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Ford Taurus Speedometer Reads High

Q. Hi Mr. Ciulla: My car is a 1999 Ford Taurus LX with 123,000 miles and the AX4S automatic transmission. I recently brought it to the dealer for a problem which they attributed to a slightly low voltage from the alternator. However, $500.00 later, replaced battery too, the problem remains. They are checking it again this Thursday and I would like to offer some tips to the service manager to help them focus in on the problem.

Ford Taurus Speedometer Reads High

The problem is as follows: Occasionally, while accelerating from a stop, the transmission stays in 1st gear and the speedometer stays at zero. If I stop, go into park then back to drive it goes away. You can also "force" it through by continuing to move.

One other time, the speedometer went to zero as I was moving about 30 mph in second gear. Otherwise, the car runs fine and the transmission shifts normally. Any ideas what they should be looking for?

Also, can you tell me where the right side inner tie rod is? I hear a creaking noise when I turn the wheel to the right, not the left at all, and observed that noise emanating from a plastic covered boot at the end that leads from the steering box, is that it?


A. You're probably looking at a bad Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS). Here is how to test the VSS, speedometer head and associated wiring.

Ford Taurus Speedometer Reads High
Ford Taurus Speedometer Reads High
Ford Taurus Speedometer Reads High

Some Ford Taurus models still use a speedometer cable. Chances are the speedometer cable is going bad. You can try to lubricate it and see what happens. Remove the instrument cluster and pull the center core out. Clean it well with lacquer thinner and inspect it carefully.

Then get a big glob of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly® and put it in the palm of your hand. Now feed the core back into the housing dragging it through the Vaseline Petroleum Jelly®. You will need to turn the core as it goes in. If it becomes very difficult, you may have a kink in the cable or a collapsed section of housing.

In this case the best thing to do is replace the whole cable. When you get to the end you will have to push and turn until the key on the core lines up with the slot in the speedometer pinion.

Replace the instrument cluster and try it out. If the speedometer reads properly, you're done. If not, the speedometer head will probably need to be replaced.

In the diagram below, number 1 is the outer tie rod end, left and right. Number 3 is the inner tie rod end, left and right.

Ford Taurus Speedometer Reads High

Additional Information provided courtesy of AllDATA

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