much in the under $5K range.
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Yep – that’s most unfortunate.
And that is one of the risks in owning/driving an older car.
I see lower mileage FWD Contis on occasion on ebay.
But finding one in your area might be difficult.

Down here in Florida, its not too hard to find low mileage, garage kept, older Caddys and Lincolns.
But when they hit the used car lots, the pricing goes through the roof.
Seems everybody thinks no matter the year, because of the low mileage, it’s worth a small fortune.

If the same thing happened to my ’02 Conti, I’d most likely go newer but not too new.
Maybe a later model Town Car.I don’t like the newer cars that all look the same.
I'm looking at newer Town Cars too. Though between their engines and the Northstars, have read a lot of negative views. Contis, Town Cars, Crown Vics, Grand Marquis. And finding them with low miles and reasonable is getting hard. When I bought my 2002 Conti in 2009 with 22K miles it was only $9K from a dealer. I can't find that same car today for $9K. That's what many want for a similar 2000-2007 CV/GM with 35K-55K miles!...which is much less of a car imo. I guess you just have to be ready to pounce when Grandpa's car shows up for sale...and ideally before they consider trading it in to a dealer.

I regret selling my 1997 Conti for $350. Every body panel on that car was usable as a clean donor.
It up to you in the end. If you do get another older car which ever make or model and you run into the same situation in a fender bender you 'll be in the same outcome.

It's your decision.
I'm not so worried about parts as they are out there. In any event my insurance company did total my 2002 w/81K miles. I'll get $4150 + 6% sale tax. I've already run across a pile of nicer lower mileage cars within 120 miles of me in the $4K-$7k range. And one is a 2000 Continental...which I'm thinking about.

What do you think of this one. 2000 Continental, 43K miles, 1 owner, passed away. The car sat for the previous 3 yrs as the owner was too sick to drive. It just recently made it back on the road as the family's mechanic/garage owner is handling the sale. Car is really clean as expected. One 8"x2" scuff on the front right bumper is about it for exterior flaws. Other than that....clean. My concern is what 3 yrs of sitting could have done to fuel systems, drive train bearings, AC seals, etc. Old engine oil is not a concern to me as the car was probably serviced annually at 2K-3K miles. The oil was probably still excellent and could handle sitting for 3 yrs. It would be bad if someone turned the engine over in the garage every so often. That's the worse thing you can do.

It has a fresh battery as that was dead. Tires look good...Michelins. They could be the originals though I don't think so as the tread is too good. AC doesn't work so that will have to be corrected. Several quick oil changes with a quality detergent oil could help clean up the short tripper engine. if I did go forward with this vehicle they'd have to give me 30-90 days on the AC system in case the charge dumped again. I don't want to pay for a new compressor, receiver, condenser, etc. if one of those is the source of the leak...could run $500-$1000...and access in there is tight. If you're doing that, might as well change some hoses, drive belt, etc.

Assuming nothing else, what's the car worth? Asking $4999. And I just got $4150 for mine with almost 2X the miles. Am I asking for trouble? I guess it's the Lincoln Continental in me....had 2 so far. Why not a 3rd?
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I wouldn’t worry too much about sitting if it is running properly now.
I doubt very much if you are going to have a sludged up engine just because it sat unused.
Buying any used car can be a gamble if you don’t know what you are looking at.
If you’re unsure take it to your mechanic and pay him to go over it.
Have him check the AC system also. Then you can adjust your offer based on what the car actually needs.
I don’t see where you are asking for trouble. One owner with 43K would be exactly what I’d look for.

The insurance is covering the majority of the selling price.
Even if you had to spend money to repair the AC system, you are still far ahead with a nice one owner car with a lot lower mileage on the clock.
Sorry to hear about the insurance totaling your '02, I feel for you. For the one you are looking at, I'd say go for it. As long as its clean and no rust, and what I mean is take out the rubber inserts on the dog legs and rear quarter lips inside you see what I am talking about. Look for any signs of bubbling up and such. If you do buy this car throw those dam inserts away. Thats how mine started to get some bubbles in the paint, from condensation.

Ask for all the receipts on the car if they still have them. If you bring a flash light with you, take the oil filler cap off and shine light down inside engine to see any sludge. This is just an extra precaution. With that low miles on the car you are fine. Like you said take it to a mechanic and have it checked out, seals, AC and the normal routine.

FlaOkie is correct. Should not have any problems.

I did a quick KBB on it for you using 06335 Connecticut area code this should give you an idea what you can offer and such:
2000 Lincoln Continental Sedan 4D Trade In Values | Kelley Blue Book

I hear ya on wanting to get another Continental even at times you may want something else, you just go back to what you know and what feels good to yourself. It's all good dude.
I wouldn’t worry too much about sitting if it is running properly now.
I doubt very much if you are going to have a sludged up engine just because it sat unused.
Buying any used car can be a gamble if you don’t know what you are looking at.
If you’re unsure take it to your mechanic and pay him to go over it.
Have him check the AC system also. Then you can adjust your offer based on what the car actually needs.
I don’t see where you are asking for trouble. One owner with 43K would be exactly what I’d look for.

The insurance is covering the majority of the selling price.
Even if you had to spend money to repair the AC system, you are still far ahead with a nice one owner car with a lot lower mileage on the clock.

Thanks for the input FlaOkie and Svets96. I agree, this 43K mile car would be a nice trade in my favor assuming everything looks in nice shape. Having had 2 of these and 300K miles total (17 yrs) I know what to look for on them. All the bad stuff has happened already. I know my 2002 brake lines were all plastic coated over steel. The 1997's were bare steel. Not sure about 2000. And the 2000 is probably still on Mercon trans fluid and 5w-30 oil....Ford changed those to Mercon V and 5w-20 by 2002.

The car has been driven around recently and no negatives from the garage owner.
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Correct. I didn't know about the brake lines...that's interesting. Run 5w30 Motorcraft oil and Motorcraft oil filter, you'll never have any problems. In the later part of '99 they started to use 5w20 as factory fill and at dealers for the whole "MPG EPA" thing. Along with Mercon V, Crazy.

To bad you didn't live closer, I'd tag along to see the car.

Good Luck Firebrian!
While the garage owner is getting the 2000 Continental ready, I'm going to look at a clean 46K mile 2008 Caddy DTS tomorrow....same Front Wheel Drive as the Continental. Same 275 hp - northstar engine...where most of the head bolt issues were minimized years earlier. That's a huge jump in model years for less money - $4300 fully serviced, fresh fluids, brand new tires. Has a couple front bumper black smudges. Been reading through DTS issues/concerns. JDPower gave them the highest rated luxury sedan in 2008. So can't be all that bad. If it's sweet, it might be hard to pass up.

Read up a little on the 2006-2011 DTS's at the Caddy Forum. Wow. These cars have numerous issues...most of which are quite expensive to fix. Maybe not such a great car when it comes to actual cost of ownership.
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Price seems low for a 2008 with those miles.
Maybe its just a good deal, but I would be skeptical.
Might be worth a carfax check for past owners/history.
Price seems low for a 2008 with those miles.
Maybe its just a good deal, but I would be skeptical.
Might be worth a carfax check for past owners/history.

That makes sense. I spent a couple hours on the Cadillac forums reading about 2006-2011 DTS's. Holy carp. Do those cars have frequent and very expensive failures at any time! $600 to change valve cover gaskets. $900 for water pump change. $2,000-$3,000 for magnetic air ride suspension full repairs. Engine seals that often leak. Makes our Lincolns looks even that much better.
Yes Cadillac and the Northstar are very expensive. It is an exclusive engine for Cadillac Division. I'm sure with time parts could still be available for those Cadillac models, but like the Continental and Mark VIII's it will be slightly expensive. Those DTS's are very sharp looking, I always liked them. An LVC member eots44 has an '08 DTS in white platinum, chrome wheels. Beautiful car. Might want to PM him about how his maintenance has been.

Those prices you have gotten are very on par with how much it will cost.

My Dad had a '97 Cadillac Eldorado, the engine needed to be rebuilt because of the heater hoses and block seals, intake seals ect. It was under warranty at the time back in Dec. of 2000. They had the car for about a week or so. The cost was $3046.98. My Dad only paid $155.00 for everything. Wheel bearings and hubs for the front end ended up costing $946.00. He only had to pay $52.00. Cadillacs are very nice cars, expensive but very nice. Every make out there has their issues we all know that.

The DTS you are looking at seems like a very cool vehicle. Just make sure to look over it real good, get old receipts inspect for rust issues and what have you. Typically on that model year rust seems to creep up on the rear quarter panel above the rear bumper that seam. Look up inside from behind and underneath. Just as a precaution is all I'm saying. Check over the cooling system, pop open the cap, see if there is any contamination. I don't know if GM ceased on using Dexcool. If it says Dexcool on the cap and the coolant is green, run away with your life from that car. It will be corroded inside the block and radiator, because of the aluminum. Go over all the electrical work, switches work, don't work ect.

Buy whichever car you feel you are comfortable with.

Good Luck!
Reading the Caddy DTS blogs last night scared me straight. About half those enthusiasts wouldn't touch a DTS again after costly ownerships. The other half are split between being lucky with lower costs while the other quarter still paid through the nose but loved the DTS ownership experience so much, they felt it was worth it at most any cost. I read a 10 page blog on those ownership experiences. One guy said he visited the dealer either 65 or 120 times over 10 years on abnormal wear of shocks, struts, and other suspension/steering parts, etc. He went through 3-6 failures of every item until it was tracked down to a factory mis-alignment of the suspension. After that, no problems. That's simply matter how much you love a car.

And from my standpoint, I've had 1997/2002 Continentals the past 17 years...with moderate to low maintenance costs....300K total miles. My 2002 went from 22K to 82K miles only needing a radiator, front left axle, and front brakes. About $1200 total over 9 years and 60K miles. My 1997 was quite frugal on repairs too from 29K to 125K miles. Once past 150K they really started racking up. Hence my considering a 1-owner 2000 with 43K miles.
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The 4.6L Ford’s reliability vs the Northstar was the reason I bought my first Ford product, my ’02 Continental.
I know GM solved and corrected most of the problems by 2005 or thereabouts, but the years/cars I was looking at were potential problems.
I bought many many GM products all of my life, but will never again.
Not just because of the Northstar, but other personal reasons.
The 43K mile Continental isn't going to work out. The seller wasn't aware the tires were original (ie 1999 date coded) until today. So even though are nice, they are almost 20 yrs old. That's a $600 bill they don't want to eat...and I don't want to pay. Looks like someone who doesn't know about date codes will end up eating those down the road.

A lot of sellers don't seem interested in selling their advertised vehicles. Half of them don't even call back or respond to inquiries.


Update: Back in the Continental hunt. Another one just popped up that I'm going to see tomorrow. Fair price and low miles like the one earlier in this post. I have my hopes up.
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The 2001 Continental wasn't in as nice cosmetic shape as I expected for 39K miles. In fact, mine at 82K was cleaner inside and outside. Undercarriages were essentially identical. Minimal surface rusting. Very clean. The drain holes/plugs in the rockers were open. One plus of this 2001 is a lack of ps and engine oil leaks. Don't see any. At least not like the ones I had on my car.

Rear Michelin tires were originals (41st week of 2000 - 4100) and dry rotted/cracked up the entire side wall and into the sipes. Those aren't really safe to drive on at highway speeds even with safe tread depth left. The front ones were recently replaced, though with Walmart cheapo StarFire RS-C 2.0 98V (StarFire is a Cooper Brand). If I needed new tires I was going to try the Grand Touring Altimax RT43. Not sure how mixing this pair would do...or just go and get Starfires on the rear.

Serpentine built in nice shape and original. All fluids were fine except brake fluid which is probably original. The front air dam was missing the usual pieces. Will have to replace that.

So other than a good cleaning, seems mechanically and electrically good. Cruise control, AC, moon roof, seats, windows all work smoothly. Scuffs, dents and dings on each corner of the car. It was at least side swiped on the driver's side at one time as over-spray on underside of the lower rocker panel is present. The factory painted the lower rocker lip in flat black. I had the same repair done on my car and the body shop over-sprayed the same lip/flange. That's how I knew.

Price was $3400. Tires and fluids will get me to around $3750-$3800. Front air dam busted up so $90 for that. If I choose to respray the front bumper - another $500. Cabin-air-fuel filter probably haven't been done - figure another $70 there. Alloy wheels are decent though one is rougher than the others...rust just starting with isolated brown spots...a few gouges and numerous curb rash spots. Not surprising since the owner was 98. It did sit for a bit the past couple of years. It's a yellowish gold color - lighter than my parchment gold.

Would look a heck of a lot nicer with fresh wheels...another $500. For now, I'll just want to get used to driving it safely before sinking any serious money into it. Will arrange for final settlement with owner this weekend.
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Sounds good—
At 39K its hardly broken in.
The first thing I replace on any used car I buy is the battery, followed closely by all the belts and fluids.
I think the car had a lot short trips as the front seat is as worn as my ex-car with twice the mileage. Doesn't appear anyone EVER put a rag to the engine bay. It should clean up decently well though in a few hours. The drive belt still has all the Ford lettering on it without any real wear. Not likely I'll replace it even though I have a spare new one. My 1999 Camaro has 19K miles and still on original belts/hoses...won't be replacing those any time soon either.

I'll probably do the trans fluid just to be the looks of the fluid it was done by 30K miles. Fluid looks to have about 10K miles on it...exactly like my other car...same color fluid. The trans filter could be original too. After having gone through that fiasco of a trans flush last year with 18 qts, I'm all trained up to do my 2nd one w/o all the earlier one took me 5 days with the car out of commission that entire time. Engine oil/filter was just changed. I'll check the battery for a date/month code. I could just swap it with my other AC Delco group 75 which is just 2 yrs old. And I have a 42 month warranty still on that one.

The test drive wasn't as smooth as my car riding on Michelin MXV4 Primacy. I have a feeling that's because of the 18 year old tires on the rear and the new Walmart Cooper Starfires on the front.

Carfax shows average usage of around 2,000-2,500 miles per year early on. Then it was down to 800 miles per year the last 5-6 years. It saw of a lot of dealership least annually. So all those fluid changes were quite early....typical oil changes done before 3,000 miles. The major 10K, 15K, 20K, and 25K servicings were done in about half that time frame. So fluids were kept up on this one. Rear window regulators were replaced in the first 2 years under warranty...same for rear view mirror. And that replacement one is now pretty wobbly. Will have to look further into that. Sort of surprised that the servicing dealership from 2001-2015 let the owner continue to drive on those old tires. ..and those tires passed state safety inspection in January. ????

Very interesting fact that this car came from my hometown, Woodbridge, CT. And my Dad bought a couple of Lincolns from that same dealership, Crest Lincoln Mercury/Crest Auto Mall. I drove his 1997 Continental from 29K to 232K miles (2001-2009). Fate?
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Nice find dude. Like your saying it needs a little tlc and will look like a real stunna when complete. Can't wait to see it.

Another note, when it's at the tire shop or what have you, make sure they check the tie rod end links these cars eat those up alive. The inner tread of the front tires will be bald, this is how you know if it needs tie rods. Just FYI
The car has enough paint scuffs that it will never be a stunner...unless I paint both bumpers. Using CarFax's grading guide I'd call the car's cosmetics between Fair to Good. Not a big deal to me at the price and low miles. The paint is 95% nice and not blistered or peeling anywhere. Just some bumper scuffs and a couple lower side scratches. The paint will really shine on this one once washed and waxed. Not a big fan of this yellowish/golden tan color. A cross between white and parchment gold.

I've got 300K miles on my 2 Lincolns and never had unusual inner wear. I always rotated though and got 50K average per set. The current car at 82K miles didn't have a lick of suspension work. I don't recalling doing tie rods either on the car with 232K miles. But it had sloppy suspension by end of life.

The real nice find here is that the guy I'm buying it from likely got it pretty cheap. He had one as his first car and felt nostalgic when this low mileage one popped up at a CarMax, where he works. So the car was fully (or reasonably) checked out there for him. Which means the owners didn't get much. Why didn't they sell it privately?

Seller dropped off the car this morning. Done deal. Fresh photos. Looks nicer in this overcast lighting. My wife is a real stickler for flaws, and even she thinks it's nice despite me preparing here for scuffs/dings/dirty seats. I think we can lighten up those dingy leather seats a bit. I doubt the car has ever been really cleaned in its life. The owners bought it in their mid-70s. In comparing body panel fit vs my car, there is some factory sloppiness from Lincoln.





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Bumped for photos above. Trying to figure out what tires to put on the rears to replace the 18 yr old ones. The fronts have almost new Cooper Starfire RS-C-2.0. And I'd bet the combo of those lower line tires and 20 yr Michelins in the rear isn't helping any.
Tough to tell from the pictures, but it’s not too bad at all.
You might want to check out Dr. Color Chip.
You might be able to make those scuffs fill in and blend in and almost disappear.

As for the tires – for the time being - I would get the same on all four corners even if the Coopers are not the ideal tires.

Good luck with it.
Thanks FlaOkie. Getting 2 more Starfires and using the 4 up makes the most financial sense. Better if I can find a nice used pair for $60.

I put in 3 hours cleaning wheels, engine bay, and doors/door sills. Sure came up to speed quick. My first impression in seeing the car was that it was a bit "sad." After some cleaning it will look nice. And those bumper scuffs are fairly smooth...they could touch up nicely with fresh paint. So we've gone from a 7.5 cosmetically (fair to good) to an 8 (good). An 8.5 is achievable. Leather seats have some 2-tone staining, grime, and/or uv damage. Will conjure up a cleaner to see if we can get those to be 1-tone again. Some of it has come off with trial spots. A LOT of curb rash and even cuts into these rims. The previous drivers ran into a lot of curbs.





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