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...


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
67,157 miles
Total Complaints:
8 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (7 reports)
  2. keep water/rain off of insides of doors/windows (1 reports)
2003 Ford Taurus engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Taurus Owner Comments

problem #8

Nov 302011

Taurus SE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


This car has turned into a full time job. I purchased this vehicle used in March of 2011. Within the first two months of owning this vehicle, I had to replace the alternator and the battery because it quit running in the middle of a busy intersection during rush hour traffic in the rain. That was the beginning of the mechanical hell that I'm living while owning this car.

Once that was fixed, I was ok during that summer. Towards the end of 2011, that is when all of my troubles began. The car started "shutting down" while driving it one evening after work. So, I had it towed to the garage. Their diagnosis: The anti theft system in the steering column was bad and needed replaced. They said the car thought I was "stealing it" and would shut itself down. The column was changed, I was issued new keys and I went along my way. The next month, my brakes, calipers, and rotors all went. Not relative to this thread, but I digress. Today is my day to publicly vent my frustrations of owning the Ford Taurus from hell.

2012: My car shuts off while driving...over and over and over again.

This first happened in February of 2012. While driving down the street, the following would start to happen:

1. The car felt like it was slipping (almost like a tranny slip) 2. The theft light would start to flash and then there is this clicking noise. I think it's three clicks. 3. The gas light, MIL indicator and the rest of the dash lights would start to flash and then my car would just shut down while driving.

Only a few times has it completely shut down. Most of the time, it starts to lose power, and then it'll kick back into gear and take off. Like most people, I drive a good bit, am transporting children, family, etc., and the seriousness of putting our lives in jeopardy because of this "fault" has been trying to say the least. What's even more frustrating is, this seems to start happening when I feel that the car is running really great. It's like the car hits the peak of awesomeness, it can't handle how awesome it's running and it crashes and burns. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

I've had this car in the shop during the year of 2012 for a total of 24 days concerning just this issue. I've had other issues as well (IE replaced water pump, tranny seals, trunk seals to keep water out of car, etc.) They've driven it, tested it, even sent it back to the big Ford Dealer and no one can diagnose or fix this problem.

I spent a week putting together all of my service records, wrote my complaint and even contacted the BBB, because after a year of dealing with this and receiving no resolve, I'd just prefer to return the car, get my money back, so I can purchase another car. If I were in the position to just get another car, I would. This car is a complete loss no matter how you look at it. The BBB would not help because of the age of the car.

Another person on this website had a complaint regarding this issue, stressing how the car is nice to drive, big trunk, etc. I completely agree. When it's in top shape, this vehicle is comfortable to drive and spacious. If it weren't for these issues, I'd keep it at least another 5 years.

So, until I'm in the position to get another vehicle, we're going to do the research and try to find resolution ourselves. Any direction or help in resolving this issue once and for all would be greatly appreciated. To the rest of you experiencing this issue, my deepest sympathy as I know how frustrating this is to deal with on a daily basis.

- , Jefferson Hills, PA, USA

problem #7

Aug 202012

Taurus SES 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

As I was pulling out of my neighborhood this morning, I was slowing down coming to a stop at the stop sign. And just before I got to the stop sign, the red THEFT light came on and I could feel the engine miss or something, and as I came to a complete stop, the engine died on me. It did start back up after that, so that tells me that its not the battery. Drove to work just fine after that (20 miles on the hwy) but was waiting for it to happen again every stoplight I came to when I got off the freeway.

I've had this car for a year and a half now and every couple months I find myself dumping more money into it. I had the plugs and wires changed about 8 months ago when I had a vacuum leak, I have had to replace upper and lower ball joints in the front since then as well. I have read lots and lots of transmission problems with this vehicle too. I'm really trying not to restore this car!! If I'd known there would have been this many problems with it, I would have bought a new Chevy!

If I find out the solution for this I will post it under this same category.

- , Galloway, OH, USA

problem #6

Jul 032012

Taurus SES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,400 miles

I have owned this car for a little over a year and three times, twice in traffic, it has stalled while moving slowly -- the times in traffic involved stop and go traffic in a traffic jam. Both times while in traffic, I was barely able to get the car to the shoulder because the power steering also stops when the engine stops. When it happened two days ago, I drove directly to the dealer/service center. I do not yet have a resolution on this problem yet. I will post the resolution on the other two times it happened separately.

Update from Aug 20, 2012: a follow up to that last problem, Ford kept the car for about 4 days and, of course, could not recreate the problem but did a few adjustments. They "cleared" something on computer (was not sure what they meant there) and claimed that they cleaned out a bunch of leaves from the AC intake. It seems to be running better now and I have not yet had the stall happen again. The tech thought that the extra load on the AC fan may have contributed to the loss in power. The stalls seemed to happen when turning on accessories, like the fan...

I did some research on the AC intake and found this link useful;

I was amazed at how dirty and clogged the Cabin filter was - in fact, it looked like mold was growing on the installed filter (yuck). These cabin filters are readily available at auto parts places (I got mine at O'Reilly). But after changing mine, realized that the Ford techs obviously did not go very deep as they would have seen this filter to be definitely clogged and I am sure would have gladly gigged me for a new one (it was $11 at O'Reilly and I am sure Ford would have charged me much more for that). To add insult to injury, the Ford techs also broke the windshield washer line while doing the repair -- so the next time I tried cleaning my windshield, my engine compartment was flooded with fluid - who knows what kind of long-term damage that this caused.

I am worried now because the Taurus is starting to exhibit the same "clicking" noises when the ignition is shut off that it was doing before. A very fast "click-click-click" for about 10 seconds after ignition is shut off. The needles on the dashboard also "quiver" along with this clicking.

- , Chaska, MN, USA

problem #5

Feb 072011

Taurus SES 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


My 19 year old son bought this car in Dec 10. Very low mileage, very clean. He was looking for a dependable car. He has had 2 encounters of the same problem. The first proved extremely dangerous.He was driving on the freeway in southern california when without warning the car died. All electrical gone, no blinker no hazards, nothing but the antitheft system light on the dash. He was damned lucky to get to the shoulder without getting run over. He called me, very upset that his new car is dead on the freeway. I got there, noted that the antitheft light was all that worked. I sat in the car for about 15 minutes reading the manual, tried the car again and all was ok. I read some posts and told him to carry his second key as some have noted this as a possible problem. Today he was left stranded at work, same exact symptoms except car sits there dead. Ford dealer told him to tow it in and have $109 diagnostic performed. Really bad news for a working college student. Ford needs to recall this as it is a potential safety hazard. Let it be known that they have been told, ball is in your court Ford.

- , Arcadia, CA, USA

problem #4

May 192010

Taurus SE 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,855 miles

I am getting extremely frustrated with this problem and so is my husband. You see, we own the same cars except his is the Sedan and mine is the Wagon. BOTH are doing the same things...stalling, theft light is coming on, rpms drop and then it goes back to a proper idle if we step on the gas, all the other gauges are lighting up as well when the cars stall. What the hell is this?? I've had my car since '04 and NEVER had this problem until a few weeks ago. My husband purchased his car in '08 and this is the first time for him as well. HELP, HELP, HELP!!!!!! I take my disabled mother out for appts. and shopping and I'm afraid of getting stranded somewhere with her...also I'm going to have a baby in the fall and I don't want my car to stop working if I'm taking him/her somewhere!

- , Red Lake, ON, Canada

problem #3

Dec 242009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Ive had the same problem listed below. My car dies when it rains. Theft light comes on. Put it in park if i notice it starting to act up. (headlights flicker and you can feel it in the engine that something is wrong) when in park the speedometer jumps up to 15 then 0 mph. Gas gauges jump as well. Also the dash lights for the gauges wouldn't work. After half hour they would turn on. now they have been completely out for two days. Before i could go over a bump and they would turn on. The signal lights are on solid but no headlights out. Not sure if its a lightbulb since they do turn on sometimes. don't think its a fuse either. Don't want to pay to have the dash taking apart to fix a light that might not be the solution. My friend thinks its might be in the wire harness like a shorted wire. Also it is registering a door open even though they are closed.

Lastly i live in wisconsin and its winter right now. My door froze and when i got it open i was unable to latch the door. It would just bounce open. I realized not all the locks were unlocked on the car. So i had to sit there and hit unlock and lock a million times till they freed up. Then i was able to get the door to latch. This happened twice now. Im getting frustrated and don't have the money for a hunting expedition. Any body have ideas please let me know!! Good luck to those having the same problem as me. I feel your pain!

- , Reedsburg, WI, US

problem #2

Oct 182005

Taurus SES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I came to this site with a different problem, but was shocked to find an entry that almost perfectly described my previous problem. After buying this car in 2005, I started having trouble with the car trying to die--kind of hesitating. Different lights would come on in the instrument panel, and then it would be fine. This usually occurred while I was braking and rolling my window up or down. After parking the car, I would have trouble removing my key, but the car would not start. The theft light would be on, and a loud clicking sound. Eventually, it would all stop, and I could remove the key or start the car. I had the same problem with dealerships not finding the problem because it wouldn't do it for them. I have also had the battery go dead because of it multiple times.

I finally figured out that water/rain getting on the inside of the door has some connection to it. As long as I keep the door dry--which is really hard to do sometimes--it doesn't have this problem.

As recently as this past summer (2008), I was running errands when it started raining. The doors got wet, but I tried to dry them off. I didn't have the problem occur, but a couple of days later my battery was dead. It's really horrible because I've already spent a whole lot of money trying to get it fixed--such as having it towed in with the dead battery hoping maybe just maybe they would find it. I could have changed the battery myself for under $100 but was instead out more than $300 for labor, towing, AND the battery. And, still not really fixed.

I found this site because I have a new problem that I worry could be connected to the old electrical problem. My instrument panel isn't lighting up and both signals stay on. No bulbs are burned out on the outside of my car. The problem is, it will cost more than $200 to fix a burned out bulb in the instrument panel, plus a diagnostic fee since the guy said it might not be that. And, what if they DON'T find the problem? Then, I'm out more money chasing some sort of ghost. The worst part is, I can't even sell the thing because I don't feel it's safe, and I don't want someone else to get hurt.

I love how the car feels to drive, how it looks, the size of the trunk--great for strollers and wheelchairs. But, I will never, never again buy a Ford or accept one for free. I had a 1990 Chevy suburban prior to this car and would pay a pretty penny to have it again. Wasn't perfect mind you--no A/C, hard to get to pass emissions, bad gas mileage, etc--but, I NEVER worried about it getting me killed. Unfortunately, it was stolen and its parts scattered about over who knows where, and all I have is the remaining shell.

- , Keller, TX, US

problem #1

Sep 222007

(reported on)

Taurus SES 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

This has been happening since September or October of 2006 and I bought the vehicle in June of 2006. The dealer can't figure out what is wrong because it will never do it for them. Not until after the 1st year was over did they really start keeping it for more than a day long. This has never been fixed and has been at the shop for the past 3 weeks. I am afraid to drive it because it gives no warning just all of a sudden shuts down while driving and all the gauges drop down to 0 before you know what is happening (including the speedometer). I am currently looking and making a deal with the dealer for them to take my car back. I have replaced the starter 2x, ignition switch, ignition module in the steering wheel, and a GEM module. Nothing has worked.

- , Salina, KS, USA

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