Notes: Most people need a car that shifts gears & coil springs that don't shred tires. The Taurus fails in that respect.

The 2003 Ford Taurus has major issues with the transmission failing. Typically the 2003 Taurus transmission failure costs $2,000 to fix by about 90k-100k miles. Not good.

Adding insult to injury, the 1999-2003 Taurus also has a huge problem with coil springs breaking which can puncture or even shred tires while driving.

The US government spent THREE YEARS (2008-2011) investigating the 2002-2003 Taurus coil springs. Although Taurus/Sable from earlier years were recalled, ultimately the NHTSA did not force a recall. They determined that because there had been no deaths & very few bad crashes & injuries, the broken coil springs defect was no big deal & not a safety defect. Tell that to all the owners who had close calls...


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
99,851 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Ford Taurus drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Ford Taurus Owner Comments (Page 8 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #22

Oct 112011

Taurus 6-cyl

  • 39,464 miles


My 2003 Ford Taurus has 39,464. I got in it to go to work, started it, put it in reverse and car would not move. I tried drive and nothing. I have been doing research on this problem, and find this issue is very common in the 03 Taurus, and other Ford vehicles with this transmission. I was lucky enough not to be driving when this happened, as a lot of the people I have read about. The problem being a defective torque converter. I understand that you opened an investigation in July of 2009, with aprrox. 3000 reports of this part failing. Ford needs to have a recall on these parts, before someone is killed. This is my first step in complaining about this matter, but it is not my last.

- Loudonville, OH, USA

problem #21

Aug 262011

Taurus 6-cyl

  • 126,000 miles
At approximately 126000 miles first of two coil springs broke in the front driver's side of the car. Had both front coil springs replaced. Three weeks later was backing out of parking space at work only to have the transmission pump fail. Car acted exactly as described in many other complaints here, sudden loss of power, high engine rev and an inability of the car to work in any gear. Had the car towed to my mechanic and was then told that not only did the transmission need to be rebuilt but I also had a rear coil spring that now was broken. Have purchased many Ford vehicles but this is enough to make you look at a different manufacturer.

- Fort Wayne, IN, USA

problem #20

Sep 172011

Taurus 6-cyl

  • 85,172 miles
I own a 2003 Ford Taurus with 85,172 miles on it. On a recent trip out of town, the transmission went out with no warning, and we had to be towed home over 100 miles. After some research, I have found that many owners of 2003 Ford Taurus' have had the same problem with no warning of the transmission going out. It appears to be an internal problem in the transmission itself. I found 164 complaints on the car complaints/Ford website concerning this transmission problem. It cost me over $3600 to have the transmission replaced. That is over half what the blue book value is on my car! I want to know if Ford has looked into this problem on the transmissions" with that many 2003 Ford Taurus transmissions going out, seems to me there should be an investigation or a recall on them. I would appreciate someone checking into this problem. I really love my Taurus, but am very upset that the transmission went out on a car that has been taken care of by Ford dealerships for everything from oil changes to brakes, air conditioner, etc. Always had the service done at the intervals that Ford Motor Company determined needed to be done. The Ford dealership is the only ones that have done any service on my car other than tires.I feel that I have done everything to keep my car in perfect condition and am terribly disappointed that this problem happened. Please would you check into this problem and see if there should be a recall on these transmissions?" this is a safety issue to me! if the car had stopped while we were driving 70 mph on the freeway, it could have been deadly to us and others! thank you!

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #19

Sep 112011


  • 55,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. The contact was driving approximately 15 mph in a parking lot and upon depressing the accelerator pedal, the transmission unexpectedly failed to respond. The vehicle was being towed to an independent mechanic for diagnosis. The contact stated the failure was related to the torque converter which was a common issue. The manufacturer was not made aware of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 55,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Mulberry , AR, USA

problem #18

Sep 042011

Taurus 6-cyl

  • 74,367 miles
Was driving down highway with my 2 children in the car, going speed limit 65, when car failed to engage, engine revved but car would not go forwards or backwards, almost hit by on coming traffic while stuck in road. Rest of car is like new......... wtf?

- Guilford, NY, USA

problem #17

Sep 052011


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. The contact was driving 60 mph when the vehicle would not accelerate. The contact merged the vehicle to the shoulder. The engine was still running but the vehicle would not shift into gear. The vehicle was towed and a mechanic informed the contact that the torque converter would need replacing. The dealer was not contacted and the manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 70,000.

- Guilford, NY, USA

problem #16

Sep 052011


  • 108,000 miles


It should be a transmission problem. When I was driving at 65mph the car lost dragging force suddenly and I had to push the car to the emergency zone. Then I cannot move the car anymore with any shift (R, D, od, 1). I found many 03 Taurus had the same problems from some other websites. The model should be recalled because it has nothing warning sound or damage clue.

- Worcester, MA, USA

problem #15

Jul 262011


  • 98,891 miles
My wife was driving our car, when the engine revved up and the would not move in drive gear. At the time she was crossing a four lane highway. The car will start and run, but will not move. I have even replaced the neutral safety switch, and that did not solve the problem.

- Little Hocking, OH, USA

problem #14

Jul 172011


  • 125,000 miles
I was driving eastbound on I-90 (mass. Pike) in Massachusetts, about 60 miles outside of boston, with my fiancee in the passenger seat. Road conditions were ideal. Temperature was in the high 80S. Sun was out, about 4 P.M. in the afternoon. Suddenly, the rpms went through the roof, but the car did not slow or speed. I tested again and same thing happened. I signaled right and was able to move over one lane and again onto the shoulder. Once parked, the car would not go into gear. I just got revving in park, drive, reverse, lower gears, etc. Transmission failure. No power to the ground. Repair costs came to $2,000. I would consider this a safety problem since I was not able to control the speed of my car on a busy highway. I was lucky enough to have space to my rear and right when the incident occured, but had I been boxed in, there certainly would have been an accident. It appears this is a common problem with the '03 Taurus.

- Somerville, MA, USA

problem #13

Mar 282008


  • 71,000 miles
I was looking on the NHTSA website with regard to another issue that I had heard about with the 2003 Taurus (front end collapse) when I came across this transmission issue. Driving in highway passing lane, the car suddenly began to lose momentum. Speedometer rapidly began to drop while RPM's went ballistic, then dropped. I was fortunate that I quickly realized the car was coming to a stop that I could not control regardless of how hard I pressed the accelerator. I was barely able to pull over 3 lanes of traffic to make it into the breakdown lane, where it came to a complete halt and could not be moved. Not only did I have an issue with my 2003 Taurus at 71K miles, we also had to replace the transmission on our 2001 Ford F-150 at 110K miles & 2005 Ford Focus at 80K miles, at a cost of $8300. All of these vehicles were purchased new and driven by the same driver. Given the number of complaints posted on the NHTSA website, I would think either Ford or the national highway transportation safety administration would take responsibility and perform an in depth investigation why so many Ford transmissions are failing and issue a notification of these serious issues with this car and the steps to remediate those issues before the issue causes serious injury or death.

- Marshfield, MA, USA

problem #12

May 092011

Taurus 6-cyl

  • 72,525 miles


The torque converter on my 2003 Taurus ses completely and immediately stopped working - the engine would rev but I was unable to engage any of the gears.

- Northampton, MA, USA

problem #11

Feb 232011


  • 78,000 miles
2003 Ford Taurus driving along and engine runs but it feel like I am in neutral transmission gone. 2 time in 2 1/2 years and Ford fixed it the first time.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #10

Feb 072011


  • 132,000 miles
I was driving I-75N, got off at my exit and switched lanes as the light was turning from red to green. Just as I got under the light, my car would not accelerate. It was in gear, but the engine would only rev (as if it were in neutral). I put on my hazards, restarted the car to no avail. Called 911 and reported what had happened. A kind (and brave) stranger was able to push my car safely through the intersection and to the shoulder where I parked and waited for a tow-truck and friend to pick me up. Had it towed to pepboys (they don't work on transmissions) had it towed to aamco and subsequently cottman transmissions where it sits now. Parts and labor are estimated at $2331. Many, many other similar accounts from other 2003 Ford Taurus owners. Should be a recall on the failing torque converters. And the stickler is, I just had an oil change at my local Ford dealership and they told me my car was in great condition. There was nothing to worry about. You can only imagine how relieved I was hearing that from the manufacturer.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #9

Feb 012011


  • 74,000 miles
I was returning home from a gas station and came down the steep hill to my house and when I went to back into my parking space the transmission completely failed. I thought my tires were just spinning due to some ice. When I put the car in drive to try to find another space I discovered the only gears I had were park and neutral. The car then coasted to the middle of the intersection and stopped, I then had to get my neighbor to help push the car around the corner and into a parking spot. There was no warning at all the transmission never slipped and there were no indicator lights. Nothing at all just total failure. I'm just glad it didn't happen with my family in the car along the highway on our way to cub scouts.

- Lansford, PA, USA

problem #8

Dec 082010

Taurus 6-cyl

  • 43,000 miles
Without any warning my gas pedal of my vehicle stopped working. I was driving down the road - the car jerked and then nothing. The car would not go into gear. I had to roll and then push my vehicle to the side of the road. Thank god there was no one behind me or I would of been hit - it was very scary. Turns out it was the torque converter. Had to wait for aaa and then get my car towed to transmission place. They replaced and it cost me $1,133.58.

- Leesburg, FL, USA

problem #7

Nov 112010


  • 198,000 miles
The 2003 Ford Taurus while stopped at a light or applying brakes will surge and lunge forward. Very dangerous, because it surges with people walking in front of it and cars in front of the car. The car then feels like it is hit from the rear end and smells like it is about to catch on fire. Very scary situation, my children are very scared and we already have an evacuation plan if the car catches on fire. It is defintely not safe. A similar problem has been addressed with the 2006 Ford freestyle. It also goes dead while backing up. Even when brakes are applied to the floor, it surges and moves forward. The enginge jerking is a very hard jolt. We hope this will be addressed.

- Satsuma, AL, USA

problem #6

Dec 122008


  • 77,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. The contact stated that the check engine light illuminated on the dashboard.the vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the cam sensor was replaced. Approximately 5 months later the failure recurred and the vehicle was taken back to an independent mechanic where the cam sensor was again replaced. The failure recurred again and the vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the cam sensor was reset. The failure has not recurred. Approximately 1 year later while driving at approximately 20 mph the front passenger side tire blew out. Upon examining the vehicle the contact noticed the coil spring was broken and pierced the tire. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the front passenger side coil spring was replaced. The contact also stated that approximately 2 months later while attempting to operate the vehicle it would not shift into gear and would not move. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer where it was in the process of being diagnosed. The failure mileage was 77,000 and the current mileage was 90,600.

- Quinnesec, MI, USA

problem #5

Mar 312010

Taurus 6-cyl

  • 58,671 miles
On 3/31/10 I was driving my 2003 Ford Taurus southbound on I-5 in the sacramento, ca area at about 7:20 pm. Just North of richards boulevard my auto began slowing down for no apparent reason. No dashboard emergency lights came on and there was no unusual sounds. As I depressed my accelerator my RPM indicator would increase but my car continued to lose speed. I was able to safely exit the freeway and my auto coasted to a stop on a side street. I then placed my car in reverse, drive, 1 and 2 and depressed the accelerator and the car did not advance forward or backward. Car was towed to a Ford dealership on 4/1/10. On 4/3/10 a customer service manager called to tell me that they need to remove the transmission in order to diagnose problem further. The car has less than 59,000 miles on it and I had purchased it used in 2007 with approximately 23,000 miles on it. I have searched the internet for similar complaints and have come to the conclusion that it is a possible transmission failure which could cost me approximately $2500 to fix. I bought the car for $8,900! I've owned a 1989 Mazda 323 and a 1998 Toyota corolla which each had over 110,000 miles on them and I never encountered a transmission problem.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #4

Apr 102008

Taurus 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. While driving 55 mph, the anti-theft warning light illuminated and the vehicle lost all power and shut off. The dealer replaced a sensor at the cost of $400, but the failure continued. The vehicle was taken to the dealer three times and they replaced the sensor again. The automatic control and powertrain control modules were replaced and a new computer was installed; however, the failure continued. During the final time the vehicle was taken to the dealer, they stated that an engineer would be flown in to determine the cause of the failure. The engineer concluded that the vehicle was losing 2.4 volts while driving, which caused it to shut off. Bypass wires were installed on the vehicle in an attempt to get it to operate correctly. The vehicle was in the shop for over 30 days and is currently awaiting repairs. The failure mileage was 65,000 and failure mileage was 66,693. Updated 09/25/08 updated 09/26/08.

- Bluffton, SC, USA

problem #3

Aug 032007

Taurus 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,159 miles
2003 Ford Taurus, transmission fails. It dies on the highway with no warning and Ford says there is nothing wrong with it. Of course now that it is out of warranty they are more than happy to repair my car. Started in Sept of 07 with 73,000 miles. I have been told by an independent mechanic that it is an electrical problem with the transmission. Interesting that he can get the car to show symptoms, but the dealership could never find anything wrong with it, after they had it off and on for 2 months. Ford replaced fuel pump and filter and I have been told that is the only thing that is under warranty with Ford now. This is strictly negligence on the part of Ford. They put a car out there that they know has transmission issues. There should be a recall on these cars. Shame on Ford.

- Crestwood, KY, USA

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