2003 Timing Cover Gasket Leak

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Thunderbird Year
2003
We are original owners of a 2003 T-Bird and have spent an average of at least $1000 for each repair for the last 5years. That's after replacing 7 coils which were fortunately under the 10 year warranty at that time. The latest issue is a timing cover gasket leak. 2 quotes of $3000 to repair because of the intensive labor. Part is cheap, it's the 16 hours of labor to tear it apart and rebuild. Has anyone else had this problem? Originally diagnosed as an oil pan leak which we replaced. Just curious.

Has anyone else had this timing cover gasket leak? We are looking at a cheap fix and selling. Makes me sad as I love my car but it's become a nonstop issue and money pit.
 

biddle

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Makes me sad as I love my car but it's become a nonstop issue and money pit.
If you bought the car new, you must realize it is quickly closing in on twenty years old. If you own an older car, it's definitely good to be able to do basic repairs yourself like changing the COPS which is very cheap. Also, when you do it yourself, you can change all 8 of them instead of 7!

Also, I've always found it interesting how people will shell out big money on car payments, but not car repairs. I'd rather spend 1,000 a year on car repairs, than 6,000+ in car payments. :)
 
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doug7740

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Dec 29, 2014
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1955
The latest issue is a timing cover gasket leak. 2 quotes of $3000 to repair because of the intensive labor. Part is cheap, it's the 16 hours of labor to tear it apart and rebuild. Has anyone else had this problem? Originally diagnosed as an oil pan leak which we replaced. Just curious.

Has anyone else had this timing cover gasket leak? We are looking at a cheap fix and selling. Makes me sad as I love my car but it's become a nonstop issue and money pit.
According to ALLDATA, the part is $13.00 and it should take about 14 hours to replace it.

A agree with biddle. Before I retired, I was a dealer technician and I was amazed how people never batted an eye when they had to make a monthly car payment, but how they complained when they had to pay for the repairs.

doug7740
1955 Thunderbird Blue
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2002
Put some Blue Devil Oil Stop Leak in it and drive it a couple hundred miles:

I used this to do a stopgap cure on a rear man oil seal leak (which I was eventually going to replace) on a 63 Corvette and the
leak stopped and remained gone for two more years until I sold the car. There is no downside
to trying a bottle of the stuff - you may get lucky.

These modern solutions aren't like the iffy snake oil fixes from years ago, they revitalize seals
and gaskets and can minimize or eliminate a leak completely.
 
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Issyro

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Jul 31, 2018
Thunderbird Year
2003
I agree with above, try some stop leak first it may help u out and savevu money. Also a small leak is liveable for older cars, protect the area underneath.
 

biddle

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Mar 9, 2003
this loosely related video below talks about gaskets and oils.


 
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Thunderbird Year
2003
If you bought the car new, you must realize it is quickly closing in on twenty years old. If you own an older car, it's definitely good to be able to do basic repairs yourself like changing the COPS which is very cheap. Also, when you do it yourself, you can change all 8 of them instead of 7!

Also, I've always found it interesting how people will shell out big money on car payments, but not car repairs. I'd rather spend 1,000 a year on car repairs, than 6,000+ in car payments. :)
Yes, we realize it's almost 20 years old and things will need to be replaced and we are very proactive on doing that. The common thing we hear by the repair shops is how poorly the car is designed and that things are difficult to get to. This is a 3rd car for us, so it's more of an issue of every time we get something fixed, something else happens. It's just a little frustrating. We are also in the midst of replacing the ABS module, which is $500 plus labor. In the last 6 mos, we've spent over $2000, and now possible another $4000.00. We will be trying the Stop-Leak suggested below! Thanks for the comments.
 

biddle

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Mar 9, 2003
The common thing we hear by the repair shops is how poorly the car is designed and that things are difficult to get to. This is a 3rd car for us, so it's more of an issue of every time we get something fixed, something else happens. It's just a little frustrating. We are also in the midst of replacing the ABS module, which is $500 plus labor. In the last 6 mos, we've spent over $2000, and now possible another $4000.00. We will be trying the Stop-Leak suggested below! Thanks for the comments.
Has it ever occurred to you that the mechanic is the problem or they are just trying to shift some of the heat off of them since the repair is expensive? For example, telling you how poorly designed the car is that to justify the high price of the repair? This doesn't make them bad people, nobody likes told they have a major repair so they are diverting some of the heat off of themselves. You would be surprised how many people act crazy at the service department.

FYI They could have sent the ABS module off for repair instead of replacing it for 250.00- https://forums.fordthunderbirdforum...tem-control-module-5w4z2c219a.9921/post-76885

As I said, there are all kinds of parts on cars that are hard to get to and take a lot of labor to fix, it's just the nature of a combustible engine. Has nothing to do with a poor design. Sounds like you've had a run of bad luck, but the car is getting old and it's common for seals and gaskets to fail. I've had them fail much sooner than 19 years on cars.

@doug7740 is a retired mechanic, he can confirm that all engines have expensive repairs.
 
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Joined
Feb 9, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2002
Hmmm... I won't get into whether or not the high estimate is justified (maybe it is)...
But in the OP's defense, when a repair starts to approach 25% of what an aging, esoteric vehicle is worth
its perfectly legitimate to examine options.
 
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