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2003 Ford Taurus computer reset?

I was recently given a Ford Taurus a few weeks ago. After being shocked at the gas mileage paying all the taxes etc, I finally went to get inspected (Massachusetts) and was told it failed. The inspector asked me if I just purchased this car which I replied “yes” he then asked if any work had been done which I said we’ll the alternator wire was dirty and they needed to replace and clean the wire etc. The inspector said the rejection sticker is good for 60 days and I need to put a few hundred miles on the car so as to let the computer reset. I called the dealership about this and he said in fact this was true. I’ve driven older Toyotas so I’m totally unfamiliar with Fords but I think I’d feel better if I had more conformation on this because if nothing else I’m more familiar with law than cars as a rule and I know that if the computer fails this reset process I should be able to get my mother in-laws money back $3,500.00.

@Rumple21 when you disconnect the battery, all the monitors reset. They all need to run to completion before getting it inspected. That is why the inspector told you “to put a few hundred miles on the car.” The guy is sharp and knows his stuff.

If the mechanic doesn’t install a memory minder (that thing with the 9-volt battery on it) your computer will lose the settings and will take a while to go through the checks. Of course, if he puts it in a power outlet that isn’t working you get the same result.

This is true. A car usually won’t pass emissions if the check engine light is on. Sometimes owners will try to fool the emissions checkers by disconnecting the battery, which will turn off the CEL. For a while. The emissions folks are on to this however, and know that the battery has been disconnetec. Your car’s ECM has tattled on you. The Ford dealerhsip should be able to provide you the info you need to reset the computer. You have to drive a certain amount in various situations. Sorry your car experience is starting out a bit shaky. But I think you’ll end up liking your Taurus. Best of luck.

When I went to look at the car someone left the interior light on but I’m sure they disconnected the battery to check for a faulty alternator.

db4690 is exactly right.

For the car to pass emissions testing, all the tests the computer checks for must pass. Since the battery was disconnect/reconnected,the car hasn’t been driven enough to run all the checks to properly test all the emissions systems- systems haven’t “failed,” they just haven’t completed a test cycle as of yet.

To do these tests, the car needs a variety of different driving situations: city, highway, idling, slowing down from 50 or so, hard acceleration to 50 or so, and long runs (there may be more depending on the specific car’s needs.)

There may not be any warranty, all depending. Your post is confusing as you state that you were given the car, then you bought it, and now you’re talking about getting your mother in law’s money back.

Warranty is miles and time dependent and usually only applies to the original purchaser. From the tone of the post, I gather you are possibly considering going against the dealer who did not sell you the car if a problem surfaces. This may not fly and I certainly don’t see a refund coming.

There is no check engine light associated with this issue btw. And the car was purchased for me by my mother inlaw from a dealer with whom she is friendly with. I don’t have much affection for the dealer or the dealership. I want to do the right thing without regard to its origin.

You might peruse this link; especially the first section and section B to see what applies in this case.

Much could depend upon dates, miles, and so on.

@Rumple21 this car is not a lemon, at least not yet.

You need to let all the monitors to run to completion, then get it smogged.

I’m not saying that the car is a Lemon as my opinion is that almost every used car is not a Lemon at all. The link is only provided in case this comes to a pushing and shoving match with the dealer about who is going to be responsible.

What is not known is the mileage on the car, date of purchase, how many miles driven before the inspection, and the legalities on warranty for a straw purchaser, and so on.

Note the link provides a very narrow window for voiding a sales contract.

Since it was mentioned that there is no CEL on, then the only reason it would fail emmissions would be that there are more than 2 “emmission states” not ready. This would indeed be the case if the battery went dead or was diconnected. I also live in Massachusetts and had the exact same thing happen to me where I did some work (on a Ford, no less) where I had disconnected the battery and brought it to get inspected a couple days later, totally forgetting about this. When it failed inspection, I drove it for a couple weeks and then took it back and it passed fine. If you have access to a scan tool, most will tell you which “emmision states” are ready (or pending). You only get one “free” emmission re-test in Massachusetts so make sure that it’s set before taking it back.

@ebko87 if too many monitors are incomplete, the inspector won’t bother smogging it. That is the way it works where I live.

Interestingly, as I was driving back from Canton Massachusetts heading north on route 93 the srs brake light Ce on then the battery light came on followed by several other dash board lights and total loss of all lights as I frantically reached around to turn off any and all optional power to try to avoid complete shutdown. However all lights failed completely. I tried to follow the car ahead of me and as I came to my exit I pushed my brakes and suddenly everything electrical came back. This was a really scary experience. I called the dealer and promised to drop by next week. I’m concerned its the computer.

It sounds like you have an electrical disruption. This is not a problem with the computer, but it is a problem for the computer, as well as the rest of the car. It most likely is a poor connection somewhere. It could be a relay or even a ground strap problem. When it happens, if it disrupts power to the computer so the computer has to redo all its monitors.

This is usually a cheap and easy fix, once it is found. Finding it can be difficult and expensive though.

@Rumple21 I’m beginning to think you bought a car with real issues.

Is there any way you can return it or get a different car?

So far the dealership is willing to fix this problem and they also believe its some kind of an electrical short and at this time I will drop it off between Monday February 25th thru the 28th. I hope they find what the problem is. I have severe spinal arthritis and find getting around difficult enough.

I took the car back to the dealership and they removed the automatic starter and said they suspect that might be why the electrical problem. I hope this fixes the problem and it passes inspection next month. Thanks to everyone’s support.