Sounds like your starter is finished. Check to see if you have power at the heavy cable all the time and that you are getting power at the small wire when you turn the key to the start position. If you are the starter is done.
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You don't state whether the car is manual or automatic transmission (yes, the Taurus SHO was made during the 1990's with a manual transmission). The RPM's could be an indicator that your car needs a tune-up by a qualified mechanic. Regarding starting the car in neutral, if it is a manual transmission, it won't start in "gear", the reasons for that would be obvious.
If it is an automatic transmission, you DEFINITELY need to take your car to a mechanic. If your car has been worked on by a backyard mechanic, it may have serious problems that need to be corrected before something undesirable happens: I had a car once that would start "in gear" and it was an automatic transmission. I almost ran over my boss once because I forgot to make sure it was in "park" when I started it. That could have been tragic.
I guess my first question would be - are you saying it is slipping in 3rd gear ? If you push the gas pedal to the floor it should downshift into a lower gear. If it is slipping, or not upshifting into 3rd gear, I'm afraid chances are the transmission is toast. You can take it to a couple of shops for estimates but they will probably want to pull the pan and take a look inside.
I would guess that something inside of the transmission has failed and there is no longer a mechanical connection between the motor and the drive axles regardless of what gear you attempt to move in.[sheared splines, broken planetary, etc.] Often when this happens you won't hear any kind of noise because of the failed parts being inside the transmission case...instead the car just won't go anymore. You could have a CV drive axle joint that has failed but generally they will make some noticable rattling or grinding noise as they churn away when you try to go forward or reverse. If something has failed inside of the transmission then the transmission will need to be removed and repaired. It if is just a drive axle joint that has failed then that can be replaced without doing anything to the transmission. Hope this helps and good luck!
The car runs fine after it warms up? Is it running with the check engine light off? But it does come on with the key before the engine is started? If the coolant temperture senser is bad ( or disconnected someway) the check engine light will be on but the car might run OK at normal operating tempertures. Have the car checked for codes. It's OBDI so you might have to find a service provider that can ceck the codes on this pre OBDII car. If it turly runs good at normal operating tempertures and the transmission is'nt low on fluild then the coolant senser does'nt always turn the check engine light on if it's bad and still reading something but wrong. Truly running good and the coolant is full ( all the way). chage the senser and see what happens as thier cheap and easy to change with commn hand tools.
THERE ARE MANY POSSIBLE CONDITIONS THAT COULD PREVENT YOURCAR FROM STARTING. 1. NUTERAL SAFETY SWITCH IF THE CAR HAS AN AUTOMATICTRANSMISSION. 2. CLUTCH POSITION SWITCH IF THE CAR HAS A MANUAL TRANSMISSION.3. BRAKE PEDAL SWITCH. MANY NEWER VEHICLES HAVE A SWITCH ON THE BRAKE PEDAL ANDIF THE PEDAL IS NOT DEPRESSED WHILE TRYING TO START THE CAR, THE CAR WON'TSTART. ANOTHER POSSIBLILITY IS THE SECURITY SYSTEM. DOES THE CAR HAVE ASECURITY CHIP IN THE KEY? THESE ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON REASONS THAT A CARWON'T START FOR NO APPARENT REASON. HOPE THIS HELPS.
these have a safety system so the shifter won`t go into any gear unless the brake is pushed(indicating someone sitting in the drivers seat),if the brake lights aren`t working this indicates that the fuse that operates the shift lock solenoid and brake lights is not working and needs replacing.check the fuses and replace the fuse and things will probably return to normal.