Everything That’s Gone Wrong With My Ford AU Fairmont Ghia

Everything That’s Gone Wrong With My Ford AU Fairmont Ghia

G’Day I’m Sean McKellar and this is my
2001 Ford AU Fairmont Ghia. Now I’ve owned this car for around 3 months now
and if you follow my YouTube channel you’ve probably already seen it in two
of my previous videos. It’s by far and away the cheapest car I’ve ever
purchased and when you take a look at it a close look it’s easy to see why.
Because this car has had a bit of a tough life, and when you consider that
it’s nearly 20 years old the next question inevitably is well,
what’s gone wrong with it?So in today’s video I’m going to cover exactly that. Now I’d like to begin with a few obvious
things I noticed immediately after picking up this car, and the first one
was the stereo was actually displaying “ERR” or error on the screen and it
wasn’t actually letting me turn it on. Now like most cars from this era, the
factory stereos actually had a security system where you had to enter in a four
or six digit code after you have disconnected and reconnected the battery.
This was to discourage thieves from stealing the head unit and trying to on
sell it because it effectively becomes useless if you don’t have the code. But
it was at this point that I became a little bit worried because the gentlemen
selling it to me assured me that he had tried the code
that was in the owner’s manuals several times and it still didn’t work. So I was
a little bit worried that perhaps there was a bigger problem with the stereo and
maybe it had a proper error of some kind. Lucky for me a quick Google search
cleared things up. The error message is only displayed after the incorrect code
has been entered too many times and in order to clear the error and try again
you have to turn the key to accessories and leave it sitting for around 30
minutes. The unit will then clear the error and become ready to accept a code.
After entering the code I found in the user manual it worked first go, so job
done. The second problem was actually a little bit more annoying and that was
the passenger side window would go down but not up again.
The previous owner told me that he had tried to fix it but he was ultimately
unsuccessful. He did however mention that upon applying power directly to the window
regulator he was able to get it to go up again. So it was at this point that
he simply disconnected the window regulator and left it so that someone
couldn’t accidentally wind it down and then not wind it up again.
So naturally I imagined the problem was either with the wiring or the switches.
So what I did first was pull off the door trim confirmed the window regulator
actually worked in both directions and reconnected the wiring. A quick Google
search suggested the window switches in AU Falcons are notorious for causing
problems but they’re fairly simple to remove from the car and disassemble for
cleaning. This actually solved the problem, so we’re now two from two with
zero dollars spent. And this of course led me to the next problem which was
with the message display center or MDC which is in the middle of the dash. On
most days you actually couldn’t read a single thing from it. Luckily, Google came
to the rescue again helping me identify a ribbon cable which is glued to a
circuit board but begins to come unstuck with time. You can either haven’t reglued
by a professional or you can go the dodgy way which is stick a bunch of
small fold back clips on the edge of the board to help hold the ribbon cable down.
This actually solved the problem and only for the cost of the clips so by
this time I was on a roll and feeling fantastic… right up until the rear
muffler started making some strange noises. Now when I purchased this car I
knew the exhaust was a little bit rusty but perhaps I didn’t know the full
extent of it. The muffler was so badly rusted out that it pretty much came off
in my hands effectively giving the car a time-delayed factory sports exhaust
upgrade. To be honest it sounded fantastic and legally I probably could
have left it that way because the exhaust was still exiting after the rear
diff but I actually wanted to do things properly and so I purchased a new rear
section of exhaust for $175 and it bolted straight up. The next thing I
noticed was the car seemed to take forever to warm up on cold winters
mornings and this of course was really annoying because he’d be sitting there
driving shivering while you waited for the engine to heat up and the heater box
to start blowing warm air. Now this of course pointed to a faulty thermostat so
I went on eBay and for $25 I bought a new one bolted it up and the problem was
fixed. Fast forwarding a couple of weeks I was driving
the car at night and I noticed a lot of the buttons on the – were actually not
backlit making it impossible to perform even basic tasks like changing the
temperature of the aircon and pretty much anything else. At first I thought it
was a design oversight from forward as the buttons themselves look pretty much
like their black plastic with white symbols painted on. But a quick google
search revealed that they are of course supposed to be backlit. So I spent a few
dollars on eBay purchasing the correct bulbs and swapped them out. And more
recently the car has started making a few taxi like noises from the front end
and I’ve narrowed it down to worn swaybar bushes so when you’re going down
an uneven road you’ll kind of hear them knocking around. This doesn’t bother me
too much but if I wanted to fix it it’s simply a $20 part from eBay. So apart
from the problems I’ve just mentioned this cheapest chips car has essentially
been perfect. It drives super smooth on the road and the engine and gearbox seem
to be as smooth as ever… not at all what I expected. Now of course there are a few
cosmetic issues with the car such as minor panel scrapes and a saggy
headliner. But to me the headliner is a bit of a non-issue because the roofline
in this car is so high and it still clears your head. If I want to fix it
it’ll cost me roughly $200 so I could go and do that and as for the panel damage
well I have a couple of ideas. And so that’s everything that’s gone wrong with
my 2001 Ford AU Fairmont Ghia. I think we can agree that the problems I’ve
experienced have actually been quite minor and when you factor in the cheap
purchase price of this car it’s actually been quite satisfying to fix all those
little niggly problems and bring it back a little bit closer to its former glory.
So what have I got planned next for this car? Well I’ve got a couple of ideas. So
I’ll be releasing some videos over the next couple of weeks. But I’m sad to say
that eventually I’m going to have to move this car on to make way for a new
project. What that car will be I’m not really sure yet but you can be
guaranteed it’s going to be another piece of Australian motoring history
just like the mighty AU Falcon. So thank you very much for watching and I’ll see you
next time.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. What is with the Ebay purchases? Simply go to your local parts store where those parts are available far cheaper. And generally better quality as well.

  2. The problems you experienced are typical for a 20 year old AU, and exactly why they are such good cars. The bloody things just keep on going, and they do it smoothly, comfortably and relatively quickly. Mine's at the mechanic for some minor work right now. I've become quite attached to it, because despite looking rough as guts, it just does it what it does so well.

  3. While the AU styling wasn't to a lot of peoples taste nor mine the vehicle did have a great drive train, and didn't seem to have the gremlins like its better styled competitor the VT commodore.

  4. You should swap the orange side indicators for the clear AU3 ones. It's really cheap and easy, and makes the car look way better. The clear indicators look much more modern. Thanks for the videos. You should cover some more underrated Australian cars like the FG Falcon Ecoboost or the VZ Commodore SV8.

  5. I used to own a 2002 AUIII XR8, it was the biggest piece of junk I have ever owned. The left rear wheel nuts would come loose, fuel pressure regulator failed, radiator broke, suspension failed at 100K, power windows seize, horns required replacing, cruise control failed, steering rake came loose, cam shaft worn out, engine valve spring broke, central locking actuators keep braking! In the end I could remove and replacement them in under 15 mins. It was a poorly built car in which Ford would assume it's customers would continually support as it was built in "Australia". Well the customers woke up and Ford Australia is dead. I now own a BMW in which I have owned for 9 year from new and it has been flawless.

  6. Never Replace The Rear Resonator They Fill Up With Water/Condensation From Cold Starts Just Add A Length Of Exhaust Pipe

  7. Absolutely love my 1998 AU Ford Fairmont, same silver as this one. All my dad and I have had to replace was the exhaust due to a large rust hole, it was loud and noisy for a few weeks burning around town certainly turned some heads. We also had to fix seized front brake calipers. Oh and a coil pack replacement which is an easy fix. Next service we will probably replace the transmission fluid, replace the coolant and do the regular service stuff, oil filter, new oil, brake pads etc. For an old car it is reliable, very rarely any issues and a joy to drive. Lots of space in the front, back and the boot is massive. I drive around with the economy setting on most of the time and isn't too much of a fuel hog. It's a great car, it has been easy to fix, parts are easy to replace and find for it.

  8. That's all that was wrong with a 20yr old AU a little bit of maintenance, as for the roof liner staples do the trick just fine. It would be good if your next car was a VT Commodore that way you could make a direct comparison between the two.

  9. My wife had an AU Fairlane Ghia. 5 Litre. Absolutely brilliant car to drive. But she wanted a Monaro so we traded it. Got next to nothing for it. Should have kept it!

  10. I had a sagging head liner on my BA, just behind the windscreen. To fix it I just opened up a normal office stapler and pushed up a few dozen staples into the cardboard liming, problem solved. Unless you know you don't see it.

  11. You bought an AU………you bought an AU. Nobody BUYS an AU. You don't even steal one because nobody wants to be seen in an AU. AU……..stands for Absolutely Unroadworthy. The worst car Ford ever made.

  12. The thing is older cars could be fixed, newer modern vehicles say 2010 onwards need a bloody computer to find what the issue is, fixing modern vehicles is very limited by the average person. And the best part was hey your foot was traction control, your eyes was your lane departure warning system, your mirrors was your revering camera. Young kids would not know how to drive old cars because it doesn't have all the features a modern car does to assist them to drive it.

  13. Can u make a video on the BA falcon like you did with the “Australia’s unloved child au Falcon” video? With the edits of the differences between each model variant? I love the ba Falcon but I wanted to see the differences between models and I wanted to see what your opinion is on the ba Falcon, love the videos and keep up the good work 😂🤙🏼

  14. I think the next video should be when you take that heap to the scrapper and let us watch as they crush it into scrap metal..lol

  15. I had an AU for 360,000km and did nothing other than basic maintenance (plus a fan belt tensioner and harmonic balancer) and it still ran like new until it was kindly written off by someone a few months ago…

  16. Nonsense i bet if i check it . I would find many more issues . This vehicles are shitboxs . My nissan n15 pulsar is a much better vehicle. Fords falcon are for bogans and junkies . Look at RBT tv show always a Ford faclon ba or el on that show

  17. Ever since you bought that AU, I've been feeling all nostalgic about my former AU series one wagon and my 89 EA Fairmont… They really were good honest, reliable and comfortable budget transport. It's pretty shit to think that the current obsession with crappy 4-pot FWD SUVs is going to mean future first car buyers and battler families will be denied a similar good value cheap option.

  18. Interesting about the head lining. That stuff was sagging in my EB station wagon when I went to register the old bus in QLD after having driven from the NT. The rotten sods in the Motor Vehicles Dept wouldn't register the car until I'd replaced the head lining material! Turned out to be a relatively easy job though – just a damned nuisance.

  19. on my BA Falcon, I fix the headliner by removing the door frame gasket, not the one on the door from the top stretched the roof headliner then hold the liner with one hand & with the other pus the rubbers frame gasket back in place over the headliner as well. I only needed to do this to the right-hand side front & back.. I also found the door gasket kept coming of it was in good nick so I super glued it in place now no worries

  20. my BA Falcon cost me 1,000$ but I had to buy 4 new tyers a new battery replace overflow hoses an oil & air filters 7 litres of engine oil the car runs smooth as I accelerate I get a rumbling sound from the rear end the cars was originally owned by an old lady cars is clean as a whistle no rust any where

  21. The Ford falcons were the perfect family car back in the day and even now they are still good. The engines will do a million kms before needing a rebuild. They don't build cars like this anymore.

  22. I have a 20yrold Toyota with no issues
    I loved your Aussie Holdens & Falcons when under 5 yrs old but then they started to cost me $$$ so I did what all smart Aussies do who need reliability & bought a Landcruiser. I do miss your country & its surf 🏄

  23. There was an issue with the accelerator cable at the throttle body end on the 2000 AU's with the intech engine, the rubber bushe which locates the cable end in the metal bracket would shear and you'd lose accelerator.

  24. The sad thing is that 95% of modern men couldn't fix these simple issues. All cars have bulbs, switches etc that fail. Irregardless of brand.

  25. Had time to watch the whole video. Gee the AU shape has aged well. Can’t believe how we all laughed out loud when it was first released, although I suspect it had something to do with the base model plastic waterfall grille as it presents very well in Fairmont trim. Selling it? Name your price.

  26. Was waiting for the tears but as usual the AU is user friendly, and novice fixable…do not sit on a chair on the boot again . Respect.

  27. Nice video, spent $500 on a 1992 Toyota Camry SV21 model. Haven't done any thing too it for 6 months, 3rd gear shifts a bit slow, radiator has some hairline leaks other then that every think is 100%

  28. Best Ford Falcon ever built. Providing normal care and service is taken, these things go forever in 6cyl & 8cyl form.

  29. Love old Falcons! I used to own a 1993 Fairmont! Best car I ever owned! Contemplating getting one of these now 😂

  30. You're in Queensland and you were worried about the heater not working? Come down to Tassie mate.  Great video by the way 🙂

  31. This will be the cheapest and most reliable car you will ever own. You can also lube the window regulator cables by winding the windows down pulling the glass toward the seats with your fingers to reveal the top cable, spray export tyre shine (its silicon oil) on the cables while running the window up and down. The windows will glide like there new again up and down.

  32. Is this for real? 20+ yrs old and the car has cost only a few dollars to repair.
    The exhaust legally has to exit past the last body joint!
    We had several ex taxis with over 1000000km on original motor.

  33. Au’s are notorious for rusting in the boot lid just under number plate keep and eye on that, and I think it’s either power steering or coolant can sometimes leak on the alternator causing damage,

  34. You beauty. I'm gonna try that little clip hack on my AU Fairmont Wagon.
    Thanks mate, I thought I was in for hundreds to replace the screen.

  35. Well you are doing better than my Son with a 98 EL, Stripped distributor gear requiring a replacement 2nd hand engine as a tear down is too expensive and Ford don't make that short shaft any more, replacement engine had same problem 6 months later [outer lane on the freeway at 100 Km a chilling moment through 3 lanes of fast moving traffic to the breakdown lane , Oh and the transmission had died just after the replacement engine fitted. No more Fords for us.

  36. Don't know if you've had this done yet, but originally this car has both the coolant and transmission oil running into the radiator. It's highly recommended to buy an after market kit which essentially moves the transmission oil to it's own small radiator position just behind the normal radiator. Reason being the standard radiator isn't that great at keeping the temperatures of the oil down, and so this kit extends the life of the transmission, which is pretty much rated to 250,000k's.

    I can confirm a transmission dying at about 300,000k's on my old car a long time back.

    Anyways, the door thing is simple, if you press the button slightly, you can hear a gap spark, and this spark creates a burn on the contacts, so you do need to clean them, you worked this out easy enough. Very common. The inbuilt stereo is pretty bad, on my car the actual disc stacker died. Unfortunately when this happened and a new stereo went in, the volume buttons became useless. I really hate the way Ford have forced these gigantic pieces of shit on car drivers. I mean, mine literally is required for the operation of the air con, it cannot be removed. It's a real shit show.

  37. I worked in automotive for just on 10 years, spares, engine builds, imports, race, rally, drag, standard cars….all cars have issues…no one particular brand survives… , saying that, Im going to get the water pump and power steering switch replaced on my trusty AU on the weekend .

  38. Um, it's 20yrs old, what do you expect? I think you have done well if thats the only problems you got in a cheap car 😎👍

  39. Had one of these in monsoon blue full tickford optioned loved it especially that momo steering wheel a 1K option back then

  40. I had a few falcons,this model i did 300,000klms as a rep with the Cruise set on 178kph (would hit the limiter at 180) most of the time, Never had an issue at all… Bloody great car…

  41. Minor problems stereo and window switches.. I owned 3 au falcon taxis. Never had any problems. Drove a commodore cab once and u couldn't get it started.

  42. Obviously looked over it pretty well prior to purchase. Probably paid next to nothing, not sure what you’re complaining about

  43. I had a broken cambelt, a quick Google search revealed that my car was fucked…. So rather than spending lots of $$ repairing the engine I bought A whole new car… THANKS GOOGLE! 👍👍

  44. All non-issues really. The AU is cheap and easy to fix. Common problems are well known and simple to solve, but try fixing any number of dozens of sensor issues in European wrecks (especially 1990s-2000s ones) or the other rubbish cars like Craptiva, VZ/VE Commodore, Volkswagens and so on which regularly send owners with $5000 repair bills.

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