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01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. #5419794 05/03/20 09:19 AM
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KCJeep Offline OP
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My soon to be daughter in law who is typical college student totally broke has an 01 Sable with 182k she picked up for 900 bucks about two months ago. The car was a whole lot of car for 900 bucks but as you might imagine we've had some issues with it. It has been a pass around college car among people we know for a few years, mostly young females. I don't have access to the car at the moment but will later today. As far as I know it's an 01 Sable with the 3.8 v6.

Yesterday it started running really rough and stalling. My son said it seemed to be missing on at least one cylinder. They were barely able to get it out of the convenience store lot and limp it back to school. He sent me a pic of the dash, I don't know Fords I and I don't know what this warning light is.

I am no mechanic nor do I pretend to be one, but I want to help her out. I am guessing maybe plug wires and plugs would be a good idea? How hard would that be to do for a non-mechanic kind of guy?

Any help appreciated, thanks.

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Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: KCJeep] #5419823 05/03/20 09:39 AM
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Aredeeem Offline
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Funny. I had a 01 Sable with the same problem. Mis-fire cylinder #1. I can remember the dealer telling me something being warped and needed engine overhaul. Sorry this is so vague but I’m not a wrencher and it was a while ago. Traded it in, never fixed it. Often wondered if it was a systemic problem with that particular engine. Someone here would know.

Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: KCJeep] #5419846 05/03/20 10:02 AM
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FT92 Offline
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had a ford Taurus . 3.8 I was told those engines were total junk....I replaced heads 2 times on mine and when the 3rd time came around the car went to the junk yard...if I remember right I has about 130K on the thing I have to say it was the worst car I ever owned

Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: KCJeep] #5419848 05/03/20 10:03 AM
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tnt31 Offline
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If I am looking at the manual correctly it indicates 'Check Transaxle' however I am not familiar with a sable.

See page 12 and 124 of the manual.

Last edited by tnt31; 05/03/20 10:07 AM.
Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: KCJeep] #5419881 05/03/20 10:51 AM
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Yep. Warped cylinder head I remember I was told. Wouldn’t pass New Jersey emissions inspection. Took it to a shade tree Indy who was a “authorized re-inspection” facility. I didn’t say “my car is DUE for inspection” I said “my car HAS to pass inspection.” He never questioned my motivation, I never questioned his technique. I came back in 2 hours. I had my inspection sticker, he had his $50 tip. That went on for several years.

Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: KCJeep] #5419888 05/03/20 11:04 AM
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Aredeeem Offline
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KC. Back to your original question. My experience as a non wrencher was that this problem was beyond my capabilities. I nursed it for quite awhile because at the time I had no choice. But eventually it just became too big of a PITA.

Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: KCJeep] #5419890 05/03/20 11:05 AM
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Chris142 Offline
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Check trans light. Ck the fluid level first. It's not related to the engine miss.


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Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: KCJeep] #5419899 05/03/20 11:18 AM
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walterjay Offline
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It could be a blown head gasket. Sorry to say but I had one and I paid for that car twice in repairs.
It blew a head gasket, ate brakes and had things go wrong that you would not believe. I was never so happy to get rid of a car.

Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: walterjay] #5419911 05/03/20 11:30 AM
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thrace Offline
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If it is 2001 Sable, has either the Vulcan 3.0L or Duratec 3.0L. Could search for a vin decoder to find out which engine and year. Eighth letter or number of the VIN sequence if the vehicle is a passenger car. S: V-6 3.0L DOHC “Duratec 30” or V-8 DOHC SC (Ford GT) U: V-6 3.0L EFI “Vulcan” https://itstillruns.com/decode-ford-302-casting-number-6766007.html
Check the Mercury's model year. Look at the 10th character in the VIN. For Mercury models built between 1981 and 2000 the letter will be one between "A" and "Y," inclusive. After the year 2000 the year is represented by a number starting at "1" until 2010 when the system reverted to "A."
https://itstillruns.com/read-mercury-vin-number-8421869.html

Check engine light looks like this on a 2001.

Merc Sable 2001 Instrument b.jpgMerc Sable 2001 Warning lights b.jpg
Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: KCJeep] #5419920 05/03/20 11:39 AM
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KCJeep Offline OP
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So much help here already, really appreciated!

I am going to try go get the car so I will have better info on what it actually is, it appears I may be incorrect in what I thought it was.


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Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: KCJeep] #5419934 05/03/20 11:58 AM
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TmanP Offline
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That looks like the "check transmission light" which they did have back then. I'd have her go to AutoZone/O'Reilly's/AAP and see if any codes happen to come up.
First step should probably be checking the fluid level and condition.
Is the "check engine" light on as well (should look like the standard yellow side profile of an engine)?


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Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: FT92] #5419939 05/03/20 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by FT92
had a ford Taurus . 3.8 I was told those engines were total junk....I replaced heads 2 times on mine and when the 3rd time came around the car went to the junk yard...if I remember right I has about 130K on the thing I have to say it was the worst car I ever owned


His Taurus has a 3.0L...

Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: Aredeeem] #5419942 05/03/20 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Aredeeem
Yep. Warped cylinder head I remember I was told. Wouldn’t pass New Jersey emissions inspection. Took it to a shade tree Indy who was a “authorized re-inspection” facility. I didn’t say “my car is DUE for inspection” I said “my car HAS to pass inspection.” He never questioned my motivation, I never questioned his technique. I came back in 2 hours. I had my inspection sticker, he had his $50 tip. That went on for several years.


Was he a Volkswagen mechanic?

Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: KCJeep] #5419952 05/03/20 12:25 PM
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Having bought an 01' Sable mainly as a winter car in the time of pre-COVID, with the 3.0L Duratech 24v DOHC, I've learned a bit about these (my second one). The other engine available is the 12v OHV "Vulcan". Both are durable engines, mine has 222K on it and you'd never know if I rolled back the ODO to less than half that! I was getting a false Check Oil Light on that would sometimes appear at low idle only. I bought the sensor to replace it during the next oil change, but wanted to do a complete tune up on it before changing the oil as I wanted to clean the air-intake.

I took off the intake manifold to get to the rear plugs and found some oil coming out from the gaskets and one cylinder had oil in it. So I ended up replacing the six intake manifold gaskets as well as as the EGR gaskets. I then changed the oil, completely forgetting about the sensor that needs the oil filter and the dipstick out to get access and replace it, but the light has not come on since replacing everything. I was told these gaskets can cause minor issues as well as oil leaks and sensor issues due to small vacuum leaks, because they are overlooked and age like everything else.

My guess is that if there is no issue with the shifting, then it might be a faulty sensor, but definitely check the Mercon V l(transmission fluid on these, very important) level and only use Mercon V. It's the yellow stick on the back driver side on mine. There is a transaxle sensor near the air-intake manifold on mine..

There is also a couple good Taurus/Sable forums with some good advice: https://www.taurusclub.com/

Re: 01 Sable strange dash light, rough run, stall. [Re: walterjay] #5419959 05/03/20 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by walterjay
It could be a blown head gasket. Sorry to say but I had one and I paid for that car twice in repairs.
It blew a head gasket, ate brakes and had things go wrong that you would not believe. I was never so happy to get rid of a car.


Are you high?

IT'S NOT THE 3.8L ENGINE!! And headgaskets don't trip the AT sensors! Talk to anyone on these forums and both Ford 3.0L (Vulcan and Duratec) are excellent motors. My only complaint is the mileage is a bit dismal...

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