I enjoyed driving my used Ford Taurus station wagon, with its peppy, trouble-free 3.0L, six-cylinder engine, even though it was plagued by miscellaneous issues. It had an interior window switch mount that broke, vacuum dampers on the heat and AC ductwork that failed, and electrical problems with the gas gauge that required more than $1,100 in cumulative repairs.
When I put the car in drive one day, the front end rose slightly and the steering locked up. A quick inspection revealed that the two rear mounts of the entire drive train sub-frame mount had failed, allowing the engine and transmission assembly to drop down and rest on the steering tie rod.
In the Taurus design, the entire engine and transaxle sub-assembly is on a sub-frame mounted by four large bolts. This major sub-frame falling-out from broken mounts is a scary type of failure. Although it was not a big deal as I sat in my driveway, it could have been very bad, even catastrophic, while driving.
This was a Saturday afternoon, and the dealer's parts department was closed. I found that the four sub-frame mounts had a large rubber donut held by a large –- roughly 5 inch diameter -– formed washer. The bolts were tight, but the design created a hidden salt trap, and the steel washer had rusted through from the inside, allowing the sub-frame to partially fall out of the car.
I went to the junk yard and found two styles of mount. There had evidently been a recall that I never was informed about that called for a thicker, heavily galvanized washer to back-up the formed-steel washer, which was the steel saddle for the rubber donut. I raised the sub-frame with my floor jack, and installed the upgraded mounts one at a time at all four mount locations. I never had problems with the mounts again.
The following Monday when I called my Ford dealership, I was told they had a recall to retrofit, and upgrade this component. However, this was not fixed by the used car lot where I bought the car. I was not notified of this recall by letter, nor was I notified of this recall during the multiple dealer repairs of the electrical issues. The corrosion that made this part fail was not visible until the mount failed and was disassembled. From the bottom side, the failed steel saddle washer was well painted and rust-free.