Lincoln Continental

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Auto Defects > Lincoln

July 2002

Dear Ford Owner:

Thank you for contacting the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) about your Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis or Lincoln Town Car or Continental. CAS has received many complaints from consumers concerning fires, brakes, paint, stalling, transmissions and unintended acceleration, in these models.

Although among Ford's most reliable cars, these full-size models still have their share of problems. Consumer Reports rates the electrical system and brakes as the most trouble-prone areas on 1988-93's with worse than average frequency of repair ratings. CAS has been flooded with brake complaints on these cars, particularly premature brake wear. There have been 4 safety recalls for various brake defects on many 1988-94's. Ford has also issued numerous service bulletins about engine and transmission problems. The 3.8L engine Continental has a failure prone head gasket that costs $1,000 to replace and $4,000 if the engine goes. Ford extended the warranty to 6 years or 75,000 miles on 1994's. Most of the larger Ford vehicles have poor handling capabilities and require a $280 "handling package" to make cornering smoother.

A common and expensive defect is peeling paint on 1985-92's. Ford attempted to cover up paint problems by buying off aggressive consumers under a secret warranty and ignoring consumers who don't complain loudly. CAS petitioned the Federal Trade Commission and every state attorney general to take action on Ford's peeling paint secret warranty. In 1987, Ford recalled 1986-87's for faulty fuel line couplings that caused engine compartment fires. In 1996, Ford recalled 1988-89 Crown Victorias, Grand Marquis and Town Cars for defective ignition switches that started dash fires but refused to recall earlier 1983-87's with the same switch.

Another dangerous defect is sudden or unintended acceleration. CAS pressured DOT to investigate sudden acceleration in 1983-86 Fords with 3.8 and 5.0 liter engines, but DOT failed to order a recall despite almost 500 complaints and 136 reported injuries. DOT investigated 1991-93's with 3.8 liter V6 engines for high idle speed but did not get a recall. Although Ford recalled 1.1 million 1984-85 cars with 4-cylinder engines for stalling at highway speeds when ignition modules mounted on the distributor overheated, Ford failed to recall any full-size cars with similar modules. Ford continued this design through 1990 on Lincolns and 1991 on Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis. In 1993, Ford recalled 1986-93 Continentals for subframe mount and brake rotor hub corrosion but limited the recall to 14 states with high salt use. 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.

You'll find more information on Ford full-size 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 defects in these Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles.

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. (Only post 1989 models included.)

Brakes: Pull right, 1990 Town Car, 1990-91 Town Car (90-7-6, 91-4-6); Pedal does not return after application, 1992 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis , 1991-92 Continental/Town Car (92-19-2); ABS cycling on rough roads, 1992-96 All models (95-20-2, 98-5A-6); Excess rear lining wear, 1992-93 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (93-18-3); Roughness during application, 1992-95 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (95-6-2); Roughness from front rotor wear, 1992-93 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (93-16-2); Vibration of pedal, steering column or body during application, 1992-93 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (96-12-9); Front disc "thump" or "cluck", 1994-95 Continental (94-23-5); Rear brake "squeal", 1994-96 Continental (96-7-4); ABS pedal noise, vibration on slow apply & release, 1993-94 Continental (94-25-1).

Driveability/Engine: Thrust bearing & crankshaft failure,'87-90 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis (91-4-10); Intermittent high idle, 1988-90 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (90-21-5); No start/dead battery, 1983-90 all (90-18-3); Hesitation or stall on acceleration/deceleration, rough idle, coolant doesn't hit normal temp., 1992-94 All models (93-24-8); "Moan" or "hoot" from engine compartment, 1992-94 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (94-22-4); No crank, 1992-94 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (94-18-3); Oil filter "balloons," leaks, 1992-94 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (94-11-7); "Squeal" from FEAD during cold start below 20F, 1993-96 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (96-14-8); Loose catalyst/muffler heat shields, 1992-98 All models (94-7-10, 98-6-4); Silicone contamination of exhaust gas oxygen sensor, 1992-94 all (93-23-6); No crank, 1992-96 Continental (94-26-3); Low pitched "squeak," "chirp" or "knock" from rocker arm, 1992-94 Continental (95-24-3); Long crank/sticking idle air control valve, 1995-96 Continental/Town Car (96-19-4); Fuel slosh, 1992-94 Continental (94-21-1); Intermittent hesitation in high ambient temperature, high altitudes ,'92-94 Continental (96-7-5); No start, lack of power, hesitation, stumble, 1993-94 Continental (94-16-3); Coolant leak, 1992-94 Continental (94-10-10); Front end accessory drive (FEAD) belt breakage, 1992-93 Continental (93-25-3); Head gasket leaks, 1988-94 w/3.8L (98-4-9). See Head Gasket Headaches for more information.

Electrical/Instruments: Inaccurate fuel gauge, 1989-90 Continental/Town Car,'92-94 All models (90-7-11, 95-2-3); Seat sensor switch locks doors when driver exits, 1993-94 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (94-10-2); Temperature gauge reads low, 1992-95 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis (95-13-2); Heater output & thermostat stick open, 1992-94 All models (93-24-8); Hard effort to turn key from run to start, some accessories inoperative after key returns from start, 1992-93 All models (93-3-9); Erratic anti-theft activation, 1995-96 Town Car (96-6-3); A/C compressor manifold tube fractures ,'92-93 Continental (93-24-9); Automatic temperature control blower motor inoperative, 1993-94 Continental (94-2-13); Fuel pump buzz thru radio, 1994-99 All models (98-7-3)..

Paint &A/C: Paint peeling & contamination, 1985-92 All models (91-18-1); Exterior clearcoat "microchecking," "hazing," or peeling ,'92-93 All models (93-8-4); Rough texture &/or orange/rust dots, 1992-99 All models (92-6-4); Rough texture, ferrous metal contamination, & acid rain discoloration or etching, 1992-99 All models (95-6-1); Mildew/musty odor in A/C, 1993-97 All models (98-2-7, 97-14-9). For more information, refer to Peeling Paint Woes.

Steering: Vehicle drifts/wanders, steering requires constant correction, 1992-93 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (94-9-2); "Buzz" or "growl" from P/S during right turns, 1992-93 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (93-19-3); "Chatter" during tight turns or turns after highway driving, 1992-96 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (96-12-9); Lack of center feel, shudder during deceleration or braking, premature tire wear & vehicle wander, 1992-93 Continental (93-13-2); P/S "grunt" or "groan", 1992-96 Continental (95-19-1).

Transmission: Delayed shift, 1989-90 all except Continental (91-16-12); No forward or reverse, 1986-92 Continental (92-26A-3); Delayed or no forward engagement &/or high engine rpm on acceleration from stop, 1992-94 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (94-26-9); Intermittent loss of torque during or after 3-4 upshift, 1992-95 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (95-5-15); Erratic shifts & intermittent operation of A/T, 1992-95 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (95-3-6); Water intrusion into MLP/TR Sensor causing shift &/or engagement problems, 1992-95 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car (95-3-13); Vibration or shudder under light acceleration above 35 mph in 3rd or 4th gear, 1992-97 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis (95-23-4, 97-10-6, 98-8-7); Transaxle exchange if repair cost exceeds $1300, 1992-93 Continental (94-14-5); "Click" from transaxle during reverse engagement, 1995-96 Continental (96-5-9); Erratic 1-2 shift, 1993-97 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis (97-11-11). For more information on AXOD, AXOD-E, AX4N and AX4S automatic transmisions which may be in some of these cars, go to Faulty Transmissions.

MAJOR RECALLS since 1984
Copies of recalls may be obtained by calling NHTSA's Technical Reference Division at 202-366-2768.

Brakes: 95,000 1988-91 Continental - Corroded rotors fracture or separate (91V-134.002); 25,000 1990-91 Crown Victoria - Rear brake line abrades & leaks (92V-075); 2,500 1994 Continental/Town Car - Pedal pushrod retainer pin missing (94V-129); 214,000 1994 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car - Nuts attaching rear brake adaptor to axle come off (94V-152).

Electrical Fire: 16,000 1992-93 Crown Victoria - Loose seat harness connector (93V-193); 15,000+ 1985 Continental - Air suspension control module (85V-040); 26,000 1988 Continental - Melted nylon wiring harness shield drips on exhaust manifold (88V-114); 19,811 1987 Town Car - Wiring harness short (86V-142); 500,000+ 1988-89 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car - Ignition switch short (96V-071); 5,000+ 1992-94 Continental - Engine fan (97V-019); 1,083,000 2000-01 Continental/Town Car - Windshield wiper motor may stop and ignite (01V-258).

Fuel Fire: 500,000+ 1986-87 All models - Fuel line coupling disengages (87V-139); 26,000 1991 Town Car - Engine fuel lines rub against U-joint & leak (91V-008); 100,000 1995 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis /Town Car - Fuel line leak (95V-063); 2,500 1999 Continental - Fuel rail crossover hose leak (98V-269).

Seat Belt/Airbag: 21,200 1987-88 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis Wagons - Rear belts bind (88V-028); 350 1995-96 Town Car - Belts don't secure child restraint (96V-109); 49,000 1995 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis - D-rings don't hold belt (96V-045); 63,400 1989-90 Continental - Front buckles fail (97V-174); 742 1997 Town Car - Driver airbag module missing bolts (96V-231); 2,296 1996-00 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car - Replacement belts inadequate (00V-157.001, 00V-157.002); 140,847 2000 Town Car - Seat belt buckle is inadequate (00V-228.001); 20,154 2001 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car - Air bag or seat belt pre-tensioner may unexpectedly activate (00V-270); 205 2000 Town Car - Medium graphite, midnight black, medium parchment seat belts incorrect (00V-364, 00V-368); 15,470 2001 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car - Crash sensors or control module missing screws (00V-412); 1,400,000 2001 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car - Seat belt buckles don’t latch properly (01V-227.001); 911 1995-97 Town Car - Replacement air bag modules faulty (01V-318).

Steering/Suspension: 29,600 1987 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car - Steering centerlinks break (87V-012); All 1988-94 Continental - Rear subframe mounts detach with reduced steering control (93V-106.001, 98V-323); 57,000 1991-94 Crown Victoria - Frame mounting bracket fractures with loss of steering control (95V-194); 72,000 1995-96 Crown Victoria/Town Car, 175,000 1990-99 Crown Victoria/Town Car - Ball joints corrode & separate (96V-135, 98V-322).

Transmission: 22,893 1988 Continental -Will not shift to park (88V-101); 5,000+ 1991 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis, 10,000+ 1996 Continental - Park does not engage (91V-048, 96V-166, 96V-176).

Other: 8,848 1988 Continental - Rear control arm fracture (88V-030); 72,000 1991 Town Car, 142,800 1990-91 Town Car, 73,837 1991-92 Town Car, 125,000 1992-97 Crown Victoria - Hood flies up (91V-147, 95V-091, 95V-151, 97V-024); 40,000 1995-96 Continental, 50,000+ 1993-94 Continental - Headlamps shut off (96V-009, 98V-009); 10,000+ 1996 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car - Driver door latch opens (96V-070); 45,000 1995 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis - Lights short out (95V-189); 50,000+ 1998 Town Car/Continental - Incorrect owner manual headlamp aiming instructions (98V-028.001); 50,000+ 1991-94 Continental - Ice in cruise cable causes throttle sticking (97V-025); 21,436 2000 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis - Windshield wiper control motor fails (00V-138); 878,118 1998-00 Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car - Jacking instructions dangerous (00V-200).

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