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Taurus/Sable Maintenance & Repair



  • ezaircon4jcezaircon4jc Posts: 793
    I've had 4 Sables.
    #1 1986. 50k. 3.0L. Blew heater hose. (Big Whup)
    #2 1988. 125k. 3.8L. Wear items (i.e. struts, tires)
    #3 1991. 175k. 3.8L Wear items + alternator.
    #4 1996. 100k+ (still have). 3.0L Duratec. Struts, tires, battery, water pump, A/C fan clutch, crankshaft bearing (it is external).

    The money that I spent on normal wear items is insignificant to the money saved on initial purchase! These are GREAT cars!!!!
  • sable93sable93 Posts: 107
    Glad you loved your Sables.

    This is the second Taurus/Sable I've owned.

    1. 1993 Mercury Sable GS = 2 head gasket jobs
    Cost = $2800
    2. 1997 Ford Taurus = new transmission + other
    Cost = $4000

    Luckily, the Sable's head gaskets went under a three month warranty I got with the car in 1999. Then, they went again a little under a year, so it was also covered under warranty. I was not as fortunate with the Taurus though.

    I've had MAJOR powertrain problems with both my midsized Fords, so from my experiences, Ford will not have a repeat customer anymore.
  • wkohlerwkohler Posts: 74
    Have seen posts regarding reliability of 2001 Taurus'. I own a 2001 Taurus SES, Vulcan engine, with adjustable pedals, and antilock brakes. Have approximately 9300 miles logged on the vehicle. Have not had ANY problems to date. Have taken the vehicle to the dealer twice; both times for oil changes and a tire rotation. Has been a great vehicle so far. I use it as a second car, so most of the driving is around town, back and forth to work, etc. Very few highway miles. Didn't buy the vehicle because I'm a Ford person. Actually I'm a GM person. Just got tired of looking for a vehicle, so bought the Taurus at the last dealership we stopped in that day in October 2000. Tried to sell me a 2000 SE, but got the 2001 with antilock brakes and CD player for about the same price as a 2000 SE (casette player and no antilock brakes).
  • I own a 1997 Taurus LX Wagon with 57,000 miles on it. It has been an ok car, never really what I wanted but it is great for the kids.
    Anyway, this last trip to the dealership has been grueling. Last weekend it started to hesitate when you first start to pull out. Then it went to starting ok, but when I put it in drive it will stall. Now, when I brake, it revs on it's own and tries to inch me into traffic (I am sure it is possessed) The O/D light seemed to be flashing a code and the check engine light was on.
    I had it towed to my dealer (Bought the Ford extended warranty) they have had it all week and replaced a few little things and said it was fixed.
    I got 10 miles from the dealership and it is doing it again. They told me to drive it until another light comes on because their "computer" they hook to the car says everything is ok.
    I am at my wits end, anyone have any ideas? Please feel free to email me also, as I have pulled out all of my hair and cannot leave the house..:)
  • snowmansnowman Posts: 540
    I am in the market for a car. This time I will definetely buy domestic. I spotted 2000 Taurus for $12.5K with 22K miles. However I am very reluctant after I have read all transmission problems. Is there any 2000 owner out there that can share his/her experience with us.
    Many thanks
  • rayfbairdrayfbaird Posts: 183
    If you are interested in a domestic this may be the right car. It is not even due for it's first 30K checkup yet. Magnificent. Unless they didn't change the motor oil at regular intervals there is little opportunity to damage a vehicle in that much time. Get oil change records if you can.

    Take the car to a transmission specialist and have them check it out carefully. If it gets a clean bill of health you might want to seriously consider it.

    My Dad has owned 2 Taurus' and has absolutely loved them. Domestics really build comfortable cars. His first did have transmission problems, but he never maintained it. I also had a tranmission problem on a truck that I purchased new. I would take it in every 15,000 miles and say, to the dealer do your scheduled service. Well, at 90,000 miles I had to have a transmission overhaul. The dealer had never changed out the transmisison fluid. The service manuals uniformly say "Inspect" the transmission fluid. THIS is BOGUS. By the time the tranny fluid smells, and looks black it's too late.

    You have a much better chance if you do the following: change the transmission fluid every 30,000 miles or 2 years, put in synthetic transmission fluid, and put in Lubegard at the time of change. (see It might also be good to install a transmission cooler. The Toyota Higlander comes with a factory installed one.

    Why? Heat is the enemy of transmissions. It produces acids that destroy seals and metal. Synthetic fluid and Lubegard provide better heat transfer and durability. Frequent changes will maintain the best qualities of the fluids.

    Also, strictly follow the SEVERE maintence schedule. I also take the car in for an annual checkup. You will save a lot of money in the long run.

    Example, I didn't repair a wobbly tire for 30,000 miles once. It was a bad wheel bearing. Because I didn't repair it, I also had to pay for a ball joint, and control idler arm. A $150 repair turned into a $600 one. I'm not a mechanic, but I have learned these things over the years in the school of expensive repairs.

    Since I followed this conservative maintenence procedure I have been able to get many more miles out of my car before major repairs.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    97 Taurus LX Duratec 56,000 mi:

    Numerous trivial problems since its purchase with 15,000 mi...
    Since purchase, power steering system made a miserable groaning noise while braking and turning at low speed. Dealer adjusted a pressure release valve in steering pump, and the problem is now less frequent.
    Broken shift indicator (console shift), replaced under warranty.
    Keyless entry retainer broke at 25,000, now works intermittently
    Fuel guage suffers from a ridiculous variation since purchase. It fluctuates by as much as 1/3 tank while driving, depending on direction and angle. NEVER registers more than 3/4 tank, even when full. Dealer supposedly replaced sending unit in tank at 30,000mi (my cost), but condition never improved.
    Washer fluid light quit at 30,000, dealer supposedly replaced washer motor (my cost), but didn't fix it.
    Passenger front window motor quit at 40,000 mi (my cost).
    Over the past month, engine accessories have been squealing, and the charge light came on last weekend. Upon inspection, I found the washer fluid hose torn and spitting on the drive belt! Rigged up the hose with gasket seal and duct tape, hit the drive belt with some belt sticky to stop the slippage.
    Wiper/washer switch is very erratic, and seems to be worsening.
    Driver's seat seems to be loosening from the floorboard (power seats). I don't know if it's a bad motor or loosening bolts in the floorpan, but it's getting unnerving.
    Slightly more serious:
    Continual rotor warpage (4 wheel discs), all four machined, then replaced, then machined again. Now warped again with the hot Va weather.
    Breakdown @ 55,000 mi. (Failed fuel pump)
    Also irritating me is the bizzare shift pattern of the automatic. Harsh 1-2 shift, buttery smooth 2-3, and somehwere in between 3-4. It's so slow to downshift, ("Duh, which gear should I pick?")
    that it sometimes takes a full two seconds to engage a lower gear when I mash the gas. A real waste of 200 hp. The upshift patten under heavy throttle is really strange, as 1-2 lurches harshly, but 2-3 and 3-4 actually SLOW DOWN, as if the transmission has a hard time engaging the bands under power. Plus, the A/C doesn't blow as cold as it did when new(er), as it takes a full 8-10 minutes to cool the interior now. It's not an airflow problem which might be caused by a restricted pollen filter, but an air temp problem. An A/C problem at such low miles just might be the last straw. It's been an OK vehicle, but not one that changes my opinion of American engineering and manufacturing. This car so far has been typical of previous domestics I've owned, which is not a compliment. I wonder if there are good factories and bad factories (mine was built in Chicago).
  • snowmansnowman Posts: 540
    Rayfbaird, Thanks for the advice. I have never driven Ford before. Is synt. transmission oil available for Taurus and that does not void the warranty?
    The one that I found is a program car, it might be off lease or off rental however it looks like brand new.
    Have you get any cooler installed yet? If yes than what is the cost for it? I am definetely considering extended warranty too even tough I take care of my cars well.

    Wijoko, Sorry to hear all those problems. I have been using imports for last 10 years. What I learned so far is they don't worth the premium pricing. Imports-even though they build here- don't cause severe problems but little annoying things are very expensive to fix. Also their quilatiy is slipping too. I had an 99 accord up until last march, it was wrecked so I was following the accord problems topic. it was unbelievable, so many problems. Civics, accords, camrys...What I say is I think there is no difference between domestic and import. It is all luck.
  • I too am having problems with my transmission in my 99 Taurus SE. I first noticed the problem beginning about three months ago. On that day while driving the traffic did not come to a complete stop but you would slow down then speed up again the transmission felt like it lost power then it sounded like someone grinding a gear. The first time I heard this I didn't know what to think and it didn't happen again so I thought that I was just hearing things. Then about a week later while starting to move from a stop light and shifting from 1st - 2nd it felt like the car lost power then it slammed into gear (it felt like I ran over a tree stump) I brought my car in to a shop to check the transmission fluid level and asked if the filter should be changed, they said that the fluid level was fine and that with the mileage that the filter should not be bad, but as a filter goes it could always be changed.
    I decided to let it go and see if it happens again. After a month nothing happened then it started up again so I brought it into the dealer (under extended warranty) and they said that they could look at it in about a week because they are backed up with other Taurus transmission problems (go figure) the guy at the service counter said that it the fluid was low and that it needed to be replaced (he figured this out with out looking at the vehicle) and that it would cost me because that is no covered under the warranty, I told him that it is no the fluid because I had that looked at and it was something else. He got snotty then said well, I don't know what it is and you will have to leave it with us and we will look at when we are not busy (which could be after a couple of years.) I told him that I would have to bring it back.

    My question is: Has anyone else had this similar problem, if so what did you do to fix it? Thank you for all your help.
  • I am an experienced DIYer and am about to tackle the ac on my son's sedan. I read some of the other posts on common taurus headaches. Pep Boys said it would cost $1400 to replace the compressor. I told my son that that was the problem before he had Pep Boys look at it. Originally I was not prepared(time) to help him do the job. When I examined the itemized repair bill and did some internet searching on my own I discovered some things. Some Taurus ac parts cost lots more because of the way they are designed. The orifice tube is normally a 2-3 dollar item for most cars. For the taurus I have to buy the big hose assembly that the orifice tube fits in. It comes preassembled. No options. That baby costs $150. The accumulator is a similar story. The compressor is not a ripoff, though Pep Boys wanted $290 and I can get it for $175. Most shops make money on parts and labor. What I found troubling, and it is a common thing, is that the repair estimate does not show an appreciation for what I call the "while your at it" factor. The labor tabulated is more than what it will normally take. Aside from this, I was surprised that Pep Boys did not recommend a new serpentine belt. I have decided that this and a new water pump are in order(while we are in there!). To do this job I will have both the Haynes and Helm books at hand. Only way to go. If anyone has comments on doing this job, I would appreciate your views. Thanks to all for reading this. I thoroughly enjoy your insights.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    MobilOne, AMSOil, and Redline all make Automatic Transmission Synthetic Oils. FWIW AMSOil claims that they have the first Universal type.
  • rayfbairdrayfbaird Posts: 183
    Sorry I couldn't get back earlier.

    While the other brands of Synthetic are good For this new car I would recommend the Ford Synthetic available at the dealer. I believe that it is the type already in your transmission. My Dad's service rep still recommends the 30,000 even with the synthetic. It's a lot less than a new tranny.
  • felixc1976felixc1976 Posts: 31
    Hi Guys!

    I've been reading this board on and off for a while, but finally decided to share my thoughts.

    On Dec.31 1997 I bought a 97 Taurus GL with 5K miles.
    The dealer drove it for a couple of months and they just moved it into the showroom.
    It has all the options that I ever needed (and didn't need) - Leather, moonroof, 6-disc CD changer, power seat and etc. The only thing it doesn't have is a power antenna (hek, who needs it anyway).
    Total cost out of my pocket $17,500 + tax.
    The day before, I checked out all Toyota lots in town, and the cheapest Camry I could get was for
    22,000 with no options. So, it was no brainer I went with Taurus since I wanted to buy it in a first place anyway.
    I've seen somebody saying about "rental car look"
    and etc about Taurus. Come on, you are not buying a school bus, it's a good looking car!
    Next month I bought an extended warranty up to 100K (not from a dealership, but thru my bank - they were offering this deal from some insurance company for $700 bumber-to-bumper).
    So, I paid $18,200 + tax for a new car with 100K warranty.
    I got 51K miles as of last month.
    For 3.5 years I had no problems at all!
    I used synt. oil since 35K, changed tansmission fluid, gas filter and tires at 40K.
    That's it!
    So far I'd been very happy with my car.

    A lot was said here about reliability and durability, but there is no car out there that never breaks down! It happens sooner or later, you just have to expect it and live with it.
    I was wondering when this is going to happen with my car, and it did happen this month at 52K.
    1. Rear window motor broke (I was lucky - the wondow was closed). I decided it wasn't a big deal. A week later -
    2. AC selector switch worked only in AC position
    (vent, max AC, defrost seemed to disappear).
    I knew it was a $10 part, since AC was still freezing me to death. I put it off for a while.
    Here is where the next problem showed up the same week -
    3. When slowing down quickly, or making tight turns at speeds just above "slow" I heard that cracking noise right beneath me. It seems like something was cracking, but just couldn't break yet. After driving for a week, trying to persuade myself that it is either debris on the road or sound of my neck cracing on turns I finally took it to the dealership where I bought it.
    Here comes the familiar part. It took them 7 days to identify the problem. The service adviser was telling me everyday that the best mechanics are working on it (they had a sign in the customer area - "Factory trained mechanics" :) ). At least I was happy that they hear the same noise as I did, they could just say they didn't hear anything, or blame it on breaks or come up with some lame excuses. On the seventh day, finaly he told me that
    the rear subframe bushings
    got worn out. Not that I'm a slow driver, but I never abused my car or anything, so it was kind odd to hear that. I looked on the net, and found that this part might need replacement after 100k.
    So, my extended warranty came in handy and absorbed 400$ total cost (I paid $25 deductable).

    Conclusion: I'm still happy with my Taurus.
    I'm planning on driving it up to 150k.
    I think I can make it. I just expect more things to break from now on as I would expect in any other car. I still think that Taurus is a better value if you buy it new compared to Camry.
    I'm glad I didn't pay $5000-$7000 extra for Camry. The next car I want to buy will probably be some kind of hybrid or electrical sometime in
    2007 - I'm sure I can squize 10 yrs. out of my Taurus! (BTW I get city/hwy 20/28 mpg)

    Taurus lovers, don't beleive this "Japanise is better" talk. I work for GE, and even though we don't make cars, I can assure you that the emphasise on quality has been tramendous over the last years in our company. I know the same is true with Ford (they make Rangers and Explorers in my town). I feel confident in american products. Japanise cars are probably better, but not for the same money! And that's the key to the market!
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Don't get too overconfident. My '90 Sable, purchased new for $15,700, was reasonably reliable up to about 65K miles, although the intermittent wipers failed before then.

    Starting at 65K, things went downhill in a hurry, front rotors, a/c (repeatedly and expensively), water pump, alternator, starter, one rear window motor (not fixed), front struts, c-v joint boots, rear brake rotors, both rear door lock actuators, intermittent wipers(again), engine mounts, and the kicker - a failed tranny at 93K miles.

    I held on to 135K miles, way longer than I should have, in hindsight. Sold for $1800 last summer.

    Are they better today? Don't think so -- look at all the horror stories in this thread alone.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Washer fluid switch (or motor) just failed completely.

    After enduring an annoying popping sound when turning slowly, I examined driver's front wheel well and discovered ALL of the front retaining screws on the stupid driver's side "rocker panel" have disappeared, and the panel is flopping around loose, scraping the lower body. Ridiculous.
    I shouldn't have to spend my Saturdays working on a 4-year old car with only 56,000 miles. My 79 F 100 is less trouble than this thing!!!
  • Hello. I've read the horror stories of the 3.8L Taurus engine.

    Mine is a 93 3.8L with 81K miles. I am the second owner (bought it with 23K on it). So far no major engine/tranny problems; oil/filter change every 3K, tranny fluid/filter every 30K. By the posts I've been reading it seems like I might be on borrowed time.

    1. I now have a small coolant leak at the timing chain case. Right now (according to the tech), it appears to be an external leak only. Very small leak (add a bit of coolant every couple months). My question...should I be concerned, given the nature of this engine?

    2. Temp Gauge Question. When driving in stop/go traffic, the engine heats up enough for the fan to run. It comes on when the temp gauge is at about the "A" in "NORMAL" and the fan runs until the gauge is down to between the R and the M. On the highway it typically runs between the O and the R. Is this amount of fluctuation common? The car has never overheated, but wanted to know if other 3.8L owners experience a similar range. Given the problems with this engine, would a thermostat opening at lower temperature make sense?

  • hengheng Posts: 411
    It is normal for the temperature to run hotter in stop and go traffic and the fan turning on under the hotter conditions is also normal. The fan is just responding to the heat in the coolant.

    Don't change the thermostat. It will only trick the computer into thinking the engine hasn't warmed up.
  • I had a 91 Sable with the same engine. I also had that leak at around 125k. I don't remember what had to be replaced. I think it was some kind of seal. IIRC, it cost around $300. At around 160k the water pump siezed, but I didn't experience any overheating. We traded the car in for a Lincoln LS with 175k on it. It still ran very well but I was concerned about the impending smog check and our tighter restrictions. My mechanic told me that as long as the engine didn't overheat, the 3.8 was a good motor. Conversly, if it does/did overheat (well into the red and the light coming on), dump it as soon as you can! IIRC the head gasket is around a $1200 repair. They might as well do some preventative things while the motor is opened up anyway. Change the coolant every couple of years and do the maintenance and you should get good service from that motor.
  • snowmansnowman Posts: 540
    Does anybody know how much torgue I should apply to lug nuts on my 16" stock alloys.(2000 SE)
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    While not dening legitimate problems, why are the Taurs vehicles consistently in the top 5 sellers? (barring of course the round rear window fiasco) In July of this year they were #3, behind the Toyota Camary, and Honda Civic. I find the new ones to be practical, comfortable, and stylish.

    My Dad has had 2 and absolutely loves them.
  • riswamiriswami Posts: 192
    They sell because they are a good value, especially used. The 3.8 engine hurt the quality reputation a lot.

    I have a 97 with 62k and love it. No problems.

    You get a lot of bitching on these boards - some of it is legit - some of it is BS.
  • vince4vince4 Posts: 1,272
    It would be nice to hear some success stories once in a while. Has anyone got well over 100k miles without significant problems?
  • I have an '88 Taurus wagon with 125K miles and running 'ok' right now. This car has the 3.0 liter engine which has not been subject to the horrendous gasket problems encountered on the 3.8 engines. I do find the transmission ocassionally slips in 1st gear. The work I have done I consider to be normal; brake pads, shoes, and hoses, tie-rod end replacement, CV joint replacement, rear wheel brake cylinders, tires. I had a leak in my power steering unit that was repaired with a .38 cent o-ring. I need to replace my thermal expansion valve to repair my A/C. Other than that, the car is running very well with a smooth ride and the mileage is: city - 20 mpg, hwy - 28 mpg. Everything works and I'm hoping to get at least 25k more before I need to get another vehicle for traveling to work. I would definitely stay away from any Ford that has a 3.8 liter engine. My van ran great till I hit 80k. It developed the demonic head gasket leak and fortunately I was able to get rid of it before it caused any major engine damage.
  • I had a '91 with 175k when I traded it in (for $1500 with the 3.8L) on a Lincoln LS. I had the trans recall at around 80k, the original water pump siezed at around 160k, the power steering hoses around 130k, the A/C compressor clutch wore out at about 140k and of course I had the normal wear and tear items starting at about 110k. I never had an overheating problem, which I hear is deadly to the 3.8L. The head gasket was fine. The car still ran very strong and my milage was still around 18-20 around town. My best freeway milage was 33, but average was aroung 28-30. I was very pleased with the performance of this car. It served us well!
  • vince4vince4 Posts: 1,272
    for the stories. Keep it up!
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I need a cheapo ($2000-ish) around town used car and I WAS considering a Taurus, maybe not now, they sound like lots of trouble. The thing is, they're definitely about the nicest and newest car (I've been seeing 92s and 93s for this money) I can get, so they're tempting. Maybe I'll get an old Honda, that's about all you can get for $2k (89 Accord?).
  • mad0865mad0865 Posts: 176
    Have a '98 Taurus Sedan SE, with the 24valve Duratec engine, dual exhaust. Many people advised against getting this car, but after the test drive I was sold. This has been the most reliable vehicle I have ever owned. Dad works for GM, so I always purchased GM vehicles (for the employee discount) and always got burned. I wanted to drive something different, test drove a lot of cars out there and left with the Taurus.

    The only major thing I had done to it was replace the alternator at 63k. Mechanic said that the bearing was shot in the alternator and had to be replaced. 280.00 dollars later, car is driving like a champ. Have about 68k now. I get the tranny tuned up every 30k, tires rotated at 10k, oil change every 3-4k, etc and have not any problems. Don't let people fool you, they're great reliable cars and would recommend them to anyone looking for a 4door sedan.

  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    I recently purchased a '93 SHO 3.2 litre automatic which I used to service for the previous and original lady owner. Total repairs in the 5 years I've been servicing it are: radiator, left front wheel speed sensor, blower fan speed controller, rear upper strut mounts and aftermarket rear camber adjusters. It required an automatic transmission overhaul to correct a 3-2 flareup after I purchased it (her deciding factor to sell), but I think that's justified considering it turned 313,000 km's yesterday. It's still as solid as a rock, has no rust, squeaks or rattles, everything works, and it goes like a bullet thanks to the Yamaha engine. This is the first Ford in my stable and I'm impressed by it.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    ....almost forgot, had to replace the right outer tie rod end and right ball joint/lower control arm last year for the prior owner. That in addition to regular servicing such as Mad mentioned plus normal wear items such as brake pads, belts, wiper blades, 1 timing belt (due for another). All in all, a great car. My Riviera doesn't get driven much now.
  • mad0865mad0865 Posts: 176
    Yup, also forgot to mention the wearable items. I did have to replace the serpentine belt twice, front and rear brake pads, and alignment (every 20,000 miles). Regular quarterly maintenance should be done on ANY vehicle.
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