With a few catastrophic exceptions the V8 SHO has few known mechanical issues. Most of the problems are reasonably well understood and can be avoided or managed. About 99.9% of owner mechanic problems fall into one of these areas with known solutions.
ATX, - Transmission failure, I am on my third. One caused by pump shaft failure, another cause by converter failure. I recently ordered a custom built furnace brazed torque converter from Sun Coast Converters. When it arrives I'll report on it. Kolene steels are available. FPS has a shift kit. I recommend an aux ATF cooler.
Care and Feeding of the Taurus SHO - see Automatic Transaxle section
cams sprocket failure -see Cam Failure Links
IMRC - butterflies - the lower intake manifold gums up in even well kept engines. The butterflies then stick open or closed. This caused the frail and expensive IMRC to pull a tendon. Just replacing the IMRC at $250 will not solve the problem because the butterflies are still stuck. The solution is to remove the lower intake manifold from the engine clean it and re assemble. This is commonly done during a cam weld procedure and may be necessary every 60-75k miles. Cleaning the lower manifold on the engine will wash the oil off the cylinder walls and may (will) cause engine failure.
Coil on plugs - I have not yet experienced this myself at 83k. Our cars have Coil on Plugs which may fail early do to heat and quality issues. Cost per COP is $50-$100 each and for some reason the errors codes never correctly report which COP has failed. If a rear COP fails you have a major amount of labor involved. One can maximize COP life by rotating COP front bank to rear because the rear run hotter. Because of the labor costs involved, and because it is related to heat and time best results may be achieved by replacing all 8 at the same time.
Power steering - We know the power steering fluid in V8 SHOs takes a lot of heat. Ford does not have a PM interval for PS fluid change. Neglect your PS fluid and the steering at best can become numb, lose its precision and feel. As worst you may need to replace your PS pump or rack & pinion which is prohibitive. Recommended PS flush interval is no more than 25k.
Batteries - The battery gets very hot under the hood. That causes the battery to fail early without much warning. If you get 50K out of a battery that is par. One may check the battery electrolyte often to help combat the heat issue and prolong battery life.
Rear main wiring harness - Heat eats this up, it may need repaired and protected.
Fouled valve stems - This is a recently developed problem, deposits on our valve stems. A cam weld will not solve this problem. So far we don't have a solution. Kirk reports the cleanest engines use Motorcraft oil changed early and often.
High Idle -
Struts - I replaced my struts at just under 60k and the transformation was nothing short of magic. The improvement in ride quality and control was just tremendous. I fell in love with may car all over again.
RE > SARC Diagnostics:
Check your tires. Some tires just ride rock hard, or may have way too much air pressure. 35 psi is plenty, or you could go down to 32 for a slightly better ride. I would not go much below that.
Check for proper operation of the SARC (Self Adjusting Ride Control) by looking for a blown or missing fuse in the fuse block under the hood on the driver's side. This would put the system into full firm mode and cause what you mention.
To check for proper operation:
With ignition off, bounce a front corner of the car like you were checking for a bad shock/strut (this isn't a good test for most struts because even bad, they have too much friction, but it is good for this test). It should feel VERY firm.
Then turn the ignition on, but do NOT start the car. (It's OK to start it, you just don't have too, and without the motor running you can concentrate on the test).
Do the same test, the corner should bounce a lot more and more easily.
IF not, you have something wrong with the SARC. Check all connections on the little ride sensors (look like tiny shocks) on each corner of 1996-1997's and each front and middle of the rear on the back of 98's. '99's do not have the SARC, so if you have a 99 then it is something else.
Don't be put off by the list, every car needs new struts sooner or later. Every car need TLC. Think of what is NOT on the list (everything else). Take care of these few areas the car is not only trouble free but also very rewarding to own and drive.
I think that covers almost all the major problems, except for the very rare cracked alternator issue. Have something to contribute please submit to Buford.
Sway bar end links. Mine finally went at 80k, but my parents went at 50k. I've seen several come into the dealership that needed them with as few as 20k. Windstars use pretty much the same end link and they fail quite often also. They usually cause a clunk when they go or you can check them by grabbing the swaybar and trying to move it up and down.
I would ONLY use Moog replacements for all wearable suspension parts. (Ball joints, end links, tie rod ends) They are greasesable and much higher quality than Ford. Most Ford suspension parts are inferior.
Hood shroud screws. Every time the cabin filter needs changing one or two of the damn things break off. When you change the filter, make sure you pick up a pack.
Subframe bushings. I haven't seen many of these go bad. (mine did) Enough of them must have went because Ford put out a revised one a few years ago. When they go it sounds almost the same as an end link. So if you have a clunk, and it's not in the suspension, it's probably the subframe bushing.
The radiator over flow tank tends to develop a crack in the bottom, mine did and others have at about 120k. The take that fits the 4 valve V6 SLO will also fit the SHO. The tank that fits the 2 valve V6 is not the proper tank. Auto Zone was the best or least expensive source until recently when I checked and they were back ordered. If you develop a low coolant light, a bad reservoir is a strong candidate. - Buford
I developed an intermittent ABS light which is a PITA because it can affect ATX operation and the speedo. There is a wiring connection to the ABS box under the battery location. Cleanning the connection, not replacing the good ABS box seems to be the cure. - Buford