Reliability of Vulcan vs. Duratech?

I've had a 96 LX wagon with the Duratech for seven years now and it has been quite reliable. We're in need of a second car, and I'm going to look for an 02-04 Taurus/Sable. While I like the performance of the
Duratech, I might be willing to sacrifice that for the probable lower cost of a Vulcan-equipped car.
Any comments on the reliability/maintenance costs of the Vulcan as compared to the Duratech?
Thanks,
Joe
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The only caveat I'd mention is that the Vulcan often comes with the weaker AX4S transmission, and the Duratec is mated to the AX4N. Some Vulcans, for whatever reason also get the AX4N. Either transmission could give trouble, but I'd really look for an AX4N.
At this point, both the Vulcan and Duratec are considered to be very reliable, so that's not an issue. The only important difference between the two, is that you're used to the power of the Duratec. I'm inclined to believe you'd be dissatisfied with the weaker Vulcan.
CJB

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CJB wrote:

I was going to mention this until I remembered the 99 Taurus(~73K mi) I saw a couple of weeks ago.
I was diagnosing a steering rack leak and saw the AX4N from the underside, after noting that the Vulcan was under the bonnet... and I thought WOW I wish my 97(~145K mi) was set up this way... until... I checked the service history... and this tranny was just overhauled to the tune of ~$1500.00 in October! The advisor said it was due to a sticking valve...
Rob

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That's ONE, Rob.
Is ONE a good indicator?
Suppose we were talking 94/95 years? What would you say, then?
Havent you done a head gasket on a Vulcan?
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Backyard Mechanic wrote:

Yup, just glad it wasn't mine. Mine doesn't get treated tenderly, either.

NO WAY - I'm just being anecdotal...

Stay away from the 3.8... get the trans updates done...

Never. Probably never will. Never a timing chain either.
Rob
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Exactly... Which is why i am forever grateful that, when I bought my 95 GL, on the spur of the moment, it just HAPPENED to be a Vulcan AX4N
I DID know about AT (4S) probs but only vaguely.
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Now that you've proven to yourselves that the 4N is indeed more reliable than the 4S, let me throw out some other anecdotal info to the contrary...
I had a 2000 Taurus Duratec w/ AX4N. Ford had to replace the tranny at 30k miles...
:-)
CJB
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CJB wrote:

I still wish I had the AX4N. I do some class II towing and often heavy loads in the car. I'm on borrowed time with 144K on the odo.
Rob
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I do think the AX4N is more durable than the AX4S, and so must Ford. The odd thing to me is the wide range of durability you seem to see with these. There are numerous people with short lived transmissions, and then there are people like you who've worked your trans more than average and still get better than average longevity out of it.
I've yet to figure out why there's such a disparity from one AX4N/S to the next.
CJB

contrary...
30k
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aint gonna let you hex me!
Perhaps, even if I'd had a 4S I might'a been lucky.
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Naw, you'll do fine. Frankly, if I weren't sensitive to all things mechanical, I wouldn't have even noticed the problem that brought about the replacement.
I bought the car when it was about 18 months old and had 27k on it. By 30k, I had noticed an occasional shudder when the tranny would shift from 3rd to 4th under light throttle, with the torque converter locked. When the trans was good and hot, like after a long trip, it would shudder worse. It never even set a code, but the dealer was able to duplicate the problem on a test drive, and the tranny had a lot of metal shavings in it when they dropped the pan. Apparently, the parts that requre replacement in such a condition brought the cost of rebuild up to within the cost threshold Ford requires for replacement, so that's what they did.
Since the dealer didn't actually tear the tranny down, but sent it off as a core, I'm not sure what part actually failed.
By the way, on what planet is it a good idea to shift gears with the torque converter locked? That can't do anything but make the clutches take even more of the slipping duties. I can't understand why Ford designed the tranny that way. Surely the little bit of fuel economy gained by locking the converter that early would be almost the same as shifting to 4th and leaving the converter unlocked for a few mph. You'd think they could accomplish the same CAFE goals without putting such a strain on the internal trans parts.
CJB
wrote:

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