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Old 10-31-2010, 19:18   #1 (permalink)
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'93 Sable problems

I'm having a few problems with my '93 Sable 3.0. I purchased the car in May from a private owner. It has 115 K miles on it now. I have several minor issues and some larger very annoying issues which I believe are related to each other in some fashion. I would like your opinions on whether or not they are related and what would be the best way to resolve some of them. FYI, it is my intention to keep this car for a long time, so I would prefer a long term solution over a quick fix. I will relate the issues in chronological order as they became apparent to me. That doesn't necessarily mean that they weren't there earlier, just that this is the order in which I became aware of them.


The ignition switch isn't quite right. It will allow you to remove the key before you turn the switch all the way OFF. I noticed that the ignition key and the door lock keys are not the same. The door keys are stamped FORD and appear to be the original keys. The ignition key is a generic. They two keys will not interchange although the door key will go into the ignition and turn, it will not turn enough to start the car.


The first time I used the windshield wipers I thought the motor was pretty noisy, but the wipers worked OK. As time went on the wiper motor seemed to get quieter, or maybe I just got used to it. Lately, the wipers work but they don't “depress park”. They stop at the bottom of the windshield but don't full park. If it is raining and I turn them off they will usually fully park, but if I just use the washers or run the wipers enough to clear the morning dew they will not fully park.


The digital clock sometimes flickers but it is not related to road bumps or tapping on the dash. Often it is fine, but it normally flickers and dims on its own almost every day.


In June I filled the car up and headed home from work. I went about five miles and the car just quit running. It would fire and sometimes momentarily run but then immediately die again. I had it towed in to my mechanic who reset the inertia switch. Egg on my face and dollars out of my pocket! I guess the mechanic needed a reason to charge me for something so he replaced the fuel filter (which probably didn't need it). I drove the car across town and parked it for a few minutes. When I started out again I could barely keep it running. It stalled and died several times before I could get back across town to the mechanic. Guess what? He said he didn't have any idea why it was happening, but it definitely didn't have anything to do with the repairs he made! This problem continues to this day. It always starts in the morning without fail and stalls at the first stop light. Then it may or may not stall every time I stop. It is idling at about 500 RPM, which seems very low to me. Sometimes it idles at about 750 RPM and doesn't stall at stop lights. I think it used to idle at about 1000 RPM, but I can't be absolutely certain of that. Ever since that day, the fuel gauge has not worked. It always is way over FULL although the needle does drop when the car is shut off.


Last week I started the car and the brake light came on and the blower and radio quit working. It happened again yesterday, but I think that the ignition switch didn't release all the from START. I turned off the car and started it back up and everything that worked before worked right again.


I crawled under the rear of the car to see if I could jiggle the wires at the top of the fuel tank to get the fuel gauge to work. No luck. I did notice that there are unmistakable signs that the fuel tank had been removed or at least lowered off the straps. Someone maybe replaced a fuel pump?

I started out to work recently and the air bag light started flashing a 51 or 52 code, I don't remember which, but it is the code that signifies an intermittent short to ground and blew the internal fuse.

I just got the car back from the mechanic. He informed me that the water pump was noisy, so I had him replace it. He spent a lot of time tracing wires and connections but couldn't find any problems. He swapped out the instrument cluster to see if that would take care of the fuel gauge problem. It did not. He also "relearned the idle" in an attempt to fix the idle problem. It may have helped some, but it did not correct the situation to my satisfaction.


That's the end of my saga. I'm open to suggestions on what to try. I have purchased the Taurus/Sable service manual and the electrical and vacuum troubleshooting manual. I'm still lost. A little help?
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Old 10-31-2010, 21:41   #2 (permalink)
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Re: '93 Sable problems

Hi, you have a big shopping list there, so I will give you a few ideas, but nothing definite. I would start with the ignition lock cylinder and ignition switch. The lock cylinder can be re-done to make your keys match by re-arranging or replacing the tumblers. The actuator gears can be worn out or even installed off time. I would remove the ignition switch and check for a melted connector; If so replace both, the switch and connector. It does no good to replace one or the other, if it is melted. We had a few cars around that year that had computer problems and we disconnected the battery for about ten minutes, re-connect the battery, and immediately drive the car normally for a few miles. This was usually good for about six months. [like re-booting your home computer] I have also seen water pumps that were binding, that would cause a slow idle and/or stalling. Hope you get it fixed, Good Luck.
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Old 11-01-2010, 02:40   #3 (permalink)
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Re: '93 Sable problems

I forgot to mention that the mechanic replaced the ignition switch. I would assume he checked the connector at the same time. The new water pump didn't make an improvement nor is it any worse that the old one. I think that the "relearn idle" charge on the bill was referring to disconnecting the battery and "rebooting" the computer. I can try my own "reboot" here at home easily enough. I was thinking of replacing the throttle position sensor since that is fairly cheap to do and I think I can do it myself. Any thoughts on that?
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:42   #4 (permalink)
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Re: '93 Sable problems

Well, i dont know your skills in automotive mechanics but my feelings are that you should find a decent mechanic person who knows what he is doing and also have the tools for that - i know what it feels like to have problems with your car especially when it "looks" like its "only a matter of loose wire" .
your car has too many problems imho, and most of them requires some tools not every one has - for example, if it is really a fuel sender fault which makes your fuel gauge show wrong value - lowering the fuel tank may be required unless you have access from under the rear seat to the fuel pump/fuel level sender - either way this job involves dealing with fuel and disassembling the fuel pump from the tank and then fixing it or replacing it - in both cases you need to know what you are doing and also spare parts (if fixing it).
i am not saying it is not possible to do at home but you need to know what you are getting yourself into.
another issue you have with your car idling at 500rpm then goes off - there are so many thing that can go wrong in a car which you are not aware of that may cause this symptom, so again - a skilled diagnostics man is what you need.
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Old 11-01-2010, 15:04   #5 (permalink)
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Re: '93 Sable problems

My auto mechanic skills are suspect at best. The problem is I'm tired of paying somebody $50/hr and not getting the problem fixed either. In many cases I think they are guessing as much as I am...on my dime! If I knew for sure where that "expert" was I would be there in a heartbeat! I can replace some parts if they aren't too expensive as a troubleshooting guess and still be ahead of the labor charges. I'm hoping that this forum has enough knowledge to at least narrow the possibilities down some. I have a few friends who are much better mechanics than I and who would be willing to lend a hand if possible. So with a little help I'll continue to muddle for awhile and hope I guess right one of these days. Thanks for any help you can give.
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Old 11-01-2010, 16:05   #6 (permalink)
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Robert,

I took your advice and tried the "reboot". At first blush, it seems to have helped greatly! My idle RPM is pretty steady around 700 to 750 and its pretty smooth at the stop signs. I will monitor the situation for a few days and report back. Thanks, thanks, thanks!

I'm not really that worried about the air bags being inoperable, but I sure would like to turn off that annoying blinking light! I read somewhere if I removed the bulb I would only be rewarded with some kind of beeping signal. Is there a way to eliminate the blinking light?

The clock is another thing that is easy enough to live with, I mainly reported it to let everyone know all the problems that I was having and to see if it related to something else. I still wonder if there isn't a wacky wire somewhere.

The fuel gauge is a big problem with me. The mechanic who replaced the ignition switch said I had a clean wire from the dash to at least under the rear seat. Switching out the instrument cluster didn't solve the problem so I'm guessing the problem is in the tank. I think I can manage to replace the fuel pump/sending unit with a little help. In your experiences did you ever come across anything else I could try before I drop the tank?

Again, thanks for your help!
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Old 11-01-2010, 21:56   #7 (permalink)
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Re: '93 Sable problems

Hi, as for the fuel gauge; You tried a different cluster and it made no change, so let's talk about the sender. There are three basic things on the sender and you might be able to do it yourself? The rheostat or variable resister is what tells the gauge what to read. This can be tested with a multi-meter. You don't really need to know all of the numbers, but know that Full, Half, and empty should have three different readings. [if you move the arm very slowly, it should change the reading as you go, but some times it might have a dead spot in it] The float is what moves the arm connected to the rheostat with the fuel level in the tank. The float should be very light; some of them leak, fill with gas, and sink, giving you an empty reading. Finally, the arm. [like a solid wire] This can be bent or binding. The sending unit will only fit in the tank in one position, but could be forced to be installed in-correctly. One more note: Ford had a bulletin about fuel senders not reading correctly because of a build up on the rheostat from the fuel. The correction was to add Techron additive or run Chevron fuel.
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:52   #8 (permalink)
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Re: '93 Sable problems

Bob,
The fuel gauge reads full all the time. Actually way over full, so I am assuming the float is not saturated and sinking to the bottom. I'm not familiar with that additive. Would I find it at my local Auto Zone or Advance Auto store? What is your opinion about Seafoam. Some guys seem to rave about it. Is it possible that the arm could be damaged from overfilling the tank? I really appreciate your help. Thanks again!
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Old 11-02-2010, 21:13   #9 (permalink)
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Re: '93 Sable problems

Hi, An old test was to disconnect the wire/s to the fuel sender unit. An open circuit would read empty and a grounded wire to the gauge would read full, or over full as you stated. And a test light in line from the sender wire to the gauge would read somewhere in between. Some digital gauges read opposite; Grounded would read empty and an open circuit would read full. If you ground the wire, just do it long enough to see the gauge go to full/empty and disconnect it so as to not do any damage.

Note: some analog gauges [with a pointer needle, not numbers] are actually digitally operated.
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Old 11-03-2010, 16:25   #10 (permalink)
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Re: '93 Sable problems

Bob,

You are very helpful! I will try the wire testing ASAP. I wanted you to know that the idle has been perfect since the "reboot". Thanks a lot for that tip!

A question on a different topic: Is the wiper control module separate from the wipe motor and replaceable or is it all one unit?
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