RJ's 1999 Mercury Cougar - Mods & Repairs

Picture of my Cougar (several years old)

Stock information

I bought the car new on June 7, 1999, with 9 miles on the odometer (3 of which were put on by me!). It has the following options:

Sticker price: $19,460.00


I'm not into modifying my car a lot, but here are some things I have done:


There have been a lot of repairs.

17/16/992199Cruise control I can actually touch and hold the brakes lightly without disengaging the cruise control. I reported this but was told "operation normal at this time". (The car still does this, by the way. I think the switch on the brake pedal must be a little off.)
29/24/995919Rattling noise under vehicle Turns out the bolts between the converter and intermediate pipe were loose. This comes back to haunt me later.
310/22/997309Brake noise The dealer did something to the calipers (the invoice isn't clear) and supposedly replaced the rotors.
49/28/9910085No start The car simply wouldn't start for me. The starter ran but the engine wouldn't turn over. The tow truck operator simply ground the starter for a while before it started working. The dealer couldn't recreate the condition, and it hasn't happened since. I think maybe some ice formed on the starter motor that kept the starter's gear from engaging the flywheel.
59/28/9910085Noisy fan motor The passenger compartment fan motor was squealing, but the dealer wasn't able to duplicate the problem.
69/22/0020680Cover coming off steering wheel My mom actually noticed this one. The leather wrap was starting to peel back from the wheel underneath. They had to order a new wheel, but the new one is starting to do the same thing (not as badly though).
710/10/0021668Noisy fan motor This time they were able to duplicate the problem (it had gotten much worse) and replaced the fan motor.
82/9/0127730Coolant light on The low coolant light was coming on. They had to replace the coolant recovery tank. This happens again later on.
92/9/0127730Hatch problem The hatch in the car never has worked correctly - if you trigger it and don't open it immediately, it relatches itself. This means I can't use the interior trunk release at all, because it relatches by the time I get back to the trunk to actually open it. The root problem appears to be that the springs are simply too weak for the weight of the trunk. The dealer replaced the springs, but the problem returned in less than a week.
103/10/0128884Hatch lift arm leaking The dealer noticed this one, not me. One of the lift arms was leaking - I don't even know which one. Replaced.
118/17/0135261Hatch problem (part 2) "Unable to verify concern" - despite the fact I was able to demonstrate it to the service writer.
1212/3/0139583Bad lug wrench I had a flat tire caused by some debris in the road. That's not the bad part. The bad part was that the aluminum wrench Mercury included with the car stripped out after loosening only two lugnuts. I now carry a real lug wrench in the car. (Since the tires had 40,000 miles on them, I just had the dealer replace all four. Much to my chagrin, I destroyed one of the new tires less than 5,000 miles later when I hit a pothole.)
135/24/0246966Power window switch bad The passenger side window switch stopped working, but the repairs would've been something like $200. (Later I found the bad switch for $50 online, $75 at a dealer.) I declined the repair - after all, I could control the window from the driver's seat just fine, so the failed passenger window switch was an annoyance at best. And it annoyed my passengers, not me. :)
145/24/0246966Drivers seat shifts when braking A friend of mine that also owns a 1999 Cougar mentioned that his started doing this, so I got curious about mine. Sure enough, when you hit the brakes hard, the driver's seat shifts forward a bit, maybe half an inch. The repair would've been about $700, and there was no guarantee that the replacement wouldn't have done the same thing. Declined the repair. As long as you know this is a possibility, it's not a big deal. If it starts moving farther, I'll do something about it.
155/24/0246966Blower motor only works at full The resistor was bad. This happened in my brother's Escort, too, so I had a pretty good guess what the problem was. This repair cost about $150, and it was at this point that I realized how terrible the extended warranty I'd received was: it was worthless. It's not a Ford factory warrantee, and when I bought my new car I was told that they don't even sell those warranties any more. Good riddance.
165/24/0246966Hatch problem (part 3) "Unable to duplicate customer concern". Sigh. (This, by the way, was the third dealer that looked at it.)
176/27/0248094Brake rotors Okay, 50,000 miles out of a set of brakes is fine with me. However, they had to replace the front rotors because they'd already been turned. Huh? I thought they were replaced at 7,000 miles (see #3). Unfortunately, this happened during the very week I was settling on a new house and moving (in fact, the dealer called me while the movers were bringing stuff into the new place, so my mind wasn't on my car at the moment), so I told them to just replace the front rotors. Then he told me it'd be a day before they could get the rotors. D'oh - good thing I'd gotten a rental car, which the dealer paid for when they knew they'd have my car overnight. By the way, the rear pads never set into the rotors correctly - it looks like the pads are only using half the rotors.
This is when I bought a second daily-driver car, so you'll see the incidents become less frequent and accumulated miles increase more slowly.
189/5/0250000DPFE I was on a trip to the Carolinas when my DPFE (I forget what it stands for, but it's common for them to die in Cougars/Contours/Mystiques). This causes the computer to read excessive EGR gasses, so it closes the EGR valve, which means the engine isn't getting any EGR flow, which means that the engine pings like mad. And throws a Check Engine Light (CEL). It was running okay, but not great, when I got to Chapel Hill, NC, my first destination. During my drive from Chapel Hill to Charleston, SC, the CEL came on and the engine starting pinging badly. It was pinging at all speeds on flat land and hills. I got into Charleston on Thursday afternoon, but the dealers and shops were busy. I called my brother, who was a service manager at a Ford dealer, and he told me that the DPFE is likely the problem (Autozone told me what the code stored in the computer was). I bought one at a Mercury dealer and some tools at Wal-Mart, but I was unable to get to it to replace it myself. I slipped a guy at a dealer some money to slap it on for me. It has worked fine ever since! (And, thanks, man. You saved my vacation!)
197/8/0355023Coolant system (part 2) The coolant level light had been coming on frequently, but it seemed limited to the times I parked on a slope. I began thinking that the car was just meant to not be parked on slopes (pity, because the parking lot where I live is entirely a slope!). Meanwhile, my daily driver car began showing low coolant, too. Both cars' coolant appeared to be full, so I figured something else was wrong, like the sensors. Nah. The heater core in the daily driver finally started leaking drastically, making it clear that there was a real problem. I figured that if the daily-driver's low coolant light was correct, maybe the one in the Cougar was correct, too. Yep. Expansion tank leaking again. Replaced again. I'm pretty sure they flushed the system both times the coolant tank was replaced, so I probably have the cleanest 1999 Cougar engine out there.
207/8/0355023Windshield leak The windshield starting leaking, getting the floor wet on both sides under the dash. This put an end to the new car smell - now it smells like the cleaner I used on the floor.
218/17/0355762Rattling noise (part 2) Remember the loose exhaust system (see #2)? Well, when I went to use the car this day, I found that the bolts were now gone and the exhaust system was totally disconnected behind the catalytic converter. Locktite, people. Locktite! (On a side note, the garage doing this repair managed to bungle it - as soon as I started it, moments after I sent the person who'd given me a ride home, I could still clearly hear a leak. The service writer came out and agreed with me and couldn't believe the mechanic hadn't heard the leak.)
2211/5/0357000Moosing sound This is a common problem with these cars - they start making a "moosing" sound when they're cold. The problem is the IAC (idle air control), which allows air into the intake when the engine is idling (I think). We replaced this at a Cougar meet.
232/18/200566000Alternator Alternator replaced.

Other odd problems

That's it!

Last modified 3/9/08