There really has only been one thing that has failed on the car, however, it has/is a recurring failure that 2 Ford techs and several other certified mechanics have been unable to troubleshoot and determine the problem source. And unfortunately, it is a suspected electrical issue. The car will randomly, meaning no pattern, fail to start. This can occur at 3 week intervals or 3 times a day intervals. This problem first manifested itself in about 2007. When we have checked the ignition system during these times, we have discovered that there is no 12V signal from the coil to the distributor. There is, however, a 12V signal feeding INTO the coil. We have replaced, virtually, every major ignition component in the car i.e. the coil, distributor, EMG, IMG, plug wires, and several smaller related electrical components. On rare occasions the engine has stopped running while driving.
After reading many manuals and consulting with many mechanics, the general consensus seems to be that the (automatic) transmission sensor is failing. There is, however, no real consensus as to why this would prevent the car from starting while still allowing the starter to turn the engine over. If anyone has any suggestions on what to look at next, it would be appreciated. We are clueless at this point as to what else to do, other than begin replacing EVERY electrical component and/or wire harness.
After 95,000 miles it is surprising to us how well this car is actually built. After 27 years of our ownership it is still a solid platform. It is a comfortable, well appointed car considering it was tagged as a sub-compact in its day. The engine is a bit noisy, but spirited enough to whoop-up on any stock Honda Civic of the same time period. The paint has held up remarkably well, as has the interior.
Our Tracer hatchback came equipped with A/C, roof rack, electric rear view side mirrors, 3 speed automatic transmission, rear window defroster, cloth bucket seats in front with a split bench in the rear that folds down to almost perfectly flat and provides easy access to the cavernous rear area. Other than the 1 problem mentioned in the "What Things Have Gone Wrong With The Car" section, major as that problem may be, we still have high opinions of this car. It would be a shame to have to scrap it because of this one problem considering all of its other positive attributes, but that may be its final destination if the problem cannot be resolved on a cost/benefit basis.