How to Get Engine Codes on a Lincoln Town Carby Richard Rowe
Pulling the codes on a Town Car is a fairly simple affair these days, particularly since the universal application of OBD-II diagnostic systems in 1996. Some codes may require going the expensive route of taking the car to a Ford specialist or dealer, but most are accessible for free with a generic code scanner.
On any Town Car made since 1996, you can retrieve the codes by simply plugging an OBD-II code scanner into the diagnostic port plug. You can see the trapezoidal plug -- about 2 inches wide by 3/4 inch tall -- under the dashboard, just above either the gas or brake pedal, depending on the specific model year. Many chain auto parts stores have generic code scanners you can use for free. These scanners will read most codes, particularly those relating to the engine and how the car runs. The codes will generally start with a "P0," and you can look them up on any online OBD-II code database.
Generic scanners will pull generic codes -- that is, anything relating to engine function and emissions. These codes are federally mandated and standardized; however, there are another set of "hidden" manufacturer codes that many generic scanners won't pick up. These codes have a "1" instead of a "0" in the first digit place, and are usually used to diagnose problems not related to the engine or its emissions. They're typically "chassis" or "body" codes, but manufacturer codes can also help to give some extra and more specific diagnostic information about engine malfunctions. For instance, a generic code may tell you that your mass airflow sensor isn't working, but a manufacturer code may tell you why it's not working. Generic scanners can't be counted on to pull all manufacturer codes, so you may be stuck taking the car to a specialist or dealer if you need them.
Richard Rowe has been writing professionally since 2007, specializing in automotive topics. He has worked as a tractor-trailer driver and mechanic, a rigger at a fire engine factory and as a race-car driver and builder. Rowe studied engineering, philosophy and American literature at Central Florida Community College.