Generation 3 taurus 96+

How good are they compared to gen 1 and 2? I have a gen 1 which is good and a gen 2 which was a real PITA with the head gasket problems and the AXOD-E
garbage transmission. Are the suspension components improved from yesteryear or will I be replacing ball joints and tie rod ends like I did before? How about a/c? Does it leak out every 3 yrs like the old systems? And are motor mounts improved? Is the heater core replacement easier now? And do the bottom of the doors rust as they did before? Fit and finish improved? Thinking about getting a Vulcan equipped wagon 96+ but want input as to reliability.
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I have a 97 Taurus GL 3.0 Vulcan Sedan with about 120,000 miles on it.. I've had quite a few problems with it in the past couple of years, although I'm very careful to follow the maintanence schedule.
I seem to have alot of problems with strut bearings on this car, it's gone through 2 sets in the past 3 years, and it's sounding like it's gonna need them again.
Front brakes don't seem to last long, i've tried a few different brands of pads (all premium), ditto with rotors, and had the calipers replaced, but i still only see about 15,000miles for front pads, versus 35,000 on my Buick.
Also, I have a "crack" noise every time I turn fairly tightly (sounds like a loose suspension component, but noone can seem to track it down).
Powertrain wise, the car's been great. No tranny issues (other then a slightly harsh 1-2 shift lately, still trying to peg that problem down), and the engine hasn't had any major problems since new (other then being underpowered)
Body still looks new, I live up north where we get alot of snow, and the city loves to use tons of salt. I get the car undercoated every fall; I've yet to find any rust on the body, and only very minor rust underneath.

and
systems?
input
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I have a 96 Sable LS sedan (Vulcan engine) that I bought about 4 years ago (89K miles at purchase, currently 115K). I've had very few problems with it. The weak point still seems to the transmission (AX4S, successor to the AXOD-E). The maintenance history on mine shows a rebuild at 62K. IIRC, the wagon uses an AX4N transmission, which is reportedly stronger than the AX4S.
Other than having to align the subframe and drill one strut tower for camber adjustment (another weak point, IMO), I've had no problems with the front end. Both the cooling and AC systems on mine are still tight. The body on mine is still sound, but It's never been up in snow country. The only engine-related problems I've had are age related - two oxygen sensors replaced.
Of course, YMMV, based on past usage, maintenance, etc. If possible, get a full maintenance history and have someone knowledgeable go the car thoroughly.
Good luck,
| George Ruch | "Is there life in Clovis after Clovis Man?"
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