Used 1998 Mercury Tracer Sedan

1998 Mercury Tracer
List price range
1998 Mercury Tracer


  • Economical transportation. Willing engine.


  • Ugly front end.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

The Tracer has been Mercury's bread-and-butter car for years. Think of it as the car that brings consumers into the Mercury family. The Tracer's low price, decent reliability and above average crash test scores have consistently offered recent college grads and young families an attractive set of American wheels. Last year, in face of increasingly stiff competition, Mercury decided to redesign its entry-level vehicle.

The Tracer needed help in three major areas; the first is power. The old 1.9-liter four-banger just wasn't getting the job done against the newer cars. Heck, the lowly Hyundai Accent and Suzuki Esteem had more power available than the base 1996 Tracer. To tackle this, Mercury replaced the old powerplant with a two-liter overhead-cam engine that produces 20 percent more horsepower and 14 percent more torque than the one it replaced. This difference in engines is most readily noticed under hard acceleration; what was once a noisy bumpy affair is now a smooth, quite one.

Mercury's second area of concern was with body stiffness and vibration. Second-generation Tracers are notoriously wiggly over rough surfaces. The Tracer's tendency to shake, which leads to a lot of rattle-and-roll, can really punish passengers on long commutes. One-piece body construction, a cross-car beam and stiffer stabilizer bars solve this problem by radically improving the Tracer's torsional rigidity.

Fit and finish, the Tracer's third problem area, are also refined by the one-piece body construction; windows and doors fit better and are less likely to let in the weather. The instrument panel, a long-standing sore spot among Tracer owners, has been brought up to speed by the introduction of Mercury's Integrated Control Panel, first seen on the 1996 Sable. The ICP reduces dashboard clutter by combining the stereo and climate controls. The single-unit ICP is very easy to use and allows eyes-on-the-road operation of its systems. Further interior improvements include rear-seat heater ducts, an upgraded six-speaker audio system and nicer upholstery and dashboard materials.

Of lesser importance is the Tracer's new sheetmetal. Striking a more mature chord, the new Tracer has fewer cut-lines and a more polished demeanor than previous models. We find this ironic considering how much more fun the new one promises to be. In the end, we feel that Tracer is a real winner; no more increased blood pressure when merging with freeway traffic, no more shaking like a willow when driving over uneven pavement. Mercury has done a fine job updating this car. We are to starting see quite a few of these new Tracers on the road.

1998 Highlights

No changes to Mercury's recently redesigned entry-level car.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Mercury Tracer.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

98 tracer
over 200,000 miles still going strong
Love my little car
My car was a demo when we bought it. It has been a very good car and I plan on keeping it till the wheels fall off. It's fun to drive, and it has enough of power underneath the hood that I can have some fun with it. It has been a tough little car and as long as it gets me where I need to go then I will continue driving it.
195,000 as still going
This has been a great car. It has great mileage. It is easy to service. It handles well in snow.
Not a quality vehicle
I bought my Tracer used with 75k on the clock in excellent mechanical/physical condition confirmed by a trusted shop. By 96k the car was dead and I'm far from an aggressive driver nor do I abuse my vehicles. A/C went at 78k as did the Idle Air Valve, timing belt went at 83k, tie rods went at 94k etc! This was with me ensuring regular maintenance, oil/lube, tire rotations the whole lot. In the end what killed this car and my wallet along the way was build quality and bad engineering. The final nail in the coffin for this car was when it dropped a valve seat which apparently they like to do around 100k due to "an engineering defect". Thanks Ford this is now why I drive a Nissan! :-)
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Features & Specs

24 city / 34 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
110 hp @ 5000 rpm
24 city / 34 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
110 hp @ 5000 rpm
See all Used 1998 Mercury Tracer Sedan features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1998 Mercury Tracer
Used 1998 Mercury Tracer Sedan Overview

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Can't find a used 1998 Mercury Tracer Tracer Sedan you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mercury Tracer for sale - 7 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $13,813.

Find a used Mercury for sale - 6 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $22,028.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercury Tracer for sale - 12 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $7,595.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercury for sale - 10 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $24,874.

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Should I lease or buy a 1998 Mercury Tracer?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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