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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi -- I have a 2003 Taurus SES, Vulcan engine, 115,000 miles.

Made a 15 mile trip a couple days ago, very early in the morning, coldest day of the year (four below zero.)

Got on the highway and had no heat. Couldn't believe it, but, I kept driving thinking perhaps the thermostat was stuck.

While on the highway half-way there, temp gauge suddenly went all the way to the top of Hot and then all the way back down to the bottom of Cold, within a couple seconds. No change to how the car was running, it was just fine. No warning lights came on.

Got off the highway on the ramp and I heard some noise from the engine, rough ride. The noise was not awful, just some light racket as if a quart low on oil. At that point I was less than a mile away, and this was a wooded kind of desolate area (and it was dark out and four below zero) so I kept driving and the noise went away while I was driving.

Got into the parking lot and the car stalled out right when I got into the parking space. No unusual noise and no warning lights either.

Looked under the hood and there was no coolant in the plastic tank, but the oil level was real high. I didn't spend any more time looking at it and didn't think to wipe and reinsert the dipstick. My impression was the oil was a little bit thin/watery looking. However I just had an oil change done about a week ago so it could be that I'm just personally used to seeing thick/dark oil and this was a lot lighter than it normally is because its new oil.

Got it towed to the shop, they called a few hours later to say that there was no coolant in the vehicle -- and no coolant in the oil. They compression tested the engine and all cylinders run at 150 except cylinder #2 runs at 70 compression. They said the engine is irreparable and want to sell me a $5,000 Jasper rebuilt one. Or, "if you want to sell it, one of our techs would be interested in your car."

No explanation as to where the coolant went or why; no detailed description of what exactly is wrong with the cylinder.

Another shop I called (they did not look at the car but did their best to share an explanation by phone with the information I told them) said in the best-case-scenario they could do a valve job and I would spend $2,000.

Car is worth $3,200 in this area judging by the craigslist ads -- it has a nice body, super clean, everything inside the vehicle works. I owe $6,000 on it.

In all likelihood it would need major suspension work this summer -- at least one ball joint, and the cracking springs issue in these cars here in the rust belt makes me very nervous so I would probably have them done. The suspension has been making creaking sounds all winter, so we might be talking a good $1000 plus of suspension work this summer. I also think I might be due for new rear brakes.

I'm leaning toward trading this car in at the dealer that gives you $4,000 whether it runs or not. I'll have to come up with a downpayment and maybe get a cosigner, but I might be able to get a 2008 truck that has a factory warranty. They would roll the additional $2K I owe into the loan, and my payments would be about $10-$15/month higher than they are now.

What do you think?

I would love to just fix whatever leak there is, refill the coolant and just keep driving it as long as it keeps moving, but the shop said they wouldn't advise it, said something about the engine would be off-balance, make a lot of noise, and overall would not be good for some unclear reason. What's your thoughts on this?

I only go that same 15 mile drive every day, and I can take the side road instead of the highway, so I could really care less if it conks out again as long as I can get some life out of it for a month or two. If I can get this one to run for a month even, it would still be worth the same $4K to the dealer as a trade-in, and I would have a down payment saved up for something new.

Thanks.
 

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Cake monster
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Hi -- I have a 2003 Taurus SES, Vulcan engine, 115,000 miles.

Made a 15 mile trip a couple days ago, very early in the morning, coldest day of the year (four below zero.)

Got on the highway and had no heat. Couldn't believe it, but, I kept driving thinking perhaps the thermostat was stuck.

While on the highway half-way there, temp gauge suddenly went all the way to the top of Hot and then all the way back down to the bottom of Cold, within a couple seconds. No change to how the car was running, it was just fine.

Got off the highway on the ramp and I heard some noise from the engine, rough ride. The noise was not awful, just some light racket as if a quart low on oil. At that point I was less than a mile away, and this was a wooded kind of desolate area (and it was dark out and four below zero) so I kept driving and the noise went away while I was driving.

Got into the parking lot and the car stalled out right when I got into the parking space. No unusual noise.

Looked under the hood and there was no coolant in the plastic tank, but the oil level was real high and looked (to me) watery. I didn't spend any more time looking at it and didn't think to wipe and reinsert the dipstick.

Got it towed to the shop, they called a few hours later to say that there was no coolant in the vehicle -- and no coolant in the oil. They compression tested the engine and all cylinders run at 150 except cylinder #2 runs at 70 compression. They said the engine is irreparable and want to sell me a $5,000 Jasper rebuilt one. Or, "if you want to sell it, one of our techs would be interested in your car."

No explanation as to where the coolant went or why; no detailed description of what exactly is wrong with the cylinder.

Another shop I called (they did not look at the car but did their best to share an explanation by phone with the information I told them) said in the best-case-scenario they could do a valve job and I would spend $2,000.

Car is worth $3,200 in this area judging by the craigslist ads -- it has a nice body, super clean, everything inside the vehicle works. I owe $6,000 on it.

In all likelihood it would need major suspension work this summer -- at least one ball joint, and the cracking springs issue in these cars here in the rust belt makes me very nervous so I would probably have them done. The suspension has been making creaking sounds all winter, so we might be talking a good $1000 plus of suspension work this summer. I also think I might be due for new rear brakes.

I'm leaning toward trading this car in at the dealer that gives you $4,000 whether it runs or not. I'll have to come up with a downpayment and maybe get a cosigner, but I might be able to get a 2008 truck that has a factory warranty. They would roll the additional $2K I owe into the loan, and my payments would be about $10-$15/month higher than they are now.

What do you think?

I would love to just fix whatever leak there is, refill the coolant and just keep driving it as long as it keeps moving, but the shop said they wouldn't advise it, said something about the engine would be off-balance, make a lot of noise, and overall would not be good for some unclear reason. What's your thoughts on this?

I only go that same 15 mile drive every day, and I can take the side road instead of the highway, so I could really care less if it conks out again as long as I can get some life out of it for a month or two. If I can get this one to run for a month even, it would still be worth the same $4K to the dealer as a trade-in, and I would have a down payment saved up for something new.

Thanks.
'sigh'

You're getting ripped. Get a second opinion. You likely have blown a head gasket or cracked a head. It's going to cost around $1,200 minimum to have a reputable shop fix it, or around $500 if you can do it yourself. The engine is totally repairable. Happens everyday on rangers and these cars. I saw one being done by a shop last summer, it's standard stuff.

If the coolant went really low, there's a chance that you cracked the block, but there's tons of cheap $400 replacement engines out there. It isn't very likely.

Not overly complicated. If she ain't knockin' and the oil was clean, you can probably fix it.
 

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If it were me, I would keep driving it, if the antifreeze isn't in the oil like the mechanic said and is not blowing out the tailpipe, it seems like you could watch for leaks and hope for the best.
 

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Cake monster
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As for the suspension;

Dumb idea to replace 1 ball joint. You need to replace both of them. You'll be looking at $1,000+ to have a shop redo the front end, more if you need struts, which is likely. That's pretty standard for these cars, once they reach 100+k. The rattling over bumps is likely end links.

As for trading it, that's up to you. I think you would be better off fixing the car you own, or at least take the cheaper option. You owe $6,000 on a car and you're looking for options to get rid of it, that's a bad idea. You'll just buy another car that's 30,000 miles shy of needing everything this Taurus needs and you'll be in more debt than you are now.

It pays to maintain and fix your car, if you can't afford new. Start flushing the transmission if you don't already, give it regular oil changes too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
BTW, I'm not that much of a DIY'er with cars, don't have tools or any nearby family who could help, so I'm basically stuck with relying on one of the shops around here if the car needs work.

The second shop (the one I got in touch with by phone) is probably where I should have taken it in the first place, because the guy there was willing to explain anything I wanted to know. He also said if I really want to pinpoint the cylinder problem they could do a leak-down test and have a better idea of where to go from there. I don't know if I even want to invest another $200... I'm already down $200 from the tow and the diagnostic. That money could be going for a downpayment on a truck instead.

Also -- I found this thread --
http://www.taurusclub.com/forum/87-...-water-leak-over-heated-stalled-now-what.html

Sounds like this guy had about the same thing happen unfortunately. Engine has weak castings I guess... is what someone said.

I might have potentially overheated mine last summer, actually that was the hottest week of the year. I had coolant spew out the top of the cap while sitting in traffic on I-94. I ran the heater, let the car cool down for a few hours once I got it off the expressway, refilled the coolant, and I had no further problems with it.

I can't believe there were no warning or engine lights. If a car overheats bad shouldn't there be something that lights up on the dash that tells you? Or shouldn't the car's computer shut the whole engine down once it gets to a certain temp?

Thanks.
 

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Have gap coverage? It sounds like this car needs alot of work done, if you could, you would be better off trading it in for something newer with warranty, but not if you'll be upside down in car payments. I got out of my Taurus before the tc went, it was starting to slip the week before I unloaded it, thank god it did not do it the day I was free of it. You should go to another place that will install a used engine that has low miles, sometimes the guys at the salvage yards know of local mechanics that will do this for a much more reasonable price.
 

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Cake monster
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I can't believe there were no warning or engine lights. If a car overheats bad shouldn't there be something that lights up on the dash that tells you? Or shouldn't the car's computer shut the whole engine down once it gets to a certain temp?

Thanks.
To be fair, the temp gauge spiked, I would have taken that as a warning. Unusual engine noise, that's a warning. Rough idle, that's a warning.

I agree though, cars need a "Pull the f**k over, NOW!" light.
 

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Cake monster
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Have gap coverage? It sounds like this car needs alot of work done, if you could, you would be better off trading it in for something newer with warranty, but not if you'll be upside down in car payments. I got out of my Taurus before the tc went, it was starting to slip the week before I unloaded it, thank god it did not do it the day I was free of it. You should go to another place that will install a used engine that has low miles, sometimes the guys at the salvage yards know of local mechanics that will do this for a much more reasonable price.
I get the feeling that he's up **** creek, either way. :lol2:

No offense to the OP, but I really can't believe you owe $6,000 on an 8 year old car.

I checked car-part.com, there's plenty of $300 wrecker engines with the same mileage as yours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Have gap coverage? It sounds like this car needs alot of work done, if you could, you would be better off trading it in for something newer with warranty, but not if you'll be upside down in car payments. I got out of my Taurus before the tc went, it was starting to slip the week before I unloaded it, thank god it did not do it the day I was free of it. You should go to another place that will install a used engine that has low miles, sometimes the guys at the salvage yards know of local mechanics that will do this for a much more reasonable price.

Cool, I've heard from three diff people with three diff opinions! All well said too... these are exactly the kinds of thoughts I've been going back-and-forth on.

Option 1 -
Go retrieve my car from the shop, load it up with new coolant, and drive it until it drops. Car is worth $4K to the dealer no matter what, and every month it continues to run, my payoff will be a little lower. Keep paying the $300/month car payment.

Option 2 -
Commit to it and repair it completely. Total cost would be about $3K - $4K. Immediate out-of-pocket is a good $1500.
$200 for the existing diagnosis (which they are not going to get without a good long chewing out)
$75 to get it towed to the other shop
$1200 for some kind of engine repair (gasket or heads)
More $ to hunt down the source of the coolant loss
$1500 ballpark for front-end work
$200 for rear brake work
Keep paying the $300/month car payment

Option 3 -
Pick up a 2008 truck with 55,000 miles for $10K at the dealer.
Powertrain warranty is till 2013 / 100K miles
Payoff will be $6000, Taurus as-is is worth $4000 in trade.
Total new loan is $12,000. Payment is $335.
Out-of-pocket is about $1500 for 10% down and the taxes.


I'm still leaning toward Option 1 or Option 3. I know I can come up with the $1500 for the downpayment, and, I would be in a car thats five years newer, still under powertrain warranty for another 45K miles, and hopefully won't need major underbody work for a while. Less likelihood anyway.

Option 2 has its benefits but I would have to spend all kinds of time at the shop this week (at the worst possible time), and come up with at least $1500 and when I'm done spending that I would still have the same suspension probs (until I have the money to do that work this summer.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
To be fair, the temp gauge spiked, I would have taken that as a warning. Unusual engine noise, that's a warning. Rough idle, that's a warning.

I agree though, cars need a "Pull the f**k over, NOW!" light.

Haha, yeah. :)

First time this ever happened to me with a car. I had an old Impala with a 305 that would stand up to any kind of abuse, we had an Accord that was real strong too, and then I had a Thunderbird for 11 years that never had a single engine problem.
 

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I get the feeling that he's up **** creek, either way. :lol2:

No offense to the OP, but I really can't believe you owe $6,000 on an 8 year old car.

I checked car-part.com, there's plenty of $300 wrecker engines with the same mileage as yours.
Guys that are completely mechanically dis-inclined get hosed worse by shops than women do, sorry. Sounds like you overheated it good and maybe fried some internal parts. Jasper engines are nice, but way overpriced for a Taurus, unless it's a SHO 3.4L. I'd find a locally owned mechanic that is willing to be fair and honest with you because he wants you as a return customer. And yeah, JW is right, that model and year you can find all day from a private seller for 3 to 4 thousand, max.......
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I get the feeling that he's up **** creek, either way. :lol2:

No offense to the OP, but I really can't believe you owe $6,000 on an 8 year old car.

I checked car-part.com, there's plenty of $300 wrecker engines with the same mileage as yours.

Yeah, it does suck. I was unemployed for over eight months, then I landed a full-time job with a 70 mile commute each way. I had only $500 left in savings. So my choices last year were either get a shi*box used car for the $500 (best one I found was a scuffed-up but good running 1996 Beretta) or go to the buy here-pay here place and come home with a decent looking 2003.

The car was one-owner, had 100,000 miles, and was immaculately clean inside and out. I looked at twenty different Tauruses they had, and it was the best one by far. Local mechanic checked it out, noted some suspension issues (nothing urgent though) and its been reliable till now. $365 down and $300 a month, and its a nice looking car that gives a good first impression (important for my line of work.) I tried to do everything right with it, but, I've never been through an engine issue like this. Live and learn I guess.

Thanks for the info on the wrecker engines. I'll keep that in mind too, and I'll talk with the guy at the "honest" shop about that option.
 

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I still don't think you're out of luck, you only drove 15 miles in cold weather, I can't believe the garage did not have a better answer for you re the leak. Too bad your not more of a diy'er, lower ball joint at autozone is only $25, lot of support on the website on how to and you can rent some of the tools required
 

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OK, Buy Here, Pay Here explains the cost. Your financing is probably costing you 2k. The honest guy make do a leak down and tell you the engine is repairable and write off the testing if he does the repair. Good luck....
 

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Cake monster
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Option 3 -
Pick up a 2008 truck with 55,000 miles for $10K at the dealer.
Powertrain warranty is till 2013 / 100K miles
Payoff will be $6000, Taurus as-is is worth $4000 in trade.
Total new loan is $12,000. Payment is $335.
Out-of-pocket is about $1500 for 10% down and the taxes.
It might be the best option, to get yourself out of the hole. Though, most 2008 trucks in my area for that price tend to be fleet trucks. I would guess you're going with a Chevy this time? :rolleyes2:

Also, KBB suggests that a work spec, 08 Chevy pickup (either bed size) w/55,000miles has an average retail value of $13,425. That's just a bare bones work truck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
It might be the best option, to get yourself out of the hole. Though, most 2008 trucks in my area for that price tend to be fleet trucks. I would guess you're going with a Chevy this time? :rolleyes2:

Yeah, you guessed it actually, its only the Chevy place offering that deal with the trade-in. :( What gave it away that I was looking at Chevy's?

They've got five 2008 Impalas and one Equinox at that price (the Equinox has much higher mileage though.) They have one Dodge Ram on the lot too, it would be good for me but it does look pretty stripped down. All of these are priced between $10,500 and $11,000.

I might have to pick the Impala because of the lower mileage (one of them has just under 40K). NEXT car after that will have to be something I really want. I'm still missing my old T-bird.
 

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Cake monster
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Yeah, you guessed it actually, its only the Chevy place offering that deal with the trade-in. :(

They've got five 2008 Impalas and one Equinox at that price (the Equinox has much higher mileage though.) They have one Dodge Ram on the lot too, it would be good for me but it looks pretty stripped down. All of these are priced between $10,500 and $11,000.

I might have to pick the Impala because of the lower mileage (one of them has just under 40K). NEXT car after that will have to be something I really want. I'm still missing my old T-bird.
I would be leaning towards that option. It really doesn't sound like you're interested in keeping the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I would be leaning towards that option. It really doesn't sound like you're interested in keeping the car.

Yeah... I don't have a lot of feelings about this car like I did my first car (the '79 Impala) and the '94 Thunderbird (college, first job, tons of trips to FL with friends.) Might just be time to start over and get that '08 Impala with the low miles and the warranty. That is what I'm leaning toward.

Well, at least I know whats up with the Taurus now, and I know not to go back to that repair shop again.

You all are a great help and you're making it easier for me to sort through all of this.... thanks... I really appreciate it.
 

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My sister bought a loaded '10 Implala last year and got a good deal on it. Nice car....
 
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