To replace or not to replace?

Asked by Oct 08, 2013 at 01:19 PM about the 1992 Mercury Sable LS Wagon FWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Hi, have a 1992 Sable Wagon with 70K miles and leaky head gaskets.  Engine was stopped before overheating occurred.  Heads/valves have been reworked and are ready to be installed. Purchased a new AC compressor and new water pump to be installed.  Planning to keep the vehicle until petroleum is not longer available.

Dilemma about preventive work.... this is the typical "since access is now better ... lets replace..."

Although access is better... or  more appropriately ... less difficult, it would still be challenging to remove the exhaust system in order to remove the oil pan be able to remove the front cover.  Plus resetting timing would be required if chain and/or gears are replaced.  Cost for additional parts is not that important compared to additional labor, lack of special tools, and limited working conditions.   I'm doing the work on my driveway.

What of the following should get done?

- Replace front cover gasket ? (which I believe would require removing oil pan)

- Replace timing gears and/or chain?

- Replace oil pump?

- Have I missed something?

Thanks in  advance for your recommendations.


5 Answers


it all depends on how deep your pockets are and how well the vehicle has been maintained its entire life. if you plan on keeping it for a very long time and if you do the work yourself I could see it but being a 92 you willl never see what you put into it, out of it if you were to resell

Thanks Chris for your response. However, I had included that the additional cost would be negligible and that I'm doing the work myself. Also mentioned that I'm not planning to resell it.... I don't know the answer about previous maintenance, because I purchased it used. The leaky gasket is a well known problem for the 3.8L and its life expectancy is around 60K to 70K miles. However I don't know whether the timing chain, oil pump and front gasket are LIKELY to last 200K miles..... I think that this last question is more specific than my previous ones. Thanks again for answering, Abel


When you do your calculations, keep in mind the transmissions in them are not the longest lived units in the world. You are likely coming close to being due. At that age, if it has not been done, the steering rack is also nearing the end of its life. Those cars can become money pits very quickly when things start to fail. The steering rack, for example means dropping the sub frame or pulling the engine. Labour can break the bank.

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Mike, thanks for you response. You have provided very useful information. Specially the info on the steering rack. Had no idea of its life expectancy. Neither was I aware of the complexity of replacing it. By the way, what would be the likely symptom when the steering rack needs replacing? Once again, thanks Mike for your help. Have a great day!!! Abel


The racks tend to start leaking out of the end-shaft seals. It is quite likely that the lines may soon leak as well as the pump. It is about that time. Because everything is crammed in under the hood, things run hotter in these cars than they do in the bigger, rear wheel drive models. Struts are also likely about due for changing as well. I would give the car a good, thorough check to see what else is likely to need work soon before you sink any money or effort into it. When things start to go, the bills can easily top $4,000 to bring one of these cars back to rights.

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