Ford Taurus

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Auto Defects > Ford




January 2001

Dear Taurus/Sable Owner:

Thank you for contacting the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) about your Taurus or Sable. Although the most popular car since its 1986 debut, problems such as surging, transmission failure, peeling paint, head gasket failure, rust, seatbelt failure and poor brake performance are common.

In 1993, Ford recalled more than 1.5 million 1986-93 Tauruses and Sables for two costly corrosion defects but limited the recall to 14 states with high salt use and did not enter the repair in OASIS, Ford's national dealer computer system, so that consumers in the other 36 states who have brake rotor hub failures and/or subframe mount failures would receive free repairs. Consumers in the non-salt belt states have to pay $300 or more for each repair. In 1998 Ford expanded the subframe recall to 25 states and 1986-95 models

The AXOD/AXOD-E automatic 4-speed overdrive transmission has been plagued with performance problems since its introduction in 1986. CAS has received numerous reports of chronic stalling, slippage, harsh or erratic shifting, and/or hesitation. The automatic transmission in the 1991 Taurus/Sable is especially prone to erratic operation, overheating and/or sudden failure. Although Ford recalled 1.1 million 1984-85 cars with 1.6L and 2.3L engines for stalling at highway speeds when ignition modules mounted on the distributor overheated, Ford failed to recall any Tauruses/Sables with similar modules. Ford continued this design through 1995 on all 3.0L non-SHO models but changed to a safer design on 3.8L engines in 1988. The 3.8L engine also has a failure prone head gasket that costs $1,000 to replace and $4,000 if the engine goes. Ford extended the warranty to 7 years or 100,000 miles on 1994-95 models but refused to extend the warranty on 1988-93 models with the same failure prone head gasket.

A common and expensive defect is peeling paint on 1985-92 models. Ford attempted to cover up paint problems by buying off aggressive consumers under a secret warranty and ignoring consumers who didn't complain loudly. CAS petitioned the FTC and every state attorney general in 1994 to take action on Ford's peeling paint secret warranty. A more serious defect is an aggressive driver's side airbag in 1990-92 models which has resulted in the death of five drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration denied a CAS petition in July 1997 to recall these vehicles.

You'll find more information on Ford Taurus/Sable problems below and what you can do about them plus a complaint box. Your information will help us build a strong case against Ford as we fight for action on Taurus/Sable defects.

We need you to support the Center for Auto Safety in our fight for consumer rights and against poorly designed and unsafe cars. Your contribution is tax-deductible which entitles you to our quarterly newsletter, Lemon Times. Please submit the membership form along with your contribution and complaint. If you contribute $35 or more, we will send you the current edition of The Ultimate Car Book, by Jack Gillis.

Sincerely,

Clarence M. Ditlow
Executive Director

TAURUS & SABLE FACT SHEET
Sable Taurus Taurus SHO

Ford technical service bulletin (TSB) number in parentheses; bulletins apply to all models unless stated.

Brakes: Roughness/vibration during braking, 1986-95 (95-6-2, 93-26-2); ABS noise/vibration, 1993 & 1989-93 Taurus SHO(94-13-3 & 94-25-1); "Thumping"/"clacking" while braking, 1994-95 (94-23-5); Extra pedal travel, 1993-94 (94-5-5); ABS cycling, 1990-94 (94-5-6) & 1993-96 (95-20-2, 98-5A-6); Brake wobble, drag, accelerator wear, 1986-93 (93-22-4); Pedal slow/no return, 1991-92 (92-19-2); Intermittent squeal, 1986-91 (90-22-6) & 1993-95 (96-7-4); Premature wear/cracking front disc brake pads, 1986-87 (87-24-9); ABS noise, 1998-99 (98-26-5).

Electrical/Instruments: Free Repair: Long cranking times/no start, 1992-93 Taurus SHO(93-B-18 & 93-3-8); Erratic fuel gauge operation, 1986-92 Taurus & 1986-94 Sable & 1986 & 1988 (95-2-3 & 88-18-3); Fuel gauge indicates full too long or not full after fill-up or flucates at 1/4 full, 1996-98 & 1999 (99-2-6 & 99-15-1); No crank/starter solenoid corrosion, 1992-95 (94-26-3); Driver seat sensor locks doors on exit, 1993-94 (94-10-2); Dim or black EATC or instrument display, 1986-88 (90-23-9, 90-23-13 & 89-6-8); Speedometer reads high, 1991-93 (92-12-9); No power, 1990-92 with speed control & AXOD-E (92-12-9); Fuel gauge intermittently reads high, 1989-90 (91-13-4); Low battery/no crank, 1986-91 & 1996-99 (91-10-8 & 98-19-2); Excessive cranking during start, 1989-90 Taurus SHO(90-21-7); Fuel pump relay sticks, 1986-90 (90-18-3); Abnormal speed control operation, 1986-89 (89-3-4); Fuel gauge inoperative after new circuit installed, 1986-87 (88-8-4); Weak low beam, 1986-87 (88-8-5); A/C compressor moan, 1993-95 All with 3.8L (95-16-8, 97-17-11); Erratic temperature gauge readings, 1993-95 (95-13-2) & 1993-94 (95-18-5); Poor heater output, 1993-94 (93-24-8); Fuel pump buzz thru radio, 1994-98 & 1995-99 (96-7-3 & 99-12-9); Fuel pump wires chaf, no start, 1996-98 (98-25-1).

Engine/Driveability: Free Repair: Piston knock/scuff, 1986-87 (021987); Free Repair: Uncontrolled acceleration, 1988-91 with 3.8L (92M77); Free Repair: Head gasket, 1994-95 with 3.8L (98M01) Main bearing knock, 1991-92 (95-10-5); Cold start/hesitation, 1993-94 (94-19-11); Jerking, 1992-94 (94-19-4, 93-23-6); No start, lack of power/hesitation/stumble, 1993-94 (94-16-3); Cooling system bypass hose leaks, 1991-94 (94-15-8); Engine mount fluid leak, 1991-93 (94-12-6); Rough idle/hesitation, 1986-94 T/S, 1986-87 Taurus (93-24-8, 88-14-2); No start, 1992-93 (93-18-5); Timing belt whine, 1989-93 SHO, 1993-95 Taurus SHO with 3.0L (93-13-7, 95-22-10); Oil pan gasket leak, 1988-91 (91-13-7); Intermittent idle knock, 1986-91 (91-9-8); Rear oil leak, 1986-91 (91-7-8); Engine overheats, 1986-89 Taurus (89-6-10); Crankshaft rear seal oil leak, 1987-88 (88-25-11); Head to engine block mating surface leak, 1987-88 (88-8-7); Loose crankshaft pulley retaining bolts, 1986-87 (88-5-9); "Clunk" on heavy acceleration &/or deceleration, 1996-97 (97-2-3); Fuel slosh, 1993-95 (94-21-1); Intermittent hesitation, 1993-95 All with 3.0L/3.8L (96-7-5) & 1996-97 All with 3.0L 4-valve (97-7-2); Long crank &/or stalls, 1995-96 (97-9-5); No crank, 1993-95 All with 3.0L/3.8L (94-26-3); Hard start/long crank time, 1996-98 with 3.0/3.4L & 1996-97 3.0L flex fuel (96-21-12 & 97-16-2); Spark knock, 3.0L 2-valve 1996-97 & 1998 (99-1-5 & 99-12-6); Fuel pump "gurgling," 1993-94 (96-15-3); Shudder during accleration, "94-97 (96-19-3); Head gasket leaks, 1988-95 with 3.8L (98-4-9). For more information on 3.8L head gasket failures, go to Ford 3.8L head gasket.

Paint: Rough texture &/or orange/rust dots, 1993-00 (92-6-4, 95-6-1). For detailed package on peeling paint on 1985-92 models, go to CAS-Ford Paint.

Steering/Suspension: Rear tire inner edge wear, 1986-95, 1994-97 (95-5-6, 96-26-3); Front suspension rattling/clicking &/or "clunking," 1988-93 (95-3-4, 93-14-11) & 1996-97 (97-2-5); Pull/drift to right, 1993-94 Taurus SHO with AX4S (94-8-7); Air in P/S system, 1990-94 (93-26-5); Rear tension strut noise, 1986-94 wagon (93-26-4); P/S cooler noise, 1992-93 (93-15-12); Difficulty using ignition switch or steering lock, 1990-93 (93-3-9); High steering effort, 1990-92 with variable assist P/S (93-1-4); Steering wheel clicks, 1990-91 (91-3-1 & 92-12-3) & 1986-89 with tilt steering column (90-1-4); Front/rear stabilizing bar bushings noise, 1986-88 (88-4-10); P/S "grunt" &/or "groan," 1993-95 T/S, 1996-97 (95-19-1, 97-13-3); P/S reduction, FEAD belt slip, 1994-97, 1995-98 (97-25-1 & 98-9-4); Rattling during acceleration, 1996-98 with 3.0L (97-26-11); Steering wheel movement @ 45-75 mph on smooth road, 1996-98 (98-18-13); P/S moan during idle in 3.0L 4-valve engines, 1996-98 (99-4-1).

Transmission: Free clutch replacement, 1989-90 Taurus SHO (91-M-73). For detailed package on Taurus and Sable automatic transmissions, go to Ford Automatic Transmissions.

Other: Heated backlite inoperative, 1993-94 (93-26-1); Fishy/musty odor from headliner, 1993-94 (94-10-1); Distorted/melted wheelcover, 1993-94 (95-15-1); Battery discharges, 1993-94 Taurus SHO(94-21-3); W/S & interior glass fog/film, 1993-97 (96-22-1); Fuel odor in passenger compartment, 1993-95 (94-17-3); Excessive current drain, 1995-96 (97-9-6); A/C mildew or mold odors, 1994-97, 1995-98 (98-2-7, 99-19-5); Loose catalyst/muffler shield, 1994-98, 1995-99 (98-6-4 & 98-20-10); A/C blower motor chirp or squeak, 1994-97 (97-25-5); Clunk in floor pan area, subframe insulators, 1996-97 (97-2-3); Water leak onto passenger floor, 1996-98 (97-24-2); Inadvertent disabling of brake shift interlock, 1995-99 (99-13-9); Power windows inoperative, 1996-98 (98-25-13).

MAJOR RECALLS
Copies may be obtained from NHTSA's Technical Reference Division at 202-366-2768.

Brakes: 600,000 1986-91 - Front disc brake rotors separate (91V-134-001); 212 1993 - Wrong ABS system controllers installed (93V-023); 1,500 1995 - Push rod separates from brake pedal arm (94V-198); 76,500 1996 - Brake fluid level indicator malfunctions & brake warning lamps remain lit/don't illuminate (96V-016).

Fires: 50,000+ 1997, 1,800 1999 - Transmission fluid leak onto catalyst (97V-097, 98V-288); 400 1996 - Incorrect replacement fuel tank (98V-067); 40,000+ 1992-95 with 2.3L/3.0L/3.8L - Engine cooling fan seizes (97V-019); 278,000 1988-89 - P/seat wiring shorts (91V-036); 700,000+ 1986-87 - Fuel line couplings separate & leak (87V-139).

Electrical/Instruments: 400,000+ 1993-94 - Headlights flash off (98V-009); 2,900 1989 - Light sensor malfunction (89V-171); 28,000 1986-87 - Rear wipers break & glass fractures (87V-017); 22,000 1989 Sable - Front side marker lamps have wrong bulbs (88V-190).

Seatbelt: 7,000 1998-99 - Seat belt buckle stud cracks (98V-198); 400,000+ 1989-90 - Rigid mounted belt buckles (92V-113); 20,000+ 1999-2000 - Webbing sticks in retractor (99V-250).

Suspension/Wheels: 281,000 1993 - Front coil spring fracture (98V-094); 4,714 1987 - Steering shaft separates (86V-144); 631 1987 - Rear spindle assemblies separate (86V-148); 1,212 1990 Taurus with Police package - Cracks in 14" x5.5" heavy-duty steel wheels (90V-159).

Other: 2,000,000+ 1986-95 - Subframe body mounts for engine/transmission separate (93V-106, 98V-323); 654,000 1986-92 wagons - Child suffocates in storage compartment (92V-065); 1,300 1992 Taurus wagons - Liftgate opens without warning (91V-145); 10,000+ 1990 Taurus - Airbag inflator leaks hot gases (90E-043.1); 6,000 1999 - Accelerator cable interference (98V-204); 150,000+ 1991-95 with 3.8L - Speed control cable freezes & throttle sticks (97V-025); 4,700 1986 - Improper tempered glass (86V-039); 328,100 1997-98 - Incorrect owner manual headlamp aiming instructions (98V-028.002); 167,000 2000 - Incorrect vehicle weight label (00V-242).

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