We bought our Mercury Grand Marquis new in March 1999 with every option possible on a Mercury. We had done our research, comparing it to the Buick Ultra, Toyota Avalon and Chrysler Concorde. We checked with our insurance agent - according to him, it was cheaper to insure a Grand Marquis because they came out better in the crash tests.
All in all, it was - and IS - the most car for the money. It IS a very comfortable car to ride in - the seats are superior and it is very roomy, particularly nice for long trips. BUT - after 8,000 miles it developed a rattle in the dashboard and the brakes started squealing, not during a 'hard' stop but slow, gradual stops. Also, during a long trip we discovered that there was a short in the wiring between the headlights, windshield wipers and the radio/tape/CD player. When the radio, etc. was on and the headlights and windshield wipers turned on, the radio would go off until the lights, etc., were turned off.
We went back to the dealership upon our return home and told them the problems. The short was corrected (after a second return to the dealership) but they 'couldn't find' the rattle and said the brakes squealed because of the area where we live (the coast). Strangely, no other cars (Buick, Avalon, etc.) have this problem. Then we were told that since the asbestos had been removed from the brake system, this squealing was normal. According to them, there was nothing they could do.
Two calls to Ford Motor Company gave no satisfaction. The first call had a representative promising to refer the problem to the technical department and get back to us within 48 hours. Never heard from them! On the second call the representative said the problem would be referred to the dealership. What 'help' was that? We'd already DONE that! And we never DID hear from the dealership regarding our complaint.
End result - we STILL had squealing brakes. A call to a different dealership was a little more productive. The service manager there told us to make several sharp stops - drive at 50 mph and slam on the brakes. He said this would NOT correct the problem (there IS no permanent correction available) but WOULD ease it temporarily. We tried it and it DID last for a while. But this is not a feasible answer.
We finally received a response from Ford Customer Service - a form letter stating that 'every consideration had been given to the matter ... and they were unable to further review our concern'. Ford Assistance Line? No such thing!
At this point in time, I doubt very much if we would ever purchase another Ford product. In fact, I'm sure we would NOT nor could we ever recommend it to anyone.
Update: In May, after owning this car for 14 months and with the dealership and/or Ford Motor Company indifferent to our problem and either unable or unwilling to help us, we got rid of it.