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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking at a 1991 Ford Taurus GL. I had a few questions for you guys. First what all goes on these regularly. Next the odometer says 89000 but the guy doesn't know if it is 189000 or 89000, I was wondering if there is a way to check on the engine or somewhere else to see the real mileage. Also the AC on max and cold doesn't blow very hard, could this be an Ac mod going out or just needs a recharging. Thanks guys


 

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Divide mileage by 20 and decide which is the

more probable annual mileage: 4450 or 9000 miles?

Doesn't the odometer have 6 places?

Ask to see service records if any.
 

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Nick (aka Bullgeek) is one of the most informed people about Tauri that I know.

Plus he recently purchased a first generation too!!

He could help you out, I'm sure!! :)
 

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If it's a 3.8L Essex engine, expect it to blow a head gasket or 2, unless it turns out to have 189K miles on it, then it probably has already.
If it hasn't blown one by now, it probably won't unless it gets overheated. Seriously, the Essex isn't that bad of an engine if you take care of it. :)
 

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I'm looking at a 1991 Ford Taurus GL. I had a few questions for you guys. First what all goes on these regularly Also the AC on max and cold doesn't blow very hard, could this be an Ac mod going out or just needs a recharging. Thanks guys
The transmission would be my primary concern, and the rear subframe bushings rusting out if it is coming from a state that uses road salt.

As far as the AC goes, since it is pre-1994 it is probably an R-12 system and good luck getting a recharge for that. :rolleyes2: You would probably have to get an R-134a conversion done to have cold and consistent AC.
 

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Things to check on a Gen 1 sedan...
My 87 taurus, complete 100% southern car, never a day in the salt, and yet it has some rot.
-Places to check: in the trunk drip channels, esp next to the rear window in the corners. the hinge on driver's side doesn't have much of a mounting point left :(
-After 20+ years, the seam sealer has dried up, and the bottoms lips of the doors, hood, and trunk lid, all had light surface rust.
-Check behind the rocker molding, the metal rivets on one side were all rotting. Check the wheel well arches as well.
-The thermoplastic will shatter like a glass if anyone makes contact with it

Mechanical...
You have a unique year Vulcan, as the 1990 has the last of the AXOD mated to it. They made some minor changes under the hood for the EGR/intake/vacuum system.
Verify cooling fan kicks on when and if the temp gauge gets above halfway. Also verify it kicks on with the AC. what t_swensen said about AC and bushings. If they are OK, go ahead and replace them...use Generation 3 or 4 Taurus. Those are substanital, strong, and yet very cheap at self service junkyard if a subframe has already been removed from the car. Probably due for motor mounts too. If I'm giving the car a fair amount of gas I can hear a belt or pulley start squealing from too much engine movement, causing strain on the belt or pulley.
-As usual check the fluids. Steering rack leak would be expected by this time. Rebuilds can be had for under $100 from TRW on RockAuto.com

I can keep going if you want, but the best advice is to buy the thing is cheap as possible. It's a 20+ year old car, be prepared for some expenses :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok sounds good, when I test drove it and the tranny shifted kinda funny and hard. I ended up not buying it. Thanks anyways, very informative. :)
 

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Essex Engine

I serviced mine like a trailer queen and still lost a gasket, coolant in the oil ruined the crank and rod bearings, I sold it for junk. Ford did issue a TSB on upgrading the shoddy stock head gaskets and bolts as well, this points directly to a known poor factory design. Essex has nice low-end torque, but I'll never buy another one from that Generation. Sh**ty engine, IMO. I still love my Fords, but FOMOCO are weasels when it comes to admitting their mistakes, ask any G3 SHO owner.

Ford 3.8L Head Gasket Trouble | The Center for Autosafety
http://www.autosafety.org/tsb9849.pdf

I have had 3 in rear wheel, mid 80's, 2 '92 and '95 Sables, '91 and '93 Lincoln Cont. I think all of them will eventually blow a head gasket. For some reason the mid 80's did not fail and the Lincolns did not seem to have the same issue. All 3 of the Sables lost head gaskets, one of them Ford did under extended warrenty. In my opinion I think the cooling system cycles in cold weather warmup and shocks the system, but what do I know?. That is what the temp gage says!

It is a very comfortable, quiet, massive torque engine, combined with a mushy transmission. No towing allowed. Glad they are gone.

-chart-
 

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I serviced mine like a trailer queen and still lost a gasket, coolant in the oil ruined the crank and rod bearings, I sold it for junk. Ford did issue a TSB on upgrading the shoddy stock head gaskets and bolts as well, this points directly to a known poor factory design. Essex has nice low-end torque, but I'll never buy another one from that Generation. Sh**ty engine, IMO. I still love my Fords, but FOMOCO are weasels when it comes to admitting their mistakes, ask any G3 SHO owner.

Ford 3.8L Head Gasket Trouble | The Center for Autosafety
http://www.autosafety.org/tsb9849.pdf

Actually most aluminum head on iron block engines ate their head gaskets up until multilayered steel head gaskets became common. Toyota had terrible failure rates on their 3.0 truck engine through the mid 90's. The Ford 1.6, 1.9, and the GM 2.2 all cracked head gaskets. The aluminum head/iron block 3.1 was bad too. The Ford 3.8 was unfortunate in that it was the workhorse for Ford midsize vehicles and therefore was produced in huge numbers compared to some other engines. And it had a bad habit of drinking a lot of coolant before the driver was aware of the problem.
 

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Head Gaskets

Actually most aluminum head on iron block engines ate their head gaskets up until multilayered steel head gaskets became common. Toyota had terrible failure rates on their 3.0 truck engine through the mid 90's. The Ford 1.6, 1.9, and the GM 2.2 all cracked head gaskets. The aluminum head/iron block 3.1 was bad too. The Ford 3.8 was unfortunate in that it was the workhorse for Ford midsize vehicles and therefore was produced in huge numbers compared to some other engines. And it had a bad habit of drinking a lot of coolant before the driver was aware of the problem.
Aluminum heads are not new. I saw them on 1930's flat head Fords and they worked just fine. Low compression, low power, many bolts and all is well. On modern engines it works against logic. Aluminum is high expansion, cast iron lower, bad match.

And then, 90 degree V-6 is not logical anyway. A 90 degree V-8 with shared rod throws is very logical. 8 cylinders with 9 bearings compared to 13 with an inline 6. Every bearing is a need to oil and grind. First GM I remember used un-even fire distributer and used shared bearings throws but the uneven fire made the engine more like a hybrid 3 cylinder for vibration. So then they put 6 throws on a shaft to make a 90 degree even fire in a V-6. Seems to me like they just keep fighting logic. If I remember the Essex is copied from Buick V-6 nearly exact.

I did like the idea of high torque at low rpm for this engine, and also remember the GM Tec-4 which did this also. I drove one a couple of thousand miles with 4 in the car and it was a real torquer and got really good mpg.

Anyway I like my 4.6 DOHC in my Lincoln as it has low end torque combined with guts at high rpm. However, working on it is a real pain. They replaced the ps pump under warrenty and had to drop the engine. For me just doing the belt is a 2 hour job. Big engine, small space. The price I have to pay for TORQUE!.

Happy motoring.

The logical old coot.

-chart-
 

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Funny how after the OP has checked out we still find a way to continue.

I will reserve judgement on my 3.8 Essex until I get 300k out of it. 65k to go...

Otherwise, given the heft of my wagon I would rather have the 3.2 Yamaha anyways.
 

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A little late, but I thought I would add this:

I love the Essex. It's an incredibly tough engine if you build it right. It doesn't deserve the rep that it does. I think Ford should have made it into a V8. I would kill for a 5L Essex. The block is way stronger than a stock 302 block, for example.

If you have newer head gaskets on your Essex, it wouldn't be any less reliable than a Vulcan imo. The Vulcan is pretty good at blowing headgaskets. I would take the Essex over the Vulcan in a heartbeat, way more power and displacement.

The Essex isn't very smooth compared to a Vulcan or Duratec, but it has low end power and that's just awesome B)
 

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Great for towing or pulling stumps, but still, no thanks. My Tec leaves them looking at my dual exhaust.
 
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