Page updated on 06-23-2018

1996 Taurus Electrical Problems - HELP!

12-29-2003, 11:32 AM
Help....Help....Help! I have a 1996 Taurus GL with a serious electrical problem. In "park" and "neutral" all systems work fine. In "drive" and "reverse" the power steering doesn't work, there is no sound from radio, power windows, rear defroster and intermittant wipers don't work. There is also a rapid clicking sound coming from under the dash. Any advice would be appreciated.

12-30-2003, 11:56 PM
My 96 GL developed exactly the same systems about 2 weeks ago and I haven't found the solution yet, either. I suspect that the clicking is a relay picking up and dropping out. I looked under the dash and saw that there is a row of 4 relays above right end of the brake pedal. I've looked at both Haynes & Chilton and neither of them identify these relays.

Can anyone help? With the clicking, it's gotta be a relay but I don't just want to start changing relays willy-nilly if someone here can point me to the right one.

Thanks in advance.


12-31-2003, 12:00 AM
Meant to say that my 96 GL developed exactly the same symptoms. :uhoh:

01-05-2004, 03:45 PM
Bumping. Does anybody have any ideas? I'm getting desparate.

01-06-2004, 11:00 PM
After much looking, I've finally found a couple of things to help with this problem. The first is an easy work-around. The second is a more involved true fix.

Work Around
Remove the cover from the interior fuse panel (under the dash on the driver's side) and remove the Radio Mute fuse. It should be the fuse on the far right in the next to bottom row. The fuse panel cover has an index of the fuses printed on the outside. I found this info here (

I did this tonight and drove around for about 15 minutes to see if it worked. It did. Everything worked perfectly! :iceslolan

Actual Fix
Adjust or replace the Transmission Range Sensor. I found this info here ( The TRS was formerly called the Neutral Safety Switch. Info about locating/adjusting the TRS can be found here ( There is also a section on removing/installing/adjusting it in the Chilton manual (Section 7-2).

Hope this helps.


01-07-2004, 11:24 AM

Thanks for the advice. I tried it and everything started working again. I was a day away from taking it to the dealer. Your research definately paid off. You just saved me a bunch of cash. Thanks for your help. :)


01-07-2004, 12:32 PM
Today, everything worked great on the way in to work and on the way to lunch. When I got in my car to drive back to work from lunch, I had no power steering. All of the other symptoms are still gone, but there was no power steering for the 2 mile drive back to work. :confused:

Oh well, I guess I may have to tackle the real fix this weekend.

02-12-2004, 05:23 PM
I have the same symptoms with my '97, but not while I am in reverse, but while driving: The radio cuts out and the display/user interface is unresponsive or the clock resets to 12:00. Sometimes I get garbled characters on the display. The power steering goes stiff, too. If I shut off everything(lights, heater fan, etc.) and restart the car, the power steering goes back to normal, but I have to reset my clock. The radio stations I programmed are retained, though.

I tried the work around with the radio mute fuse, but I still get the same symptoms. I'm going to try to do the TR sensor fix this weekend and hopefully it will fix the problem on the 97 as well.

How much is the TR sensor?

02-16-2004, 04:24 PM
I just got my car back from the dealer and it was $350 for parts and labor...but changing the Transmission Range Sensor was the answer!

04-11-2004, 04:11 PM
I did my TR sensor my self, itís really easy (I'm a girl), and the part was only about 40.00. It fixed all my strange electric problems.

08-02-2004, 07:31 PM
Thanks so much for the help! I was freaking out on the way home cause my car just suddenly starting doing what was described above. I will give this to my dh in the morning and he can hopefully fix it before he goes to work.

10-20-2004, 12:34 AM
I can confirm that this simple part replacement cured our 97 Taurus. It started with the radio cutting out intermittently in heavy rain, and progressed to constant cutting out combined with non-working power windows, power locks that wouldn't stay down, and power steering loss in reverse. In addition, as the problem progressed, the car would be "speed limited" as if it refused to shift out of lower gears or something.

Important point, though. Most all articles I found on the Internet (including this one) refer to the part primarily as a "Transmission Range Sensor." Nope. Sorry. Not if you're talking about a 97 Taurus. All the parts sites (including Ford) refer to this part as the Neutral Saftey Switch (as someone else posted above saying this was the "old" name). It may be called a TRS in newer years; not sure. But in 97 it was not a TRS. Plus, most mechanics and parts people I spoke to weren't really familiar with a TRS, but knew instantly what a Neutral Safety was.

Some interesting side points in addition to that major point:

The part cost me about $40 after market. What I received turned out to be (99% probability) a genuine Ford part -- but the part number and logo had been removed with a grinder. I suspect this was an outdated version of the part "B" vs. the version "C" I removed from the car. Hopefully, this isn't a recalled version that will cause a problem! I didn't have much choice though due to the immediate need for the part.
Remember to set the parking break and work on a level surface (and preferably use wheel chocks) when removing the old NS switch and installing the new one. Once the shift lever is disconnected from the transmission, it takes amazingly little force at all to rotate the arm out of the Park position, which can cause the car to move if you haven't taken the aforementioned precautions. Trust me on this.
The confirmation test suggested by a Ford bulletin was handy. Start the car, disconnet the wiring harness from the NS Switch, and see if the problems are gone. You can drive around and test it.
Overall, it was a fairly easy fix! Biggest hurdle: most "typical" auto stores (Pep Boys, AutoZone, etc.) don't carry this part. And the places that do carry the part, such as Car Quest or the Ford Dealer aren't open on Sunday (at least here in my part of Penna.).

12-20-2007, 07:55 AM

I tired your links and they do not seem to work now. Any chance I can get to those site. My problem is about the same but it is more on the lines of the transmission. Cold it runs fine. If I park the car and then come out even after 4 hours, it shifts hard. I am looking for anything to avoid a replacment trans. I have 156.000 and change. Been a while since the fluid is was changed. I don't want a power flush. Any suggestions?

12-20-2007, 12:32 PM
Welcome to the forum!

I'd suggest you change the fluid and filter. I don't think the DTR sensor will fix your hard shifting. That could be due to the old fluid, could be a Transmission Fluid Temperature (TFT) sensor that is out of range, or something else that one of the transmission gurus will need to chime in on.


12-21-2007, 02:54 PM
thank you shorod. I took the car to my nearest AAMCO shop and they ran a diag on it and they said that there is internal problems and they will not doa flush and replace the filter beacuse they do not want to disturb the fluid due to possibly large pieces of metal that could get lodged and kill the car. I have never heard of anything. I did not think to ask for a printout of what the internal problems are. Where do you suggest I go from here? Anyone?

12-21-2007, 03:32 PM
RalphJG, I would get a second opinion. I personally go to Certified Transmissions. I've never been steered wrong by them, always good service. I will never go to AAMCO since years back I had an issue with a supposed transmission rebuild that turned out to be a bad modulator. Just my opinion.

12-21-2007, 03:56 PM
Thanks GPFred. Unfortunately I am in PA, Philadelphia to be exact and there are no Certified Transmisson places in the state. From their website they are only in 4 states and PA is not one of them.

I will get a second opinion but it will have to be Cottman. Maybe others can guide me. Like I said in my other post I have never heard such a thing as a place turning down work.

12-21-2007, 04:33 PM
thank you shorod. I took the car to my nearest AAMCO shop and they ran a diag on it and they said that there is internal problems and they will not doa flush and replace the filter beacuse they do not want to disturb the fluid due to possibly large pieces of metal that could get lodged and kill the car. I have never heard of anything. I did not think to ask for a printout of what the internal problems are. Where do you suggest I go from here? Anyone?

There are actually quite a few people on this forum and elsewhere that would agree that you don't want to do a flush. That's why I suggested changing the fluid and filter. I wouldn't necessarily recommend a flush unless the car routinely has tranny flushes performed.

I don't necessarily agree though that you have severe internal problems. I think the $50 or so for the fluid and filter change would be money well spent. At least drop the pan and check the magnet for significant metal shavings or chunks. If you have internal problems that has AAMCO concerned about disturbing large metal pieces, the magnet should give you an indication of that. A small coating of fine metal particles on the magnet is not abnormal though.


12-21-2007, 07:17 PM
shorod, I misspoke and mistyped. I requested and drop of the pan and changing the filter and fluid and they would not do it. They said that they did not service cars with a possible internal problems because moving the fluid might move and do more damage. I never heard of such a thing. I want to drop the pan and do a fluid change and filter but they will not do it so I am going to call Cottman and see what they will charge. AAMCO wanted 169.00. Funny how they have it posted for 79.95. Stay away from AAMCO. Now I know what the double A's stand for. I won't mention that here.
I will take a few more suggestions.

02-26-2008, 11:13 PM
I found this thread in google on 2.25.08, so since its being added to google 3 years later after the post, then I want to add this... Yes, volscot who posted above, is absolutely correct. I have a 96 Mercury Sable having the same problems... No Power steering in Reverse and occasionally in forward gears.

I removed the Radio Mute fuse (far right, next to bottom row). Its a 5amp fuse, btw. After removing it, there has been no more problems. Now my power steering works in reverse. Since removing that fuse my Windshield wipers, Power Locks, Power Steering has not intermitently cut off like it always has been the past 2 months after driving about 15-20 mins.

Yes, the post here (or another site I forgot) reveals that anyone can fix this problem. After about 1997-1998 Ford started changing the name of the part from a Neutral Safety switch a Transmission Range sensor. So when you search or Advanced Auto parts websites, it doesn't return any results and makes it seem that you have to go to Ford dealership which is not true. Instead of searching the correct term of Transmission Range Sensor, instead search Neutral Safety Switch. The part is 25.99 at Autozonep (,16400218/shopping/partTypeResultSet.htm). They have an OEM version that needs ordering for 77.99 but haha, disregard.

Now heres the repair instructions ( Now that you know what the pictures look like, then look below your brake resevoir flud container. You'll see this part. It has a cable/linkage thingy in the middle of it and a connector at the end. Its easy to get to from the top of the engine and it is only two bolts holding it down... A 2nd grade student could replace this... :) But when you locate it, then just read the instructions at the link above.

But until you get around to replacing this part, stop all of your power steering failures and power window/lock, radio, windshield wiper and RR defroster from failing intermitenly by doing this:

Remove the fuse called Radio Mute (far right, next to bottom slot) - Its even labled in the fuse cover. Its a 5 amp fuse. Remove it and all your problems will go away, trust me :)

ky greg
03-15-2008, 11:36 AM
Thank goodness I found this site! Our 96 Taurus is doing the same thing. I thought it was the power steering pump because it was whining very loudly, so I installed a new pump but it still would do the same thing. My wife would tell me that there was a "popping sound" behind the speedometer, then her wipers wouldn't operate on low and the windows would work. Not 1 but 2 what I believed to be qualified mechanics told me that the power steering and the electrical problems were unrelated and that my main problem was the rack and pinion was bad and needed to be replaced and the other problem was most likely a bad relay. I decided just to search around a little on the internet to see if I could find any other clues because I still believed everything was related and also because my wife said they were.:lol: After I found this thread, I ran out and pulled the radio mute fuse last nite. My wife drove it to work this morning and everything worked like it was supposed to!

I also called Autozone this morning and the location near my work keeps the sensors in stock and I'll be changing it out Monday morning. I do have a question about installing the new sensor. The instructions from Autozone says to use a sensor alignment tool? Anyone have a shortcut around this or other advice? Also after the new one is in place do I need to replace the radio mute fuse or leave it out?

I would like to thank those that post on this forum and the ones responsible for the site. It has saved us hundreds of dollars. Thank you.

ky greg
03-17-2008, 03:51 PM
Did the neutral safety replacemant today and as stated above, a two year old could do this repair. Problem solved!!! Got the part at Autozone for 25.99 although I did price it at an O'Reilly affiliate and their price was 42.00! AF's saved me a bundle of dough! Thanks again

03-23-2008, 10:37 AM
Thanks to all, great post! Installed the transmissin range sensor and the"gremlins" are gone. Relatively easy to do.

07-03-2008, 12:19 PM
Now that I know how to fix the problem on my Taurus - So how important is this alignment tool that Autozone mentions by part number, but Haynes just says "use the proper alignment tool"? What exactly does it align? Is everyone just eyeballing the reassembly and hoping for the best?

:banghead: this will feel SO good when I stop.....

Add your comment to this topic!