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What's your opinion of the Vulcan engine?


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When I think about Vulcan, I think about pushrod design, with two valves per cylinder. About 150hp. Mated to an average 4 speed automatic. Any car geek will start snoozing after these statements. Don't get me wrong. It's probably a reliable engine and adequate for pretty much any Taurus owner, and this is what should matter to most. And yet, the spec sheet is just boring, some kind of a throwback to the 80s... But it will get you reliably from point A to point B...
 

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Just because an engine is a 2 valve pushrod design does not mean it is a irrelevant dinosaur. The Corvette LS7 is a 2 valve pushrod design that puts out 505 HP and I doubt anyone would call that snooze worthy. Being a pushrod design does not automatically equal bad just like Overhead Cam does not automatically equal good.
 

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^^^^^ +1

The Vulcan was designed to move a mid sized, low to mid priced family car, and it does a decent (if not impressive) job of that. It, no doubt, is relatively cheap to build / assemble, and does have good low end torque, which has always been important to the american car buying public. The Vulcan is by far the easiest FWD V6 engine to work on of any FWD V6 I have worked on.
 

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My 95 Taurus GL has 247,000 mi. on the odometer. Got it in 2000 with 193,000 mi. so if anything went wrong beforehand it was fixed, like a tranny rebuild by Aamco @ 145,000 mi. It had plenty of "get up and go" to suit me and got real decent mileage: 22mpg city & 28mpg highway. On several occasions it got 32-35mpg where the terrain was hilly and I was using cruise control.
It has engine problems now that just popped up. Think it's vacuum or sensor related that hopefully can be pinpointed. The engine always ran great, used no oil and fires right up, tho the city mpg has steadily dropped over the years. If I can get it fixed at a reasonable cost then it could last me another 10 years!
 

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I have a 93 3.0 M/T Ranger and it is a gutless wonder. But, it has a bunch of miles on it and is reliable as hell. Also have a couple of 12v Sables, and these seem to have lots more power/acceleration than the Ranger. Having head gskt/eating coolant issues on one of them though, anyone else having the same troubles?
 

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I have a 93 3.0 M/T Ranger and it is a gutless wonder. But, it has a bunch of miles on it and is reliable as hell. Also have a couple of 12v Sables, and these seem to have lots more power/acceleration than the Ranger. Having head gskt/eating coolant issues on one of them though, anyone else having the same troubles?
The Ranger is a gutless wonder but it is also geared differently than the Taurus. The Ranger is setup for hauling stuff not hauling butt. I have been driving my father in laws 01 ranger with the 3.0 Vulcan and that thing is slow. The Taurus with the same engine is much quicker.
 

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^ your funny.

From going to Duratec to Vulcan I lost 50 hp and probably 10 mpg....


I get about 15-19 depending on driving maybe 23 highway with the Vulcan. It's slow gets ****** mpg and sounds like garbage.

My Vulcan with no cat magnaflow resonator and straight pipe sounds like a ****** broken ford ranger until it's warm and then its stil sounds like crap till 3k. My Tec with the same setup sounded like a g35 and got an average of 8 mpg more.

OK ,cool that it's bullet proof but there are plenty of other engine that make more power and have much better mpg that are way more reliable. If you guys never had a Vulcan you know that you wouldn't even know what it is or care about it
I have had 5 Taurus. all 3.0L 2V. all engines outlived the cars
(97 was bought with bad head gasket engine and swapped out).

You mileage mirrors my gen3 97/98's. On my old 93 wagon, i got 29MPG
once on the highway on a flat road. otherwise on a hilly interstate around
23 seems to be the magic figure.

Yea, its no head snapper. but most people with Taurus use them as commuter
vehicles. It does the job. there relatively cheap to fix and find parts for.
The vulcans are accessible to work on. Ford did try to upgrade the engine with
the dual plane, but i guess they never saw the need to upgrade the heads or put
in VVT or such. I guess there strategy is why make the base engine too good if
you have a upgrade option?

My only major beef with the Vulcan is WHY in the gen3's +, did they all of a sudden
have this brown coolant issue? was it a casting change issues, change of metals
used, or the addition of the degass bottle and system? I NEVER had this issue with
any of my gen1 or gen2's. My 97 which had searing heat after i initially got it, changed
the engine and flushed the heater core now has medium heat. So its time for my squirt
the heater core with the hose nossle tricks again. This should NOT have to be done.
The Gen3+ definitely suffer from hardening of the arteries. What i wonder
is if the heater core is plugging, whats accumulating inside the engine and
where? Anybody every tore down a brown sludged up Vulcan and see
whats plugged up or blocked internally?
 

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It's all in your perspective. I always thought my Vulcan was slow, but then three weeks ago my son got his learner's permit. My opinion and my underwear changed the same day.
 

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I love the Vulcan. I much prefer getting my '06 to perform and work for it where my sister-in-law's Duratec is just lazily driving by. I've given plenty of people a ride in my car and they don't believe me that it's just the lowly OHV, they've all said it was one of the quickest non-SHO Taurii that they've road in. Moderately underpowered cars are much more fun to drive aggressively.
 

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Cake monster
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I made this for another post, it pretty much sums up what I think about the engine.

I think they could have addressed much more than the cam issue. Like this:

3.8 Essex

200 HP
230 TQ

52.63 HP/L
60.52 TQ/L

3.0 Vulcan

145 HP
170 TQ

48.33 HP/L
58.00 TQ/L

The Vulcan makes 4 less HP per litre and 2 less lb.ft as well. If the Vulcan had comparable power in terms of displacement to the Essex, it would have made around 160 HP and 182 lb.ft. GM's 60 Degree made that (more actually) at 3.1, so why couldn't Ford? The engine should have received a decent redesign like the Essex got. It didn't though and they kept it at 4-banger output levels. The Buick 3.8 made comparable power levels to an Essex, too.

We should have a way better engine than we do. They should have made the heads a little thicker while they were at it. This engine was neglected. The Vulcan didn't even compete with domestic offerings:

Chrysler OHV 3.3 V6:

160 HP
203 lb.ft

GM 60 Degree 3.1:

160 HP
185 lb·ft

Ford Vulcan 3.0

144 HP
174 lb.ft

It gets even worse for the 4th gen. I'm still incredibly amazed as to why they even tried putting it in the windstar, the MPG rating was worse than an engine that displaced another .8 litres and made a ton more power too.

I have some ideas as to why they screwed up the engines in the 3rd gen so badly:

Ford SHO V8 engine

It made 235 hp and 230 lb·ft, just 35 more HP than the 3.8 would have made. It matches the lf.ft rating and does it at a lower RPM range. I think this is a big reason for them not continuing the Essex engine in the Taurus, it would have made the SHO seem worthless.

The head gasket issues probably didn't help with the situation.

The 3rd gen SHO should have never been. Not to offend anyone, but it really shouldn't. They should have just stuck one of their then current mustang engines, the 3.8 Essex or the 4.6 Modular. It would have been way more fun in my opinion to be able to go and buy add ons that are made for Mustang owners. If they did that then we could easily piggy back off the after market for the Mustang. A supercharged, 3.8 Taurus? Is it better than a SHO V8? I would guess that it is.
 

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The 3.0 Vulcan is definitely an under-performer and the gas consumption is poor by today's standards. The only positive on the report card is the emissions have been excellent, mine's over 10 years old and still doesn't register on the measuring equipment for Ontario's DriveClean program. It's as if the car's not connected to the test machine.
 

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Just a few thoughts on our Taurus/Sable engines:.

The 3.8 is rated at 140 hp @ 3800 rpm
and torque is 215 @ 2200 rpm

The vulcan in earlier form was 140 hp @4800 rpm
and torque is [email protected] 3250 rpm

The 3.8 torque at the lower rpm made the difference.

Keep in mind that the vulcan was eventually upgraded to 155 hp starting in the gen 4 models.

The tec is rated at 200 hp and 200 torque. :)
 

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Yeah, honestly I just went to the dealer, said I needed a car, the dude showed me a Taurus. I thought to myself, gee, that looks like a Escort, but a bigger version. The dude said "Ford has made this car for 25 years, blah blah blah". I test drove it, thought it was pretty cool, and bam! My first car is my Vulcan Taurus. I love everything EXCEPT the 150 horses. I wish I would have done more research and found a Duratec. :( I still love my bull though.
 

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Yeah, honestly I just went to the dealer, said I needed a car, the dude showed me a Taurus. I thought to myself, gee, that looks like a Escort, but a bigger version. The dude said "Ford has made this car for 25 years, blah blah blah". I test drove it, thought it was pretty cool, and bam! My first car is my Vulcan Taurus. I love everything EXCEPT the 150 horses. I wish I would have done more research and found a Duratec. :( I still love my bull though.
In my view, many people, even dealerships are really unaware of the difference between Duratec and Vulcan engines. Several times, when shopping for used cars, I asked salesmen about the engine inside the 4th engine Tauri that they had. They always looked confused. "Type of engine, 3.0 V6 I guess? Is there any other?"

When my parents bought me my 99SE no one had any idea what kind of engine is inside. I went to carpoint.com to check the specs. The claim was that all V6 models have Vulcan specs. It's only by wandering onto this web site I found out that there was a Duratec V6 and Vulcan V6. I called my parents from the west coast and asked them about the label written on the engine, and they told me that it said "Duratec" what a relief.. In fact, this is probably the reason why more than 2/3 of all 3rd gen cars have a Vulcan engine, even though the DOHC vs SOHC price difference was like $500 when it was new!
 

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UPDATE: 290,000 km, needs head gasket. Have to give it a jug of oil every couple of weeks, but still runs decent. Replacing the gasket tomorrow.
 

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I think the 3.8L V6 gets a bad reputation due to its faulty head gasket design, which ford did make a updated version of. the 3.0L V6 is probably the most reliable 1/2nd gen engine, and since it was made 1986-2008 it is easy to find parts for.
 

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I think the 3.8L V6 gets a bad reputation due to its faulty head gasket design, which ford did make a updated version of. the 3.0L V6 is probably the most reliable 1/2nd gen engine, and since it was made 1986-2008 it is easy to find parts for.
The 3.0L Vulcan has a tendency to blow head gaskets...
UPDATE: 290,000 km, needs head gasket. Have to give it a jug of oil every couple of weeks, but still runs decent. Replacing the gasket tomorrow.
Are you doing the head gasket yourself?
Mine's loosing compression into the cooling system. I got a quote for minimum $1500. :(
 

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Cake monster
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The 3.0L Vulcan has a tendency to blow head gaskets...
Are you doing the head gasket yourself?
Mine's loosing compression into the cooling system. I got a quote for minimum $1500. :(
Hey from Canada!

You could knock almost $1,000 off of it, if you have the tools to do it. You'll need a good torque wrench, socket set, box ends, basically a good tool set. If you know someone who works on engines in their spear time, you might be able to borrow a lot of things you need.

You'll be looking at this:

Rebuild the heads: $150ish each
Gasket Kit: $60
Bolts: $30

You'll want a few changes worth of oil with filters, some extra antifreeze. Probably a good idea to do the plugs, wires, pcv valve and any other tune up stuff. If you need to remove the steering pump, get some ATF to refill it. Probably toss a new water pump on, inspect the timing cover for leaks. New tstat.

You know, I just don't understand why GM and Ford never tested these engines. Look at how they stress tested their new 3.5 turbo engine. You would figure that they would notice the head blowing/cracking issues when they were running them hot to see what happened. These engines love to fail from overheating. I don't understand why they didn't think to correct it. Dodge did it too, with their newer engines. GM's 60 degree V6 is probably worse with head gasket issues.

I used to own an old GM RWD sedan. It had the olds 307 small block. It was a dog, but the engine design was right out of the 50s and it was one tough engine.

Let me tell you a little story about it: one day I had to make a 200+ km (124 mile) trip, but I had a slow rad leak which I didn't really care about, since I'd just top it off and leave, like I did every day previously for the last few weeks.

Only issue is, I totally forgot to put the rad cap on. I got in, took off to the city. Drove the first 100KM and everything was fine. On the trip back, everything is fine until the last 20km, I notice that the engine has a bad miss and I've lost most engine power so I pull over, the engine stalls instantly and smoke starts puring out of every hood corner. There wasn't much coolant left by the time I stopped. There was a gas station, so I ran over and filled an old bottle of windshield washer fluid with water, I walk back to put in the car and the rad was so hot it violently rejected the cool water, it was HOT! After I got it filled, I started it back up and drove home slowly with the heat on. Engine lived through it, other than needing an oil change and a new rad.

Ended up running the tranny low on fluid and didn't notice until it didn't make it into 3rd anymore. I pulled the dipstick and it had metal flakes on it. Stupid transmission leak.

I wouldn't dare try that on a newer car, it wouldn't survive.

I wouldn't have run the car hot if the temp light worked on the dash, it failed me that day.
 
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