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?
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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