OK, when I say restore, I mostly mean do the things I can and then learn enough so that I don’t get taken at the mechanic. Like I can change tires, mostly tell you the major engine parts, and explain how an internal combustion engine works to children. That’s about it.
First things first, I know it’s a Mercury Cougar 289 V-8 automatic, but not sure what version beyond that. It runs but starts to get hot after a while and doesn’t like steep hills. The vacuum pump headlights work (awesome!) but none of the signals work
So now I need to get tires, and I’m confused as to what size. I just want something for now, like super basic, while I figure out everything else.
Everyone starts out on this venture of restoration not knowing very much, if anything at all, safe beyond perhaps magazine publications or books pertaining to the subject. As with any skill there is always going to be a learning curve on the journey to proficiency. It is during the onset of learning a new skill that errors are most prominent. Overtime these errors decrease as experience is gained. I too am working on my 1st project and know how daunting it can be. Take your time and don’t be afraid to begin with the initial process. Also, take lots of pictures, label and organize everything.
Good tires and brakes are important and should be a priority. I am using Milestar StreetSteel brand. Have 3000 miles on them and they feel really good. All I do is cruise. BFG TA radials and Cooper Cobras are other popular brands that make 14" options.
I’d find a local club member or two in your area to look over the vehicle.
Also check out West Coast Classic Cougar YouTube channel. Much can be learned and good for reference.
It looks like you got a good one! Between this site and youtube you can fix all the general things on your own or at least go into a shop with knowledge. I have a few videos on things you can do in your driveway, here are a couple feel good projects that do not require much. Welcome!
Great looking car! Sorry you had to inherit it ~ sorry for your loss. Hopefully you’ll be cruising reliably in it soon!
You can decode your VIN and door tag on the Cougar Club of America website. This will tell you what all the codes mean, which is VERY useful information to have when you go to buy parts or have work done.
Your engine code is “C”, as denoted by the 5th digit of the VIN. C = 289 cubic inch V8 with a 2V carburetor (“2 barrel” carb).
Your transmission code is “W”, as shown on your door tag for “TRANS.” W = C4 Automatic transmission (C4 is the transmission model / type of automatic transmission).
For the tires size: Look at the sidewall of the tires that are currently on the car. There should be some sort of size indicator stamped into them.
Here are some “how to” pages for finding the size of tire. If these don’t help, then post a picture of what is written on your tire side wall and we’ll help you figure out what you have on there, and what you should look for to replace them with.
You said that the car starts to get hot. There are multiple things that could cause that, and various troubleshooting steps and solutions.
An easy first step is to check your coolant level and make sure you have enough coolant in the radiator.
WITH THE ENGINE COLD - open the radiator cap and look in at the coolant level. There should be enough to cover the little tubes inside, and about 1/2" to 1" of coolant above those tubes. If the tubes are bare, you need to add coolant (pick up some pre-mixed Prestone at the auto parts store).
While you are looking in the radiator, look at the color of the coolant. It should be that fluorescent yellow-green. A little cloudiness is fine, but it shouldn’t be clear like water, and it shouldn’t be dirty brown.
If your coolant is ok, then I recommend starting a fresh forum post where we can ask for details and talk you through the troubleshooting process so that you can figure out what work is needed.
When you start that fresh post tell us the following details: When it “starts to get hot” what does the temperature gauge show (i.e. how close to the “HOT” side does the needle get).
Does it actually overheat and start burping coolant and steam out of the radiator overflow?
Does it get hot when it is just idling? Or when you are driving?
It is the trim code for a Parchment with Black appointments interior. Parchment being off White seats, door trim and dash face with Black Carpet and I think lower dash. Being I am more into 1970 Cougars I may have what is Black wrong in your Cougar. It is a nice looking Cougar.
What should I title the post and where should I put it, in the Project Forum?
The coolant is ok, and the radiator was replaced in 2016. It has barely been driven since 2018. New brake booster, brake master cylinder in 2017. It gets hot if it idles, and the needle swings like 3/4+ of the way to the left. I just pull over and take a nap while it cools down
Most shops will need to order any type of 14" tire. You should not need new rims and it’s another level of complexity to use a more modern rim & tire combo.
The car should have a spare in the trunk. Should take a look and see. Post a picture of the spare and check if it will hold air. Then it might be safe to get it to a shop that you trust. Note that original jacks etc… have considerable value.
I would put it in the Maintenance and Repair section, but I don’t think there is a hard rule on that
Sounds like some maintenance has been done fairly recently, so that’s good! I’d put all that info into your new post and we’ll go from there.
Good call on the spare tire. If it has air / will hold air, you could take that to the gas station, air it up, and then swap out the flat tire.
Or if you have Triple-A, they may be able to come by and sort out your flat tire issue as part of the basic / free service.
Re: p195/75r14 M+S … The “M+S” indicates that the tire meets the guidelines for “mud & snow”. Unless you plan on doing some off-roading with it, or driving it in the snow up to the ski lodge, I wouldn’t worry too much about that. You should be fine with an AS / All Season tire, which should also fall under the SL (“standard load”) category.
I’m not sure what your local “discount” tire store is. Where I live it’s called “Discount Tires”. A quick browse of their site shows several options for 195/75r14 tires, right around $75 each or so, with a few of them having a nice white band for that classic / vintage look.
If you shop around, I’m sure you can find some other less expensive options that will work just fine for daily driving and casual cruising.