I'm averse to debt, so I paid cash for the cleanest Ford Taurus SHO I could find, a 1995 green-over-gray car with just 76,000 one-owner miles.
I had it shipped to Detroit from Washington state. The car was indeed spotless. But time, not use, had made it almost undriveable.
Oil leaks from numerous orifices, constantly glowing check engine and antilock brake lights, a coolant leak and a dead battery all made themselves known the first week I had the SHO.
So I set out to fix its numerous problems. But here's what I learned the hard way: Finding factory original repair parts and high-quality service for an older car is challenging.
And I'm not alone. The average age of automobiles on American roads is at an all-time high: 11.4 years, according to a recent survey from R.L. Polk.
For many old cars there's a shortage of original factory replacement parts, and supply starts to dry up around five years after a car is out of production. Original factory parts are made by the original automaker or supplier to precise specifications.
Aftermarket parts are available from other suppliers, but they may not be an exact fit or have the same performance specifications.
Also, factory trained hands are nice to have on a specialized car such as the SHO, with its high-performance, made-in-Japan Yamaha 3.2-liter V-6 engine.