I have a 1997 Mercury Villager van with 104,000 miles on it. I've had it for 5 years. I've had trouble with the check engine all 5 years. I had it checked, and they did replace a couple of things. But before long the engine light would come on. It would be on a while, and go off for a while, then back on. It's on right now. I just ignore it any more after 5 years. As long as it runs OK and gets me where I'm going.
My van runs smooth and is decent on gas. I've replaced the brakes twice and put new tires on. Otherwise I like my van; that is why I have had it for 5 years.
I own a 1996 Mercury Villager. I've had trouble with the Check Engine light on and off (literally) for three plus years. The only thing that works to turn off the Check Engine light (80% of the time) is to tighten my gas cap (at least 4-5 "clicks")
I have a '96 Villager and am the original owner. There is 112,000 miles plus on it and I just returned from a 4000 mile summer vacation. (summer '04) The maintenance schedule calls for replacing the timing chain at around 110,000 miles which I did. Other than that the only other repair has been to replace the throttle linkage mechanism at around 90,000 miles. Everything is in good working order with no missing pieces of interior or exterior. It has been a great family vehicle. The most worn part is a strip of plastic across the threshold of the sliding door. It has been somewhat abused by my dragging 50 gallon drums of firewood in through the sliding door area and dragging them back out. A few dozen times. The Check Engine Light has never come on during operation except the check procedure when you first turn the key at startup. The maintenance schedule goes well past 100,000 miles so I am looking forward to a bright future. I have the extended length option so it holds quite a bit behind the back seat, including a nice stack of firewood. The interior has held up better than any vehicle we have ever owned. We average a new car every other year and have 3 vehicles, but this one has been a keeper. I can't seem to find a newer model that can beat it for size, safety and convenience.
To those folks with the check engine light problems: my '97 had the same problem, ours turned out to be a small rubber hose (I think from the egr valve) that had basically rotted. Replacing the hose cleared up the problem. You might try a google search and see if that turns up anything.
My 96 Mercury Villager is at 179k miles. My sister bought it new, and I bought it from her, so I am the second owner.
I have had more work done to this van than expected, judging from other vehicles I've worked on, and had work done to in the past.
About the check engine light coming off and on; I had the same problem. 1 of 2 things caused my light to go off and on and eventually stayed on. First, the weld where my EGR valve attached to the exhaust manifold was cracked about 80-90% around. I had to get another manifold. Second, the "knock sensor" was bad. The plastic surrounding the sensor was split.
Also, especially if you live in an area that has a lot of hot weather, you can expect to replace many hoses, as there are many water hoses on this van, and most are very difficult to get to and replace. I recently had more of my hoses replaced.
The van appears to be a bit on the flimsy side. I've also had a lot of work done to the front-end, about $1500.00 worth. I would not own another Villager knowing what I do now, but I'm in too deep to pull out now.
I have a 1996 Villager. I have had very good luck. I bought it with 99,000 and it now has 182,000. Motor and trans are the greatest. Have had to put a timing belt in at 175,000, struts and CVs etc.
The only real problem I have had is the racket pinion sp. Had it replaced three times. I think it was the place where I took it. They did it and replaced it twice for free.
Some minor electrical shorts that were and are annoying. I would buy another one in a minute if I did not want something that could tow. In my opinion a great van. 2002 is the last year you can get the Villager with the Nissan drive train. Good luck.
I have a 96 Villager with 185-86K on it. Bought used in 2004.
It has cost me about $500 in maintenance annually spread out over 7 years (not inc. oil change and filter).
The vehicle is OK overall, but now noticing exhaust leaks (manifold or just flex pipe), front end rattling and rear electric door lock not working for a while.
Time to trade in. Again, OK overall if you consider the average cost per year (some years more than others). I hear the 2004 Quests and later models suck, so I am going for the Odyssey - with hopefully no tranny issues. After exhaustive research, that still seems the best unit around...