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Taurus/Sable Maintenance & Repair

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  • I recently replaced the resistor and the blower motor on my 2002 Mercury Sable. I know very little about auto mechanics but was able to do it with no problem. In a phone call wherein I described the problem, the dealer said it would take $360 to replace a switch. The problem was that the fan didn't always come on, and if it did come on, it had only two speeds - off or high.

    For safety, I completed all of these activities with the ground wire to the battery disconnected. To remove the radio and test the knob for the fan, I had to buy DIN tools to remove the radio ($4 at an auto parts store, including instructions). I bought a 9 volt transistor battery, some wires, alligator clamps, and a test light. (Auto parts store and Radio Shack, total about $10). I totally disconnected the knob and tested to see how it directed the current in each position. The prong of the knob that connected to the orange wire "fed" each of the black, yellow and green wires in turn, as I switched from high to lower to lower. In the lowest position, none of the prongs were connected to any other.

    It turned out that this is exactly what the knob was supposed to do, so the dealer would have been wrong if he replaced the knob (for $360).

    Next, I followed the wires from the knob down to below the glove box (on the passenger side) to where they connected to the resistor. To get to the resistor, I had to remove a large plastic panel that was below the glove box, above the area for the passenger's feet. It pulled away from below the dashboard easily (and later re-attached easily, via a couple of plastic prongs).

    From below, the resistor is a blue rectangle, two and a half inches by one and a half inches, with four wires attached via a single connector. I disconnected the connector to the resistor and used my test light, wires and 9 volt transistor battery to determine that the yellow, green and orange wires from the knob in the radio enter into the resistor. I don't know where the black one went. The resistor has its own black wire. I suppose this all makes sense to an electrician, but not to me. But as they say in college, it is all intuitively obvious and correct.

    I removed the resistor from the vehicle with a socket wrench. It was attached by two hex bolts. In the resistor there is a small heat sensitive circuit/switch that was always closed. I determined that it was always closed by using my wires, alligator clamps, small battery, and test light to try to send a current through it. I determined that it was a heat sensitive switch because the replacement resistor was printed with 128 degrees C. I found a replacement for the resistor on the web at about $12 plus shipping. Not wanting to wait for shipment, I went to the dealer and got one for about $20. When I hooked it up, I found the the knob now controlled the fan speed, like it should. There were four speeds from slow to fast. There was no "off" speed - One of the other controls in the system is used to turn the entire system off, including the fan.

    However, I found that the fan sometimes did not come on at all. On some mornings, I found that the fan would have a sluggish start, and througout the day it was unpredictable as to whether it would start at all after it was turned off. I again disconnected the negative wire to the car battery. There are pictures of the replacement fan (blower motor) on the internet, so I looked at those to determine what I would be looking for in the car. The fan/blower motor is located next to the resistor, nearer to the passenger door. It is important to note that none of the repairs required removal of the dash board at all.

    The blower motor is attached to the car by three bolts the same size as the two connecting the resistor. I removed the 3 and then the entire housing, motor and squirrel cage fell out easily in one piece. The dealer wanted about $170 for a replacement motor. And probably would have wanted a few hundred more for the labor to install it. At an auto parts store, I found a replacement motor and housing by Four Seasons for $40. I had to remove the squirrel cage from the original motor and put it on the replacement. The people in the auto parts store helped - and told me it is called a squirrel cage. To keep the squirrel cage locked on the motor's axle, I got a replacement clamp in Home Depot for $1, made exactly the right size. I assume the axle is a standard size as the old and new clamps were exactly the same diameter. I suppose I could have re-used the old clamp, but I bent it a little when I removed it to remove the squirrel cage. I reattached the new housing/motor to the car, using the 3 bolts and a couple of guiding posts that remained in the car. I reconnected the wiring harness to the motor and re-attached the plastic panel.

    The entire system now works fine.

    The original motor/housing has a "gutter" designed to deliver air to the motor to keep it cool. Unfortunately, as water appears in the system from time to time, whether from the weather or from air conditioning condensation, the "gutter" delivers water to the motor instead of the intended air. You can see evidence of the water as stains on the inside of the housing and as rust on the metal motor. The Four Seasons motor/housing design is superior compared to the original. It has separate holes on the inside and outside of the motor to deliver the cooling air. Plus it has a separate hole, nowhere near the motor, for allowing any unwanted moisture to exit the system. The only drawback in this superior design is that you will hear a little more of the motor noise due to the fact that some of the holes open into the passenger compartment. On the original motor/housing the motor was completely sealed away from the passenger compartment via the plastic housing. The added noise is, I think, a small price to pay for a motor that will work. The noise is audible only at the two slow fan speeds, as the air drowns out the noise at higher speeds. And with the CD playing and road noise, it is not much of a factor at all.

    Happy Motoring to you all. And keep your repairs safe by always disconnecting the car's battery!
  • bevcbevc Posts: 3
    Thank you very much for the Tip!!! I tried it and appears to solve the problem. Was just getting ready to go to the Dealer!
  • bevcbevc Posts: 3
    I have a 97 Mercury Sable and have been plagued with similar "maoning, rubbing, hummy sound. Problem is it only seams to happen in the Morning or wet weather and then stops. I've complianed for years only to get a strange look as I can never get it to do it for diagnosis! Any tips advise directions would be appreciateD
  • bevcbevc Posts: 3
    There MUST be an answer for this!
    I have my car since new! I have always been plagued with a strange humming groaning noise when turning left or right, usually out of parking in AM. Seams to come from the front, others have heard it says rear? Mostly happens when vehicle first is started or wet weather... then after driving it stops! Every Dealer I have spoken to is very
    aloof with the matter as I usually cant get the car to make the noise for diagnosis. Other than the noise... I love my Car!
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    You're welcome!
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    My wife's Taurus has about 65k on it, mostly trouble free amazingly enough, but I realized that just about every car I ever owned has been a 4-banger that needed a timing belt change around now. I looked through the documentation and see nothing about a timing belt, but then again, my 95 Escort had a "lifetime" timing belt that left me stranded at 84k miles (thank goodness for positive clearance!)

    Getting back to the Taurus, it's an 03 with the 3 liter V6. Nothin' special, just the plain jane stock engine. That doesn't have a timing belt, right?
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Right. It has a chain.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    Beauty. Thanks.
  • jaxs1jaxs1 Posts: 2,697
    Does a 2002 Ford Taurus SES sedan with Vulcan engine have struts at all 4 wheels or just front struts and rear shocks?
    There seems to be a debate on this. Different answers from different people.

    What is typical life expectancy before need of replacement?
    Should they be replaced for "wear" or only for failure?
    Are aftermarket replacements such as Monroe from Sears or Firestone better or worse than the standard OEM struts/shocks?
  • I've never changed the fuel filter in my 1997 Mercury Sable, but it's sure in need now. Where is it located and if I've never done it, is it something I could tackle or best left to a shop? I'm not terribly mechanically inclinded, though I'll try it if I think I can do it. I can't drive the vehicle to a place, as it really isn't getting power above 10 mph. I need to pick up the part if possible.

    Any ideas?
  • My son's 1995 Ford Taurus will not shut off! Last night, I had to pull a fuse to get it to shut off. Even at that, the engine died, but the radio and other lights were on, so I pulled a battery wire off as well. As it is running, you can move the key back to the off position and pull the key out, and the car keeps running. When I put the fuse back and hook the battery up, I can start it again, but then it won't stop again. I replaced the ignition lock mechanism (where the key goes into), but still the same problem. It'll run without the key!
    :confuse:
  • jaw3jaw3 Posts: 1
    I have a code 171 and 174 (system too lean, bank 1 and 2). I replaced the fuel filter as a friend told me. I reset the code by taking the battery loose. I drove about 50 miles, highway and in town, starting and stopping the engine several times. When it sat overnight the sensor light came on again this morning, any ideas?
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Time to find out why it's running lean. First, check fuel pressure with a proper fuel pressure gauge. If it's ok, start looking for vacuum leaks. The PCV valve grommet is a usual suspect. If it's ok, check for any split, cracked or disconnected vacuum hoses. Also make sure there are no cracks in the air ducting from the mass airflow sensor to the throttle body, and the ducting is fully seated at both ends. If nothing is found, might have leaking intake manifold gaskets. Bet bet for diagnosing that is a shop with a smoke machine.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    It has struts at all four wheels.

    My experience is they will usually be good for at least 100K miles and maybe much more.

    Usually you can tell when they are getting bad on any car when the car starts to wallow and continue to bounce a while after going over dips and road undulations. The exception may be on most Buicks of older than current design, and larger Toyotas-Camries and Avalons, where the suspension is quite underdamped by intent to produce that soft mushmobile ride.
  • My 2003 Ford taurus is blinking a 4 followed by a 2 code several times than stays on. So assume it's code 42 I checked the horn and cruise and they work so I can assume the slider connection "clock spring is okay". Does anyone have an idea what is causing this fault. I don't have access to the code discription and no work has been done on the car since I got it 2 years ago "no problems untill now". Any help would be greately appreciated.... :confuse:
  • jaxs1jaxs1 Posts: 2,697
    There was some cupping on a tire and the tire shop said that is a sign one of the shocks is bad.
    Car had about 40,000 miles at first sign of tire cupping and tire only had about 10,000 miles. The tire is noisy at about 40mph and there is a very slight thumping vibration felt in the steering wheel at that speed. Feels almost like driving with a small pebble stuck on the tire.

    The car does not drift right or left, so it seems wheel alignment is fine.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    One thing I've learned about Fords (and really, cars in general) is that it pays to balance and rotate the tires regularly. If you've been doing that, then perhaps there is a suspension problem.

    If you haven't rotated or balanced, you may have just let a small imbalance propagate to the point where it ruined the tire and may need to replace some tires. But if you have rotated and balanced, then yeah, it could be a suspension part such as a strut.

    My wife's 03 Taurus has 65,000 miles on the original tires and aside from a little more road noise (which may be from the tires or perhaps the wheel bearings), they are still in amazing condition. No wobbles, no bumps, and still decent tread (5/32"). I've never seen original equipment tires last so long.
  • jaxs1jaxs1 Posts: 2,697
    The tires are balanced and rotated every 5,000 miles, so that wasn't the problem.
    The factory tires were pretty evenly worn out by 30,000 miles and were too slick on wet roads, so I replaced them at that point.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    Probably suspension wear then.
  • 1jeff1jeff Posts: 2
    I have a 1997 Taurus that has been a GREAT car until now. Now it has 149000 miles on the original motor and tranny and has an electrical issue. The car can be off and the headlights will turn on by their self. I first thought that it was a problem with the aftermarket remote start and keyless entry that I had put on the car 5 yrs. ago but now I am not sure. The only way to get the lights to go off is to disconnect the battery. I am thinking about installing a cut off switch and not spending the money to have a dealership or mechanic trouble shoot the problem. Any thoughts?
  • 1jeff1jeff Posts: 2
    Just an FYI for anyone else that runs into this problem. I found out that my car was from Canada and then started looking for the daytime running light fuse and found it. Upon removal the lights went off so that is the fix for me and it was free.
  • I just changed the oil in my taurus, and notice that the fuel filter needs changed. Now the car barely starts, runs fine once it is started. But starts really sluggish. Could that be associated with the fuel filter or injector? thanks :sick:
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    How did you "notice" that the fuel filter needs changing?

    I don't quite understand your post. Did you change the fuel filter and now it barely starts? Changing the fuel filter should not affect how the car starts, assuming you put the new one in with the fuel flow direction arrow pointing the right direction and there are no leaks at the connectors.
  • Hi Everyone,
    I have a 1987 Ford Taurus GL 3.0 with A/C. My heater stopped working and is making an alarming clanging noise when I go over bumps or around corners. Normally, I would not care about such things, but considering that I live in Seattle where it's about forty degrees, I care quite a bit. My car generates enough heat at freeway spped to keep the windows from fogging up, but when I sit in traffic I can't avoid it. My question is this.....I can get the heater core diagonosed for about 100 bucks, which will tell me if it's the motor or relay. Or, I can buy the motor and install it myself for about 50 bucks, but it seems like a difficult process, considering I need to go in through the glovebox. Or I can take it some place to have the repairs done, but since my car is only worth about 600 bucks, is it really worth it? Has anyone had similar problems? What did you do to resolve it? Any help or advice would be great.
    Thanks.
  • i hit a curb the other day with front driver tire, ended up crackin rim nd buying a whole new set of tires and rims. well when i put the new rims and tires on my car both front tires were faceing in is it the alignment or could it be something more serious
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    If you can visually see that your front wheels are "facing in", you must have done serious structural damage to the front suspension. I would guess you have a problem that is going to required replacement of suspension components as you bent a lot of them.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Is your heater fan not working? If it is just the fan, you should be able to replace the fan fairly inexpensively, though I have never had to replace one on my Tauri, so I am not sure how tough it is to access it.

    The heater core if it failed it is either plugged or leaking. I am puzzled about what is "clanging", it normally wouldn't be a sign of the heater core failing! Maybe it is the squirrel cage on your fan that is loose, indicating the fan is worn out?
  • bill_hbill_h Posts: 1
    Hi, I've EXACTLY the same problem with my '98 Taurus and like you say, at night, it's a pain. I suspect the problem is in the LF switch, but I haven't yet addressed it.

    How has your fix using WD40 worked out?
  • Hi, I own '02 Sable Premium with Duratec. It has 60K freeway miles. Not problems so far and only one recall (something related to wires for brake lights) that was performed during 30K service. And also during this service they fixed engine "tapping" noise per tech bulletin under warranty (required re-torque one of camshafts). So I did not have any inconveniences or problems with this car for 3.5 years. At 30K service they gave me loaner and at 60K service I got rental with discount (Ford Mustang convertible for $30 and I loved it!) because I performed some of services by myself and they give loaner only if they perform all services. Yeah, and all Conties are still in perfect shape – may last probably another 30K. I cannot say that they brake perfectly under wet conditions, but stock tires are always cost saving long serving tires. Brake pads and rotors look like they can last another 60K. Car more than worth the price I paid for it.

    Now why I still write to this forum? I perform some services myself and couldn’t find PCV. I have pictures where it should be located (under throttle body) but surprised not be able to find it. Pictures are from older Taurus Duratec (may be ’98). Did they change a PCV location on 2000+ models? Thank you.
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