Used Vehicle Review: Lincoln MKS, 2009-2016

Vehicle Type

Big, handsome and generously proportioned, the MKS packed plenty of space for a four- or five-person road trip.

Full-size luxury sedan

History/Description

The MKS’s job was to bring Lincoln’s presence into the luxury car scene, challenging luxury and entry-luxury models like the Volkswagen Passat, Chrysler 300, Acura TL, BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, and other comparable comfort cruisers from around the globe. Today, as the new Lincoln Continental launches and ends the life of the MKS, used copies of the latter will be heading to dealer lots as trade-ins.

Big, handsome and generously proportioned, the MKS packed plenty of space for a four- or five-person road trip. Technology abounded – and features like voice command, navigation, full Bluetooth connectivity and an advanced parking system were all available. Climate-controlled leather memory seats, a THX audio system and multi-zone climate control added to the MKS’s promise of relatively affordable high-class luxury. Radar-guided cruise control was also available, as was a self-parking system with auto-steering capability.

The interior of the new MKS alone has sold many shoppers on the entire car. Chrome and wood trim work with gunmetal colored plastics worked towards a fantastic executive look that’s beautifully shaped and well assembled. The next generation of Lincoln’s popular keypad system was fitted to the MKS as well, totally embedded into the B-pillar trim and activated by the heat of driver’s fingertips.

Engines

Look for V6 power all around – namely from a naturally aspirated 3.7L unit with 273 horsepower, or a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost 3.5 litre V6 with 355 hp. All models got an automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive was standard. All-wheel drive (AWD) could be specified, and was standard on EcoBoost-powered models.

What Owners Like

Power output, space, comfort and interior quality were all highly rated by MKS owners taking to the web to share their experiences. A commanding driving position is also favoured. Overall, this is a car loved for delivering affordable access to the motoring high-life.

What Owners Dislike

Some owners wish for better mileage; a firmer, sportier ride; and a more precise feel to the steering system. Others wish for improved rearward visibility to help with parking.

The Test Drive

Once you’ve confirmed proper operation of all interior electronics, pay special attention to the audio system. Ensure the THX unit plays back music from all sources clearly – and without popping or hissing. If that’s not the case, this Technical Service Bulletin might be the fix.

Check all door locks for proper operation, several times, over the course of your test drive. Pay special attention to the rear-right door, as some owners have reported that, for reasons unknown, this lock may not engage properly. There’s some more reading here. Also, note that, somewhat sporadically, some owners say that clicking the door lock button once causes the locks to rapidly cycle positions for several seconds, which can wear out system components.

Cycle the climate control system through its various settings as well, noting any unusual clicking or popping noises and checking for proper operation. A blend door actuator, which is used to open and close flaps within the climate control system, could cause problems if it goes bad. Be absolutely sure air of your selected temperature comes from each outlet as selected.

While you’re at it, check for soggy footwell carpeting up front, which could indicate a clogged air conditioner condenser drain pan that’s overflowing, and allowing water to drip into the carpeting.

Ensure the transmission shifts smoothly and eagerly up and down through the gears. Hard shifting, a feeling of being stuck in a certain gear, or clunking sensations should be taken as a sign to investigate further with the help of a mechanic. Here’s some more reading on transmission-related problems. Note that in many (but not all) cases, issues like these are caused by bad software or sensors, and are electronic, not mechanical, in nature.

On models with all-wheel drive (AWD), have a part called the Power Take-Off Unit (PTU) checked for signs of leakage by a Ford or Lincoln mechanic. This problem isn’t necessarily troublesome if repaired early, though a massive leak could fry this integral component of the MKS’s AWD system. There’s some debate about changing the PTU fluid, even though Ford says you don’t need to. Some owners insist on changing it regularly, a good idea for peace of mind, especially if the service history of the model in question is unknown, or if the AWD-equipped MKS will be used in extreme conditions, like a Canadian winter. As one owner puts it, “A few bucks worth of fluid and half an hour’s labor is a sound investment in reassurance of overall PTU reliability.” Here’s some more information.

Have the suspension on any used MKS model you’re considering inspected by a mechanic ahead of your purchase, especially if it’s a higher-mileage unit. Numerous owners have complained of less-than-expected durability from various suspension parts (wheel bearings, too), which can result in sloppy handling and unwanted noises. More reading here.

If the unit you’re considering has remote start, confirm that the system works properly, several times, on your test drive. Remote start failure could be the result of a drained battery or a bad hood pin safety sensor, which is used to tell the remote start system whether the hood is open or not.

Other checks should include extensive pre-purchase testing of all advanced electronics, including the radar cruise, Bluetooth, infotainment system, self-parking system, xenon lighting provisions and climate-controlled seats.

Also inspect the MKS you’re considering for signs of blistering or peeling clearcoat, and check the headlight assemblies for signs of internal moisture or condensation, too.

Two final notes:

First, if you’re set on a model with the EcoBoost engine, be 300 percent sure to have the engine checked over for trouble codes, coolant leaks, and other signs of trouble by a Ford or Lincoln technician, in light of numerous problems noted with this engine which can result in things like random stalling, engine failure, excessive valve gunk and more. This engine has even been the subject of a lawsuit in the US. Though most owners of an EcoBoost-powered MKS have had no issues, those that have typically say the issues are fairly serious. Here’s a good candidate for any extended powertrain warranty that may be available.

Second, on any MKS you’re considering, regardless of the engine, have a mechanic inspect the cooling system, and in particular the water pump, for signs of wear or failure. A handful of owners have reported that failed water pumps on either engine can allow coolant and oil to mix, which causes severe engine damage. Further, changing a water pump on either motor will be expensive, because of the design. Coolant leaking from around the water pump area is a telltale sign of imminent water pump issues, and a good reason to move to another unit (or buy any available extended warranty).

Verdict

A healthy used MKS that’s been checked fully by a mechanic for the health of its suspension and cooling systems should amount to a compellingly priced used luxury car loved for space, style and comfort. A model with the naturally aspirated 3.7L engine is the best bet for lower long-term running costs. Shop carefully for an EcoBoost-powered model, and add any available extended powertrain warranty coverage for maximum peace of mind.

Here’s a list of recalls.

Crash Test Ratings

IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2013)
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars

Inspect used MKS for cooling system, HVAC and suspension wear issues 10/20/2016 6:30:00 AM