Having a trusted mechanic go over the vehicle is a good idea, especially one familiar with the Mark VIII.
You should look for these Mark VIII specific trouble spots:
Leaking suspension. Check the vehicle after it's been sitting overnight. Is one corner or one end of the car completely down on the suspension?
Torque converter clutch shudder or vibration. On light acceleration, does the transmission 'shudder', as though you were driving over 'rumble strips' ? This occurs under light to moderate acceleration above 56 km/h (35 mph) while in 3rd or 4th gear or on 3-4/4-3 shifts. This may be due to temperature related automatic transmission fluid breakdown.
Or worst case this may indicate a failing torque converter. For fixes see the section on Torque converter clutch shudder or vibration.
Brake vibration. The rotors are susceptible to warping, so this may be a 'bargaining chip'.
Driveshaft vibration. Try taking the car on a smooth road and run it up to 75-80 mph. If there is vibration, this may also be a 'bargaining chip'. Read below in Transmission for more information.
Startup rattle. The secondary cam tensioners are a known trouble spot. They will often rattle on the first few seconds after sitting overnight. Yet another 'bargaining chip'
If you have chrome wheels, look under the center cap for bubbling in the chrome finish. This seems to affect the cars exposed to salted winter roads.
Check the rear swaybar, some members have reported cracked swaybars, due to corrosion in the hollow bar.
The exterior was treated to a 'makeover' in 97, with a new 'power dome' hood, different grille, front and rear fenders, trunk lid, lighting improvements by way of HID's on all models, neon taillight, LED turn signals and puddle lamps in the side mirrors. The message center controls more other functions, such as the side view mirrors pointing down when in reverse. The steering wheel now has tilt/telescope functions, and is tied to the Seating Presets on the door (which appeared first on the 94 model). The lumbar support became mechanical, instead of an inflatible system. The intake tube is different, the 'beauty cover' over the engine was removed, and the interior was redone. The 2nd Gen cars also feature coil-on-plug type ignition, and the retractable rear radio mast was replaced with one in the rear glass. Traction control went from an optional low-speed (under 35 mph) system to a standard all-speed system. The JBL stereo with CD player became standard on the 2nd Gen cars, the optional cellular (analog and non-upgradeable to digital) phone was integrated with the stereo and the message center. Heated seats were an option, and there was a passive anti-theft system with coded keys added. A digital odometer replaced the analog one, and the PRNDL indicator moved to the dash as well.
The LSC edition had perforated leather seats, true dual exhaust, slightly lower gearing, badging, and on the 95-96 models, included the HID upgrade. Some chrome trim was also painted body color on the 2nd Gen cars, such as the grille. Suspension tuning (anti-roll bars, and possibly shock valving) was firmer on the LSC models as well. The LSC models were rated by Ford at 290 HP versus 280 HP for the base model, and have a 3.27 vs. 3.07 rear end gear. The speed limiting function of the powertrain module kicks in at what many people think is 124 mph, versus 130 mph on the Base model. This is probably due to a function to keep the driveshaft below a certain rotational speed.
Sometime during the 94 model year, the center console changed from flat black to a woodgrain finish. In 95-96, the dash was remodelled, to house a double DIN, instead of the single DIN opening. In 1996, a rear center armrest was added. The 1997-98 models received some interior finish changes, compared to the First Generation cars, including more wood trim, chrome highlights, etc.
Yes, it's very simple. The directions for lowering the vehicle are available here: Sensor Lowering
The most likely culprit is leaking bags. Over time, the air springs (bags) develop cracks in them that will leak at certain points. Once the crack is exposed, the bag will lose pressure, and your car will assume the 'slammed' position. The fix is to replace the struts with new ones, the installation directions are here: Strut Replacement
Yes, they are lighter and many members have reported favorably on the ride/handling of the new struts.
This is often caused by worn shock mounts. Replacing the shock mounts with new ones often resolves this problem, and it's typically a good time to replace the shocks as well.
The 1st Generation vehicles had adjustable rear shocks with variable damping. There is an actuator on top of the shock that adjusts it for Firm or Soft, depending on the road speed and brake application. The 2nd Generation cars do not have this feature. They are interchangeable, if you wanted to put the 2nd Generation shocks (less expensive), they would fit, but you would lose the adjustable shock feature.
Lift points are shown here: Lift Points When lifting the car, ALWAYS turn off the Air Ride switch located behind a panel on the left side of the trunk.
The hollow rear sway bar sometimes cracks due to corrosion, from what some have theorized is from exposure to road salt. The removal and replacement of the rear bar is pretty easy, the front one requires significantly more work, as the motor cradle has to be moved.
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Per TSB 98-8-7: Drain all transmission fluid including the torque converter. Then refill transmission with the proper amount of Motorcraft MERCON®V. It is highly recommend, especially in hot climates, that a transmission fluid cooler be installed. If you want to use the kit from Ford for the MarkVIII that part number is: 1993-96 F3LZ-7K177-AA and for the 1997-98 F7LZ-7K177-AA. The transmission fluid cooler is part number F8LZ-7A095-AA.
The 1-2 accumulator piston is a known weak point in the Mark VIII. The original design is flawed, and a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) was issued by Ford. Continuing to drive the car with this will eventually cause damage to the transmission, so it is in your best interest to have it replaced, or do it yourself. Now is also a great time to have a transmission cooler installed, as well as flushing the system and refilling it with Mercon V. A paper describing the procedure, with part numbers, is available here: Upgrading the 1-2 accumulator.
Yes, the 94-98 Mark VIII has a two-piece driveshaft that is prone to vibration. Many members have had good experience changing to a MMC (Metal Matrix Composites) driveshaft that is high speed balanced. The 93 models have a one-piece driveshaft, and many do not exhibit the same vibration that the other models have.
The MLPS (Manual Lever Position Sensor) may need replacement. This is what 'tells' the transmission what gear you have selected. When it fails, it may intermittently report the shifter is in Neutral, causing the symptoms above.
Mercon V is recommended by Ford for the transmission in the Mark VIII. It provides better performance, as it is a synthetic blend.
This is probably the single biggest complaint for 1st Generation owners. The 95-96 LSC models were 'fixed' with the first domestic automaker's use of High Intensity Discharge lights, and these improve the situation tremendously. They can be ordered at your local dealer for about $600 per side, or you may contact Dennis Reinhart, who often finds sets of these and sells them for substantially less. It is a completely new housing, and includes the necessary ballasts. It is a straight bolt in, and will fit most 1st Generation cars with little or no modification.
This is a common complaint, and it related to the auto-dimming mirror function. Essentially, the fluid has leaked out, and the only 'fix' is to buy a new one from the dealer (about $200) or some have simply had a glass shop cut a 'plain' mirror to match the shape of the original.
This is a fairly common occurrence, due to a combination of weak metal and a heavy door. Typical replacement, including painting the new handle to match, costs about $75-$100, though some have managed to do it themselves for less, sourcing out only the painting.
Unfortunately, no. The gasket is bonded to the glass, so your best hope is to repair the existing gasket, as the glass is extremely expensive to replace (some estimates over $1000). Windshield molding adhesives, or some have recommended an adhesive from 3M that can be found at body shops that is designed to adhere to plastics/metal/non-porous surfaces.
The reprogramming steps for this are available on the website at the link below. Technical Help
This can typically be found on the trunk hinges, on a small white sticker. It is 5 digits long.
Spray some WD-40 into the door latch mechanism in the door itself. This will typically make the message go away for quite some time. If it reoccurs, simply spray some more WD-40 on the mechanism.
This is a common problem, caused by age and a poor design of the original buttons. A climate control from a 95-96 model with thicker, more durable buttons can be used to replace this. The two choices you have is for a new unit from Ford (somewhere around $300), or go junkyard shopping for one.
Wheels and Tires
The Mark VIII, in all years and models, was delivered with 16 X 7 wheels, with 225/60VR16 tires. This applies to all of the different optional factory wheels as well.
5 X 4.25, with a 39 mm positive offset. Some people will call this a FWD wheel, since it has a positive offset.
Some members have put a 255/50R16 on the factory rims, but whether or not it works seems to depend somewhat on the tire brand, model, and skill of the installer. 245/50R16's will fit more readily, though either way, they may not perform quite as well as a smaller tire, since the rule of thumb for tire/wheel sizing is rim width is greater than or equal to 80% of the section width of a tire. Using this formula, a tire with a 225 mm section width is about the biggest some people would recommend for a 7 inch wheel. The 245/50R16 is extremely close to the factory size tire in terms of circumference, but you can expect about a 3-5% difference in outside diameter, with the speedometer reading slightly higher than the actual speed. The 255/50R16 is even closer in diameter, sometime as little as half an inch difference in circumference.
Some members have put 17 X 8 or 17 X 9 (or 18" and larger) wheels on their cars and have not experienced problems with the tire rubbing on the fenderwells. Proper offset is crucial for this to be true. A 255/45R17, 245/50R17 or 245/45R17 tire will clear the fenders, on a wheel with proper offset. When moving to larger diameter/width wheels, always consult with a professional who is willing to stand behind their recommendations if you run into problems, especially with clearance, once the tires and wheels are on the car.
The Mark VIII is EXTREMELY sensitive to wheel imbalances. Be sure your dealer test drives your car to verify that there's no vibration from the tires/wheels before you leave the shop. Additionally, many users have found that by aligning the valve stem with the yellow painted stud, vibration is lessened. Some shops offer 'On-Car Balancing', which may also help reduce the vibration from wheels and tires.
Spark plugs and wires often require replacement by the time your car reaches 60-70k miles. Copper plugs are recommended by many, but do require more frequent changes than platinum plugs. When attempting to change the plugs, be sure to have a LONG socket extension (10" is a good start), as the plugs are DEEP in the heads.
Getting the oil filter out is a bit of an art. There's a good description of how to get it out here: Oil Filter Replacement
In the passenger side front wheelwell. The directions for replacing it are here: Fuel Filter Replacment
The air filter 'box' should have two bolts on top, then there are two bolts on the bottom which are difficult to see from the top. Once all four bolts are loosened, the box should come apart so you can replace the filter.
Many club members use synthetics, such as Mobil 1 or Amsoil. 5W-30 is the weight recommended by Ford.
This is common on the Mark VIII, and is caused by oil leakdown, causing the secondary cam tensioners to rattle. The 'fix' from Ford costs about $1200, and requires serious disassembly of the front of the motor. While annoying, it typically will not cause damage. Installation of a pre-oiler will stop this, and some have had luck with various oils and anti-drainback filters.
Premium fuel is recommended for the Mark VIII.
MANY MANY thanks to the members of the Lincolns of Distinction message board, whose discussions made this document possible. We hope you find this useful, and that it answers many of your questions!