I have owned my 1999 Mercury Cougar for 3 years. I still own it.
I bought it in September of 2007. I have put 53000 miles on it. It had 143000 miles on it when I bought it, and now has 196000 miles.
Prior work to me owning it included, a used 75k miles replacement engine, and a clutch. Possibly more.
Parts I have replaced include AC compressor and AC clutch, 2 heater blower motors, exhaust mufflers and tubing, alternator, 2 batteries, 16 tires, several power window switches, 1 serpentine drive belt, 1 serpentine belt tensioner, radiator hoses that have 2 t sections needed replacement. I built a metal pipe / tube system for better reliability.
Problems the car has had and still has.
1. Service engine light on with many codes.
2. AC small leak that cannot be found so far.
3. Electric drain that stays on when car is turned off.
4. Driver's seat will not recline forward.
5. Rear sway bar rubber bushings tear and fall out.
6. Ignition locked up and needed to be broken open.
7. Performance varies from great to fair for ??? reasons.
8. Engine has a small oil leak that drips over the pan and exhaust etc. I cannot isolate the leak.
9. Rear seat is uncomfortable for everyone; children and adults.
10. The car needs an alignment, and wears the front tires very unevenly.
11. The car had a Viper car alarm installed. I took it out. The car flashes the passenger lights and honks through the passenger rear speaker sporadically. Very strange???
12. Trunk electric opening switch works but trunk does not unlatch.
13. Front spoiler cracked and fell off, although the bolts still remained in the fenders.
14. The transaxle has a grind going into 3rd gear, therefore I rarely use third gear. It was like this when I bought it.
And lots of other small things as well.
I have added many things to the car, including:
1. Regular oil changes using synthetic oil 5-30.
2. The transmission gets dextron 4, a complete change every 15,000 miles.
3. Aftermarket air intake with a K&N filter.
4. Complete custom built exhaust with a flex pie and twin Hyabusa rear motor cycle mufflers.
5. Water piping steel piece going to the radiator and the engine.
6. Lots of Freon 134, due to an AC leak that no one has found so far.
Despite the problems, the car has not let me stranded anywhere. No major breakdowns for 53000 miles.
I really like the car. It has got me to and from work, and out of town regularly. 53000 miles in around 3 years. It looks great and rides smooth still. I have had a lot of cars, and this has been one of the better ones. I owned a lot of higher mileage garbage that was always breaking down and leaving me stranded.
This car has been a blessing, though many may think that with my problems with it, make it a bad car.
It has been the second best car I have owned out of around 30 cars so far.
I would recommend a car like this for only a mechanically skillful person though. It is not a good car for your mom, most girlfriends, wives or young people who do not know about basic car mechanics and troubleshooting problems.
To own and enjoy these cars, you need to be mechanically inclined or have enough money to pay someone who is to fix them.
A lot of the smaller problems; I just let them be. The car still runs, and gets me and my family around safe and reliably for now. Likely though, in a year or two, I will need another new used car, or maybe a new new one.
I would like to thank everyone who took the time to list their experiences with their Cougars here. I hope my experience may help someone, or be enjoyable for someone to read.