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Ebay Suspected Cam Failure #898

Date 11/16/08

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1997 Ford Taurus SHO|Research 1997 Ford
Ford : Taurus
Item number: 330286841204
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End time: Nov-18-08 09:33:26 PST (1 day 16 hours)
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Sells to: United States
Item location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States
History: 0 bids

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Seller: mad_buy( 30)
Feedback: 100 % Positive
Member: since Sep-15-01 in United States
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1997 Ford Taurus SHO  Print Version
Title: 1997 Ford Taurus SHO - 82k miles - straight and clean        
Mileage: 82,028 miles        
Location: Kalamazoo, MI        
 Vehicle Information
VIN: 1FALP54N1VA132834 | Get the Vehicle History Report        
Inspection: Order an independent inspection        
Warranty: Vehicle does NOT have an existing warranty        
Vehicle title: Clear        
Condition: Used        
For sale by: Private seller  
Body type: Sedan Engine: 8 Cylinder Exterior color: Black
Transmission: Automatic Fuel type: Gasoline Interior color: Gray
Drivetrain: -- Disability equipped: No   --
 Standard Equipment
AM/FM Radio Cruise Control Cassette
Power Steering Power Windows Power Door Locks
Air Conditioning    
 Optional Equipment
Leather CD Changer  


Description (revised)

Check my feedback on other vehicles I've sold here.

I consider this '97 Taurus SHO a PROJECT. I purchased it to restore and have since hurt my shoulder and am unable to work on it.

Even though I consider it a project, it ain't much of one. The only problem with it is that it doesn't run right. It runs, but it acts like it has a really bad vacuum leak. That don't mean it is a vacuum leak. It just means it may be. Worse case scenario is that it could be caused by bad cam shafts. I've heard these V8s have a problem when it comes to their camshafts. So, best case scenario is that you find a vacuum leak -- worst case is that it needs camshafts. Either way, someone will get a great deal for this solid car.

There is no rust. And the interior's in good condition. After all, there are only 82k miles on it. There is one small rip on the driver's seat. See the photo bucket link below where I tried to get a good shot of it.

This car does run and drive.

Here's the KBB assessment of this vehicle here

This car has too many features to list. Just use the KBB link to get an idea. I'll add that it has real nice Goodyear Eagle tires.

Those of you that know SHOs, know this car is worth it.

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    Item title: Ford : Taurus

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    Most likely NOT a cam failure.....listing says it runs and drives, a failure might run, but usually not good enough to even think about driving.

    I bought a '97 a couple of years ago that barely ran but it could be driven if you played with the gas enough..... it needed an IAC and 2 coils.

    Rick Glass

    +1.  Doesn't smell like a camfailure, I think the seller's just clueless about the camfail symptoms and is going for full disclosure in the ad.

    Jon Heese

    After some other possibilities have popped up here is some further on the car.

    I believe I looked at this car 2 weeks ago when it was listed on craigslist closer to me, same description 97, 82k same after market exhaust.  I forgot to send it to the list then.  When I listened to it run, it had a sound as if you were running a car with no spark plugs in a cylinder. (I say this because it sounded like air being forced backinto the intake manifold while it was running)  It did run and there was barely enough power to move it at parking lot speeds. I admit I have never heard a camfailed car run, so I am turning to those with more expertise. Based on the best description I can give in writing, what do you think?

    The owner said that the car had been sitting since April and it had a dead battery.  We had to jump it to get it started.  After the car ran for about 15 minutes it died on its own and would not restart.  It never threw any codes either.

    Mike V

    I have had a near death experience with my SHO's motor, when your hear a "ticking" noise it isn't the injectors and over time it gets louder and louder

    Did it by chance get hot during this 15 minutes?

    If a front bank cam fails there is no water pump. But a close observation underhood can see that the water pump belt isn't moving....

    Would the car idle sitting on its own?

    The description I have heard of cam failed cars is that to keep them running it requires constant pressure on the throttle. Never throwing codes seems pretty odd unless the SES light was burnt out...

    Scott K

    The car did not get hot. The sound was most noticeable near the firewall. SES light was not burned out. It would idle on its own but just barely. It also had new spark plugs installed. - Mike V

    Hmmm...  That's an odd one.

    I wonder where he got the vacuum leak idea though...  If it were a vacuum leak it would have a runaway idle, not run rough and backfire...

    Jon Heese

    A cam failure should not idle at all....and would most definitely throw codes. One of the cam failures I bought did run once, very briefly and then would not start again, and it made ALOT of noise.

    Vacuum leaks can make cars do crazy things, sometimes runaway idle, sometimes no power, sometimes both......

    We all know these cars are notorious for having issues that aren't always cut and dry as to what or why....

    I still wouldn't consider it a failure without absolute confirmation.


    Yeah, I agree totally.

    Of course, it could also be a third option, totally distinct from a cam failure and a vacuum leak. Nothing springs to mind given the symptoms, but neither of those two seem to fit all that well to me, so I'm not sure why the seller would give those two theories, except for just a general lack of troubleshooting experience with the car.

    i.e. He pulled them out of his butt. :)

    Regards, Jon Heese

    Definite cam failure on rear bank. It will run if you throttle the pedal enough, but it wont idle on it's own. A vacuum leak that large to cause an engine to stall would be an easy find. Like pulling the brake booster hose off the intake. It's not a vacuum leak. The car wont get hot in the cooling system, but the rear cat will turn beat red due to the raw fuel being dumped in the exhaust stream. Its backfiring thru the intake valve into the surge tank that's why it sounds near the firewall. The valve's are bent just enough to keep the valve in a stuck open position, but not enough to consistently clap the piston, although the imprint will for sure be in the piston top. I've had 5 of these so far with the rear bank. The front's do appear to be more common in the failure dept but I guess it depends on how many you do. It's still a 50/50 shot and in a few cases, both, but not as common.

    A way to verify, although I don't recommend it, unless you have had some experience with it b4, is to take off the intake hose to the tank, Give a VERY SMALL shot of starting fluid down the throat and kick it over. If you get the flame thrower shot out the intake, you just verified a bent intake valve and probably all 4, due to the cam failure. If no flame but still a pop, you just verified the exhaust vale bent, again all 4, same issue. It pops out the exhaust side but there is no compression, just the starting fluid exploding in the cylinder after the coil fire's.

    John Friegel

    Ah, but Mike Veldkamp (who actually saw the car run in person) said this elsewhere in this thread:

    "It would idle on its own but just barely."

    Also: "After the car ran for about 15 minutes it died on its own and would not restart.

    So it sounds like it didn't need constant throttle to run. I'm not sure how likely it is that it is a cam failure if it still idles (even if roughly)...

    Regards, Jon Heese

    Yes, but he also stated "When I listened to it run, it had a sound as if you were running a car with no spark plugs in a cylinder.(I say this because it sounded like air being forced back into the intake manifold while it was running)"

    This is due to the bent valve's, but I wont rule out the scenario of 1 valve drop due to a failed valve lock. Which still bends the valve. But I've seen that too. Its not pretty. Usually damages the head beyond repair and the cylinder walls don't get a good prognosis either. Leaves the piston top hammered with lots of pock marks and sometimes pieces of the valve, head or lock, or all of the above.

    John Friegel

    I discovered that a failure on the front head would generally allow it to sort-of idle but not accelerate as opposed to the rear where it required a lot of throttle coaxing to keep it running.

    Carter Fuji

    Oh yeah, I agree 100%. My direct experience with cam failures is a big fat zero, so I will defer to the "experts" on this one.

    This is just the first time I've heard of a cam failure that will stay running on it's own, but I would never say "impossible".

    And as Carter pointed out just now elsewhere in this thread, I stand corrected. Based on that, it definitely sounds like a front cam failure.

    The only pieces of the puzzle that still don't fit are the lack of SES light and the lack of overheating due to WP drive failure though...

    Regards, Jon Heese

    "it had a sound as if you were running a car with no spark plugs in a cylinder"..... as in 1 not a whole bank.

    So maybe it blew a plug out..... he did say it had new plugs, so one probably striped, blew out, is sucking air, car won't run right, blah blah blah.

    There are too many possible scenarios with this car based on the information we have been given.

    At this point IT IS NOT A CONFIRMED FAILURE, until it is taken apart and officially confirmed by a spinning sprocket.

    Rick Glass

    The other thing is - and I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned yet - anyone who thinks that it's a good idea to try and start this car again should be flogged with a timing chain.

    If it IS a failure, it'll only make it worse. If it's not, it could become one the next time it's turned over.

    Either way, the engine is unhealthy and the battery should be pulled before the owner or a potential buyer does any more serious damage to it.

    -John Breen III

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