Let me count thy problems! I seem to have rebuilt the entire car - top to bottom with the exception of the transmission - but I think that may be slipping too.
My grandparents always had trouble with the wiring, and of course it was recalled, but that's good since it was a free fix.
The tach always seems to show higher rpms than what is correct - always has.
The CV joints have been replaced multiple times (I did discover lifetime guaranteed parts, so I can swap the broken ones for free new ones and that help on the cost - a friend did the replacing). The last time I was in a hurry to get my son to a soccer competition and forgot something. When I turned around quickly in a neighbors driveway, the whole CV shattered on the road with the ball bearings scattering! Luckily it was a lifetime guaranteed part and the parts shop would let me return what pieces I had remaining, and the only 2 bearings I could find, to get my replacement!
The brakes have been replaced - whole system - about every couple years.
The wheel bearings have been replaced in the front at least 2 times.
The control arms have been replaced several times.
The lower/inner wheel bearings just got replaced recently.
The EGR has been replaced several times.
The spark plug wires melted once. But the spark plugs in general last quite a while without replacing.
The power steering lines leak relentlessly, and I have discovered that instead of replacing the entire lines, the washers at the ends can be replaced for $1 or $2.
The transmission has a hard shift into ND from first, but the factory manufactured these cars that way. I thought my transmission was going out at 45,000 miles, but it turned out that the throttle control was the culprit - just needed adjusting. That was good news.
The throttle control is a pain in the rear to adjust - it tends to spin freely on occasion, causing hard shifting and excessive idling. It's very hard to fine tune.
All sensors have been replaced at least 2 times due to an overheating issue I have NEVER been able to remedy!
The ignition had a short in the wiring, and caused the control module and several other things to blow out - including the alternator. Several hundred troubleshooting dollars later and much less hair on my head, and it finally got repaired.
The dash 2 years ago had a short in it, and had to be removed and have wires re-saudered.
The darn trunk bar that holds the trunk open - a tensioner I guess it is called - is awful to replace when it pops out because something hits it inside the trunk.
The gas gauge doesn't work. It seems stuck. Either I have a full tank of gas or my gas light is on because I am nearly empty.
The alternator has been replaced several times.
The check engine light comes on frequently and I believe this time it is in reference to the failing exhaust system. The whole thing needs to be replaced, including the 2 catalytic converters it has had installed.
The power steering (besides the leaky lines) has had 2 pumps go out in it.
The radiator seems to be holding its own, and has never had to be replaced, but the car still overheats easily with no logical reason.
The heater core had to be replaced at just under 100,000 miles, and that was a major undertaking. The dash had to be removed all the way back to the firewall!
The transmission is an automatic, and is supposed to not shift from park without the ignition on (with the key). However it will shift from park at any time. I found that out the hard way, when my friend's 4 year old was sitting in the car pretending to drive while I walked 100 steps to the mail box. Good thing it was a cul-de-sac, but the driveway was a decline. I had to jump in before it rolled into the road!
The part that releases the emergency brake automatically when the car is placed into drive, went out at about 65,000 miles and was replaced.
The engine had to be pretty much rebuilt to replace the head gaskets and replace a warped (maybe 2- I don't care to remember) head.
The rear window defroster fell off and will no longer work.
This car was purchased brand new by my grandparents, and I purchased it off the estate back in 2000. This car has been in the family it's entire life, and probably will remain with me until I get so frustrated that I park it for a lawn ornament. The car is sentimental to me, and that is what has kept it around this long - that and the amount of money I have invested into this thing!
All I can say is get a book and start reading! Befriend a mechanic and locate the life-time guaranteed parts that are available in your area! Never buy dealer parts or take it to the dealership - you might as well sign your future over to them if you do.
The inside is very comfortable with the electric seats and lumbar supports. It is a bit of a crunch to fit full size rear facing carseats in, but works fine for the forward facing ones. NEVER let a child sit in the front middle of a split bench seat. My son always managed to get his feet over onto or near the gas pedal!
Overall this car has given me so many memories, both as a child riding to church in the backseat, and as an adult troubleshooting the current problems, that it seems like a family member. It even has it's own name now - Blue Bird Betty.
I love the huge Taurus trunk and the feature to lock the trunk lever from the car interior. It gave great peace of mind when it had to be worked on at the shop or tire store. No one could access without a key.
The car has lots of "get-up-and-go", but takes some serious brain power to keep up with the repair/maintenance issues. I do have to say for being a woman, I never thought I would know so much about car maintenance and repairs as this car has taught me! Good memories... bad memories... at least having stayed with the car through it all, I have a good idea of what the problem is when and what's coming next!
I have, since owning this car, discovered the value of record keeping and am faithful about updating my notebook with all repairs and maintenance that I do or have done to this car. With all that seems to go wrong, it is a VITAL tool in the trial and error troubleshooting that is necessary with this vehicle.
Good news is once you get the basics, this car is not to difficult to work on on your own! Bad news is I am FAITHFUL with my maintenance on this car, and still have a ton of issues that always leaves some issues that keep me from taking it on trips due to its unreliability.