Piston Slap: Taurus Fulla Bull!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap taurus fulla bull
TTAC commentator TheDward writes:

Sajeev! Thank you for taking the time to read this. My dad is dealing with some bullsh@t, and we could use your advice. His daily driver is a 2006 Taurus with 155k miles. (Bull huh, I get it! Snort! -SM)

Several months ago it was diagnosed with having a bad catalytic converter. The inspection is up this month and he isn’t sure what to do. The car has been very reliable, only leaving him stranded once when the battery croaked. He got price quotes from our trusted indie mechanic ($1700) and the local Ford dealer ($1800). It’s not clogged (according to both mechanics), so he still drives it everyday, but this situation obviously needs to be rectified soon.

His brother succumbed to colon cancer recently, leaving him with a 2004 Camry with a relatively low 43k miles. The thing is, we both dislike it quite a bit. The relative refinement of the engine and transmission in the Toyota do not make up for the mediocre handling and numb steering (the superiority of the Taurus in those two areas shocked me quite a bit when I drove them back to back). He hasn’t touched the Camry since January, and its not because of the death, he just isn’t a fan.

So is a cat replacement worth it for a Taurus with this mileage?

Alternatively, I’ve though of some scenarios that might be worth discussing:

1. Repair the Ford, keep the Camry. – This is pretty much the status quo. He’ll have the Camry as a backup if he needs it.

2. Sell the Ford, keep the Camry. – Considering the issue at hand, he won’t get much for it. But it becomes someone else’s problem, and the Camry does get better gas mileage.

3. Sell the Ford, sell the Camry. – The most interesting option. I’m putting the value of the bull at $2000 (Its the SEL) and the Camry at $8500 (4 cyl LE, with lots of scratches). That’s a decent chuck of change for another vehicle, and it could get him a brand new car for a low monthly payment. He’ll also be retiring within the next two years, so it would not see the same highway mileage as the bull.

Any ideas? I’d love to hear from you, and I’m sure my dad would too.

Sajeev answers:

Ya know, catalytic converters aren’t usually a problem, even at that mileage. It’s usually a problem with the engine causing a trouble light, but whatever…two mechanics looked at it, so I’ll believe them.

But…a new catalytic converter (aftermarket part) from an exhaust shop (hole in the wall) should be 300 dollars installed, so I feel that you are getting screwed. Don’t believe me? Check out Rock Auto.

I’d keep the Taurus over the Camry because I agree with your comments. After driving a 2006 model shortly after experiencing the then new Camry LE, that is. You should be on the road and fixed for way less than 500 dollars, from what I’m reading here!

More to the point: MAD. VULCAN. POWAH.

TheDward replies:

Just spoke with my dad, and he is telling me that the $1700 price was for more than just the two cats, and included replacing the y pipes and all four oxygen sensors. He also mentioned that both the indie mechanic and the Ford dealer came to the same conclusion – all those parts need to be replaced. Does this make more sense now, and do you still recommend doing the repairs?

Sajeev answers:

I’m a little surprised that the whole exhaust is shot, but at that mileage and if you live in the Rust Belt…so let’s see.

  • The new Y-pipe (CATCO Part # 4184 ) is $350.
  • The Cat and associated plumbing (WALKER Part # 53349) is about $270.
  • New O2 sensors (about $50 each) is another $200 or so.

The labor involved at a local muffler shop won’t be too much, as these are normally BOLT-ON parts. This should be around $1000, not $1700. I am missing something. You need to go to a proper exhaust shop, not a mechanic/garage.

What say you, Best and Brightest?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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3 of 65 comments
  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Jan 17, 2013

    I would sell both and buy a nicely equipped 2010-11 Impala 3500 equipped LT. Those are going for around 10,900 or so with 35-40K miles and even less with more miles. From what I have personally seen and what many shops I have done business with, these cars will go the distance if properly serviced, will out handle, out break and be quicker than either car and the trunk is huge. Plus I'll bet your dad will love the std remote start(on all LT/LTZ models)as well as my dad does on his 2008.

    • Danio3834 Danio3834 on Jan 17, 2013

      It may not be his vehicle of choice, but my experience with last gen Impalas with the 60* V6s has been good.

  • George B George B on Jan 17, 2013

    A coworker of mine got a marginal car to get under the limit for unburned hydrocarbons by running the car on a fuel mixture with a higher percentage of alcohol than normal E-10. Many of the Taurus models were flex-fuel so this might be somewhat legitimate. Make sure that the engine and catalytic converter are hot before the test. At 155k miles, you probably only have a couple more emissions tests to worry about "passing" before some expensive repair ends the life of the car.

  • Alan My friend has a Toyota Kluger (made in 'murica). A Highlander. These things are based on a Camry platform. I have driven the Kluger we had at work and I find them quite boring even for a SUV. An appliance. I hope this will deliver some driving pleasure. I found the Camry a better boring vehicle.
  • Alan Most Lexii look good to reasonable.....................until you see the front ends with their awkward grilles. It actually would look normal on a GWM, LDV or any other Chinese vehicle.
  • Tassos These last months, every day seems to be another great, consequential piece of news for Tesla, who does not just DOMINATE, it OWNS the US and FREE WORLD BEV market.It is the ONLY (repeat ONLY) maker that builds its huge best sellers at a PROFIT, ie, SUSTAINABLY. FOrd EV is bleeding 3 billion in losses. GM hides theirs, and I bet they are even HIGHER. VW has spent a huge no of billions and its ID series has been an UTTER FAILURE.Toyota, already 12 years too late, is yet to try. I doubt they will succeed to dethrone TESLA.
  • Tassos Again: I never took VOlvo seriously in the last 20 or so years.Chinese Volvo-Geely has a dizzying number of models, I have lost count how many,YET its sales and market share in the US has always been DISMAL these last 20 years.It ranges from a pathetic 0.5% to 0.8% of the US market.For comparison, Toyota has 15% and GM has even more. Tesla has almost 10 TIMES VOlvo's share, with a PITTANCE of really TWO Models, the 3 and the Y, as the S and the X hardly sell any copies any more.So why do we keep reading articles about Stupid VOlvo?Because they have the best PR department of any maker.
  • Jdt65724922 How can a Chrysler E-Class ride better than a Chrysler Fifth Avenue?