Bobberoo

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2002
After reading some of the posts I think I’ve answered my question but I want to throw it out there anyway.
I lost my tach and speedometer lights but all other dash lights work. Also had my parking lights came on very dim one time but killed my battery overnight.
Also I had a no start once but tried it several times and finally it started. Also steering is very stiff.
My assumption is the FEM is failing.
Any thoughts? Thank you in advance!
 

Brian B.

Active Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2015
Thunderbird Year
2004
I need help with my Front Electronic Module (FEM) situation. I am not one who is comfortable working on vehicles, so I must rely on an auto service provider to help me with my 2004 T-bird that is experiencing issues that, based on my review of all the related threads here, I am pretty certain is an issue with my Front Electronic Module going bad. So, here are my questions and my specific situation issue:

(1) Reading through all the threads, I am still somewhat confused as to the specific part number I should be asking for that would work to replace the FEM on a 2004 T-bird. Can someone clarify the part number(s) that would reference the specific part I need for my 2004.

(2) I have already contacted two Ford dealerships in the area (Las Vegas) and talked to both parts and service people at dealerships and they don't seem to have any clue about knowing even what the Front Electronic Module is, where it is located, what it would cost to replace one, etc. and this is after I spent extensive time on the phone describing all of the things that I have learned via review of the Forum threads (thanks for that).

(3) What I seemed able to do via talking to one dealership is to confirm that the Ford parts list status has the needed replacement part status as on "indefinite backorder" and the dealership was unable to tell me when it would be available from Ford.

(4) When I talked to the Ford service people I was told that they could perform the service of replacing the bad FEM with a new one, but would NOT do this unless the part was a Ford OEM part.

(5) So, my situation is that I am not skilled enough to remove the part, send it for repair, and put it back in the vehicle. Ford would likely be willing to remove the part for me to send it in, but they won't put a part back in the vehicle that has been repaired by a non-Ford entity. No part is available from Ford.

(6) So, it seems like I have found myself in the midst of an excellent example of a Catch-22. I can'd do the remove and replace work myself and since the part is not available from Ford and the service people refuse to replace FEM with one that came from elsewhere including a Ford FEM that was repaired by someone other than Ford, I am at a lost at what to do next.

(7) I have read conflicting info in the various threads concerning how much reprogramming/resetting is needed when the new FEM is put into the vehicle. I point this out because one possible option would be to go to a local auto service center I have used before that is not a Ford Dealer service center and rely on them to remove the part and replace it after I have sent it to one of the entities that repairs these modules. However, I just don't know if this is something that I could count on a (reliable, highly rated) local auto service center to do. I have not discussed this option with the service center, because I wanted to get feedback from this forum before pursuing this option.

So, if you were in my position, what would you do given the assumption that you, like me, were unable to do this remove and replace work yourself? My wife is getting pretty tired of us having to survive with only one vehicle and it has only been a week since the T-bird starting acting up. So, I know I need to do something soon. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

Brian B.

Active Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2015
Thunderbird Year
2004
Yet more questions:

(1) So, for those people who removed their FEM and sent it in for repair, did they have to take the vehicle into Ford to reprogram the module when they reinstalled the refurbished FEM? Maybe, reprogramming is required if you replace the module with a different one, but it is not required if you install the same module after it has been refurbished?

(2) I have read that the vehicle can be driven with the bad FEM (albeit with all the issues experienced because of the bad FEM). However, I was wondering if the vehicle can be driven when there is no FEM in the vehicle at all (or will it not start or will there be too many issues with the vehicle to make it safe to drive)?
 

cobrajeff

Active Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Thunderbird Year
2002
My Retro Thunderbird is my daily driver, so I was concerned about sending my FEM out for repair and driving the car without lights. I bought a used FEM off of eBay, and installed it myself yesterday. While I had the FEM out of the car, I confirmed that the car would start and run. The headlights, supplemental lights, and front turn signals did not work. I also confirmed that the rear tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals DID work.

The cluster illumination in my Thunderbird quit working quite some time ago. I tried all of the easy things first, check all of the fuses, disconnect and reconnect the battery, etc., to no avail. I talked to a Service Advisor at my local Ford/Lincoln Dealer, and was completely unimpressed with his answers to my questions: “Have you serviced many retro Thunderbirds with cluster lighting issues?” “No”; “Can you give me a rough idea what it might cost to diagnose or repair my cluster lighting?” “No”; “Do you have a Ford authorized electronics repair shop that you deal with to have electronic modules repaired?” “Uh, I don’t know what you’re talking about”. He certainly did not make me feel comfortable about leaving my car with them for diagnosis and repair.

I developed a simple “work-around” temporary fix for my cluster lighting. I bought a cheap battery powered light at Walmart, painted it Black to make it less obnoxious, and velcroed it to my cluster finish panel below the speedometer. When driving at night, I turn that battery-powered light on, cruise up to the posted speed limit, turn on my cruise control, then shut the light back off. This worked well for me while a I sought a cost-effective solution to my cluster illumination issue.

I was pretty nervous about having this repair done upon hearing several horror stories about people paying anywhere from $1200 to $2500 to get their cluster lighting fixed, on top of the fact that FEMs and clusters were out of stock and no longer serviced by Ford. After reading everything on the internet I could find about cluster lighting issues, I was fairly confident that my FEM (Front Electronic Module) was bad. I had the symptoms most reported associated with the FEM – cluster lights out, PRNDL light out, stiff steering. I’ve read about some electronic module repair shops – along with some horror stories about modules that couldn’t be repaired, and some that got lost in shipping. I decided to take a gamble on a junkyard FEM, and started watching for one on eBay. A couple showed up on eBay a few weeks ago, and I made an offer on one that was accepted. I finally got around to installing it yesterday, and now I have cluster illumination! I plan to send my original FEM in to be repaired, and then keep it for a backup.

For anyone thinking about removing their FEM module themselves, here are some pictures and tips I learned while doing this procedure. The first thing you should do is disconnect the negative cable of your battery.

Removing the cowl side trim and close-out trim panels under the dash requires a little tugging and a trim panel tool to release the plastic rivets. Once you’ve removed these trim pieces and folded the carpet back, you’ll be able to access the FEM module. I zip-tied the dangling footwell light to the steering column shaft to get it out of my way. You will need to unbolt and remove the dash brace that blocks access to the FEM – a 13mm nut and a 13mm bolt hold it in place. You will also need to unbolt the junction block at the corner of the toeboard and swing it out of the way – two 10mm nuts hold it in place. Disconnecting the electrical connections to the FEM is a finger-numbing exercise. I was able to disconnect the four hardshell connectors at the bottom of the FEM while it was still bolted in. The FEM is bolted in with two 10mm nuts and an 8mm bolt. Remove all of them and wiggle the FEM out. I released the two connectors on the rear-facing surface of the FEM after getting the FEM loose so that I could access their release tabs and get a little more leverage to disconnect them.

When reinstalling the FEM module, I had a great deal of difficulty getting the junction block bolted back in. It was hitting the corner of the FEM module, making it impossible to seat on the studs in the floorpan. I ended up grinding a half-moon shaped relief in the wall around the left bolt position so that I could squeeze it past the corner of the FEM module and bolt it back in. If I do this again, I’m thinking that I will cut about ½” off of both of the FEM mounting studs to make R&R much simpler. They are much longer than they need to be, and made removing and installing this module for service even more difficult than it should be.


Temporary light
Cluster 1.jpg

I painted the lamp Black and attached with VelcroCluster 2.jpg

Temporary light affixed to cluster finish panel under the speedoCluster 3.jpeg

Temporary light in useCluster 4.jpeg

Cluster lights again with my junkyard FEM installedCluster 5.jpeg

FEM module exposed (junction block with heavy Red wire needs to be moved over)FEM 3.jpeg

Upper mount for dash brace
FEM 2.jpg

Junkyard FEM on left, my original on right
FEM 4.jpeg

Grinding a clearance notch in the junction blockFEM 5.jpeg
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2002
Very clever solution to the classic FEM lighting failure, I have my own solution I'll post next week when I get my cluster back to confirm it works....it'll only require one jumper wire and an unobtrusive dimmer switch, no FEM required...

You didn't have to program the replacement FEM when you installed it ??
 
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Joined
Oct 23, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2002
My 2 cents about Thunderbird Specialties and Philip Wegener - cheat and crook, don't by anything from this company!

Our 2002 T-Bird wouldn't start this spring, it would just crank over but not start. I just thought it was a low battery even though the tender is on and it shows it was charging just fine. I began some self diag thinking it was maybe a fuse or relay, have spares on hand, replaced each that it could be but still nothing. I looked around on the internet and after lots of reading it sounded like it could the REM module. Figuring it was beyond what I could fix, I put the T-Bird on the trailer and took to Bison Ford in Great Falls Montana, my local dealership who I have bought many many cars from. They diagnosed it and said it was either the REM or fuel pump, it acted just like the owners 2 T-Birds and his daughters T-Bird when their REMs went out. I said lets start with the fuel pump and that wasn't it so it looked to be the REM was bad. They used to send to a place in Detroit but they don't fix these anymore and at the time there wasn't any available from Ford. So we began a horrible route of trying to contact this company to fix. We sent the REM to Philip in agreement he could repair it, for an original cost of around $1100 though his website said charges began at only $250. Here is where everything went south...... After he received the REM in early June he didn't try to fix or repair, we mailed him multiple times and received no reply, we began to worry if this was a legit company, more on that later. Finally in late July/early August he replied saying he couldn't fix it but gave no answer as to why, don't think he even tried to repair it, he said for another $200 plus additional costs he could get a reman REM from Ford, now we were really confused, as Ford said none where available. Bison looked at their site and oddly they showed some were now available, we tried to order one, but couldn't as Philip locked up my VIN with a dealership in NC trying to get one ordered. We contacted dealer and said here is what Philip is trying to pull, they agreed that once they received my REM from him, they would ship the new REM directly to us, well he never sent my original REM to them and still has it. After some time of working with Ford, they released my VIN so we could do an order for a REM through Bison, after a few weeks we received the REM and our T-Bird is running again, with no help from Philip Wegener or Thunderspecialties.com. We have sent messages to him only to have him state that during the summer he sent mails to Bison and they never replied to him, he considers the matter closed but I have communicated with him that how can you consider it closed when you are still holding onto my REM and won't return it.

Long and detailed but after this encounter and hearing of others who have had similar encounters, I'd steer clear of Thunderbird Specialties and Philip Wegener, he will cheat you out and never get you your parts you paid for.
 
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Joined
Nov 3, 2007
Thunderbird Year
2002
Finally pulled the FEM out of my 2002 T Bird parts car where the dash lights do not work.

Here are a front and back photo of the FEM. I really thought there would be more to
this module, but in reality it is quite simple.

Two 1 ohm resistors, quite large most likely for the front turn signal bulbs, and a ohm
bar of .005 ohm, not sure what this one does.

Going to check all 11 transistors to see which one is bad.

Truthfully some of these transistors are not heavy enough for the load they take, may
be why some fail.
fem front.JPGfem rear.JPG
 
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cobrajeff

Active Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Thunderbird Year
2002
The release tabs were a bear to get to, as I recall. They were almost completely obstructed by bundles of wire harnesses,
Release Tab 2.jpg
 
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Paul B

Active Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Thunderbird Year
2003
I recently replaced the FEM on my 2003 T Bird. I unfortunately purchased it from Thunderbird Specialties who turned out to be a bad vendor. At the time I didn't mind paying an inflated price, however, when he was ready to ship the item, I had to pay an additional $1200 Core Deposit which I was supposed to get back when I returned the old one. I must have sent a dozen e-mails to Philip Wegener, the owner of the company. He said the credit would be forthcoming but it never happened. Not sure why he would want to cheat a customer. Be careful when dealing with this guy who should be put in the "Hall of Shame" His new name in the industry should be "Crooked Philip". He turned out to be a real scoundrel. Just for the record, the correct item number for this product is 6W6Z13C788AB. The list price from Ford is $955.31. The dealer cost is $623.86. You are much better off buying it from a legitimate Ford Dealer.
 

Bobberoo

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2002
I also had an issue getting my core charge back from Thunderbird Specialties. Same deal. Many unanswered emails, a phone call with promises of sending a check immediately and still nothing. Starting to wonder why a guy with a specialty business like that would want to get a bad name with the very people that are/were supporting his business.
 
Joined
Aug 11, 2018
Thunderbird Year
2002
I sent my FEM out to MIdwestern tech to be repaired about eighteen months ago. It took about a month to get it back but it solved the problem and the price was reasonable. Around $250 with shipping each way.


Good luck!
 
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Joined
Nov 3, 2007
Thunderbird Year
2002
I sent the FEM from my parts 2002 T Bird to Midwest Tech since the dash lights were out when I bought it, then after sitting for 5 months most
everything else the FEM controls quit. Sent April 30th, just got back today, and everything works perfectly, they did a good job. Now I have
a good spare if one of my good 2002 T Birds has FEM problem.T Bird fem recd.JPG

Now this parts T Bird works perfectly, even with 129k miles.T bird fem rep.jpg
 
Joined
May 29, 2020
Thunderbird Year
1957
The FEM for my 2002 just returned from Midwest. The mechanic who removed it reinstalled it, but now the car doesn't recognize either of my keys. They are both the ones that came with this car when it was new.
 

biddle

Forum Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 9, 2003
Thunderbird Year
2005
I have a quote from Module Experts Jacksonville Fl. $150 plus shpg. 1w6z-14b205-aa. This for rebuild.
That's really cheap, curious how it turns out if you use them. The bad google reviews should be enough to scare anyone away! https://g.co/kgs/TTbwzv

Screenshot_20200530-000113_Chrome.jpg
 
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L
We recently bought this 2002 Thunderbird with only 22,000 actual miles in early fall of 2020. Driving late one evening we noticed that the gear indicator light and most of the dash instruments would not illuminate. After reviewing this site I thought the front electronic module was at fault. I removed this module and had it looked at by a module repair specialist. He found no issue with the module. I reinstalled the module and traced power back to the fuse box. It indicated I had 13 volt power going from fuse 13 to the instrument cluster and fuse 5 to the transmission shift selector when the main light switch was activated. I am pretty sure others with this car have had this issue and would like to get feedback if possible on what had to be done next by others to resolve this issue. This is the only electrical issue with this car. Everything else associated with the Front Electronic Module works fine. I also changed out the Instrument Panel Dimming Module to no avail. Trying to avoid dealership diagnosis cost if possible.

Thanks
Larry Hunt
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2002
We recently bought this 2002 Thunderbird with only 22,000 actual miles in early fall of 2020. Driving late one evening we noticed that the gear indicator light and most of the dash instruments would not illuminate. After reviewing this site I thought the front electronic module was at fault. I removed this module and had it looked at by a module repair specialist. He found no issue with the module. I reinstalled the module and traced power back to the fuse box. It indicated I had 13 volt power going from fuse 13 to the instrument cluster and fuse 5 to the transmission shift selector when the main light switch was activated. I am pretty sure others with this car have had this issue and would like to get feedback if possible on what had to be done next by others to resolve this issue. This is the only electrical issue with this car. Everything else associated with the Front Electronic Module works fine. I also changed out the Instrument Panel Dimming Module to no avail. Trying to avoid dealership diagnosis cost if possible.

Thanks
Larry Hunt
Its almost certainly the FEM if the shift indicator AND the instrument lights are out....I have an 18,000 mile 2002 in which that was the only issue and some Bubba had hot-wired a patch inside the instrument cluster itself to have the lights on full time. I reversed that and then had the FEM repaired and all is well. There is more going on that just fuse voltages...the sash light switch sends a signal to the FEM which then determines what the instrument lights and shifter light do. There is a workaround by sending voltage to the shifter light to "backfeed" the instrument cluster lights and adding an external on/off switch which I have done and guided others through. Not perfect but very functional and can save an owner about $500.
 

Waltbird

Walt & Conny Birdsong
Joined
May 16, 2019
Thunderbird Year
2002
2002 Tbird in inspiration yellow. Just recieved a FEM from Ford in Dearborn. It did not come with instructions, wich is not an issue, I dont think. But I am curious if anyone who has replced a FEM has had any issues, ie FEM needing programed after install. Anyway thanks in advance and happy Birding.
 
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