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Taurus/Sable Maintenance & Repair



  • My wife and I purchased a 1999 Taurus SE from a Ford dealership in May 2000. The vehicle had 17,000 miles on it at the time and we did not purchase an extended warrantry. The odometer presently reads 46,000.

    Until very recently, we have been extremely pleased with the car in all respects, with the exception of gas milage (but I guess that comes with the changeover from 4 cyl to 6 cyl. and we do appreciate the improved acceleration). However, this past week, and for the first time, my wfe (principal operator) noticed a whinning sound and discovered the power steering fluid to be low. Adding fluid did not resolve the problem and a Ford dealership advised us that the power steering rack required replacement. Cost: $750.00!

    I am 61 years of age and have owned numerous vehicles and have never experienced any problem with a power steering rack in any automobile. The '99 Taurus has been well maintained. The dealership indicated it might be able to help us out somewhat, and I was wondering if anyone was aware of any service bulletin(s) covering this specific problem. Admitedly, the car is out of the 36,000 or 36 month warrantry, but one does not expect to encounter major repair problems at 46,000 miles. I would also be interested in hearing from other late model Taurus' owners who have experienced this problem.


    B. Cutcliffe
  • ehennessehenness Posts: 92
    B. Cutliffe--

    Can you get a second opinion? I only ask because Ford power steering pumps are notorious for being noisy. Have been for years. The one in my '83 LTD was also noisy (sounded just like the one in my '98 Taurus). It's kind of a whine/groan, and it gets a bit louder when you turn the wheel. You tend to hear it only at idle or at low speeds.

    Do you have any other symptoms (like hard steering, binding steering, big leaks on the ground, etc)? If the only things you see are noise and low fluid, it may be normal. Note that you can get a fluid drop if the reservoir is overfilled--it will leak out when it gets hot, and eventually the level will drop. If you only see a smear of fluid around the neck of the filler, that may be what happened. Do you see any signs of a large leak either under the hood or on the ground?

    I'd see if there are any other signs that the rack is bad (leaks at other than the pump itself, crunching noises, hard steering, pulls that don't come from the road surface or tires, etc.) and maybe get a second opinion. The only time I've ever heard of a bad rack is on cars that are several years old and/or very high mileage. Add to that the fact that the Taurus pump (at least the one on the Vulcan engine--non-Duratech) is typically noisy, and you may not have a problem at all.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  • terryt4terryt4 Posts: 1
    I use my Taurus for my job. I have 80,000 miles on it and in that time I have had 3 fuel pumps put on it. Has anyone had/heard of this beening a reoccuring problem?
  • ehennessehenness Posts: 92
    Haven't heard it's a problem with the Taurus/Sable. Do you always run the tank almost all the way to empty? That can cause overheating of the fuel pump (the gas in the tank keeps the pump cool), and constant overheating can cause failure. Not saying that that is definitely the cause, but if you run it down to fumes every time before you fill the tank, it's a possibility.
  • willis3willis3 Posts: 76
    I posted about 2 months ago about my coolant turning brown. Well, just checking under the hood again and guess what.... the coolant is brown again. To top that off, "Check Engine Soon" light came on while driving, seems like an ignition problem.

    I think it's time to part with this car...... Your thoughts...
  • usaf52usaf52 Posts: 70
    Reading Edmund's maintenance guide on their home page, I searched 2002 Taurus/Sable. Oil change recommendation is every 3000 miles Plus inspection of ball joints is also recommended at 3K. Sounds strange. Any problems with ball joints?
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    on any car, not just the Taurus.
  • willis3willis3 Posts: 76
    Further to my posting in #456, ignition coil is not firing for Cylinder #2. This is a $200 repair + labor, something which I would not expect to fail.

    The car only has 63k miles, anyone else have this part go on them?
  • usaf52usaf52 Posts: 70
    Taurus/Sable was the only vehicle I researched that had "inspect ball joints every 3K' as part of their maintenance schedule. I realize various parts must be "inspected", but Ford was the only one to make it part of every 3K, thereby making it necessary to RETURN TO THE DEALER.
  • vince4vince4 Posts: 1,272
    80,000 miles already! Mine has 18,000.

    There was a recall on 2000s for fuel pumps. Mine was replaced just before I picked up the car (former fleet car). I assume you know this since you've seen the dealer a time or two.
  • ehennessehenness Posts: 92
    Dunno where Edmunds got that, unless it's a generic inspection item they recommend for a lot of cars. My '98 Taurus service guide doesn't have that item listed anywhere, neither in the severe or the standard service lists, and it goes to 120,000 miles. I believe it's not in the later car's lists either (looking at the service guide provided by Ford)--a friend has a 2002 and I compared guides once when he stopped by out of curiosity, but I don't have it in front of me.

    That service guide from Ford is the only list to go by. Doesn't hurt to check the front suspension out, but it's not a required item by Ford.

    Oil change is 3000 miles for severe service (dusty conditions, stop and go in 90+ degree temps, police/limo/taxi service, short trips in the cold weather) or 5000 for standard service.
  • Has anyone had this problem? The light blinks 3 times, pauses and repeats. Engine is a 3.8
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Due to injury/liability concerns, SRS system diagnosis or repair should only be performed by a qualified repair facility such as a dealer or body shop.
  • I agree.

    I should have let Ford dealer replace my ignition sw. The local dealer has a lifetime warranty for their repairs, so that would be a consideration, but their mech. are not the best, IMO.

    Need another switch, the one in now has only 20k miles. This switch can cause msg. lights to stay on.
  • jvirginiajvirginia Posts: 65
    One of the most common reasons for Ford power steering system problems, especially noise, is the use of incorrect fluid in the system. Ford power steering systems use only Type F transmission fluid. Other types of power steering fluids, transmission fluids, or power steering fluid conditioners are not compatible and WILL cause seals and gaskets within the pump and system to deteriorate. Between my own family and my parents, I help to maintain 5 different Ford vehicles including an '88 Taurus, a '96 Windstar, a '95 Thunderbird, an '00 Contour and an '01 Crown Victoria. The '96 Windstar required a power steering pump replacement because a repair shop had added the incorrect fluid during a maintenance visit. The fluid discolored, and became clumpy and gummy and the pump became very noisy. After changing pumps and flushing out the system, the system operated fine without any noises. None of the other vehicles have any noise associated with the power steering system. The auto shop that had added the incorrect fluid on the Windstar told me they were unaware that only Type F transmission fluid was used on Fords. They said they always just add Dexron transmission fluid to top off fluid levels.
  • ezaircon4jcezaircon4jc Posts: 793
    My OM for my '96 Sable says to use Mercon ATF in the power steering system.
  • ezaircon4jcezaircon4jc Posts: 793
    The OM for my Lincoln LS also says only Mercon in the PS system.
  • jvirginiajvirginia Posts: 65
    After reading your first response, I went back and did some additional research and discovered that Ford did indeed change power steering fluid specs for some of its models beginning in 1996 and Mercon ATF was the substitute. However, there are still some newer models which continue to use the Type 'F' ATF as well as those previous to 1996. The 2000 Contour I mentioned previously is one example. Thank you for calling the change to my attention.
  • demichidemichi Posts: 9
    I have problem with my turn signals. Suddenly both signals shut off. And after while(3-4parking hours)came back. This problem repeated on weekly basis,last 4-5 weeks.
    I'm wondering,if somebody experienced same type of
    problem.How did you fix it?
    BTW,I've been at dealer,he replaced me switch on the steering column. But this problem still exist?
  • vince4vince4 Posts: 1,272
    Did you try a new flasher unit? It costs about $2 and plugs in, usually under the dash. If it's not the switch then the flasher is the likely problem.
  • demichidemichi Posts: 9
    Thank you for response.No,I didn't.I'll try new flasher.But I haven't idea
    where this relay located,I guessing under dash LH of the vehicle.Do you know where the flasher located?
  • riswamiriswami Posts: 192
    My wife dropped waited with our son at the bus stop yesterday. Shut the car off. When she went to restart it it cranked but did not start. She waited 20 seconds and tried again. It started. Car was fine today. It is a 97 Gl (Vulcan) with 67k. Original battery. Changed the oil Sunday and the window on the battery is green.

    Any ideas? I'm not doing anything until it does it again.
  • tgf1954tgf1954 Posts: 2
    My '97 Taurus LX with only 15K miles has steering wander even after a 4 wheel alignment.
    I really like everything else about this car but find that even with tire pressures correct and after a 4 wheel alignment, the vehicle wanders enough on all roads at all speeds to be annoying and feels like it has a "dead spot" on the dead center steering wheel position. I recently test drove a used '97 GL model with 78K miles for comparison and I did not experience the same "slop" at steering wheel dead center. However, I then test drove a '97 SHO on the same Ford dealer lot and it felt like it did have the same slop in the steering linkage as mine does. While travelling at any speed, I can move the steering wheel about one inch back and forth without causing the direction of travel to change at all. This is too loose for my liking. Is this typical of Tauruses with the 24 valve V-6 or the SHO V-8? Are there different types of rack and pinion steering gear systems present on Tauruses, i.e., do some higher trim levels models of Taurus have variable ratio power steering while maybe entry level models do not? Might this have something to do with the symptoms I am experiencing? Can the rack and pinion be adjusted to eliminate endplay? I sure would appreciate any feedback from anyone who has any insight or experience with this issue. I certainly hope there is a solution to tighten up the steering feel on my vehicle. Thanks in advance for your response. --- TGF1954
  • ehennessehenness Posts: 92
    Have you had the tires checked? If they are the General Ameri G4S that the Taurus gets from the factory, they are apparently prone to problems. I had them on my '98 Taurus, and had a pulling problem that I thought was an alignment issue. After an alignment and tire rotation, the problem went away. The next time I rotated the tires, it came back. There was a bad belt in the tire and it caused a push. The right front was bad, and the car went to the left. I got a replacement from General under warrantee and all is fine since. The tire dealer I dealt with said that they have seen a number of the G4S tires with problems, so it's worth checking into.

    My steering was fine, so I can't comment on that. My car does not have any noticeable play in the steering at any speed. I do know that my car (with the base Vulcan V6) does have variable rate power steering (as do the 24V and SHO engines); the pump is the only difference (I'm not sure about the rack). The '97s probably also have the variable rate PS as well. It should just give you more boost at lower speeds, but not change the play or road feel much.

    I'd start with the tires. They may well cause your steering feel problems. Just because they look fine and have good tread left doesn't mean that they are OK. This problem is internal and has to do with the belts in the tire (usually). My car had the pull at 11,000 miles, and the tires had plenty of tread (they still looked OK at 25,000 when the problem was finally fixed).
    See if rotating the fronts to the back makes any difference in how the car behaves, and/or switch the right and left fronts. If the wander seems to go away when you swap front/rear or gets stronger on the other side when you swap left/right, you can pretty much assume it's a tire problem.

    You may want to replace the G4S anyway, and if you do, go with a touring tire. That alone will improve the steering response (I like the BF Goodrich Comp T/A HR4s, which I had on my last car and which will go on the Taurus when I need tires--the G4Ss are now okay).

    Hope this is helpful.
  • mattbethmattbeth Posts: 1
    dmarabella: I have the EXACT same problem on my 99 SE Wagon, started at about the same mileage too. Did you ever find out a cause? My tires are in excellent condition, and have been rotated without any change in the noise, which appears to come from the right-side front. Had 3 separate drive-alongs with mechanics, all whose best recommendation is "possibly a bearing" but there are no obvious signs of this without actually tearing the seals apart. The transaxle is sound, no signs of any unusual wear or leaks. Please let me know if you've learned anything. Thanks!
  • quinnhjquinnhj Posts: 1
    I have a 93 taurus wagon, turned the ignition key, and had no electrical power at all, no lights, dash, starter, nothing. Turned the key back to the off position, then back on and the car started, The clock had been reset, and the radio presets had been lost. Any ideas
  • vince4vince4 Posts: 1,272
    Sounds like a bad ignition switch.
  • mjaxmjax Posts: 1
    I had the same problem as #452, noisy steering, sounded like it was low on fluid, added power steering fluid, to no avail. I took it to a pretty sharp mechanic. He said the car has no grease fitting for the rack and pinion steering, so he drilled it out, added grease fitting, lubed it up, and presto! No more noise! I guess it's Fords way of "saving" us money on grease fittings. Cost me less than $200 to have done.
  • mitjfmitjf Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 Taurus SE with 50,000 miles on it. In the last few thousand miles it has has a habit of losing power when I step on the throttle. This produces a jerky ride as it loses and then gets power. It happens more often in the morning when cold, but has also happens when warm. Any help would be great!
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