1989 Ford Taurus; bad wrist pin?

I have a 1989 Ford Taurus GL with the 3.0L V6 Vulcan, paired up with the 4 speed AUTO w/OD. I have about 94'500 miles on my car. In the past year and a half I have been hearing a slight knock/ticking noise when my car has been driven around for about 20 or 30 minutes.

After driving around for 20 minutes, and with the car in park, when I put my head near the front tires or under the front side of my car I can hear little knock/tick noise.

If rev my car above base idle, the noise vanishes. But when the idle drops down the base the noise is still present.

My auto shop teacher said it sounded like a bad wrist pin to him.

And if I run the car longer than 20 minutes, like an hour drive at 65 MPH down to Portland, OR and come to a stop and put it in park, there seems to be more than one knock/tick noise.

The car still runs great. I mean I could get a little better gas mileage than I do, but I don't drive as slow and needed to achieve good gas mileage in a car like this.

My car has had regular oil changes. Its been in my family since 1991, and it was bought with 30'000 miles on it.

There was one summer where the oil wasn't changed for about a year and a half, give or take a few months, but my mom was driving it to and from work, which was about 5 miles round trip and she only put about 1'000 miles on it during that time. So, I don't know if thats what screwed over the engine or what.

I was debating whether or not to put some STP Oil treatment in it, but I don't know if it would clog any lines in the oil system, or if it is just what this engine needs.

I have seen a few videos on YouTube where some people have used this, or a similar oil treatment product and they say it works wonders, but I don't want to ruin an engine thats doin ok.

Let me know what you think. Thankyou for your time!!

I have a little bit of piston slap in the morning, but that goes away after about a minute of running.


My cars transmission nearly brand new, there is only about 20'000 miles on it.

Under a load, or not, when the car is fully warmed up the noise from the engine can be heard.

3 Answers

  • roger
    Lv 7
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    This is going to be normal wear and tear on a small engine doing hard work. The key is that you hear the noise at idle when the engine is not under load. As soon as that changes, so does the noise and my guess is it may run awhile with some care like going a bit slower. If the oil was clean when there was the thousand miles over a year and a half the engine is fine, it would never have lasted this long.

    I had a whole bunch of medical stuff happen right after I rebuilt my suburban from one end to the other. The oil was new when I left, two hundred miles and almost a year and a half later it looked like new, but I changed it anyway. So no that would not affect it, time is far less critical than mileage. As to stp oil treatment, I do not recommend that one, because if you remember the ad from years ago where they dipped the flat head screwdriver in a thick coating of stp and the guy could not hang on to the screwdriver? Well stp was forced to stop running the ad after being sued, because when you dumped stp in your oil, you could dip a screwdriver in it and hold it. (real world test, stp is no better or worse than anything else) the one product I liked that I suggest is add lucas oil stabilizer This will help keep the oil pressure about five lbs higher after a long hard run (such as you described) I would not change the viscosity I do suggest that you run chevron unleaded with techron. Keeping the oil clean, the fuel clean will help the vehicle run better. Many people with fuel injection use the cheapest brand of gas, the problem with this is all fuel is made the same way, it is slowly heated, and at specific temperatures a specific product is produced in vapor form, and can be drawn off. That's where the refinement process can go awry a bit. Some fuel is much cleaner than other fuel, and each company adds what ever formulation is specific for their fuel.

    water is a common contaminate in gasoline as well as other things, interestingly enough, I proved through well tuned vehicles to my satisfaction, that cheap fuel did not work as well in my vehicles, The one I had problems with in oregon was this place called penny saver. The fuel with the least problems was chevron super unleaded (for me) Years after reaching my own conclusions, I was talking to a man who had left the penny saver gas station recently, and was working for chevron. One of the things he commented on about liking his job, was at penny saver he had to change the filters every week for water and debris removal at penny saver. The chevron which was busy as well, only had to be changed once a month. compared to the other station. So unscientifically it seemed to support what I ffiguredout on my own through trial and error.

    I would suspect that that wrist pin will last a a while longer, That was not fords best engine or transmission, and while some tauruses have gone three hundred thousand, I have heard of a lot more that blew a head gasket, and the transmission goes out usually by 130,000, so you are getting closer to a point, where it may be time for a change, and go to something with lower miles and newer. Also, I suggest you stay away from front wheel drive, front engine cars, with all the drive train crammed in the front, it is far more expensive to work on, costs a lot more for things like transmission rebuilds, and for some things, like the alternator I believe you have to disassemble the lower sub frame and steering to get it out, mostly labor. Check with your shop teacher and ask him what he would do in terms of the wrist pin, and ask him if he recommends any oil additives or not, that is the go to guy for advice.

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  • Ryan M
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    I think you and your shop teacher have diagnosed the problem correctly. If this were my car, I'd drive it until the engine failed completely, then replace the engine with a newer Vulcan. Ford made those engines through 2007, so it shouldn't be hard to come across a good used one in a junk yard. Replacing these engines, or any of their components is cake. The alternator is right up top - you know that.

    It's really easy to know who hasn't owned a Ford: they're the ones who think it's problematic and expensive, which couldn't be further from the truth. I'm on my second Taurus, an '89 LX with the 3.8, with over 225k miles on it. My first Taurus had 165k miles when it was rear-ended on the freeway. I could write pages about how cheap and easy it is to fix these cars, and how reliable they are. I've never had a blown head gasket. My second Taurus needed a transmission rebuild at 166k miles, and that was because a spring broke completely in half, which I think had something to do with the fact that it was in Alaska - cold weather causes steel to become brittle. Spending $2,300 on a trans rebuild got me a transmission as good as new (its the bands and clutch packs that wear out, not the gears and bearings), and it was a lot cheaper than a newer car, and it keeps my insurance low. Looking back, that was definitely the right choice to make.

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  • marvin
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    sorry to disagree say it again, those cars are notorious for transmissions and if you run it hot like everything else you run the risk of a head gasket ot cracked head. but as for the noise, when you let a vehicle sit the oil cools and there for thickens, so if the motor has a lot of wear on it you will not hear the noise on start up but afer you run the motor and the oil get hot, it will thin down and you will hear the rattling noise, because that thick cushion of oil. is not there, but it has heated up and thinned down and allowed theclearance'ss around the crank to rattle, really. but stp orLucasscouldn'tt hurt a ratting motor and pistonn slap doesnt go away, it just gets worse.

    Source(s): 20 years exp
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