Mercury Topaz

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.

 

Sincerely,

Clarence M. Ditlow
Executive Director

TEMPO
& TOPAZ FACT SHEET
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).

MAJOR RECALLS
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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