By Jeffrey R. Wolsley
The transmission in my 2003 Ford Taurus was designed by monkeys. Even the repair shop owner where the car is being serviced at this moment agrees.
Back when the transmission was first designed prior to the 2003 model year, it had aluminum servo valves and a hardened pump shaft. This vintage model of transmission is/was prone to valve failures due to excessive wear and cracking. There were several complaints regarding this flaw. The transmission repair/rebuild industry regularly replaced these components with steel valves and valve bodies. After thousands of complaints, Ford finally listened and by 2003 they had started using the steel servo valve assemblies.
However, in their infinite wisdom, Ford stopped hardening the pump shaft. The shaft now shears off the splined end in the torque converter and breaks the pump shaft gear teeth at between 50 and 80k miles. The loss of the servo valves was bad enough, and a moderate expense and fairly easy to repair. Now the pump shaft and torque converter fail requiring a very expensive and extensive repair that includes removing the sub-frame from the car. Now the repair/rebuild industry regularly replaces the torque converter and pump shaft with hardened parts. So far, Ford hasn’t listened, despite thousand of complaints for this very failure. The repair shop said that fortunately the shaft broke at a low speed so the damage was minimal. Had it happened at highway speeds, the damage would have been far more extensive/expensive. Regardless, my bank account is now much smaller.
The really annoying part is I own two of these cars, bought them both at the same time, and the other has 2,000 miles less than the failed car. The second one hasn’t failed yet, but I feel that it’s going to happen at any time now. I’m going to make an appointment to get it done before failure strikes. The repair shop says that the cost of the proactive repair will be about half the cost of the full repair. The only good news is I will get a lifetime warranty on the transmission out of this.