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 1 of 9)

problem #162

Dec 012016


  • 126,000 miles


While getting off the freeway on the drive home from work (at 6:40pm on Dec 1st, 2016) the transmission no longer engaged. I had to coast over to a field and park while avoiding on-going traffic. I lost all engagement with the gears (RD21), and it is like being in perpetual neutral. The splines of the torque converter are stripped. Ford made them too small, so they strip. The car has 126,000 miles on it, and is only used to go to and from work. Thousands upon thousands of people have had this exact problem, yet Ford has done nothing to correct the situation.

- Menifee, CA, USA

problem #161

Jan 102015


  • 1,024,083 miles
The car was driving down the street and stopped. When I pressed to accel the transmission did'nt pull over 15 feet and stopped pulling. It was the torque converter that had gon out. And then I get a letter in the mail about other recalls but not on the transmissions. I worked for Ford for 27 years as an engineer and built transmissions under recalls. I have no idea about these paople! but the 2004 has that recall.

- Fayetteville, TN, USA

problem #160

Sep 262016


  • 283,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to shift out of the park position. The failure occurred without warning. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence. The contact stated that an independent mechanic diagnosed that the failure was a result of a stop lamp failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign number: 04V106000 (exterior lighting); however, the VIN was not included. The failure mileage was approximately 283,000.

- South Windsor, CT, USA

problem #159

Aug 112016


  • 88,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. After the vehicle was started, the gear failed to switch into the drive position without warning. In addition, the brake lamps failed to illuminate. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 88,000.

- Frisco, TX, USA

problem #158

Jul 262016


  • 53,203 miles
Dangerous situation transmission complete failure in intersection while turning left. Stopped awaiting on-coming traffic at city street situation could have resulted in a serious accident with on-coming traffic resulting in serious injury! many complaints already filled however after speaking with Ford the refuse to fix

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #157

Jul 072016


  • 113,000 miles
While my vehicle was in cruise control at 68 mph on a 3 lane highway, the vehicle without any warning began to quickly loose speed and the ability to keep pace with surrounding traffic. The transmission became unresponsive and the vehicle lost the ability to accelerate and function in a safe manner. I quickly and unknowingly dropped below the safe driving speed for the highway and posed a safety risk to myself and of the drivers on the road around me. In the course of rapid deceleration I was almost struck in the rear by a vehicle that was not made aware of my loss of speed, as I did not apply the brakes. As soon as possible and as to not further endanger those around me; I turned on my hazard lights and relied on evasive driving to coast the vehicle to the safety of the shoulder. Once off the highway, motor responded but none of the gears (reverse, overdrive, 1st, or 2nd) would engage. The car had no warning lights, service lights, or check engine signals illuminate on the instrument panel and there are no fluid leaks or outward appearance of any broken components. This sudden malfunction has rendered my vehicle barely functional and not safely maneuverable.

- Fort Wayne, IN, USA

problem #156

Feb 122016


  • 132,400 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. While driving approximately 35 mph, the vehicle suddenly felt as if it were in neutral and would not engage in any gear. There were no warning indicators illuminated. An independent mechanic stated that the torque converter may have failed. The vehicle was towed to the independent mechanic who diagnosed and confirmed that the torque converter failed and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and stated that there was no recall. The failure mileage was 132,400.

- Buford, GA, USA

problem #155

Sep 112015


  • 49,334 miles
Transmission torque converter - stripped splines. Just 49,334 miles. This car has very low mileage and is in immaculate condition. Definitely a proven bad part that Ford should cover. The car quit moving at my workplace parking lot. Im grateful it wasn't in an intersection. Had to replace converter.

- Grant, MI, USA

problem #154

Oct 272015


  • 61,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. While driving 35 mph, the accelerator pedal was depressed but the vehicle failed to accelerate as it increased in engine rpms. The failure recurred on numerous occasions. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 61,000.

- Walkerton, IN, USA

problem #153

Oct 262015


  • 145,000 miles
The transmission will not shift into any gear

- Hugo, OK, USA

problem #152

Jan 102009


  • 167,777 miles


I have an issues.

- Matthews, NC, USA

problem #151

Sep 092011


  • 45,000 miles
While driving on a very busy road, my transmission quit. I had nothing but neutral. There were no warning signs that it was going to fail, it went from working perfectly to having no gears (forward or reverse). Luckily I was able to coast to a safe spot to park and wait for a tow. The transmission had to be replaced, it was not repairable. The car had approximately 45,000 miles on it.

- Waterbury, CT, USA

problem #150

Oct 052015


  • 180,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. The contact stated that the vehicle was able to start after several attempts, but failed to shift out of park. In addition, the tail lights failed to function. The failure occurred on several occasions. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 180,000.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #149

Sep 072015


  • 54,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. While driving at approximately 35 mph and attempting to merge into traffic, the engine revved without warning and the vehicle failed to resume acceleration. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence but was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 54,000.

- Haverhill, MA, USA

problem #148

Aug 102015

Taurus 6-cyl

  • 68,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Taurus. While driving 35 mph, the contact stated that the vehicle felt as if it were in neutral. The accelerator pedal was depressed, but the vehicle would not move. The contact was able to maneuver the vehicle to the shoulder. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the transmission had become inoperable and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 68,000. MA 10/15/2015

- Green Sea, SC, USA

problem #147

Aug 202015


  • 126,445 miles
Driving vehicle about 45mph when vehicle, without warning, slipped out of gear and would not reengage. Car engine continued to run however, transmission would not engage in any gear. Car was towed to mechanic where it was diagnosed as a failed transmission. Car transmission was repaired and it was stated by repair facility that this is a common occurrence for this make, model, and year. Transmission failed without any previous signs, symptoms, or warnings.

- Ross, OH, USA

problem #146

Jul 242015


  • 208,000 miles
My car randomly stopped moving when I was on the highway it was a major scene almost got rear ended by 5 cars had to veer off to the side to avoid a accident these transmissions/torque converters need to be recalled they were recalled in the Ford winstar with the same tranny parts but not the Ford Taurus 2003 I was told the transmission and the torque converter went out and this is a more than common problem for this year of tauruses this is redicilious come on Ford recall these trannys!!! I cant afford $1500

- Finlayson, MN, USA

problem #145

Jul 022011


  • 120,000 miles
On the date above and then again on Feb,2015 the transaxle quit working, it would not go anywhere. Had it rollbacked to my house both times at a cost of $50 per tow. The cost to repair and or replace the transaxle was :2011: $1,400; 2015: $1,700. The car at the 2nd. Rework/exchange (the trans shop replaced rather than rebuild mine) had only 125,000 miles. It is my understanding the transaxles in these generation Ford tauruses were prone to transaxle failure, as were the Ford Windstar as both vehicles used the same transaxle. Upon studying up on these problems it seems Ford Motor Co. Recalled the Windstar and called it a bad torque converter causing the problems. Why did they not recall the tauruses also, answer: Amount of vehicles produced of each model and their feet were not "held to the fire" by ya'll and our gov.. now to get to the lighting problem: The most safety hazardous item which has been installed on vehicles in the last 15-20 years is those damned "plastic lensed headlights" that within 3 years will "fog over" to the extent they do not produce enough light to be usefull at night. Oh they say you can clean them, of which I have tried on my Taurus, to not much avail. I believe the auto manufacturers should be ordered thru a recall from you to replace them at no cost to us owners. If you will check, you will see a replacement of those "wunderfull" invention, known as bullcrap, lens will set an owner of the vehicles around $500 to $700 per pair installed. And must be adjusted by a dealers only equipment. I my self do not believe in todays world 125,000 - 129,000 miles is a lot. If the truth were known the "yellowed out" headlights have been the cause of a lot of nite time accidents. Do your job and go after them and make them replace with new transaxles and torque converters and at the same time make them replace the yellowed out headlight lenses.

- Bristol, VA, USA

problem #144

May 072015


  • 68,000 miles
I was departing from parking lot and the car suddenly had some noise in the hood then lost all the power. After starting engine again, I can shift the gear into D or R, engine works ok but the car won't move at all. Before it happened, the transmission works fine, no delayed engagement, no slips, no jolts, smooth gear-changing...the transmission just stopped with no warning signs at all. The car is regularly and well maintained. No check engine light on when it happened. Later it turned out to be the stripped torque converter splines. It is a very common problem among Ford early 2000's vehicles, the splines are only 0.16" thick by Ford's defect designs, which can be easily stripped.

- Milpitas, CA, USA

problem #143

Apr 032015

Taurus 6-cyl

  • 57,000 miles
While driving 70 mph on interstate 35 my daughter completely lost power. The engine would rev but no power. In traffic, she had to coast to pull over. There was no warning prior to this incident and the car is otherwise in excellent condition. The car had to be towed and the local Ford dealership diagnosed and are replacing the torque converter.

- Shakopee, MN, USA

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