Home » Mercury Maurader Owners Figured Out That Their Oil Pressure Gauge Is Lying, And They’re Not Happy

Mercury Maurader Owners Figured Out That Their Oil Pressure Gauge Is Lying, And They’re Not Happy

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I bet you thought I forgot about Mercury Monday, right? Just because it’s been a while since I’ve actually bothered to do one, and you may be one of those weirdos who doesn’t consider Wednesday Monday just because it’s “a different day” and “not Monday” or some other pseudoscientific crap like that. Well, you’re wrong! Because here’s an all-new Mercury Monday, and it’s a special one, because instead of focusing on a whole, entire Mercury, I want to just talk about one strange detail of the third-gen 2003-2004 Mercury Marauder: the oil pressure gauge. It’s strange because the consensus seems to be that this oil gauge is a dirty fake.

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Go ahead and take a moment to wipe down your screen after what I assume was a powerful and loud spit-take. But yes, fake. The oil pressure gauge is a fake. Before we dig into what and why, allow me to refresh your memory about the Mercury Marauder, essentially a Crown Vic cop car all murdered-out with a 302 horsepower 4.6-liter V8 and some custom bumper skins and other trim.

The whole goal of the Marauder seems to be trying to look as menacing and as aggressive as possible, complete with some kinda embarrassing-in-hindsight quotes:

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I especially like that the sentence they felt was important enough to put in bold type is the one that said “the taillights, turn signals, and back-up lights are smoked as dark as the DOT will allow.” Damn, Mercury! What a badass! Look at you, almost breaking the law, you’re so bad, making your important signaling lamps as dim as the law will allow! Holy shit! I bet a badass like you also drives right at the motherfucking limit of speed, right? If that sign says SPEED LIMIT 65, you know a Marauder driver is right there, not some candy-ass toodling along at 63 or 64!

Barelylegal

That, plus “penetrating beams of light ‘let em know trouble’s comin'” and a “Debossed Marauder Name” on the rear fascia to let people know they’re “about to be blown away” (though if they’re seeing that on the rear, haven’t they already been blown away?) and exhaust pipes that emit an “authoritative note that demands respect” all add up to a formula that let Mercury really attract those younger buyers. How young? Well, the average Marauder buyer was a near-infantile 51 years old, barely past the half-century mark, compared to Grand Marquis buyers who were an ancient 69 (noice) years old! These crazy 50-something teens in their Mercury Marauders, with those dim taillights and authoritative exhaust!

Oh yeah! Plus look how much this beast would scare wimpy little Corollas and Saturns!

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Oh damn! I bet you’d like to see something where the camera whips around a lot more though, right?

If that’s not enough for you, get this: the Marauder came with a black leather jacket. You know, like the Fonz, that fictional middle-aged guy who lived over the garage of that suburban family’s home on TV decades ago?

Jacket

 

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Man, were the early 2000s just crammed full of dangerous, cool 50ish men in leather jackets with zipper pulls featuring the Roman messenger god, making all kinds of trouble and giving late ’40s to early ’50s women their last real pregnancy scares? Maybe? I don’t really remember.

I need to focus here, though: see those two white-faced gauges there? That’s what I want to talk about. They must have been pretty important to the whole Marauder experience, because they get two separate callouts in the same Marauder brochure. Here’s the second one:

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There they are again, number 14 this time, the Auto Meter™ gauges that will help you, apparently, take back the mean streets by keeping you informed about your oil pressure and alternator output. Here’s how the owner’s manual described the use of that oil pressure gauge:

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Okay, so, help me out here. If the pointer drops below 4–60 psi or 6 psi, stop the engine as soon as possible. Sure, that’s basically fine, but why add the “or 6 psi,” because if you need to cut off the engine when the pointer drops below 40-60 psi, then why would you even need to mention turning off the engine at 6 psi which is, if my math is accurate, less than 40 psi already? That’s weird, right? Something feels off.

Well, it seems there is something off, and it’s referenced in a number of enthusiast forums about the Marauder: it’s not really an oil pressure gauge. So what is it? The consensus seems to be this, as stated by a user on the MercuryMarauder.net forum:

“The OEM oil pressure gauge is a fake. As King Fubar said, as long as you have more than ~6 lbs of pressure, the switch (it’s not a sender) closes and you get a “normal” reading on the gauge, which is around 60 lbs, IIRC. “

Essentially, the gauge is a more mechanical and visually interesting idiot light, as the oil pressure sender is not actually sending a stream of oil pressure data, but rather a simple on/off signal if the pressure is above the 6 psi minimum, which just sends the needle to the middle position, about 40-60 psi. But, it really could be anything above 6 psi. This bit of hand-waving does seem to have made some Marauder owners quite cross indeed:

I recommend insisting that these bull-s**t guages
be fixed. As far as I’m concerned my oil guage is broken. It does not tell me the OIL PRESSURE. What kind of oil pressure guage does not display the oil pressure. Complete horse-hockey!

Hey, hey, buddy, language! We don’t use salty talk like the horse-H word around here! I know you’re hurt and confused, but children read this site!

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In fact, some people were so upset they reached out to the gauge supplier, Auto Meter, to find out the truth about the gauge. One owner shared the response they got from Auto Meter:

Dear Wayne,
Thank you for your question. I understand you are disappointed to find a gauge that appears to be an Auto Meter gauge, yet functions as a typical original equipment (OE) piece.

Auto Meter Products built the Marauder’s gauges to Ford Motor Company’s specifications while borrowing from the look of our Ultra Lite instrument line – that’s why they function like an original equipment (OE) gauge, but look like Auto Meter’s Ultra Lite gauges. The gauge is not ballasted. Rather, as you indicated, it operates more like an “on/off” switch.

Although your idea of a conversion kit for your Marauder’s oil pressure gauge is logical and inventive, we will not be manufacturing a conversion kit for it. As it is built to Ford’s OE specifications, the gauge cannot accommodate such an adaptation.

We are not licensed to manufacture any look alike gauges, even on a “one off” basis, to match the stock Marauder instruments.

If you desire to completely replace your stock oil pressure gauge, I’d first check with your local Ford dealer regarding warranty issues. Additionally, removing OE senders/gauges will send error messages to the car’s CPU, causing flashing “service engine soon,” or other warning lights. This can be problematic and frustrating. Again, please consult your certified Ford dealer to discuss warranty issues before replacing any of your OE senders and/or instrumentation.

The optimum scenario is to complement your OE gauges with functioning Auto Meter product. Again, you are advised to contact your local Ford dealer to determine if you’ve adequate ports, clearance, etc… to tap into your vehicle’s engine. If you would like to receive an Auto Meter catalog, please reply to this email with your full name and mailing address. I’d be happy to send you one!

I hope I’ve answered your questions. Thank you again for your email and your continued support of Auto Meter Products.

Sincerely,
Brett Littlefield

So, it appears that Auto Meter themselves admit that it’s just an on/off indicator as opposed to an actual gauge. As for why  an automaker would do this, my assumption would be why automakers do so many weird things: it saves some amount of money. There’s no question a simple on/off oil pressure switch is cheaper than an actual sender. But there’s an aspect to it I hadn’t considered, which our own Huibert Mees, an automotive engineer who once worked for Ford, explained to me:

I think you will find Ford is not the only one using gauges as glorified idiot lights. Most people do not understand that oil pressure varies naturally and would complain that the gauge was all over the place. Ford “fixed” it by making the gauge sit in one place until the pressure exceeded a level either low or high at which point the gauge would move.

[Editor’s Note: I worked on the cooling system of the Jeep Wrangler JL, and can tell you that I sat in on a meeting during which we decided how the gauge would behave based on coolant temperature. Yes, “decided,” because the gauge didn’t just go up when things got hot and drop when things got cool, it behaved in a way that reduced the chance of the customer being concerned — for example, it might stay in the “normal range” during a short spikes at, say, a red light at the top of a steep hill that someone towed a trailer up. Was the temperature higher than normal? Sure. But you wouldn’t know it based on the gauge. -DT]. 

I suppose this makes sense, but it’s really just disappointing in another, perhaps less expected way, and implicates the customers as well as the company. It does seem to be possible to add proper, functioning oil pressure gauges to your Marauder, and most of those forum links give instructions how to do that, since it seems many Marauder owners are just not going to put up with that kind of bullshit.

 

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Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago

That second commercial showing that beast scare wimpy little Corollas and Saturns right out of their parking spaces was prophetic.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
11 months ago

Supposedly, no factory oil pressure gauge is worth relying on, not just the Marauder

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
11 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

I have a mech in tandem with the dash unit on my 95 XJ. And while the factory one is an actual gauge, it still rarely agrees with the real one.

Brian Michael
Brian Michael
11 months ago

I’ve been wanted a Marauder since they were new and I was an impressionable tween, but “complete horse-hockey” gives me the ick and is absolutely something I would expect a Marauder owner to say.

That said, I was watching Heat last week and went down a Panther platform rabbit hole because of Pachino’s 1992 Vic(IMO the high point for that gen’s styling, not counting the Marauder which just looks so good because it’s all blacked out), so it’s funny that this story popped up. Growing up, my best friend lived two blocks over and there was a Marauder on the road between us I would pass going to his house almost every day, and I always loved that car. I guess the guy still owns it too, because I was in the neighborhood on Valentine’s Day and saw it turning into one of the local restaurants, crazy to think it’s been twenty years that I’ve been fawning over that guy’s car. 2003 doesn’t seem like that long ago. Horse-hockey.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
11 months ago

Even though I have always suspected it’s a fake, I keep a close eye on my oil pressure. It would be better if the gauge was mounted on the A-pillar though, so as to be more prominent.

I do take issue with the leather jacket stereotype. Since I flunked the police exam for “unsuitable personality or intellectually not qualified” (Like what the hell is that? They have standards?), I have had to cosplay with my Mercury. I mostly play with the spotlight I added and pretend to be talking to dispatch on an old CB radio while I drive around trying to intimidate people. Endless hours of fun…

Also:
“but children read this site”
Thank you for that.

But I don’t wear a leather jacket! You have to rock a tracksuit to do this properly.

Ffoc01
Ffoc01
11 months ago

Ford stopped making “Real” gauges in the 90’s. Full gauge sets started being adopted on more vehicles in the 90’s (as opposed the standard gas gauge, speedo and wall of idiot lights) and Ford and its dealers started getting flooded with concerned customers. Most of the gauges had no numbers, just high and low markings with “NORMAL” printed across the top of the middle range. Customers would come in freaking out that “My Oil pressure is between the O and R, it’s supposed to stay on M,” or “My cooling fan didn’t come on until the gauge was all the way to A.” After that, gauges were either a strict 2 position affair (Normal, Low) or had a wide range in the middle (say 160-240 deg for temp).

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
11 months ago

Pfft. Miata owners have been deriding the “fake” oil pressure gauge since 1995.

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
11 months ago

I just can’t join the outrage. If I had a Marauder and I read this article I would just shrug and say, “Well, so far so good.” Pontiac never built a car called “Excitement.” Yell at them for awhile.

Jason Masters
Jason Masters
11 months ago

this isn’t just a ford thing. temp gauges in particular lie all the time. check your gauge against the OBD2 scanner and you’ll see just how egregious they are.
my volvo 240 is the oldest car ive ran across that has a temp gauge that lies, in the gauge cluster, there is an ancillary “temp faker” board that can be easily removed and bypassed.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Jason Masters

My Focus’ temp gauge, for the first like 5 years of her life, never moved once the car was up to temp. But then like 5 years ago, it started actually moving around some. Not a lot mind you, but it actually does now. I have no idea why now.

Root
Root
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Maybe it’s rigged so it doesn’t work until the warranty is up? Would cut down on claims…

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
11 months ago

Not surprised.

GM did display the real temperature in the vehicle information section of the digital screen on 2011 and early 2012 Cruze Eco’s. Of course they took it away because people complained the temperature fluctuated.

FlavouredMilk
FlavouredMilk
11 months ago

They did a similar thing to the Mazda MX-5 Miata. They used a true oil pressure sender and gauge in the NA6, but when the NA8 launched with the BP engine, it used a basic oil pressure switch instead, but maintained the same gauge face in the instrument panel.

Jeff N
Jeff N
11 months ago

It is because of the idiots we have idiot lights. If they took the time to learn to read then they might figure out the damaged little needle is supposed to dance about the normal range.

I remember that the 1991 Saturn DOHC-equipped cars came with oil gauges. By 1992 they were gone. Too many idiots bring their cars in because the gauge kept moving and demanded that Saturn fix it immediately. They wouldn’t accept it was normal operation and the entire point of the gauge.

If I were a Marauder type, I’d be upset too that the gauge is a glorified light, not so much because it is not real, but more so because it represents the worst of the typical American consumer, and represents why we can’t have nice things.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
11 months ago

That one guy’s response is exactly how I’d expect the typical Marauder owner to react when told that one small part of their car doesn’t work the way they thought it did even though it ultimately doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.

But I just assume all OEM supplied oil pressure gauges/readouts are just dummy lights with extra steps. Most of the oil pressure gauges on NA and NB Miatas are dummy gauges too and that’s on an enthusiast focused car. Only the earlier NAs came with real oil pressure gauges. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the real oil pressure gauge went away because too many people complained to Mazda about how this gauge is always moving all over the place.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
11 months ago

The really crappy thing about this is that bit from AutoMeter that says this thing isn’t ballasted.

Torch, remember when I told you to fix the Marshall’s oil gauge? That sucker is ballasted to show a “normal” reading. It can be defeated. This?? You’re stuck with.

That sucks.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

It is interesting the route they took to make this happen. In other, older, Panthers that had a oil pressure gauge it was a real gauge with a resistor in the circuit to make it give the desired reading. Putting a jumper around that resistor and a sender in place of the reversed switch gives you a functioning gauge. For what ever reason Autometer developed a unique gauge for this purpose. (Which means you need to buy another Autometer gauge and swap the Marauder face into it).

Gee See
Gee See
11 months ago

Imagine that.. wasn’t back then Ford’s tag line *was* “Quality is Job 1” ?

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
11 months ago
Reply to  Gee See

“Quality is Job NONE” 😉

Ed Campbell
Ed Campbell
11 months ago

Personal experience, I had a 95 Mustang GT and a 96 F-150, both had the glorified idiot light oil gauge. I had an 02 SVT Focus and the oil pressure and oil temperature gauges on it were both real.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

How about the speedometer? Can I use the argument in traffic court that my Ford’s speedometer always just registers in the legal speed range? I mean, not that I’ve ever had to go to traffic court, but if I did, this would be a cool defense.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago

This brought back a very weird and vivid memory. I remember hearing about this exact thing from another tech when the Marauder had just come out, I think he learned it in one of the classes Ford made us go to with new models. We weren’t really suprised because Ford had been doing this for a long time by then with certain gauges on other models going back to the 80s as other commentors mentioned.

The Marauder was supposed to be great, the answer to those who longed for the days of the 94-96 LT1 Impala SS and didn’t want another supercharged 3800 front wheel drive answer from GM… but the Marauder fell short, it just wasn’t that exciting. Can it be made fast? Sure… throw any number of mods at the DOHC Modular motor and with enough money they can be quick. But is it worth doing that? Probably better money spent on a 2v crown vic with a blower or something.

The panther platform cars did hold up the best when launched off of an angled curb compared to all other fords at the time. Tauruses didn’t do so well with that durability testing……hahaha

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago

Your Impala comparison is spot on. I think the overall problem with the Marauder was the expectation that it would have all its power right off the line.

B/c what else would anyone expect from a big hot rod sedan? But it just didn’t b/c the Cobra engine was a (comparative) rev-er with its power up higher in the curve, more suited for the road course in its original car, than the drag strip in this one.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
11 months ago

Precision, accuracy, and price: pick two.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
11 months ago

Yeah these “gauges” basically being bullshit on/off switches was the same story with the temperature gauge in the two Ford Focii I had in the past. And Ford isn’t the only company that does this. On top of that, the fuel gauges also would lie to me in the Focii. When it said I had a “half” a tank, it was more like 2/3rds full. And when the fuel light would come on and it indicated ’empty’, it actually still had 1/4 of a tank of fuel.

In the case of temperature and oil pressure gages, the reason why they do that is because some owners are idiots and report ‘problems’ when an actual gauge fluctuates to the high or low end of its normal range.

And for the fuel gauge to lie? I suspect they do that because some owners are idiots and would let the vehicle run out of fuel more often if the gauge was honest.

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
11 months ago

Good news – there are several mercury marauder jackets available on eBay!

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2380057.m570.l1313&_nkw=mercury+marauder+jacket&_sacat=0

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
11 months ago

I like how three of the four listings are from the same person and they have them priced at $279.99, $1,080, and $1,260. I know decent leather jackets aren’t cheap but I want to know why two of his jackets are 3 times more expensive then the other one.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
11 months ago

Horse-hockey, as a sport, didn’t last long. Try as they might, Canadians could never get skates to fit on the horse’s hooves well enough.

CSRoad
CSRoad
11 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

There was an attempt to save it and it morphed to effectively what was polo using ice hockey rules before it finally disappeared due to lack returning participants.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
11 months ago

I don’t recall a time when the oil pressure gauge in any Ford product was an actual gauge. I was on/off in my ’84 Ranger, certainly. Maybe some Mustangs or Ford GT models had real pressure gauges, I dunno.

But the real issue here is… why is this becoming an issue 20 YEARS after the car was built??

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

I can only assume b/c it’s that enthusiasts are discovering them now. When they were new, everyone was kinda down on them as underpowered, not mean enough, etc. Never understood that, as I always thought they were nifty for what they were. I mean, it’s a Mercury from the 2000s, what were people expecting?

But now that the ICE-pocalypse is fast approaching, I guess people are a little more forgiving.

Marathag
Marathag
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

As much HP as the Mustang. That didn’t happen

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Marathag

Yeah, and a lot more of the torque available down low. Still, a decent engine with potential which I bet is drawing the enthusiasts now.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

No Marauder owners are not just discovering it, it has been known since they were new as Ford had been using real gauges converted to a glorified idiot light for more than a decade before the Marauder made it to market.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Yeah, I thought this was generally understood about Fords (probably others too)

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago

This was definitely Ford’s era for that. My Mustang (SN95) has the usual gauge assortment for its generation, and I’m convinced the battery voltage gauge isn’t actually hooked up to anything.

It’s never moved, even when the battery once approached and then completely died.

Sklooner
Sklooner
11 months ago

With that jacket I would have thought the first name chosen was Molester

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
11 months ago

I knew it wasn’t Wednesday!

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
11 months ago

“Nobody expects the Mercury Wednesday!”

Justin Short
Justin Short
11 months ago

Nobody expects a Mercury, Wednesday!

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
11 months ago

OR a Mercury Marauder, for that matter. I think I’ve seen maybe 3 of them on the road, total, and I live near Detroit, where most of the cars are American.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
11 months ago

NOBODY expects the Mercury Wednesday!
Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise….
Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency….
Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Ford Motor Co….
Our *four*…no…
*Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise….
I’ll come in again…

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
11 months ago

At least they won’t be running to catch the bus.

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