2002 Thunderbird Hydraulic Cooling Fan Conversion

I'm looking to get rid of the Hydraulic cooling Fan on my Bird. I'm replacing the Radiator, and would like to also be done with the current fan cooling system. Does anyone have a good suggestion for Electric replacement fan kits for this model of T-Bird? Is there any conversion temp sensor that I need to incorporate as well?
I'm looking to get rid of the Hydraulic cooling Fan on my Bird. I'm replacing the Radiator, and would like to also be done with the current fan cooling system. Does anyone have a good suggestion for Electric replacement fan kits for this model of T-Bird? Is there any conversion temp sensor that I need to incorporate as well?
I would also be interested in a electric fan and get rid of the hydraulic cooling fan?

Gus Gutz

Well-Known Member
I know there is some sort of control device that tells the fan to spin up. The PCM tells that device to spin up the fan. I have no idea where that is but my Ford dealer replaced that two years ago when I kept overheating. I'm sure there would have to be some sort of connection to that device in your replacement
was able to install the new 16" electric fan inside the shroud, so everything like the A/C dryer bottle, etc bolted back up to the shroud-like factory fit. I made my own bracket out of thick aluminum to mount the fan speed controller. Wired from the nearby fuse box, a constant 12V, a switched 12V and from the A/C compressor relay, a signal wire to trigger the fan on high speed. After fine-tuning everything, the fan starts at 208 degrees and cuts out at 196. When A/C is on,, the fan stays on high speed. Here are a few pics of my work.
If anyone is looking to do this mod, I would be happy to share my info. I feel this is more of a reliable system than the original hydraulic system.
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Need to remove everything pertaining to the hydraulic cooling fan, pump, reservoir, lines, expansion tank. Install a 100’’ sepentin fan belt, install a flex a lite 3400 cam 15´’ fan and shroud assembly, install a flex a lite fan speed control #31165 , and fine tune adjustments... I check my engine block temperature with OBDII reader, stays 208 degrees with a/c on, a hot day.
I also have a 2002, and is the only year with this hydraulic system. I just finished swapping everything out to an electric fan system. The '03-'05 had the swap already done from the factory. First, you need to determine if your problem is from the hydraulic side,, or the coolant side. The first test, start the engine, leave it run a few minutes. Visually, your radiator fan should be spinning slowly. As the engine warms up, the fan should speed up. When you turn on the a/c, the fan should spin at its maximum speed. If all these procedures work, skip to the coolant side., if not, you will need to fix the issues. The fan speed is controlled by a small valve called the actuator. It is screwed into the hydrolic pump. It has a wire hooked up to it. It is not voltage, but a pulse. This system is not my favorite system and is why after screwing around to get it working, I gave in, and ripped it out and did the conversion. You can do a search on this site for my messages, and get an idea of the extent of work to do this.

if your problem is on the coolant side, first start with the degas bottle. Its the cap and plastic white bottle with coolant overflow. They often crack and fail.
if your thermostat is original, replace it with a factory one. there is a small purge valve by the degas bottle. Just open the screw and close it when the coolant leaks out. Don't forget, only use the gold dealer coolant ( a red container) nothing else. Don't mix with prestone, it will eventually turn to gel in the hoses.
monitor the level ( between the lines) of the coolant in the degas bottle.
There are some videos on youtube where people have done this to the lincoln ls which is the same platform build as the thunderbird.
I've looked around for these videos and can't find them. Anyone have any ideas? I have the parts to do the job, just need some insight on how the radiator will come out. I'm almost there, but it seems I'm going to have to remove the A/C lines on the front radiator, and I'd rather not if at all possible.


Forum Moderator
Staff member
Found this online-
This is a write up on how to convert your factory hydraulic cooling fan to an electric cooling fan saving you a lot of money. I have done this conversion on 4 Lincoln LS's including 2 of my own. This should be the same process as the 2002 Birds.

I didn’t take step-by-step pictures but here's the info as I remember. You will need to purchase a Flex-a-Lite 183 cooling fan and a 99" or 100" x 13/16" multi rib v-belt. Removing the hydraulic pump is a pain so don’t say you weren’t warned.

Fan Removal
1. Remove intake tube and MAF housing
2. Remove radiator shroud/cover
3. Remove upper radiator hose and lower radiator hose (good time to replace thermostat, DCCV, coolant reservoir, etc at this time since you will need to bleed the cooling system after)
4. Unbolt the silver AC canister from the fan shroud and zip tie out of the way
5. Unbolt the aux heater pump from the fan shroud and remove the electrical connector.
6. Unbolt or cut the lines going to the hydraulic unit on the fan. These will be full of fluid so drain them into an oil pan and cut the hoses going to and from the cooling coil leaving an inch or two so you can plug them with a 3/8” bolt.
7. Unbolt and remove the fan shroud. I believe there are 2 bolts towards the top of the shroud and 2 bolts about halfway down, it’s tough to pull the shroud up and out of the engine compartment because the brackets on the bottom are big. Take your time and don’t put a hole in the radiator.

Hydraulic Pump Removal

1. Jack up the passenger side front of the car and support with jack stands.
2. Remove the alternator. 1 wire harness, the battery wire, and 3 bolts. It takes some maneuvering to get it out once it’s loose but it will come out without removing the lower control arm.
3. Remove the hydraulic pump. Remove the electrical connector. I couldn’t remove the smaller steel line on top of the hydraulic unit so I just broke it off. There is a bolt behind this line, it is the worst one to get to. I used a 10mm 3/8" drive socket with a knuckle/swivel and a few extensions or you can use a 10mm wrench from above where the reservoir is. Remove the other 3 bolts and the pump will come out the same way the alternator did.
4. Remove the hydraulic fan pump reservoir by removing the 2 bolts and two hoses.
5. Plug the hoses going to the cooling coil that is located between your radiator coil and the AC coil. There will be no pressure here, it’s just to keep excess fluid from leaking from the cooling coil. I just threaded a 3/8” bolt into the hose ends
6. Reinstall the alternator
7. Install the new shorter belt in the same way as the old belt. The upper idler pulley is smooth and the ribbed side of the belt will ride on the pulley. The shorter belt is a 99” or 100" x 13/16" 6rib v-belt.

The fan I purchased was a Flex-a-Lite 183 for a '03-'08 dodge ram. The brackets can be easily modified to mount the electric fan to the radiator. I still had overheating issues using the temp controller, I never could get it adjusted right so I just wired it to come on when the key is on and removed the temp controller. It works just fine. The fan comes with installation instructions that will tell you how to install and wire it and aluminum mounting brackets that are easy to modify to the shape you need. You will need to make a custom bracket if you want to bolt the ac canister to the new fan shroud. You also need to mount the aux heater pump to the new fan shroud with a screw or bolt.
After you install the fan, put the upper radiator hose back on and follow the fill and bleeding procedure for the coolant system.
The Flex-a-Lite fan is about as loud as the stock hydraulic fan on high. It cools my Ls perfectly, I sat in gridlock for 45 minutes on a 105 degree day and no overheating issues.
I also have not upgraded my alternator because the LS PCM will not allow it to charge properly. I have not noticed any problems with the factory alternator.
As far as wiring, you can attach the power wire of the fan to the large power wire under the fuse box in the engine compartment and attach the ground wire to a reverse polarity relay and use a switched power source to power the relay. I found a switched source under the dash, I believe it’s a green and orange wire under the steering column.
I also installed a toggle switch to turn my fan off manually. I did this for the drag strip, I turn it off as soon as I stage and turn it back on as soon as I hit the return road.
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