By on September 28, 2011

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Scott writes:

I am a regular TTAC reader and have a question that I hope you can shed some light on. Currently my wife and I own a 2004 Accord with about 100,000 miles and in good shape and a 1993 Grand Marquis with about 90,000 miles which is also in good shape for its age – according to my mechanic we can get at least two more years with basic maintenance. I commute to work in the G. Marquis every day about 50 miles round trip and my wife put 15-20,000 miles per year on the Accord for her job (her Gas is reimbursed at 50 cents / mile).

My wife wants a new car (SUV-we’re thinking FLEX) and I would get the Accord thinking we move up in fleet reliability with more room to tote around a toddler, a large dog, and related items. The Accord has trade in value ($8,500 – $9,500 according to KBB) and the G. Marquis does not ($875-$1,100 according to KBB).

I think it makes more sense to keep the Grand Marquis as long as we can and trade in the Honda considering its value. My wife disagrees. What do you think?

Sajeev Answers:

Your wife probably hates your car. Which obviously breaks my heart.

And takes me down memory lane: years ago I told my girlfriend that I’d love her far more if she bought a new Mercury Grand Marquis (MGM) for the same price as the compacts she wanted. And since she restricted herself to USA-only brands, she wasn’t looking at the fun, refined and cheerful little shitboxes! I forced her to sit in an ice blue MGM, looking ready to knee me in the crotch. Needless to say, Panther Love foretold of a short and painful relationship that time ‘round.

So anyway…your lady needs to wake up and smell the Panther Love. If not for Love, for Money.

Panther’s are not terribly valuable on public perception alone, justified and otherwise. Their resale isn’t great in the dealer trade-in market, either. Craigslist will get you a few more bucks, but the Accord is the one for the money. And who knows, you might be one of the “lucky” folks with a grenaded Honda transaxle, especially if this is a V6 model. Not that an early 90’s MGM is the symbol of mechanical perfection, but worn valve seals (at well over 100k) and any other malady that comes from old age is probably no big thang. That’s mostly because I trust your assessment, and the word of your local wrench.

So if I can trust you, why can’t your wife? Did I just go there?

Because that’s what I would throw back at her, to see if she’s gonna play ball. I just think she wants to keep the Accord over the MGM, dollar saving be damned. Considering your next ride will be very similar to the configuration/layout of the Honda, the MGM is both a better value and a fantastic way to spice up the action in your garage. Provided your wife is more automotively-forgiving than my ex.

If that’s what you really want. Back to you, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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59 Comments on “Piston Slap: Relationship Advice, Accord vs. Panther Love?...”


  • avatar

    I’m with Sajeev on this one, keep the Grand Marquis, it will keep you from wanting to kick yourself in the ass later. Plus, you will be able to get some glitzy options on the Flex with the extra trade-in dollars. Panther FTW!

  • avatar
    Jim

    My suggestion is #1 DO NOT argue with your wife. EVER! But seriously, why not keep the Accord, sell the MGM to a High School or College student, and by not having a trade get a much better deal on a Flex. If you have the room, keep the MGM for sentimental reasons.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Uhh, not feeling the love this time. In 2+ years the Panther will become more of a maintenance nuisance, and since Scott seems to use a mechanic he will get fed up and start looking for a newer car anyway.

    Long term I’d put money on a 2004 Accord over a 1993 Panther. If it’s not a financial hardship now keep the Accord and you’ll be way ahead in 5 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      NO the 2004 Accord will cost more to maintain than a 1993 GM by far when you include the cost of insurance.

    • 0 avatar
      PlentyofCars

      Just past 100,000 after all warranties expire, is traditionally when a Honda’s transmission falls apart.

      There are a lot of Honda’s in my family (relatives). Every single one needed transmission work going all the way back to the 1984 Accord; including a 2004 Accord.

      My next door neighbor has an Accord and an Odyssey. Both transmissions fell apart after 100K.

      But since all these quality surveys stop before going past 100k miles, Honda escapes media complaints.

      • 0 avatar
        seth1065

        I have had 6 Accords from a 98 to a 2006 ex 4 bangers all auto’s no problems with the trans at all still have three in the extended family all over 200 K with no tranny trouble, all were bought new as companies cars. I would keep the Honda but to be fair I do not get the whole panther love thing.

      • 0 avatar
        PlentyofCars

        Seth1065…

        So you have driven your 2006 Accord over 100 miles per day, every single day (365) for the last 5.5 years? That is what it would take to get a 2006 Accord up to 200K miles.

        Or are you just making stuff up.?

        Google Accord Transmission Problems and Accord Transmission Failure and see the results.

        Other posts below mention transmission repairs.

        The V6′s are worse than the 4cyl. Check out the same V6 Acura TL, MDX & RL transmission failures.

        Even the general information Wikipedia page on the Acura TL has a whole paragraph on the transmission failures.

  • avatar
    mikey

    A Thousand dollars is peanuts. Keep the MGM, your looking at zero deprecation. The Honda is worth big bucks right now. Take it and run. Yeah, you may have to pump a couple of bucks into the old Merc.

    At 50 miles a day the Honda may save you a few bucks on fuel. Your going to lose it on resale and repairs.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Another plant? Holy!

    In all seriousness, a lot might depend on if you’re financing the new vehicle. If so, then you might want to consider which of the two vehicles is going to have the best chance of lasting through the financing period, otherwise you may find yourself needing to finance two vehicles a couple of years down the road.

  • avatar

    Scrap value is only a couple hundred less than the trade in value on the Grand Marquis.

    Keep the GM!

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    MGM driver here! (01 that I got in August after my poor 94 3800 powered regal got rear ended). Sorry Sajeev, but I’m not feelin this one. Yea the accord has the trade in value but the MGM is a 93…. it’s worth less than a grand. While mechanically it is extremely reliable (which is why I got my 01) it’s gonna have age-related problems and will soon exceed it’s value in maintinance expenses. If you can do the work yourself, hurah but otherwise… meh.

    Here’s an alternative solution, sell both cars. Get a used 00,02 MGM/VIc and a flex. You’ll have a newer mgm and more $$$ to put towards the flex than if you kept the honda.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      This makes some sense. I don’t feel the Panther love, but if you do, a newer Town Car, for maybe half the value of the Accord, could be a practical option. A TC might be better received by the wife.

      On the Accord, is it due for a timing belt? Seems like it would be. If so, then consider that significant expense.

    • 0 avatar

      His mechanic begs to differ. Given the quality of the information presented here, I will believe the mechanic is right.

      Plus, V6 Hondas like to eat transaxles. It’s not a clear cut victory by any means, no matter which one you choose.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Considering you are the one driving the Grand Marquis every day and she is the one getting the new rig, if you want to keep the Merc, do it.

    It’s 11 years older than the Honda though, so it is likely to die quite a bit sooner. I think age can be as much a factor as mileage.

  • avatar

    With stratospherically high used car prices, now’s a great time to sell. Unfortunately, the MGM is excluded from high resale prices. There’s a bunch of good reasons why prices are this high (http://bit.ly/p9MRgL and http://bit.ly/rnB7jU) So that leaves the Accord on the auction block. Depending on how strongly your wife feels about the MGM, I see a few options

    1. You reason with her. The dollars and cents are pretty clear.

    2. You bribe her. Take a chunk from the sale of the Accord and take your lady on a nice trip. Everybody wins.

    3. Preserve the union. If she’ll nitpick and complain for the remaining life of the MGM, best to let the Panther go and save your own sanity. After all, what good is the the extra money, if it’s all going to your friendly neighborhood psychiatrist.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Think of it this way. That new Flex will cost you at least $500/month in depreciation alone, not to mention additional insurance costs. So keep both sedans, and put $300/month in the bank. Then, you and your wife each get to spend $100/month on whatever you like. You can get new golf clubs or whatever floats your boat; she can buy lots of shoes.

    When the Panther finally dies, use the money on a new ride. If it takes 3 years, you are $10K ahead of the game. Everybody wins.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      SherbornSean has the right answer.

      Also, change the tranny fluid on the Accord once a year for cheap insurance.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Accord will be the one dying first, the GM isn’t even broken in yet. The wife seems to want a different vehicle so now is the time to do it while the Accord is worth as much as it is and before it needs another $500-$1500 “service” or a much more expensive trans.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    I say keep the MGM and sell the Accord. More trade in dollars to go either towards the purchase or consoling the wife with a nice gift…a trip or something.

    I reckon Panther parts are cheap(er?) and more plentiful than Accord parts, plus if you’re schlepping around a V6 Accord there’s that tranny issue that’s ready to rear its ugly head.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Since your wife will be driving the Flex, I’d say the choice of which car to keep should be yours (Disclaimer: I am not a marriage counselor)

    From a value standpoint, it sounds like the losing the Accord will net you about 7 grand, maybe more. Do you expect to pay that much to maintain the MGM over the next 5 years or so? I’m not a Panther owner, but I’d assume one that’s well-serviced and frequently driven could go to 150 or 200K pretty painlessly.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’ve got one that is at 190K and so far its had brakes and tires a few times, 2 belts, U-joints, 1 set of Mufflers and tailpipes, a window regulator, fuel door switch, PVC hose, and water pump.

      My last one, which is actually a 93 GM, that my friend currently owns. It was at 280K they last time I heard. For the most part it’s pretty similar for what has been done to it. It hasn’t had a water pump and has went through more tires and brakes of course. It has had some front end parts replaced and shocks all around O2 sensors and a Throttle position sensor.

      So yeah to take a Panther to well over 200K, excluding tires, is going to be less than doing one timing belt and the rest of the stuff that they do at the same time when it is done at the dealer.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    In terms of depreciation, the Mercury is the obvious choice, since it is fully depreciated. In the short term, keeping the Panther and selling the Honda is the better choice due to the fact that the Honda still has some value (which will also lower your debt load on the new car).

    On the other hand, it sounds as if keeping the Mercury virtually guarantees that you’ll be buying its replacement car about two years from now. Which means that you’ll be having two car payments to make, not just one. Keeping it could be pennywise and pound foolish.

    The right answer depends upon what you wish to do. If the Honda is well maintained and in good condition, and if you intend to drive it for a long time, then I’d be inclined to keep the Honda. But if you’d end up selling the Honda in a couple of years, no matter what, then I’d keep the Panther due to the depreciation loss.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Trade in the Accord it will get you more money to apply to the Flex and it’s a much bigger liability, maintenance and repair wise at 100K than a GM with 200K and your GM only has 90K. Not to mention the fact that the GM isn’t really worth putting full coverage on while the Accord is. The 1-2 MPG difference will more than be compensated for by the other savings. Plus with the discontinuation of the Panther platform it’s value is going to go up or remain flat at the worst as taxi drivers loose their supply of used police cars. So a low-low mile (under 200K) civilian GM will be quite attractive in another 2 years.

  • avatar
    86er

    I’d like to know why Scott’s mechanic feels that a well-kept 90,000 mile 93 Marquis only has two years left on it. Keeping the fluids tip-top, and ignoring the valve seals unless oil consumption becomes prohibitive (unlikely for a good long while) would ensure good operation from that platform and that powertrain until 180,000 miles.

  • avatar
    aspade

    If the market is crazy enough to give you $9,000 for an 8 year old Accord with 100K+ on it, you take it. No brainer.

    Keep the Marquis until something expensive wears out. Then buy a newer one.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    Tell her to go down to Club Cabaret and earn the $9,000 difference.

    *I’m not married.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    If the SUV is for her, then why wouldn’t she let him keep the Diabolical Biz Marquis?

  • avatar
    jj99

    Trade in both the Merc and the Accord on a new strippo Camry or Accord.

    Then, buy a new strippo Highlander.

    You can swing this total deal for around 45K less the 10K in trade in value, which gets you 2 great reliable vehicles for 35K, which can’t be that much more than the Flex, plus you would have some solid resale vs. the Flex.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Another vote for keeping the Mercury. I still have a 93 Crown Vic in the family fleet, only 118K.

    Right now, the Honda is worth $9k. In 3 or 4 years, it will be worth what – 4500 to trade? The car will cost you $4500 just to keep in your garage, repairs or not. A V6 in the Accord hardens my position due to tranny issues. Even if the 4, you do not mention if you have sucked up the timing belt service that is due about now. This is $1200-1800 as I recall, with a water pump, tensioner, and the whole deal. No timing belt in the 4.6. This makes the Honda a $7k proposition to keep for 4 yrs.

    With the MGM, you can expect issues with your window regulators. I just had to replace a leaking steering gear in mine. Also, you have R-12 in your a/c system. None of this will get you remotely close to $7k. Or you could drive it until the first $500 repair comes, then push it into a ravine. For free (ok, for $800). I say if you like the MGM, keep it.

    Final note – I have found KBB to be pretty high, you may not see these numbers in real life. Even so, it’s MGM – 1, Accord – 0.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This is a good column for a blog called the Truth About Wrecking Your Marriage and Driving a Penalty Box.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Sell both and buy a pair of Nissan Versas.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    I go with 3800fan….Sell the Accord. Take 2/3 of the proceeds and put down on the Flex. Wife should be happy. Sell the your MGM. Take the proceeds from that and the 1/3 remaining proceeds from the Accord and get yourself another, newer, Panther.

    Hell, I am looking for another car, and even though I KNOW one won’t fit in my garage, Sajeev has me thinkin’ Panther. But my cougar would scratch me if I did…..

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Since when do our womens tell us mens what we are allowed to drive, anyway? What be’s happenin to us mens when dis be happenin? The Chickification of America continues…..

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Do NOT trade in the Accord. Sell it privately – why should the dealer make all that profit? Despite my well known feelings of dislike for the driving experience of the big cats, this one seems like a no-brainer, keep the low-mileage boat and ditch the Accord.

  • avatar
    Derby129

    Trade the wife. Keep both cars.

    This message is Baruth-approved.

  • avatar
    George B

    Financially it makes sense to sell the 2004 Honda Accord right now. Used value is crazy high and maintenance costs will start to go up. Timing belt/water pump replacement is due and I paid about $500 cash to mechanic in the Vietnamese area of Dallas to do this on a slow day at his shop. Typically closer to $1000. Expect to have small but annoying repair expenses like replacing window regulators and CV joints too. Might get lucky and notice the signs of automatic transmission failure, but if not, add another $2k to the Accord ownership cost. If you can do your own repair work and like the Accord, they are OK to keep around, but past 100k miles the ownership experience isn’t trouble free.

    Not experienced at negotiating with a wife yet, but I’d let her basically pick her new CUV in exchange for Panther tolerance if not love. Argue that money saved today allows you two to buy another car in a few years when used car prices fall back to normal.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Do you have a V6 Accord, or do you have a pre-2003 Accord? The last 4 cylinder Honda with a timing belt was a 2002 model. Ten years out, the folly of a high maintenance car is obvious. The funny thing is that the same imbeciles that are pretending to know why various old Hondas are a bad idea are shilling for cars that anyone with a three digit IQ knows are fundamentally flawed. I wonder if a timing chain is as much of a liability as direct injection and a turbocharger. No I don’t.

  • avatar
    Dipstick

    At 90-100k they are practically new.
    Loose the large dog and keep driving what you have.

  • avatar
    Bryce

    Im the last person to recomend a Panther but the Honda is worth $$$ sell that one keep the Ford its worth nothing but wont be worth less in a couple of years

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Sell the Honda. drive the MGM into the ground, then get 400 $ for its scrap value. Chances are it will be the last V8 you ever own.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Nothing says crapshoot quite like guessing which used car is going to crap out first.

    If you go as your wife says there isn’t any need for analysis. Just do as she says. If you do what you want, you need to hope you are right. If she holds a grudge you need another type of counselor.

    As for the cars, I have had a lemon honda and a great 86 TC. The towne car lasted 280,000 miles and was still running great when we traded on something else. It didn’t look like an old car. It nickeled and dimed on small stuff but I think the 5.0 was about as highly developed when they quit making it as an engine could be. The overdrive automatic was still original and not slipping.
    Same running gear as an F150, I suppose. You can’t go back but I sure wouldn’t mind seeing it in my driveway again.

    Nobody has a better clue than you do as to what you need to do. I wish you luck

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      If they are similar cars then yes it’s a crap shoot, but comparing a GM to an Accord and it’s easy to know that the GM will go twice as far for half the repair and maintenance cost of an Accord.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Panther transmissions are the worst. Rented a Panther in Naples last year and the transmission blewup on the highway. I didn’t notice the white smoke out the back.

    The policeman who picked me up said that their transmissions lasted only 50,000 miles and that were happy to see the Panthers’ demise.

    In the long run, the Accord will cost less to own, which is why it’s worth so much more afterall.


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