Driven5 SuperDork
8/18/18 2:40 a.m.

While 'window shopping' for cheap, fun (manual trans and RWD preferred), family (4 seat), convertible toys on CL between kids waking up screaming...I saw a 2005 Mustang GT with just over 200k miles listed for $5,500 OBO extremely local to me. How crazy am I for even entertaining this idea?

Without much Mustang specific knowledge, compared to what else is out there for the price, it seems like it could be a decent deal with a little negotiating. Non-salted roads mean cars don't really rust out here. Pictures show pretty good condition for the age and mileage both inside and out, supposedly has the most recent few years worth of service records, clean title, and appears stock except for a K&N CAI.

I know that these are pretty solid cars that are well supported, but what about with 200k miles on them? Obviously there will be various wear and treat items at various lifecycle stages. But does anybody have any experience with, or know of, any specific problem areas for these cars as they get into the 'high mileage' range? Are they still worth considering at that point, or would I be dodging a bullet by not even inquiring further?...Do I just need to sleep this off?

ultraclyde PowerDork
8/18/18 6:17 a.m.

I've got 125k on mine with no issues. Runs as good as the day I bought it.  As long as it's been maintained decently I wouldnt be scared of it. Give it the due diligence any 200k car should get, and then talk them down below $5k. 

Beside...plenty of those motors in the junkyards.

dj06482 GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/18/18 6:41 a.m.

My '01 GT just rolled over 300k earlier this year.  I bought it from a friend who used it to commute 130 miles per day (except for the winter).  I would drive it and check out the condition, but they can run well with significant mileage if they've been maintained.

maj75 HalfDork
8/18/18 7:05 a.m.

I had a Mustang GT that was a 120 mile a day commuter.  Wore out the bearings in the rear end at around 150k.  Just swapped rear ends because it was way cheaper and quicker than rebuilding mine.  Sold it at 200k and it still ran like the day I bought it.  Oil was changed every month, tires once a year, and trans and rear fluids every 2 years.

DILYSI Dave MegaDork
8/18/18 7:30 a.m.

I bought my '06 with 180k on the clock and have put another 50k on it. Lots of AutoX and now some tracking. I've put a fair bit of work into making her dance, but that was unrelated to mileage. Only age / wear related issues are a rear end that was starting to get pretty noisy around 200k, and the infamous detaching door panel leather. The rear end I replaced with a junkyard unit from a 20k mile 2012 model for $600. The leather I ignored for now, though I will probably do the door panel update from the 2011-14. 

Only reason to not get an early S197 is if you can swing a later one.  With stock suspension and brakes, the 4.6 was plenty entertaining. Now that I've got her turning, stopping, and putting power down nicely, I really wish it had a coyote under the hood. If it stays in the stable, it will probably get a coyote or an LS6. 

Will UltraDork
8/18/18 8:24 a.m.

I have no experience with the 3-valve heads, but I do have 2V and 4V mod motors. In general, they're very durable. Look at all the Panther-platform cop car/taxi/Towncars with 300k+ on them.

Vigo UltimaDork
8/18/18 9:28 p.m.

I wouldn't be particularly afraid of a 200k mile s197 gt (manual). The only caveat i would say is that the cam phasers need something like 30psi of hot idle oil pressure to avoid going into 'im a diesel that runs E36 M3ty' mode. Lots of other engines can do fine with 10psi and never give you a symptom to let you know that there is even anything to be worried about.  If the car has borderline oil pressure the only cheap thing you can do is throw motor honey at it until you can stomach an actual repair that probably includes rod and main bearings. If it's got good oil pressure, i would consider it otherwise 'normal' as a high mileage used car. 

Appleseed MegaDork
8/18/18 9:43 p.m.

Maintenance records. If I'm looking at 200k, a fat stack of receipts makes me sleep like a baby.

AnthonyGS GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/18/18 10:36 p.m.

Forbes or some financial recently did an article on the toughest longest living cars.  The most interesting car on the list was the mustang.  I’ve owned many and they’ve never let me down.  You do the routine maintenance and they perform as advertised.  The rumors around ill handling are also greatly exaggerated.  Learning to drive a V8 powered live axle RWD car fast is fun and very American.  

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
8/19/18 8:08 a.m.

Given the huge upgrade market and parts availability for the Mustang, if the car is not rusty this sounds like a good reason to buy upgrades as systems need to be replaced.  

However, I would drive the price really low.  

$5.5k seems high when this 50k mile clean example was asking $8.7k 

rustybugkiller HalfDork
8/19/18 10:18 a.m.
John Welsh said:

Given the huge upgrade market and parts availability for the Mustang, if the car is not rusty this sounds like a good reason to buy upgrades as systems need to be replaced.  

However, I would drive the price really low.  

$5.5k seems high when this 50k mile clean example was asking $8.7k 



fasted58 MegaDork
8/19/18 1:33 p.m.
John Welsh said:

$5.5k seems high when this 50k mile clean example was asking $8.7k 

That was GRM only price. No hassle, no haggle, it went smooth and sold w/in 4 days.

CL, AutoTrader etc price would have been much higher, probably taken weeks or months to sell and be prepared to get stupid texts, calls and low ball offers. Dealer trade-in prices were low ball too.

And now I can turn the page.


DILYSI Dave MegaDork
8/19/18 9:55 p.m.

Yeah, that was a steal and not typical. 

Stanger2000 Reader
8/20/18 9:41 a.m.

A bit high on the price I think, maybe talk them down closer to 4k?  They're bulletproof cars and will run 'forever' if maintained.  

One other thing I may add, if it has an aftermarket CAI it absolutely requires a tune to run properly and not throw any MAF readings off.  S197 were really picky about this,  so I would ask seller about that and if they have some sort of proof. 

Driven5 SuperDork
8/20/18 12:00 p.m.

Thanks for confirming my suspicions that these are pretty bullet proof cars, even at higher mileage.

I stopped by briefly to check it out yesterday, and it's a Cali car that he's only had for 3 years and has put less than 10k mile total on it. So previous owner(s) were putting 20k+ (presumably highway) miles per year on it.  Included in his receipt for the last 3 years is new timing chains and belts and whatnot.  He also had the cats replaced, but I don't think with anything high performance. He has no knowledge of a tune, but its not throwing any codes either.  I thought I read somewhere that the K&N was one of the few that don't require a tune, at least on the S197?

In addition to the K&N CAI it has a Magnaflow Street exhaust (not sure if axle back or cat back), non-stock 18" polished/chrome 'Bullitt style' (claims they're 'factory') wheels, drives fine, shifts fine, no tears on the leather interior. No idea on shock or clutch age, although neither seem problematic on a brief drive. The brakes work well enough in regular stopping, but definitely aren't as grabby as most cars I've driven and required more effort than I was expecting.  Is that a 'Mustang thing' or do I need to get that investigated further? The "Shaker 500" head unit is going out, but he is including a replacement. Hopefully there aren't any 'theft prevention' measures that would prevent this from being swapped out?

It does have some more interior shakes and rattles over bumps than I'm accustomed to relative to pretty much anything I've owned.  I'm not sure how 'typical' that is or not in S197's resulting from some combination of age/mileage/convertibleness? Although that doesn't seem like as much of an issue as the metallic squeaking sound I was hearing over bumps for the first half or the drive, but either the bumps were smaller or it got better as the drive went on. Seemed more so from the rear.  Maybe something in the exhaust that tightened as it warmed up, the trunk, the top frame, or is there something else known for making this kind of noise in these?

It also obviously has the expected minor chips and scratches, 2 small dings (driver door and passenger fender), mildly hazing headlight covers, etc that one would expect from a car that has spent that much time out on the road...But no readily apparent rust concerns.  Are there any places it likes to hide on these cars? 

The main issues of most immediate concern though are that the (Chinese) tires are pretty much aged out (2012) and starting to crack, and the soft top appears to be original and is actively beginning to fail with a small tear forming at the end of the bow over the passenger side door.  So there's at least $1200 (assuming DIY top replacement, more if shop performed) of immediate needs, which would be strong negotiating points too.

All in all, I think it still might be worth taking a closer look at it again next weekend. As I read up on these cars, any further thoughts on the noted concerns would certainly be appreciated.

DILYSI Dave MegaDork
8/21/18 11:30 a.m.

There were chrome 18" torque thrust-ish wheels from the factory.  Mine had them.  

I'm guessing the rattles are more a convertible thing than an S197 thing.  Mine is still pretty tight, even on stiff springs.  

Rusnak_322 Dork
8/21/18 12:05 p.m.

my 36k mile 2013 convertible shakes / squeaks since I got it at 5k miles. it is a big car to not have a roof. 

Driven5 SuperDork
8/22/18 1:12 p.m.

In reply to DILYSI Dave :

I don't think those 18's were available in 2005 though, so basically I'm just not sure if they're 'genuine' or not.


In reply to Rusnak_322 :

Yeah, that's pretty much what my research has been showing too. Lots of people with noisy interiors, pretty much from day one, and even on the later S197's. 

SilvaDragon None
8/22/18 4:24 p.m.

The factory brake pads on my 2010 GT were terrible, had several pucker-inducing panic stops before swapping the pads out for StopTechs. Now braking is fine, but still rather high effort.

I pulled the "Shaker" subwoofer and its power brick out of the trunk not long after I bought the car, and it never threw a code.


Driven5 SuperDork
9/17/18 2:22 p.m.

Well, I picked it up a few weeks ago for $3700, and it's looking to be just what the doctor ordered.

There have been a few little surprise discoveries so far, all good and indicative of a cared for car in the absence of more than the last 10k miles worth of receipts. Sure there are plenty of minor known/expected/common issues (aka 'character') and little projects to do on it, but all just part of the charm and purpose of a car like this. Thankfully a little PlastiDip VLP appears to have addressed my most immediate concern with the tear in the top, drastically reducing the urgency of finding and installing a replacement.

We're otherwise still getting acquainted, but overall I couldn't be happier with the purchase thus far. So I wanted to say a hearty 'thank you' to all who shared your encouraging high mileage S197 experiences!

mtn MegaDork
9/17/18 2:56 p.m.

Glad you're enjoying it. 


In my experience, except for a few engines, mileage does not scare me at all. There are things though that are going to be worn out on any vehicle with over 150-200k miles. Suspension, any rubber, motor mounts, brake lines, interior bits, random electrical things, etc. I'm not saying that they're ALL going to be worn out, some have likely been replaced or maintained, but there will be SOMETHING that needs attention--and it may not be obvious what it is. For instance, on my 279k mile Lexus, I have a rattle from the foam in the sunroof/headliner being worn out, and the turn signal stalk rattles like crazy as well if it isn't "placed" exactly right (it is actually the light control that rattles, but it is on the stalk). On  our old Crown Vic with over 200k miles, it burned a small bit of oil and the o2 sensor would throw a code anytime the temperature dropped below 40 degrees. Reset the code, and you're fine--unless it got above 40, and then dropped below 40. Crossing that line was the problem. 


No, nothing to worry about, but something to note.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/17/18 3:11 p.m.
John Welsh said:

Given the huge upgrade market and parts availability for the Mustang, if the car is not rusty this sounds like a good reason to buy upgrades as systems need to be replaced.  

However, I would drive the price really low.  

$5.5k seems high when this 50k mile clean example was asking $8.7k

At $3.7k, I think you have done well.  Pics?  

Driven5 SuperDork
9/17/18 3:24 p.m.

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/17/18 3:32 p.m.

well bought at under four grand.   congrats!

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