The Truth About Cars » Sable The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Sable Piston Slap: A Tribute to the Mariner’s idle Escape? Wed, 05 Mar 2014 13:16:00 +0000

TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes:


Your post of 2 Mar 2011 was a great explanation regarding the cause of the “T” joint oil leak I’ve been experiencing. No one on any of the normal Ford sites has been able to pinpoint the problem, so I thank you for the information. (I’d discovered the source, but didn’t know the cause/fix until your post.) TTAC is now on my Favorites list!

So, I am hoping you might also be able to shed some light on the reason for the poor-quality idle I’m experiencing with the same engine. This does not seem to be a mis-fire, but more of a resonant vibration typical of an engine slightly out of time, and/or at the incorrect idle speed. It occurs primarily in colder weather (below 50F) and does improve once the engine is warmed – IF the ambient temp is above about 40F. When ambient is below that point, the strong vibrations do not disappear. Of course it is most pronounced in Drive/Reverse but noticeable in Park/Neutral as well. Manually increasing the idle speed slightly using the throttle does help. In warm weather the idle may be rough upon first start but improves pretty quickly.

I’ve investigated thoroughly (w/ propane) for a vacuum leak, cleaned the Mass Air Sensor and TB, and have replaced the IAC valve and spark plugs, with no improvement. There are no codes in storage to guide me to the solution, and I’m now thinking the MAS itself may be faulty but am not sure how to test it.

Have you seen this problem with other vehicles?

The vehicle in question is a 2005 Mariner with 114K miles.

Sajeev answers:

Thank you for your note, and Behold The Power of The Internet!!!

I often suspect the hydraulic filled engine mounts in these cases. A similar question was posted recently, and our commentators had suggestions you should consider. So have a read there, too.

sundvl76 replies:


Thanks for the link; read it all.

To add info to my question:

Engine mounts was one suggestion I’d found on another forum, and I’ve visually inspected them for leakage and also verified the engine does not move (power applied/brake on). Not saying it is impossible, but the symptoms are not the same as the Audi owner’s in the post.

Chevron or Exxon used 90% of the time, Shell occasionally. I also recall that when this first started (2 winters ago), I did an injector cleaning with the BBK kit, but no change in behavior was detected.

A small vacuum leak was also suggested – one which seals up when the engine is warm. Possible, but not sure how that matches up with my experience of the poor idle being dependent on ambient temps; the engine block should still eventually reach the same temp regardless of ambient. Incidentally, I’m in TX, so “cold ambient” is relative. . .

Thanks, I’ll keep watch on Piston Slap for further info.

Sajeev concludes:

If the engine mounts look that fantastic when running or not, consider the totally not impossible chance of clogged EGR passages.  I worked on a 1996 Sable LS (Duratec) that was EGR code free, but the uber-plenty EGR coking was a possible cause to its bad idle.  And while your Duratec V6 is significantly different from a UR-Duratec Sable, my EGR de-coking, fresh vacuum lines, a tune up (which you did) certainly cured the Sable.

And if those fail, perhaps you still need new mounts: perfection to your eyeballs doesn’t mean they are just out of spec enough to cause the funny idle.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Junkyard Find: Where Tired Tauruses Go To Die Fri, 25 Nov 2011 19:00:13 +0000 The Junkyard Find series is all about the interesting and uncommon stuff I find during my travels to wrecking yards in Colorado and California, but what kind of cars form the backdrop to the Peugeots, Merkurs, and ancient Detroit iron? The demographics of this population tend to shift over the decades; 20 years ago, the GM B body reigned supreme in the high-turnover self-service yards I tend to frequent, but there’s no doubt about the 21st Century’s current Junkyard King.
Lately, the Chrysler LH has been moving up in the junkyard ranks, perhaps even displacing the GM H Body for second place. California junkyards always have substantial numbers of Volvo 240s, as the brick-buying demographic transitions to the Prius, and the high cost of repairs to big Benzes means there’s always a long line of W126s before The Crusher’s hungry steel maw.
But the numbers of junked Ford Tauruses (and Mercury Sables) dwarfs everything else. I visited a large steel-company-owned self-service California yard a couple days back and started counting the Taurus/Sable population. The Ford section of this yard has about 300 vehicles, and 118 of them are Tauruses and Sables.
Obviously, this is mostly due to the vast sales figures for these cars over the last quarter-century; the Taurus was #1 in North American sales for most of the 1990s, and most junked Detroit cars are 10-15 years old these days.
But where are the junked Accords and Camrys? Granted, the typical junked Honda or Toyota is 20-25 years old in California (due to perceived-value assumptions of West Coast used-car buyers and resulting higher values for allegedly bulletproof Japanese iron) but we should be seeing the import sections of self-serve yards overflowing with early-90s Accords… and that’s just not happening. Right now, the VWs are jostling with the 626s, Tercels, early Infinitis, and a new influx of disposable late-90s Koreans in these yards, but you’re lucky if you can find more than a half-dozen Accords or Camrys (and don’t get me started about the near-zero availability of fifth-gen Civic parts in the cheap self-serve yards; every time I need something for my daily driver, I have to visit at least two yards to find it).
Taurus sales went downhill fast when so many Americans switched to trucks as daily drivers during the course of the 1990s and early 2000s, which means that we can expect to see the Taurus Junkyard Era start to wind down in another five years or so. The early, game-changing ’86s and ’87s are already rare enough that I notice them on the street. Maybe it’s time to find a clean ’86 and stash it away?

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Rentin’ The Blues: Second Place: 2009 Mercury Sable Premier Mon, 12 Apr 2010 18:06:24 +0000

I was born in the city

A city with no shame

And when I play guitar

They all know my name

Well, as fate would have it, they only really know my name at the local restaurant where I play lunch gigs on my Gibson CS-336. I don’t consider myself a blues man, but I will go to see the blues played when I have a chance. My plan for last week was simple: drive from Columbus, Ohio to New York City to see Robert Cray perform, and then to head down Memphis way to catch the various acts on Beale Street. Tie in an additional trip to the New York Auto Show afterwards, and we’re talking 4,100 miles and plenty of dicey parking. Might as well rent some cars and do an old-school TTAC rental review or two.

It’s been nearly a year since the last Sable rolled off the assembly line. It was a stopgap car, an attempt to rectify the most serious failings of the showroom-cobweb-holder Mercury Montego and mark time until a fully revised 2010 model could debut along the MKS and low-roof Taurus. Ford’s decision to take Mercury in the proverbial “different direction” doomed the Sable to rental-car hell and astonishingly low resale value. It’s possible to pick up a fully-loaded, low-miles Sable Premier for well south of twenty grand.

As I rolled along I-80 in Pennsylvania, the cruise control set to 82 miles per hour and the average-economy readout hovering at 27.9mpg, I had to admit that such a Sable purchase would represent a pretty decent value. It’s a nearly effortless freeway car, tracking straight and true, surprisingly indifferent to sidewinds. The seating position is seemingly about half a foot above what one would have in, say, an Audi A4, and visibility is good as well.

The Montego had a gutless three-liter Duratec and a rubber-band CVT, which probably did a lot to kill showroom excitement about what otherwise would have been seen as a decent 9/8ths-scale American knockoff of the B5 VW Passat. (Is it really a knockoff when you hire the same designer to do the same thing? Somebody should ask Gerald Genta.) This 3.5L/six-speed combination is manifestly better. It’s never strong or impressive, but it’s fast enough for modern American traffic, even in the cut-and-thrust of Manhattan’s Garment District. Hard launches spin the front wheels and bring the hammer of a very strict TCS down on the engine almost immediately. It’s not an enthusiast’s car in the traditional sense, or in any other sense.

Ford’s SYNC system was included on the car I drove, and as usual it’s just about the best way to control an iPod and Bluetooth phone together. The sound system was decent enough but lacking any sense of “dynamic attack”, “stage presence”, or any of the stuff you’d get in one of a name-brand luxury-sedan installation. A full navigation screen is an optional extra and one you’d be unlikely to find in an ex-rental.

I wasn’t more than a few hours away from Ohio when my traveling partner announced her complete lack of satisfaction with the Sable’s flat-bottomed leather seats. “They need to be good like the ones in your green car,” was the succinct evaluation. She chose instead to take a nap stretched out across the three-person back seat, wrapped up in a blanket and comforted by the Sable’s better-than-Camcord-class freeway ride. Four hundred miles later, my back was sore. These are not good seats; the ones you would get in an MKS or 2010 Taurus are miles ahead.

I believe the Autowriters’ Code of Conduct calls for me to mention the Volvo S80 at this point, along with something about ancient platforms. Truth be told, I’ve driven plenty of miles in a first-gen S80 and it’s a very different car. Both the Volvo and the Sable have that slight feeling of front-end crashiness and brittle response one gets from heavy transverse-engine platforms, but other than that it really doesn’t feel much like an S80.

It’s been a while since I resisted the temptation to run a car into the triple digits, even briefly. The Sable never even saw 90mph. It’s not an inspiring vehicle. It’s safe (allegedly), quiet, comfortable in some ways, well-equipped, spacious, and inoffensive-looking. I cannot see why anyone would pick the bloated, low-content Camry over this car, if the money is equal. Problem is, the money wasn’t equal. Ford wanted a lot of cash for the Sable.

Luckily, the used market has corrected that disparity. I turned around after Mr. Cray finished his two-hour set at B.B. King’s and drove back to Ohio. Twelve hundred miles in a day, about 27.5 mpg including time in the city. Not bad, but very far from being memorable. The next car I’d rent would be quite different.

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