how reliable is the 2.3?


New Member
Dec 27, 2004
i have a 90 gt and im going to put it away before i head off to school. im looking at a 89 2.3L with 147,000 miles. how well do they last. obviously it depends on driving conditions but what do you guys think? i dont know anything about the 4 cyl so and help would be nice. thanks
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On the highway running 85+ mph I averaged 27-29 mpg on a recent trip from Orlando to Gatlinburg, TN. Most of my commuter driving is city driving and I get 23 or 24 mpg. This is with a '91 2.3 auto. The motor was refreshed recently, but the tranny has 179,900 on the clock and still shifts well. I use the car mostly for commuting. I took it on the road trip because it gets better mileage than my 5.9 powered Ram 1500.

I think you'll be happy with the fuel mileage and dependability. Stepping out of the 5.0 into the 2.3 is gonna be a bit of culture shock, especially when you stomp the go pedal.

Like any vehicle, proper maintenance, past and present dictates the dependability of a vehicle. If the car hasn't been taken care of, expect to dish out cash catching up on maintenance.
I bought mine for 100 bucks with over 100000 miles on it and i beat the living snot out of it everyday that i drive it....and it still runs as hard as ever. little things here and there go out, but nothing major. so far ive changed the thermostat, fuel relay...and i think those are the only necessary things that i had to change and thats in a little over a year....mines an 88 and the owner before me never checked his fluids.....
Ran the piss outa my '93 for 5 years, always wanted more. Only Major thing I had to do was when I got it the Auto tranie went out because it had sat for a few years, and the seals cracked and watter got in there. After that, normal matence, Oil, plugs, timeing belt, stuff like that. Still ran great when I sold it.
From my observations, they are an excellent motor. I had a 74 that I drove across country with.

I just got an 89 2.3 auto with 134k and it seems to run very well. The basic engine is pretty stout.
My daily driver 1991 LX has 240,800 miles on it, completely original motor and original T5.

I just took it on an 8000 mile road trip from Jacksonville, FL to the Rocky Mts, Great Salt Lake Desert, Four State Corners, Los Angeles, Roswell NM, and finally back to Jacksonville.

Got 30mpg like clockwork until I hit the higher elevation where it obviously dropped, but I had to hold that thing at 4000 rpms in 3rd gear floored to make it up some of the hills (the car was loaded with my junk). Did fine.

In Wyoming, the headwind was so strong that I had to use 4th gear at 70mph to maintain highway speeds for several hours, motor did fine.

This entire trip, the car did not consume a single drop of oil.

Cooling fan died in LA traffic, the motor produced so little heat that I didn't realize the fan was dead until I was home in Orlando, FL. Was stop and go traffic about 5 times, it just got "warm". My 5.0L would've died within a few minutes.

My point in writing all of this, is to show how much faith I have in this motor. I knew what I was going to put it through, and didn't even think twice. City mileage sucks, 22-25, which makes little sense considering how slow the car is, but hey, its a Mustang.

Did I mention it didn't eat a drop of oil?
My 92 has 170+k on it. Auto tranny. Everything works. Main troubles I have seen revolved around the DIS module or the coils. I replaced my module, coils, plugs & wires when I got it. It runs great. I dont know my exact MPG, but I can fill up with premium and if I drive "normally" I can get a hair over 300 miles per tank.