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If your engines headgaskets have just recently failed, please click here now.

Unfortunately, this self destructing engine is the most familiar to me. A good list of problems and remedies can be found at Alldata. Your car's year may be different, but this will give you an idea of the types of problems associated with this Sable, Taurus & Windstar engine.

The biggest problem with the engine are the headgaskets. My comparison page shows my past experience with headgaskets. The recall on this engine has resulted in its being downgraded by Lemon-Aid .

 A fair number of unhappy Ford owners and even some Ford employees post questions and information on the Blue Oval News forum. There's a significant number of categories to browse through which may help you with your problems. If you don't already have a Ford, this may dissuade you from buying one.

In the US, the NHTSA has an interesting resource base to peruse. Additionally,by clicking on Windstar, you'll find a interesting site relating to your Ford vehicle which share the same engine.

Mar. 21,2001.

This site has been updated to include recent events and  a new section with resources and books to assist you in making a wise vehicle purchase along with web site building suggestions.

This section below shows the general chronology of events leading up to the actual recall letter being sent out by Ford to the affected 3.8L engine owners.

I recieved a fax and a couple of emails from the author of Lemon-Aid regarding the 3.8L engine. There is two graphics slooowwly appearing below that are excerpts from a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) for a 3.8L 98 Mustang. I have compressed and shrunk the images as much as is reasonably possible. The email excerpts below help explain the significance. You may wish to use the Emission Warranty to try to make your claim against Ford.

Hi Jim,

. . . will send you Ford's latest 3.8L bulletin as new info since it expands the scope of the problem and adds the repair is covered by the 5-6 year emissions warranty. . .the emissions warranty should be applied in all cases. . . why for Mustang and not for Taurus and Sable. Emissions warranty gives 2 extra years. . .look forward to seeing the site since the engine and transmission problems are now getting widespread media coverage during the past month. . . . Most of the media coverage has been in the States. Only openline shows in Canada have covered it. I suspect that will change in the next few months when Lemon-Aid 2001 hits the stands blasting Ford as arrogant, insensitive, hypocritical weasels (and those are just my kinder remarks).

In the meantime, consider the fact that Ford is now waiting for people to sue in small claims before taking them seriously. . .I concur that both should be sued and if the dealer loses, he can go against Ford.



These two images are significant in that Ford was admitting there was problems and that you should claim under your emission warranty which is 5 years rather than the regular vehicle warranty which is only 3 years.

The letter below contains the major concerns of the 3.8L problem and a proposed solution by the Lemon-Aid automotive author. The bulk of the contents of this letter have been accepted and have been implemented by Ford.  Letters reprinted with authors permission. Highlights in red. For more information on the Lemon-Aid author, please visit the links page.

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February 7, 2000

Bobbie Gaunt
President and CEO
Ford Motor Company of Canada Limited
The Canadian Road
Oakville, Ontario
L6 J 5E4

Dear Ms. Gaunt,

On November 9, 1998, I wrote you of my concerns over the large number of
complaints I had received from Lemon-Aid readers reporting powertrain failures affecting 1993 and later Taurus, Sable and 1995 Windstar minivans and the inadequacy of your Customer Assistance Centre in handling customer complaints in a fair and competent manner. Shortly thereafter, your staff and I concluded a series of meeting wherein I was assured that after-warranty assistance (AWA) would be offered claimants on a case-by-case basis and powertrain complaints would go to specially-designated staffers. I promised to monitor how owners were treated and send you my conclusions within a year.
Here is what I have found:

. 1993-98 Taurus, Sable and 1995-98 Windstar engine and automatic transmission failure complaints have increased in frequency andseverity. Mirrored by the hundreds of complaints I have receive, Ford's case-by-case claim resolution has failed miserably. As a consequence,angry Ford customers have set up over a dozen Internet websites (DeadFord, Ford Suckz, etc.), launched several class actions, and joined forces with the Washington-based Center for Auto Safety.

. Ford's customer assistance resources are overwhelmed by the enormityof the powertrain problem. The 98MO1 3.8L engine head gasket compensation program is both unrealistic and unfair in its claims parameters and there is no extended warranty to compensate victims of Ford's failure-prone automatic transmission "forward clutch piston." Contrary to Ford's earlier commitment to me, powertrain claims aren't routed to designated claims agents, nor are safety-related inquiries  expedited, instead, outsourced call centre staff (Andersen Consulting) are trained to read scripts and follow computerized prompts. "They're not known for creativity," concluded Toronto Star Business Columnist, Ellen Roseman, last November. Furthermore, complaints about call service staff are stymied because claims agents refuse to identify themselves, or give the name of a supervisor.

Following the above conclusions I suggest you consider the following

1. Re-open 98M01 to include head gaskets on 1993 models and set the
claim parameters to 7 years/160,000 km, as you did with your "piston
slap" Owner Notification Program (ONP) involving 1996 Villagers.

2. Set up an automatic transmission ONP to compensate 1993-98 model
owners for
automatic transmission failures for 7 years/160,000 km, as
was done for the 1991 Taurus, Sable, and Lincoln Continental.

3. Give replaced units a 5 year/100,000 km warranty.

4. Refund costs for repairs already carried out and pay the
consequential damages of owners victimized by powertrain failures.

5. Replace the present outsourced call centre with an expanded customer
relations department set up and run by Ford, or use another outside
agency that includes specially-trained staffers mandated to handle only
safety-related inquiries and powertrain after-warranty assistance.

In conclusion, I understand that both you and Ford USA Chairman Jac
Nasser are cognizant of Ford's owner relations shortcomings in Canada
and in the United States and have pledged to revamp the process this
year. I also appreciate your openess and goodwill as evidenced by your
intervention following my first letter. I now urge you to set up
specific programs and structures that will put this issue to rest.
In the meantime, I shall continue to forward customer email and letters
to Pamela Kueber, Director, Public Affairs, as part of my monitoring and
to provide additional customer feedback in your on-going survey of
customer attitudes relative to your customer assistance centre.

Sincerely yours,

Phil Edmonston

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After meeting with Ford, on Feb 25/00 Ford announced the extension of the 3.8L recall in a news release. Following the announcement, Phil and affected 3.8L owners have been monitoring closely the results of Ford's new 3.8L campaign. The letter below shows some early concerns.

Shortly after my January 1999 meeting, Ford quickly paid over 100 engine and transmission claims I submitted from Lemon-Aid readers going back to 1993 models. Unfortunately, the company lost key claims personnel over the ensuing months and I began getting an increasing number of complaints that the company's case-by-case approach was merely a pretext that allowed Ford to renege on its commitment to indemnify engine and transmission claimants. This prompted my follow-up letter to Ford Canada's president Bobbie Gaunt on February 9, 2000 demanding that a formal program be established giving both engine and transmission claimants 100 percent refunds up to 7 years/160,000 km.
My argument was that a formal program would not be subject to the vissitudes of case-by-case interpretations by inexperienced claims managers that angered so many Ford owners in the past (at that time, Ford used an independent call centre in North York, Ontario).
Two weeks later, Ford Canada and Ford USA unveiled, what is, in my opinion, a very generous, formal, extended warranty program that goes farther than my demands in compensating 1994-95 Taurus, Sable, Windstar, and Continental owners with engine claims. The program follows the American program with a few key enhancements. They are:
Claimants will get either a refund of the repair cost or a $5,000 Canadian gift certificate to buy new Ford (I asked that this amount be increased to clearly reflect that US $4,000 represents almost $6,000 Canadian-not $5,000).
Owners will have a year to make the above decision rather than six months.
A free loaner will be provided for up to 5 days for more extensive engine repairs.
Dealers will be compensated for their previous repair payout.

What about owners of 1993 Taurus, Sable, Windstars and Continentals with 3.8L engine head gasket failures or 1993-97 rear-drive vehicles with 3.8L or 4.2L engine head gasket or other gasket failures? And what about the frequent transmission failures affecting most of Ford's front-drive models since 1993 due to a defective forward clutch piston?
This was the the main topic of my most recent meeting with Ford officials last March 27, 2000.
At that meeting, Ford promised to compensate the above engine and transmission claimants on a case-by-case basis, until the company sets up a formal extended warranty program later this year that mirrors the 3.8L engine program. After I once again expressed my misgivings over a case-by-case approach to refunds, Ford's officials reassured me that claims would be more thoughtfully handled because Ford is now part owner of the call centre, and its workers are now Ford employees, receiving higher salaries and additional benefits.
Additionally, I was reminded that most of the rear-drive engine gasket problems will be refunded for 1996-97 vehicles under another 7 year/160,000 km extended warranty announced January, 2000.
In conclusion, I am pleased Ford has put to rest most of its engine problems and look forward to a formal transmission extended warranty. Already, I have seen a marked improvement in customer responses from the company and many refund checks have already been received by claimants.
Will this turnaround continue? It should, now that Ford has put in place the new call centre structure and formalized after-warranty assistance.
But, if the company does backslide, I urge Ford owners to go directly to small claims court, using Lemon-Aid's guidelines.
As always, I'll continue to monitor Ford's customer assistance activities and provide an update in next year's Lemon-Aid.

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Below is a copy of the service bulleting that the Lemon-Aid author has commented on above highlighted in yellow. There is a graphic image of the part that seems to commonly fail. If your transmission has recently failed click here for a must see link!

Forward Clutch Piston Bulletin


1994 Ford Taurus V6-232 3.8L Copyright Alldata 1997 R49c 1-800-859-3282


SUBJECT: Forward Piston Change


DATE: 1995

Forward Piston Change

  • No forward or reverse engagement.
  • Delayed forward and/or reverse engagement.
  • Shifts out of gear when coming to a stop.

All of these complaints can be attributed to a cracked or broken forward clutch piston. There have been three different versions of the aluminum piston in this location (the original plus two updates). Problems with cracking still persist. A steel version of this part has been released that should prevent this from happening.

The Ford part number is F4DZ-7A262-A. The aluminum piston should always be replaced with the steel piston.

Note: The part number for the SHO forward piston is F4DZ-7A262-B.


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