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The synchronizer is the cause of the chirping and needs to be replaced A.S.A.P. If the engine light is not on yet, then the sensor on the synchronizer is probably still good. You'll know when you remove the sensor from the old synchro.
 

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I would just replace the whole unit (Sensor and synchro) it would suck to replace the synchro and then have to replace the sensor later when your already in there. The sensor itself is only $20.00 more when you buy it as a unit. Make sure to go to Rockauto or FORD for the Synchronizer assembly.
 

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Use only the original part. Original does NOT come in a package with the sensor itself, only the chinese one comes with it. And you don't want that one.
Rockauto sells both types - don't go cheap there, on Vulcan (engine code U) the oil pump is driven by the syncronizer shaft.
 

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1997 Ford Taurus 3.0L Wagon 226,362 miles
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Mine's been chirping off and on for two years now (search for my posts as proof), so I'm not sure it necessarily has to be changed right away. And don't get me wrong - I'm not here to discount what others are saying ... all I'm saying is that I've let mine go for a pretty long time now with no ill effects (other than the chirping noise here and there). The noise IS a bit unsettling and I can see how others may have immediately changed the synchro for fear of something dreadful happening, but if I can go two years with the chirping, am I just lucky or are the theories as to the source of the chirping possibly incorrect?

And by the way - I'm absolutely certain it's NOT the belt - which is on the other end of the engine.
 

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The chirping is the bearing running dry. It will likely become eccentric from wear and at some point the rotation of the shaft out of tolerance within the body of the synchronizer will cause a problem with the helical gear meshing of the camshaft and the synchro which incidentally also drives the oil pump.

Do you really want to risk catastrophic failure at highway speed and lose oil pressure to the engine which will likely cause major damage?
 

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1997 Ford Taurus 3.0L Wagon 226,362 miles
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The chirping is the bearing running dry. It will likely become eccentric from wear and at some point the rotation of the shaft out of tolerance within the body of the synchronizer will cause a problem with the helical gear meshing of the camshaft and the synchro which incidentally also drives the oil pump.

Do you really want to risk catastrophic failure at highway speed and lose oil pressure to the engine which will likely cause major damage?
No - of course I don't want major damage to the engine, and I'm not trying the tempt fate, either. It's just a repair that I've been putting off for two years (or more now) mostly because the chirping doesn't happen for LONG peroids of time and I forget about it. I live in a warm weather climate and the noise only occurs during the short winter months, only during engine start-up, and only here and there, so it's not at the top of my list of things to do.

I CAN tell you that I replaced this part once before around the year 2000. In THAT case, I had gotten the code, pulled the sensor pretty quickly, saw that it was toast (as was the synchro) and did the replacement. But I never heard any chirping noise. And other than the synchro's vane being mangled, the part came out pristine. No bearing damage, no heavy gear damage, it spun perfectly fine and was tight as a drum. Once I replace the current part (also a Motorcraft synchro), I'll compare it to the original (which I still have) and post my findings. If there's no difference, then maybe the squeaking (while certainly not a GOOD thing) is not as fatal as has been advertised on several of these boards. My theory is when the magnet falls into the synchro and mangles the vane, this is the beginning of the chirping because particles of both the synchro's vane and magnet fall into the body of the synchro. And maybe these particles can sometimes impede oil from lubricating the synchro. The gear at the bottom of the synchro is always being turned by the engine, which in turn rotates the hex shaft to the oil pump, so my theory is it's not really an oil lubrication issue as much as it is an issue with how to keep the damn magnet from falling into the synchro's vane! To me, that's what starts the ball rolling. And this MAY eventually destroy the bearing, but lubrication is still occurring during the intermittent squeaking, so it could be YEARS before the bearing ultimately fails.

But that's just my theory (based on my personal experience). If I could take both synchros apart and look inside, maybe I could prove it.
 

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Looks almost like this (chinese) one. I ended up not installing it. You can see the two small shafts - the one that ties the wheel to the oil pump is the one on the black gear:



And this is how the original looked:

 
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