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post #1 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-18-2016, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thinking about buying 91 sc

I saw a ad for a 91 sc for $2600. At first it was running good then a few days later he said check engine light came on and it had a bad idle. He said a mechanic will look at it wed. It has 95,000 mi, so if he gets it running good again what are some things to look for?
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post #2 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-18-2016, 10:27 PM
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ABS system
Head gaskets
Rust

-Matt
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post #3 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 12:36 AM
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ABS system
Head gaskets
Rust
Also check the condition of the suspension bushings and other rubber bits that age (and not necessarily mileage) will have killed.

It also pays to take a look at the belts and hoses and other rubber bits from underneath the hood. Do they look cracked or heaven forbid original (if it doesn't start cracking, old rubber can take on that "greasy" look that means its on its last legs).

If all the rubber bits look old, it's a good indication that the car might not have been driven much but might also not have been well maintained, either.

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post #4 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 01:11 PM
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Also since nobody else mentioned it, check that the odometer works to verify that is the correct mileage!

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post #5 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S4gunn View Post
Also check the condition of the suspension bushings and other rubber bits that age (and not necessarily mileage) will have killed.

It also pays to take a look at the belts and hoses and other rubber bits from underneath the hood. Do they look cracked or heaven forbid original (if it doesn't start cracking, old rubber can take on that "greasy" look that means its on its last legs).

If all the rubber bits look old, it's a good indication that the car might not have been driven much but might also not have been well maintained, either.
Yeah those are givens for any MN12, I just brought up the SC specific hurdles( which yes, rust lives on both, but those GFX breed it and leave it completely unchecked)

Forgot a few others, DIS system, and harmonic balancer

-Matt
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post #6 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help. He also mentioned the previous owner replaced the rear differential. Will the rust be hidden under the skirts or will some be visible under the car. And what's DIS system?
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post #7 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 03:35 PM
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Distributorless ignition, the one used on the 89-93s are fairly notorious for failing and causing all sorts of running issues before going completely kaput. It's simple enough to replace though

Rule of thumb If there's visible rust anywhere underneath the car the rockers will be rotting out. The skirts completely hide it, and they seem to exacerbate the development since debris and moisture will accumulate under them over time.

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post #8 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 09:41 PM
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If you want to buy a crappy SC, you should buy my 1994 and learn how to drive stick. LOL
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post #9 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-20-2016, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks I'll look closely for rust. I don't think its a crappy car, with 95,000 mi the engine should have a lot of life left in it. I wish you had a auto for sale , you take good care of your cars. I need auto so when my old car is ready to go I will have a back up tranny. Well if this car doesn't work out I'll just save for another so maybe then you might have another automatic one.
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post #10 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-20-2016, 07:55 PM
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Very unlikely I will be picking up another SC anytime, and definately not an automatic. I didnt mean that 91 SC was crappy ( but it probably is ) .. I was saying my 1994 SC is crappy. Pretty much any car from the late 80's to early 90's is crap by this point in time, just my opinion dont take it too personal.

There are way too many differences between the 94/95 and 89-93 SC .. it has a ton of improvements over the early model.

SC are still problematic no matter what year. Dont use the mileage as an indicator of longevity. Head gaskets and harmonic balancer dont care .. lots of things to go wrong, It would take a while for me to list them all, and hard to find a mechanic willing to work on these days.

If I were honestly in the "market" for a new Tbird, it would probably be more like a 96/97 4.6L, definately one of the best of the bunch from an overall perspective - the only upside the SC really has on it is the manual transmission so if you prefer Auto, dont buy anything with an AOD.
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post #11 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-20-2016, 08:33 PM
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AODs can (emphasis on "can") last just fine. I bought my 1990 SC with no transmission at all, and put in a lightly used rebuild from a wrecked Grand Marquis, and a new torque converter. I currently have about 100,000 miles on that rebuild, with one fluid change. Works great!

The engine and body have about 210,000 miles on them. The engine needed head gaskets a few years ago. Other than that, it's working well. The blower is pretty much shot at this point, and rattles like crazy, but I have a lower mileage replacement sitting around. The beat one still makes over 10psi with ease, so ... ?

The only thing that really stands a chance of sending it to the crusher is rust, and yes, the SC does tend to develop rocker rust. But that is pretty much every car. From every manufacturer. In every decade. The ground effects don't help, but I had a base model that was one year older, with no sunroof, and rusted out far sooner. So your case may differ.

Two things you can do to help slow rust are to spray inside the rockers (and the underbody) with a rust preventative. And check for leaking seams around the trunk, roof rails, and windshield. The seam sealer can dry out and let water in there, which doesn't help matters.

The early model ABS is complicated, but actually lasts a pretty long time. If something breaks, though, it can be expensive.

The early model SC interior is actually much nicer than the later model in some ways. I think the de-contenting started around 1991, though, so that particular car would already have a few cost cuts inside. That's ok, though, it's still a pretty nice interior whatever year you get.

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post #12 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-20-2016, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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The harmonic balancer failing can cause a lot of damage, is there a way to know when its ready to go? And is there any other serous problems with the engine that are common. I hope fixing this car up to make it reliable isn't too expensive. And why won't some mechanics work on sc's?
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post #13 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-21-2016, 07:06 AM
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Well..You won't be able to tell if it's bad by looking at it from just opening up the hood..

If the rubber is separating in the Balancer..You're going to have to get on your back, and crawl under the car..

You'll have to lift the front end so you can get a good look at it..

Take a good look between the Oil Pan and Harmonic Balancer..If you see any rubber protruding from the Balancer you'll have to replace the Balancer..

Like this:


Compare that to a new Balancer:


It wouldn't hurt to use an inspection mirror to have a look at the backside of the Balancer as well...Just to see if there's any missing rubber in it..





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post #14 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-22-2016, 01:00 PM
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Do still have it? Whats your price? I think an SC is worth buying anytime you fine one, giving the right price.
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post #15 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-22-2016, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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So after taking a closer look at it there's not a drop of rust anywhere, body is solid. The oil pan is saturated with fresh oul from the rear seal, and the radiator was low from the leak on the thermostat housing. The reason why the rough idle was happening was from vacuum leak. What do you guys think? The rear dif seals are also leaking. Everything else is clean.

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post #16 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-23-2016, 07:47 AM
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Vacuum leaks shouldn't be too bad to fix. That thermostat housing leak could be a problem as those tend to warp, and can be very difficult to get them to seal again. The oil leak is likely not a rear main seal, but it likely needs an oil pan gasket, which means either pulling the engine or dropping the front subframe. I say if you are looking for a fun project, offer him $1800 and probably settle around $2100. If you want something to just get in and drive, then pass on it.

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post #17 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-24-2016, 07:26 AM
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Oil leak is most likely IMO cracked pan from failed motor mounts. T-stat is a pain to seal I'm working on duplicating my reinforcement plates just for this (3/8" CRS), to attempt a repair without welding a new plate need to sand it flat and/or hammer the warp out, I also use two gaskets and RTV on all surfaces.

If that ABS system is bad the only viable fix is to convert to conventional.

As for the mileage it means nothing on a SC my car is on its 3rd motor, the orginal purchaser had Ford put the first replacement in, so the factory installed and the factory replacement both failed in less than 70k each. Unknown reason on factory one but replacement dropped valves in cylinder 5 at 4k rpm.

If I was to be buy a SC I'd go ahead and get a new BHJ balancer, ICM, Cam and Crank sensors and replace all vacuum hoses. And in the case new mounts and expect a replacement pan or rewedding. As with any old AOD get one in the budget, if you are thinking of modifying it don't even consider a factory rebuild.

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post #18 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-24-2016, 12:07 PM
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I have a 95 SC in my driveway which had broken the balancer. So the bolt had snapped, and then the balancer broke leaving half of the hub on the crankshaft inside the timing cover - the balancer and pulley ended up getting stuck between the sway bar and the front brace on the subframe - the power wire to the starter was also shredded. Ended up having to take off the entire front part of the engine to get the hub off the shaft - and then drilling / EZ-out to get the remaining piece of the broken bolt out of the middle of the crankshaft. Total cost about $600 in labor cost, plus a new balancer, pulley, serpentine belt, support brace and starter wire. Oh yeah and expect to pay about $500 for the new BHJ balancer - you'll want to get the shorter bolts for the pulley also, or else it will wobble and break them off - the instructions dont say anything about it, but the stock bolts will bury themselves into the new balancer without fully seating the pulley. This applies to ANY year SC.

Then you still have the crappy brake system - if that fails, you're looking at a couple hundred for a new accumulator ball, or possibly a bad relay ( cheap fix ) .. but if the pressure switch fails, expect to pay a couple hundred, and then the easiest way to change that out is by using a hole saw on the inner fender, and using a ground down socket to remove it. If your pump motor fails, you're **** out of luck.

The SC from 94/95 got the Gen 4 Eaton M90 supercharger, plus 36 pound injectors. Its a decent upgrade, but dont expect a whole lot of power gains unless you spend a lot more money on a ported blower, or an AR kit. I wouldnt bother unless I had the forged internals and ported heads. By this time youve got over $5k invested into the car already if you want to start making some decent power.

The 94/95 also got the fully floating piston rods, slightly higher CR on stock pistons, and a windage tray. Plus the DIS system was fixed, so no worries there. Larger MAF, and the throttle body doesnt have that pointless coolant bypass through it. You'll also get the late model exhaust manifolds which flow much better than the early style - you wont see the upgraded driver side manifold until 1992, and the much improved passenger side came in 1994.

Every SC or NA V6 I have ever worked on for a blown HG had blown fire ring in the head gasket on the number 3 cylinder, passenger side rear .. wether its a cooling issue, detonation issue, or lack of exhaust flow, I am not sure .. but that is very common.

I picked up my 1994 SC after the previous owner managed to neglect the motor mounts until the oil pan rubbed on the subframe - drove it home and then the rod knock developed. Total cost for me to rebuild the engine was about $2200 including the ARP head studs, Rod bolts and a few other goodies, plus the BHJ balancer. At any rate, its almost not worth selling the car.

And the reason why most mechanics wont work on these cars - they are too stupid. Any job is going to take about twice as long but by the time you pull off the supercharger and air charge tubes, its just like any NA 3.8. Just dont be surprised if you get a quote of $500 to change the spark plugs.
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post #19 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-24-2016, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks I'll defiantly get that done when I have my dad rebuild the engine. Right now just still waiting for the shop to fix the vacuum problem, then it will need to be smogged. I'm also considering making my own subframe bracing, I don't want the same thing that happened to my 89 t-bird with cracks below rear shock mounts to this 91 sc.
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post #20 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 12:24 PM
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Thanks I'll defiantly get that done when I have my dad rebuild the engine. Right now just still waiting for the shop to fix the vacuum problem, then it will need to be smogged. I'm also considering making my own subframe bracing, I don't want the same thing that happened to my 89 t-bird with cracks below rear shock mounts to this 91 sc.
I had a 1989 (base model) that had some cracks below the rear shock mounts as well. I had forgotten about it until you brought it up. But my two 1990 SCs have never had this problem.

I don't know if you can get anything out of that, but I am just mentioning it.

My current 1990 SC does have a crack in the firewall. I stop-drilled it when I saw it a few years ago, and it seems to have stayed put since then.

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post #21 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 12:28 PM
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I think it's worth mentioning if you plan on keeping the car for a long time..

The only thing is, much of the crack prone parts of the unibody are covered by interior pieces like the seats, and carpet..

If the seller will allow you to remove parts of the rear interior..You can get a better look at what's lurking back there..

I don't know if I would say definitively that SC's are more prone to cracks all over the unibody structure though..

Because I have seen cracked MN12 unibody's in both SC and V8..

I do however believe the manual transmission MN12 are the cars you will find the most cracks in the unibody on..

Simply because of the shock presented by that manual transmission to the unibody structure..






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post #22 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 02:26 PM
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I think the "shock" aspect to the manual transmission is incredibly overstated, a J-Mod with the medium to high drill settings, raisedline pressure and a OEM stall converter(stock to Marauder) hammers on the chassis harsher than any manual shift I've managed. The only credence I give to the manual vs auto stress cracks are the ones on the firewall - BUT not for the shock reason, but the from repetitive pressure you apply to it via the clutch pedal.

Cracks elsewhere tend to be pretty consistent in the rear shock tower/wheelwell/floorpan areas, and that can be seen on every MN12 specifically in the 89-92 year range. Ford revised all of those specific stampings in 1993 for the Mark VIII, which transferred over to the MN12, Only reason I can think that was revised was because that was a known stress area.

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post #23 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 03:19 PM
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I used to work with a guy that had a brand new 89 SC 5 spd. He used to get on it and bang gears in that thing all the time, with the back end fishtailing almost constantly with the grace of a hippopotamus.

No way an automatic "chirp" would touch his driving. Did I mention he did 7 donuts continuous on a dry cul de sac?

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post #24 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 03:53 PM
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A J-spec trans with no wave plates in the clutch packs, maxed line pressure, 450+ drill settings and a low stall does more than just an automatic chirp, it was all around harsh, you didn't have to be anywhere near WOT to chirp my old setup, in fact it was it's most harsh just downshifting from OD to 3rd at cruising speed, it was like a sledge hammer hit the bottom of the seat, the dash would creak loudly. Only thing comparable with the 5 speed is when it wheel hops from a hard launch, but the auto would hop too occasionally, my best upshifts are about the same as the auto in terms of shock, could be that my involvement of the shift mutes the sensation of course but it's not like it's night and day, just a different sensation.

Did plenty of Doughnuts too, but that's not really a comparo between transmissions in terms of chassis shock.

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post #25 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 04:33 PM
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In defense of the MN12 body structure, the 1989 base model was the car that got me around in my college years. Notable highlights included backing into a dormitory (didn't leave a scratch on the car?), pulling out from what looked like a flat gutter, but was actually a 8" curb, and driving completely up and over a curbed landscape island that had been hidden by snow. So any car would have been sore tested.

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post #26 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 05:26 PM
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In defense of the MN12 body structure, the 1989 base model was the car that got me around in my college years. Notable highlights included backing into a dormitory (didn't leave a scratch on the car?), pulling out from what looked like a flat gutter, but was actually a 8" curb, and driving completely up and over a curbed landscape island that had been hidden by snow. So any car would have been sore tested.
I did something similar with my Cougar in high school, my Friend and I were blocked in the Carquest lot by a delivery truck so he just went down the curb between lots in his Suburban, seemed logical at the time so I followed, but that slight looking curb wasn't so slight, was definitely 8" I'd say - Front wheels hit the ground, BAM BAM(wheels-bounce up and down-body), had to commit so rear next, much slower, scraaap BAM. No damage either, I totally expected the rockers or frame rails to be totally kinked, but nope, the scrape seemed to the cross bar under the exhaust and everything else was fine.

I think the structure is fine on these cars overall, but there are definitely fatigue points.

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post #27 of 53 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 05:56 PM
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I have worked on dozens of MN12's .. mostly late model 93+, but still I have yet to see a crack near the rear shock mounts first hand. I have seen plenty of cracks in the firewall, on the automatic vehicles just as much as manual.

I believe the cracks are due more to the body twisting than driveline shock. The body is isolated by the differential, control arm bushings, subframe mounts, etc .. that subframe is pretty solidly mounted and the parts that break tend to be differential covers, rear diff brackets, half shafts, etc ..

There is a greater amount of twist in the body itself during cornering at speed - being a unibody and all which goes both directions.
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post #28 of 53 (permalink) Old 02-16-2016, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Hey everyone I just got a 92 SC, its alot a blast to drive compared to my old one. Heres some pic tell me what you guys think.
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post #29 of 53 (permalink) Old 02-16-2016, 04:43 PM
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Looks pretty good! Any rust lurking beneath?

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post #30 of 53 (permalink) Old 02-16-2016, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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No rust. When I drive this car it feels like a completly different car. Its got a lowered cold air intake, x pipe resonator, 07 gt mufflers and a tune. I won't drive it much and try to take good care of it. Odometer stopped working so I want to get it fixed eventually and it has original head gaskets. The tranny was rebuilt with paper work in 07 it has the 2" overdrive band. It runs flawless.
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