I owned a 1992 Ford Taurus. Other than a few recalls, I had no major problems other than a leaking water pump covered by manufacturers warranty.
With age the constant velocity boots cracked needing replacement.
You say no heat in your car; cars have a resistor fuse in the dash similar to a central air conditioner; if it blows you will have no heat blowing in. In my 1983 Nissan Sentra Diesel it had two screws and screwed into the air vent housing. In this car I too had overheating; when that happened I checked under the hood and noticed air bubbles in the jug; my head gasket went bad. When that happens you will not be able to see any leaks on the engine. What may have happened the overheating of the engine may have blown the resistor fuse. If you have no air bubbles in the jug with the car hot and running, I would recommend to replace the thermostat only again with the right temperature one.
Antifreeze, among other fluids, needs regular maintenance. When replacing, the jug needs emptying and cleaning and filling with 50/50 mix and when adding as necessary also with a 50/50 mix. Even if replacing new antifreeze in the radiator, if the jug stays continuously as is the expansion and contraction of that jug will contaminate the new antifreeze.
As for the car jerking, I would first and least expensively replace the transmission fluid and filter, if there is a transmission filter. That is a start. If that does not help then electrical components regulating the transmission need replacing, not necessarily a transmission itself.
I recently ran into a Taurus owner at a gas station with 220,000 miles who had the same problem and a electrical part regulating the transmission solved his problem ; it was solved by his mechanic.
A car is like a person. You need to find a good mechanic and stick with them ; like a good doctor and stick with them. It is hard to appreciate good health and a good car until you realize all the potential hazards. Good luck!
"Even though $2800 is not a lot of money at this time in my life for me it is.
Should I get it?"
No. Don't get that car. Get a bicycle. They are much more reliable and cheaper to operate.
Now seriously: No one on the Internet can tell you if that particular car is good or not. Have the car inspected and expect to pay for the inspection.
$2800 is a lot for a Taurus with 180k on it. You can get a mid 90's GM car with almost half the mileage for that amount. Or even an older model year Ford Taurus with less miles for that amount.
I agree with the other two: If $2,800 represents an irreplaceable amount of money right now and you need a trouble-free car, I think you should pass on something with 180,000 miles on it. It will be totally dependent on how it was maintained, and if it was treated badly, it will not last you long.
My suggestion is to either try to get it for like $1,000 (so you can save a cushion of repair money) or look elsewhere. Try looking for cars along the road from a private party, and you'll get a better price than you will from a dealer. You can get a pretty decent car for $1,500 if all you want is basic transportation. Once you get a cheap car, have all the fluids changed and catch up on routine maintenance, and it should last you the few years you'll be in college.
The Ford Taurus is known to have transmission problems. If it has 180,000 miles on it, ask about the transmission and have it checked out.
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