Last night, we bid farewell to our little fancy Taurus. Having been under the stewardship of my wife and I for over six years, I think it’s only proper to give it a review.
My wife bought this at a steep discount from a friend many moons ago… approximately 76, or so. It was a solid car, with, already, air conditioning that didn’t work, at 110,000 miles. It’s been a wild ride since then, and here we are today with what’s left of this road beast, reading 223,000 miles. This vehicle boasts the longest duration of ownership of either of us.
Build quality and reliability
I’m just going to list everything that has ever gone wrong with this car. Some are coupled with costs I remember, some I don’t, and others that were never fixed:
Ball joints (and perhaps the shocks) - $1300
Catalytic converter - $1100
Oxygen sensors (all four) - $250
Radiator hoses (ALL OF THEM)
Driver’s side window motor
Driver’s side interior door handle
Air conditioner (condenser has a BB sized hole)
Vinyl inserts on doors fell off
Driver’s side door lock
Fog lights don’t work
oil pan gasket has completely degraded to dust
Power steering pump
Power steering pump a second time
Oil leaks – lots of it
As you can guess, ownership was at times very frustrating. In the last two years alone, the costs had eclipsed what she had originally paid for the car. When the ball joints went bad (like, REALLY bad) at 202k miles, we were this close to just scrapping the thing. But we were trying to save for a house, and some other life things involving money had happened. So giving up on the Sable, even in the face of that costly repair, meant thousands more spent on its potential replacement vehicle — which we would also need immediately for her commute to work. We bit the bullet and repaired the damn thing, but from then on I was admittedly tired of the damn car and couldn’t wait to replace it. And then 9 months later the catalytic converter imploded. And then one month after, the oxygen sensors failed.
Though bits and pieces, and chunks, and larger chunks, have failed us over time, the engine and transmission have been absolutely flawless. It still pulls like hell when you give a little throttle, and the shifts during normal driving are smoother than the surface of an untouched lake. We took this baby on numerous vacations, to Portland, to Mt. St. Helens (all the way up to Windy Ridge, mind you). In spite of its faults, I still trusted it to get us anywhere in the United States, or rather I trusted the motor over all else. But ultimately, with high miles and more frequent costly repairs, the Duratec did not offset the burden of ownership.
But there’s more than just the powertrain that I liked. I have to say, I don’t which particular cows Ford was slaughtering in 2001, but the leather seats are in absolute pristine shape for this kind of mileage and age. They are comfy, firm, and the stitching hasn’t frayed anywhere. The plastics are solid, and there aren’t any egregious unpolished edges. There are not rattles, cracked panels, or anything of the sort. The paint has held up amazing, save for a little bald spot on top.
When something in the suspension isn’t broken, it rides like a cloud, or so I assume, since the struts have been feh since before she bought it. It’s fast when you need it to be, and mindless when you’re just trying to get somewhere regrettable, like Taco Bell. But of course you can’t use the drive through, because the driver’s window stopped working five years ago. And the brakes have always been stout, never a problem other than normal pad wear. Visibility isn’t wonderful, but compared to today’s sedans or those things the Germans are calling coupes now, it’s probably fine. It’s deceptively sized as well. It’s big. It’s looooooong. Plenty of room inside to seat comfortably , but big enough to have about 9 inches to spare when parked in my garage. When parking or backing up, you have to pay some attention. Keep in mind this is coming from someone whose next largest vehicle was a ‘90s Civic.
It’s bittersweet. It’s a car that I sometimes wish I could have replaced about two years ago, but we still got a house and my wife still got her hatchback, so everything did work out in the end. I tip my cap for Ford for building one hell of an engine, and I so wish they used it in the Ranger. I changed the oil on it religiously, and took care of it as best I could. But, we’re glad to see it go.
Just like the Tercel, I will be seeing it soon — I sold it to my best friend who found himself car-less recently at the usual friend/family discount. I told him he can bring it here for oil changes, since he lives at an apartment. Funny thing is he’s been riding in the backseat of that thing for years, and now he’s upgraded to the driver’s seat. When he test drove it, he was happy. He let out a “Whoa!” when he attempted to feather the accelerator, unaware of it’s power. Make sense to me — his last vehicle had the lethargic Ford 3.0L Vulcan. He’s just going to drive it until it explodes, which I think will only happen if he runs it out of oil. Wonderful powertrain, new tires, new ball joints, new cat, new sensors at our expense.
See you around, old friend.