2002-2005 TBirds annual repair costs

I just saw the post on spending $3,000 to replace timing belt and along with that water pump, serpentine belt, hoses etc. and it all makes sense if I were doing the same thing.. At what point do you say enough is enough. I love my 2002 but if i had to drop $5,000 or more in one year, well even with the resale value of $15,000-$20,000 for mine that just turned 20,000 miles I think I would say UNCLE and sell it.. Boy I only hope I could convince my better half that spending $5,000 for repairs would be a sound decision.. Her ceiling may be much less..

:)MODERATOR NOTE: See this thread for top Ford Thunderbird mechanical issues.
https://forums.fordthunderbirdforum.com/threads/top-issue-02-05-ford-thunderbird-ignition-coils-cop.5040/
 
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I just saw the post on spending $3,000 to replace timing belt and along with that water pump, serpentine belt, hoses etc. and it all makes sense if I were doing the same thing.. At what point do you say enough is enough. I love my 2002 but if i had to drop $5,000 or more in one year, well even with the resale value of $15,000-$20,000 for mine that just turned 20,000 miles I think I would say UNCLE and sell it.. Boy I only hope I could convince my better half that spending $5,000 for repairs would be a sound decision.. Her ceiling may be much less..
Are you looking to have the Ford/Lincoln Dealer do the repairs? I would shop around for a dependable repair shop that gives you the confidence they can do it and at a more reasonable price. Just my 2 cents.
 
I don’t know how often this repair is needed. I see everyday 2002-2005 Birds for sale with excess of 100,000 miles. Don’t go corona on our Birds. Do Your regular maintenance and you too can be one of the owners of a 100,000 mile cars. Some times we only look at the negatives of our joyful cars. Just think of the smiles it puts on ours and others.Toys are worth some pain. Just a thought!
 
Are you looking to have the Ford/Lincoln Dealer do the repairs? I would shop around for a dependable repair shop that gives you the confidence they can do it and at a more reasonable price. Just my 2 cents.
PhotofinishBill, This was strictly hypothetical.. So far the most I had to spend on mine was $1800 for the complete rear end because of the rotted / deteriorated bushings etc.. Knock on wood every thing else seems fine at this point. The $1800 was at a FMC garage... I have also had the Tranny and Coolant fluids changed and of course oil changes This is my 4th year with mine.. I envy you guys who can do these repairs your self.. It’s a great hobby and money saver..It’s not unusual to pull into any garage and drop $500 and up now days..My 2 daughters had PT Cruisers during college and beyond for 10 years.. I bet we were spending at least.$1500 per year on each one.. Still cheaper than room and board..

I think if I had to replace the tranny and engine, or more than $5000 well, see ya TBird, time to buy a Toyota Corolla and paint it torch red.. .
 
I still do all my own repairs. Always have. In my 60's without a garage, out in the weather. It gets harder every year. My neighbors say I'm 'Lucky' that I can do it myself. I say they are the "Lucky" ones that can afford the new or leased cars and are sitting inside watching football, drinking beer as I'm laying under it getting rust and salt in my eyes. The prices I hear some are paying for repairs takes my breath away. I just don't know how you do it.
 
I still do all my own repairs. Always have. In my 60's without a garage, out in the weather. It gets harder every year. My neighbors say I'm 'Lucky' that I can do it myself. I say they are the "Lucky" ones that can afford the new or leased cars and are sitting inside watching football, drinking beer as I'm laying under it getting rust and salt in my eyes. The prices I hear some are paying for repairs takes my breath away. I just don't know how you do it.
I hear you highwayghost.. back in my earlier days I would do a brake job or something simple but never tear into an engine.. Also laying under a car on jack stands on a creeper, I don’t think I could do that any longer.. First off I don’t think I could get my belly would clear the rocker panels.. Now if I had a garage with a lift..

BTW I just graduated for the first time to the lease car model of ownership (or non ownership).. I think it will be great to just hand over the key for the Jeep in 35.5 months.. It seemed like you are good till year 7 then the repair bill just stat adding up.. If I lived in the sun belt and knew I could own the car rust free for over 10+ years then perhaps I would still be buying, but here in upstate NY, the dreaded salt and rust takes it toll..
 
I guess I must enjoy working on things, no matter how much I may whine about it, or I would't keep doing it. It's kind of my 'therapy'. Fixin' stuff and saving some money makes me fell good. And, it's what fit's my budget! If I didn't, the savings account would be empty. God willing, as long as I'm healthy, I'll keep doing it. Previous employment had an added bonus of garage and lift, but not for the past 10 years. When young I could 'spring' up off a creeper to standing. Now it's a struggle, roll on to all fours, hands and arms pulling, lots of moaning and groaning. Jobs take longer, need a nap half way through. Others tell me "It's easier to let someone else do it'. Well Daaaa! It's easier to let someone else do ANYTHING! Hoping to build a garage with lift, as retirement is just around the corner. Winters here in Pittsburgh will better when retired, hibernating between the house and the heated garage, with a beer fridge and recliner! Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy. Thanks for reply, :cool: Roger
 
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Often, not always, when I hear these big repair bill numbers its for work by the dealer and its often outrageously expensive...
I've had two instance in the year I've owned my 2002 as cases in point. An instrument cluster repair that was going to cost $900 (which I fixed myself one Saturday with a soldering iron) and a sensor that controls the A/C, a $1,500 repair estimate because the dash had to be pulled. That turned out to be total bull crap and the sensor was $29 and located on the left side of the center console - a 10 minute job I also did myself. I've also replaced the FEM myself (repaired for $104) which I didn't even bother to run by the dealer as an option; I knew they'd be too much.

Dealers don't want to work on this retro birds, the techs aren't up to speed on them and the parts supply is sketchy. When they hit an owner with those moonshot repair estimates its because they don't really want to take on the job but if you're crazy enough to pay out the ying-yang they'll take your money. Moreover, you don't always have to pay the over-the-top Motorcraft parts prices. I got door lock actuators and dash switches ( headlight switch, thumbwheel dimmer switch and mirror remote control switch) off RockAuto for a fraction of what Ford would have charged.

For jobs I don't have the tools, or feel qualified to handle, I have a local mechanic who does them and its a fraction of the dealer price...
 
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I just saw the post on spending $3,000 to replace timing belt and along with that water pump, serpentine belt, hoses etc. and it all makes sense if I were doing the same thing.. At what point do you say enough is enough. I love my 2002 but if i had to drop $5,000 or more in one year, well even with the resale value of $15,000-$20,000 for mine that just turned 20,000 miles I think I would say UNCLE and sell it.. Boy I only hope I could convince my better half that spending $5,000 for repairs would be a sound decision.. Her ceiling may be much less..
Not to criticize anyone with an opinion on this subject, but I have some observations to share:
1) each time an owner complains about maintenance cost, everyone's resale price goes down. ( Not mine, as I am never selling my 04 PCR driven daily and now clocking 185,000 miles)
2) Any car has cost, depreciation or maintenance. I recommend budgeting 5% of value for these cars each year- that is about $750 annually for a $15,000 machine. If you have owned one 18 yrs. since new, that is $13,500 ! I bet no one has spent that much on repairs. Since they were ~$37,000 when new, your depreciation has cost you $22,000.
3 A reminder, the tax man says any car cost $0.58/mile to drive when depreciation and maintenance is considered. (looking at my car and assuming I bought it new I could have deducted $107,300 - I bought it 5 years ago)
4 Bottom Line, I have driven new cars, both luxury and economy versions, which cost more monthly than my Thunderbird. I have no complaints. In my business I drive all types of new cars weekly, I prefer to drive my Thunderbird.
 
While these cost for dealer repairs are costly, do not feel bad. My daughter for some wild reason wanted a Mercedes
G Wagon, so she bought a 2019 about 18 months ago. She will never do that again. She just got it back from the
dealer for some issues, and scheduled maintenance. There was also a recall, which the dealer can not fix right now
because Mercedes has not figured out how to repair yet.

The scheduled maintenance was over $3k out of her pocket. I told her that car would eat her wallet, now she believes me.

My T Birds have been great, no issues other than fuel pump, and suspension bushings, which for right at a 18 year
old car is one maintenance free car. The fuel pump, and suspension change out I did myself, so the cost was nothing.
 
Well, a timing belt replacement along with all the other parts may be like a 100,000 mile replacement. So it all boils down to how long you want to keep the car and how much peace of mind. You could justify spending that kind of cash this way... or do it yourself and save about $2k or more in labor.
 
I generally put between 160,000 and 180,000 miles on cars before I sell them and rarely buy new cars - usually 1 year old Carmax ex-lease cars with under 12,000 miles. This includes Mazda, Toyotas, Dodges and others I've forgotten. I maintain them assiduously....and keep them for a decade or more and NEVER spend several thousand dollars in one gulp for any repairs...ever.

Having said that, I think I've reached a watershed on my '02 Bird I've owned a year now after fighting through some minor (and major) issues and its a trouble-free, awesome cruiser now.... Nothing raises our spirits in this crazy time right now than top down cruising after the sun sets in Florida...
 
We spent $2k on a new convertible top pump and lift cylinders about 3 years ago and we also had to spring for a new transmission 2 years ago. That was a tough couple of years but we never considered selling it. This is definitely a forever vehicle. Plus the kids are already fighting over who gets it in the will! :D
 
I would like to correct the facts, the Tbirds have an internal timing chain,not a belt. The chain is lubricated by the engine oil and should and will (with regular oil changes) last 200,000 miles. When we buy a used TBird or any used car we really don’t know the maintenance or how hard it was used. Some of these 15 year old, low mileage cars may have only had 1 or 2 oil changes. The oil should be change at least yearly, regardless of miles. With non synthetic oil, you should change engine oil every 6 months. Oil breaks down and becomes acidic and can harm internal part.. Sometimes it hard to justify a oil change if you only driven 500 to 1000 miles but cheaper in the long run. Enjoy your bird or let someone else have that privilege!
 
I guess I must enjoy working on things, no matter how much I may whine about it, or I would't keep doing it. It's kind of my 'therapy'. Fixin' stuff and saving some money makes me fell good. And, it's what fit's my budget! If I didn't, the savings account would be empty. God willing, as long as I'm healthy, I'll keep doing it. Previous employment had an added bonus of garage and lift, but not for the past 10 years. When young I could 'spring' up off a creeper to standing. Now it's a struggle, roll on to all fours, hands and arms pulling, lots of moaning and groaning. Jobs take longer, need a nap half way through. Others tell me "It's easier to let someone else do it'. Well Daaaa! It's easier to let someone else do ANYTHING! Hoping to build a garage with lift, as retirement is just around the corner. Winters here in Pittsburgh will better when retired, hibernating between the house and the heated garage, with a beer fridge and recliner! Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy. Thanks for reply, :cool: Roger
I know what you are saying, I'm in my mid fifties and feel the pain getting up from under the car. I'm lucky now as I live in Arizona so the weather makes a difference although the summer is hard as to darn hot to work in or out the garage, funny really the exact opposite of you but has its hazards as well. I also like to fix them myself, I was brought up like that, never had any money to waste on anything, my father had to buy old heaps, fix them so we had a family car. I do know what it can be like though in the colder climates having originally come from England for the first 39 years of my life so I am thankful I can do what I can.
 

Bird52

Well-Known Member
I would like to correct the facts, the Tbirds have an internal timing chain,not a belt. The chain is lubricated by the engine oil and should and will (with regular oil changes) last 200,000 miles. When we buy a used TBird or any used car we really don’t know the maintenance or how hard it was used. Some of these 15 year old, low mileage cars may have only had 1 or 2 oil changes. The oil should be change at least yearly, regardless of miles. With non synthetic oil, you should change engine oil every 6 months. Oil breaks down and becomes acidic and can harm internal part.. Sometimes it hard to justify a oil change if you only driven 500 to 1000 miles but cheaper in the long run. Enjoy your bird or let someone else have that privilege!
Thanks for the update on chain replacement mileage. This forum is always very helpful. Stay safe and well to everyone
 
I know what you are saying, I'm in my mid fifties and feel the pain getting up from under the car. I'm lucky now as I live in Arizona so the weather makes a difference although the summer is hard as to darn hot to work in or out the garage, funny really the exact opposite of you but has its hazards as well. I also like to fix them myself, I was brought up like that, never had any money to waste on anything, my father had to buy old heaps, fix them so we had a family car. I do know what it can be like though in the colder climates having originally come from England for the first 39 years of my life so I am thankful I can do what I can.
You'll need the Air Conditioned garage instead of the heated. I know of a couple guys that are that lucky enough to have both in their garages! :)
 
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