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The Goods | YOUR WHEELS

Transmission Failure Hasn't Hurt Taurus Reputation

March 04, 1997|RALPH VARTABEDIAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Question: I purchased a used 1992 Ford Taurus with 47,000 miles on it. The transmission failed at 49,000 miles. I checked on the Internet and found there are serious problems with this vintage of Taurus dropping its transmission. No quality transmission should fail at 49,000. Why won't Ford reimburse me?

--R.J.

Answer: Why should Ford give one disgruntled customer--the owner of a secondhand car at that--any money on an expired warranty?

Although Ford and other auto makers will often extend warranties when they have an obviously defective product, it takes a lot of failures and bad publicity to force a company to stand behind a product after its warranty expires (in this case, at 36,000 miles).

The Taurus has been the most widely sold car for many years and as a result there are millions on the road.

I've gotten a number of letters from people unhappy with their Tauruses because of transmission failures. In some cases, owners report two or more transmission failures within 50,000 miles, which is clearly unacceptable.

But among professionals, the Taurus transmission has a fairly good reputation. The transmission, designated by Ford as its ADOX model, has four speeds and since about 1992 has been electronically controlled.

Northeastern Transparts, a major wholesaler of transmission components, says that repair kits for Taurus transmissions are not even among their top 10 sellers.

Pete Ochoa of Artesia Transmission, a large independent shop, said he has never seen a Taurus transmission fail before 70,000 or 80,000 miles. With good service, the transmission can easily last more than 100,000 miles, he said.

Indeed, the Ford transmission for the Mustang, Ranger and Aerostar models has a worse overall record.

Dennis Major, an expert at Northeastern, called that transmission weakly designed. "Its overdrive section doesn't really get adequate lubrication." That doesn't seem to apply to the Taurus.

If you own a Taurus, it might pay to periodically change the transmission fluid, as often as every 15,000 miles on an older vehicle, Ochoa suggests. Clean fluid is less likely to cause blockages in the cooling system, which is essential to preventing major failure.

* Vartabedian cannot answer mail personally but will attempt to respond in this column to automotive questions of general interest. Do not telephone. Write to Your Wheels, 1875 I St. N.W., No. 1100, Washington, DC 20006 or e-mail to Ralph.Vartabedian@latimes.com.

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