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Hagerty Employee

Piston Slap: Dizzy over Taurean ignition options?

Ryan writes: Hi Sajeev, My 1989 Ford Taurus LX wagon (3.8-liter Essex V-6) quit running while it was parked with the engine idling, and the problem turned out to be no spark to the plugs, and removing the distributor cap revealed a small magnet on the metal gate thing—it had come apart after three decades. The shop manual explains how the Hall effect sensor works, but says nothing about replacing this part, and I felt like making an attempt to replace the sensor myself, and it wasn't as straightforward as I thought.  


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Pit Crew

Sunday, November 1st update: I ended up rebuilding the distributor, set the timing, and the car has been running great for a couple of months and probably 2,000 miles now. At the time, I didn't want to take the easy route because I enjoy the challenge of pin pointing exact points of failure and learning, and hopefully getting it done right. I could have bought a rebuilt distributor for $80, but I paid $62 + S&H for a Motorcraft brand pick-up coil, along with a new cap and rotor, and did the work myself, and learned a couple of things, like the holes for the roll pins that attach the shaft retainer and gear are offset from the center, so it's possible to install those 180 degrees off, and pounding in the roll pin will damage the retainer, and because the gear is an interference fit, it won't rotate into position like you would think. I lubricated the upper shaft with brake grease because it's a high temp grease, and so far it has worked without any problems. This is definitely a project most people wouldn't. and maybe shouldn't attempt, unless they're really mechanically inclined and enjoy working on engines. As for learning to weld plastic - maybe. The bumpers on these cars were - I believe - ABS plastic, or something close, and I think they could be repaired with ABS cement, and refinished with a little filler and paint. And those bumpers are truly obsolete now. The front bumper was cracked by a 55 year old woman who backed into my car immediately after parking the car in a parking space at the grocery store, and the auto body shop I took it to had to declined the repair work because they couldn't get another bumper. I now have good used bumpers for the Taurus and Sable on the side of the house I live in. But other interior plastics can dry out and become so brittle that it's impossible to repair them, so I always use a car cover if my cars are parked outside on long summer days.

Community Manager

Brittle interior plastics are pretty much impossible to fix, unless you want to spend cubic money with for them to reskin it properly.  Maybe one day when a Taurus is worth enough to justify a concours restoration (kidding, I think).