Ford Tempo

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Auto Defects > Ford

January 2001

Dear Tempo/Topaz Owner:

Thank you for contacting the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) about your Tempo or Topaz. Introduced as one of Ford's first front wheel drive vehicles in 1984, Ford replaced it in 1995 with the Contour. CAS has received numerous complaints from consumers on fires, chronic stalling, unintended acceleration, paint peel, and tie rod failure.

Due to subpar reliability, Consumer Reports recommends that all 1989-94 models be avoided. The 1984-94 Tempo/Topaz suffers from chronic stalling. In 1985, Ford tried to end stalling caused by faulty carburetors by switching to electronic fuel injection. Not only did stalling persist, but incidents of unintended acceleration were also reported. Defective thick film ignition (TFI) modules mounted on the distributor in 1984-94 models with 2.3L engines also cause stalling, particularly at highway speeds. Although Ford recalled 1.1 million 1984-85 cars with 1.6L and 2.3L engines to replace these modules, Ford failed to recall other models with with similar modules. In 1991, CAS persuaded Ford to extend the warranty for the faulty fuel pumps in the 1988-89 Tempo/Topaz to 6 years/60,000 miles. CAS urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) without success to investigate Tempo/Topaz surging and sudden acceleration. NHTSA conducted one related investigation on the failure of the cruise control to disengage in 1986-87 models, but closed it without a recall. Ford conducted limited recalls on 1986-88 models for unintended acceleration defects. Dealers often blame fuel injection components, such as the electronic engine control processors, MAP sensors, EGR valves and throttle position sensors, for surging and stalling.

Even though CAS forwarded numerous complaints of fires to NHTSA, the Tempo/Topaz was the only model not included in the 1987 recall of 3.6 million 1986-87 Ford vehicles for faulty fuel line couplings that caused engine compartment fires. A common and expensive defect is paint peeling on all 1985-93 models. Ford attempts to cover up paint problems by buying off aggressive consumers under a secret warranty and ignoring consumers who don't complain loudly.

You'll find more information on these and other Tempo/Topaz 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.



Clarence M. Ditlow
Executive Director

Ford technical service bulletin numbers are in parentheses.

Electrical/Instruments: A/C evaporator core "rattles," '92-94 (94-13-8); "Chirping"/squeaking from A/C blower motor at low speeds, '93-94 (97-6-10); FEAD belt breaks, ''92-93 (93-25-3); Temperature gauge reads in low range/erratic, '92-94 (95-13-2); Poor heater output, '92-94 (93-24-8); Horn inoperative, '93-94 (97-3-6); Dim instrument cluster warning lights, '92-94 (93-24-10); Insufficient cooling, '92-93 (94-2-10); Temperature gauge reads in the high range/erratic, '92-93 (95-18-5).

Engine/Driveability: Battery drain, '83-90 (90-18-3); Oil pan front cover gasket leaks, '89-92 (92-3-3); Hesitation/stall, '92-94 (93-24-8); Idle speed fluctuates, '93-94 (97-10-2); Rough idle & engine coolant does not reach normal operating temperature, '92-94 (93-24-8); Oil leak &/or "sludge" collects in air cleaner tray, '92-94 with 2.3L HSC engine (94-4-6); Catalytic converter inlet pipe flange rust, '92-94 with 2.3L (94-5-8); Loose catalyst or muffler heat shields, '92-94 (94-7-10); Silicone contamination of EGO sensors, '92-94 (93-23-6); Oil leak from oil level indicator tube &/or engine gaskets in temperatures below -10°F, '93-94 with 2.3L (96-23-8); Rough idle, '92-93 (93-26-6); Shudder, '92-94 (93-26-3) & '92-93 (93-13-2); Bucks/jerks during deceleration/coasting, '92-93 (93-26-6); "Check engine" light on, '92-94 (94-15-4); Stops running &/or no restart, '92-93 with 3.0L (93-18-5). For more information on Ford stalling, go to Ford Stalling.

Paint: Rough texture &/or orange/rust dots, '92-94 (92-6-4); Rough texture, '92-94 (95-6-1); Chips on roof at upper rear of door opening, '92-93 (93-8-2); Exterior clearcoat "microchecking," hazing or peeling, '92-93 (93-8-4). For more information on how to get Ford to pay for peeling paint, go to Ford Paint.

Transmission: Intermittent hard accelerator pedal effort &/or no 1-2 upshift, '93-94 (95-1-5); Intermittent no/delayed 1-2 upshift, '92-94 (94-12-11); Transaxle goes into a neutral condition while range selector is in "Drive" position, '93-94 (94-19-13).

Other: Roughness during braking, '92-94 (95-6-2); Lack of center feel, premature front tire wear & vehicle wander, '92-93 (93-13-2); Wheel corrosion, '84-90 (90-13-2); "Iridescence" or "mottling" in tempered glass, '92-94 (93-21-1); Heated backlite inoperative, '92-94 (93-26-1); Fishy or musty odor from headliner, '92-94 (94-10-1); P/S noise, '92-94 (93-26-5); W/S & interior glass fog/film, '93-94 (96-22-1).

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

Fires: 1,000,000+ 1988-93 Tempo/Topaz - Ignition switch short circuits (96V-071); 50,000+ 1992-94 Tempo/Topaz - Engine cooling fan stops, engine overheats (97V-019); 626 1984 Tempo/Topaz - Headlamp switch overheats causing ignition switch short (83V-055).

Seatback/Seatbelt: 195,732 1984 Tempo/Topaz - Bolt holding seatback upright fractures (86V-082); 61,400 1984 Tempo - Seat belt webbing severed by reinforcer (84V-071); 200,000+ 1984 Tempo/Topaz - Upper torso restraint does not meet strength requirements (83V-134).

Throttle: 3,988 1986 Tempo/Topaz - Engine control processor causes unintended full throttle (85V-134); 91,000 1988 Tempo/Topaz - Throttle sticks open (88V-024).

Other: 7,000+ 1990 Tempo/Topaz - Airbag fails to inflate properly (90E-043-1); 350 1987 Tempo - Decorative lug nuts seize causing wheel studs fracture (87V-060); Rear control arm-to-spindle bolts fail: 226,729 1984-85 Tempo & 1984 Topaz (85V-086) & 227,027 1984 Tempo/Topaz (85V-145).

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