ANNOUNCEMENT: The Car Book 2018 is now online!

Ratings on over 1,000 new & used models going back 5 years, from the Center from Auto Safety. Learn more about The Car Book 2018 here. 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:
Average Mileage:
84,350 miles
Total Complaints:
18 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (10 reports)
  2. replace transmission (5 reports)
  3. get tranny rebuilt (1 reports)
  4. replaced a band at 2nd gear (1 reports)
  5. wire fans to a switched power source (1 reports)
2003 Ford Taurus transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Taurus Owner Comments

problem #18

Mar 122013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,030 miles


2003 FORD TAURUS, Bought the car used from Champion Dealership near Grand Ledge. On the way home from purchasing the car, the Transmission started slipping, then the Transmission light came on, the overheating caused a horrable smell, and a warning chirping sound started. After I let the car cool down I was able to drive it home 2 mile from where I pulled off at. The next day I was able to drive it without a problem. THe repairman said he couldnt find a problem. I bought a quart of Lucas Tranny additive, and had the repairman add it. A few weeks later, after coming to a complete stop, the transmission would not engage again, and I played with the shifter and it finally started to move like it was spossed to. The transmisson has randomly not engaged at lower speeds. Champion Dealership sold me a warranty on a AS IS auto, in order for me to get a loan for the car. $1550.00 for a 2 year standard warranty on to a raping price of the car just added insult to injury. I the six months to date Ive had this Ford, I have experienced 6 times the transmission has had this problem. I am taking the car in for a possible repair this week if they can fit me into their schedule.

- lucec, Haslett, MI, USA

problem #17

Sep 072013

Taurus LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

This car has really been bad from the start. We paid a premium price for this as a high milage used car and that was only the first mistake. The auto dealer also saddled us with a very high interest rate loan that no other company would take over for a lower rate.

Since buying the car there have been many, many problems and we only use it for local travel in case it fails. The fuel pump and fuel gauge failed and had to be replaced after the car stalled in traffic and would not start. It took the repair shop several tries before fixing. Even then the fuel gauge stopped working. The serpentine belt was replaced. The car continually leaks oil, transmission and brake fluid.

The main concern now is that when I stop at a corner or stop light and then make a LEFT turn, the transmission seems to slip right out of gear and then abruptly engage throwing the driver and passengers around in their seats. I have to guess that it is the transmission because when a shop checked it yesterday, They were unable to replicate the problem. Actually, they did not feel like driving it outside the lot.

After seeing all the complaints about the transmissions on the model year of the Ford Taurus I just hope the car holds up until I can get a new car. Right now it does need a oil pan gasket and head gasket, maybe brakes too, according to repair shop. Except for the brakes, it will be awhile before I can afford the other fixes. There is no way I can or would pay for a new transmission on this car as it is not worth the cost.

Too bad Ford did not fix the problems on their car before we bought it.

Next, I will report the other problems separately.

- Donald G., Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #16

Sep 132012

Taurus SEL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

The 2003 Ford Taurus transmission problem needs to be made a recall before someone gets killed! What is Ford doing about this? So far my transmission is just slipping a bit when I put in reverse from a cold start. When will it stop working all together? On the highway? While crossing a busy intersection? WHEN? Will I have children in the car? What if someone gets killed? How many deaths are needed to have a recall? This is foolish...


- Wayne G., Riverview, NB, Canada

problem #15

Apr 042013

Taurus SE 3.0L V6 Ohv

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles


i own a 2003 ford taurus se. my transmission was slipping l but i came to find out that these cars transmission temps get too high which causes the tranny to malfunction. in some cases a yellow warning light flashes on the dash which indicates that the tranny temps are too high. My solution to this problem was to wire the fans to a switched power source. this helps cool tranny fluid...... and keep tranny temps down.....haven't had a problem since!!

- kda1981, Miami, FL, USA

problem #14

Jun 012012

Taurus ES 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Just started slipping after putting $1200 into motor work. Seems to slip when turning.

- jkittridge, Port Huron, MI, US

problem #13

Aug 012012

Taurus SES 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,567 miles

Have had this car for 7 years and have trans. service done every 10,000 miles or less and the trans. will at times slip out of gear for a few seconds and then re-engage.

When it' sat for several days and I start it up it will free spin and then slam into gear.

I could see a problem if I didn't maintain it properly or if abuse was involved, but it isn't.

Got car from my Father, it had 35,000 miles on it, car will be 10 yrs. old in October, so it has minimal mileage for its age.

Ford, what will happen and what will be your liability if I pull out to pass and the trans. fails and I collide with an oncoming vehicle? You know there's a problem, so fix it before someone gets killed due to your negligence. Civil juries love these cases and you know what the payouts can be, especially since you know there is a problem.

- markgaiffe, Mesa, AZ, US

problem #12

Aug 012012

Taurus SES 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,600 miles


For anyone having these types of transmission issues and you feel this is a safety or hazardous problem, as I do, call NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236 or go to NHTSA.Gov and fill out a complaint online and submit it to them.

The more people who contact them with this problem maybe will in turn get Ford off their butts and fix this issue before someone gets killed, maimed or seriously injured in an accident. One death is one too many.

- markgaiffe, Mesa, AZ, US

problem #11

Mar 162012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

The transmission is slipping, especially when starting to move on an incline. I can't trust using this car anymore because I suspect the transmission will fail soon. Totally, unreliable. Just bought this used car 1 month ago, what a waste.

- Peter F., Honolulu, HI, USA

problem #10

Feb 112012

Taurus SES 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Have Always owned Ford products. 3 F-150s , 2 Econoline vans , 2 Pintos . Our family relationship with Ford goes back a ways. My fathers first ford was a 1948 Ford F100 ford truck that he still owns by the way. Needless to say I felt comfortable buying a 2003 Ford Taurus. Bad mistake. Have had more trouble with this car than all my other vehicles combined. My wife ran to town (2 miles) and upon returning the tranny would not go into gear. Heard rumors about this tranny and now know they were true. am very unsatisfied with Ford because I know they knew about this widespread problem. Always ran Ford but am not above going foreign. To anyone out there that has this car if it is still running trade it immediately.

- Mark B., Pilot Knob, MO, USA

problem #9

Nov 012011

Taurus 4-DR 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

man were to start. The tranny kept slipping and kept reeving engine. Took it to FORD DEALERSHIP and told me either it was transmission or tune-up. Tried tune up and nothing. Took it to a buddy and he told me it was the clutches in transmission that were bad. Got it rebuilt for around 1300-1450 and got 2yr warrant and hasn't giving me anymore problems.

- Alberto R., Carson CIty, NV, USA

problem #8

Sep 252011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


2003 taurus with 65 k...grinding when accerlerating stops when it gets going over 10-15 mph. Told it needs a rebuilt transmission. 1800-2000 it worth it? This is the 3rd taurus that I have had a transmision go out on. I was planning on buying a new taurus next year,,but have changed my mind..going to get a honda.

- Rita D., Garland, TX, USA

problem #7

Jun 122009

Taurus ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

We were stuck at a light at a busy intersection with the car revving, but not moving. It wouldnt go anywhere. It just stopped out of the blue. Luckliy a few men were kind enough to stop and help us move the car over. It had to be towed to the dealership and then the transmission was replaced which cost almost $3000. We also had to have the starter replaced a few years back. And now it is riding rough again and the emmission light has come on. The car only has 47,000 miles. It has been nothing but trouble.

- Carolyn C., West Chester, OH, USA

problem #6

Sep 262011

Taurus SES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,742 miles

I have a 2003 Ford Taurus. It was driving like it was brand new then a week or 2 ago it all of a sudden started bucking, it was shutting off when I sat at the light for too long, and my transmission light came on. Well, I was told I needed O2 sensors, so I bought 2 and that came to $94.14. I took them to my mechanic and had him to put it on. Well, the transmission light started flashing, the car sounds like a diesel and now it sounds like a bird. I am now told ALL Tauruses have transmission problems... So what the HELL is Ford going to do about these problems?? I now am told I might need a new torque converter that will cost me $500 or a new hose. OMG!! I am soo damn annoyed. I have 2 young kids and my car cut off in traffic one day. What if we get killed or some sh*t.? Ford I am so disappointed in your sh*tty ass work.

- saffold, Gulfport, MS, US

problem #5

Sep 052011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I am very angry on the problem. When I was driving, it stopped running anymore. What a dangerous situation! FORD should recall the junk car and I will wait the recall action forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UNTIL FORD DIES.

- Liang H., Worcester, MA, USA

problem #4

Sep 032009

Taurus SES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I was always told that Ford stood for Figure on Repairing daily.

2003 Ford Taurus with 40,000 miles and a failed transmission.

Quoted $2300 to fix this piece of junk! Shame on Ford. They should

recall transmission. I will NEVER BUY AMERICAN AGAIN!! Maybe the

government should bail out the suckers who bought this car!!!

- maryellenk, Bloomington, IN, USA

problem #3

Mar 102008

Taurus SES 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

Bought the car in 2006 because it had low miles (26000),then at 42000 miles, the transmission starts slipping while in drive. Took to the transmission shop, $800.00 later, the transmission is fixed - replaced a band in 2nd gear. Now at 75,000 miles - waiting for a call back with an answer on what is causing it to slip now. When I get it fixed this time - I am going to purchase another vehicle - I am thru with Ford. This is the 2nd piece of Ford crap that has failed. - Had a 1998 Windstar that the the engine had to be replaced in at 62,000 miles. Seems as if you buy a higher end product - you dont have these issues. Gee, the service department at the dealer had no idea what I was talking about regarding "transmission issues" in these cars.

- Cyndi P., Owensboro, KY, USA

problem #2

Jul 092009

Taurus SES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,400 miles

This is the first of many fords I have owned through the years that I have had a problem with,but it seems the ford dealer has no answer for my transmission slipping in first gear.I keep my car serviced regularly and also the transmission fluid and filter were checked and changed per specification in my ford service book.I have family and friends who are experiencing this samr problem with their ford Taurus.what is the answer?

- m.pollaccia, Piggott, AR, USA

problem #1

Aug 152008

Taurus SES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,185 miles

I took the car to the Ford Dealer and they wanted to flush / maybe replace the transmission. I took the car to an independent repair shop. He asked me "do you have a cell phone?". I said "yes". He said "Run it until the transmission falls out or your can not stand the slipping anymore." It only slipped on long trips when it would get hot or if I excelled real fast. It started around 75,000 miles and my daughter totaled the car with 172,000 miles. The car held up great in a head on wreck and even though she had a broken hip and ankle the cage of the car held up great. I thought the transmission was a fluke. Guess what? I bought a replacement 2003 Ford Taurus with 68,000 miles and at almost exactly 75,000 miles I have the exact same slip. I will continue to drive it until it falls out but this is definitely the last Ford I buy.

- cathysc, Pickens, SC, USA

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