A late-model Taurus throwing a code P1744 rings like the dinner bell to transmission repair shops -- and chances are, the bell tolls for thee. Back in the 1980s, Ford began a sweeping initiative to convert nearly all of its cars to front-wheel drive, and even the Mustang had a near brush with the scourge of FWD. The outcry that kept the Mustang rear-drive had a lot to do with enthusiast complaints, but just as much to do with Ford's front-drive transaxle problems.
Code P1744 reads as "Torque Converter Clutch System Stuck in Off Position," meaning that the clutch in the torque converter isn't engaging in fourth gear. The TCC clutch locks the engine to the transmission in fourth gear, helping to improve fuel economy. It will usually fail to engage when transmission fluid pressure is too low either because of low fluid, overheated or worn-out fluid, internal transmission seal leakage, a worn-out pump or transmission input shaft or a dying torque converter. The problem may also lay in the valve body that controls transmission fluid pressure, or in the torque converter lock-up solenoids themselves.
Ford has long been aware of the problems with this transaxle, and issued technical service bulletin 03-12-3 to cover it. You can find it in the Resources section. Once you get this code, the next step is to take the transmission to a shop to have it pressure tested. That will help to tell you if it's one of the notorious pressure problems, or a hardware failure with the converter or converter solenoids. But this code is usually a sign of impending transmission failure, so don't be too surprised if the shop tells you you're in for either a new converter, a new transmission or both.