ISO 2002-2005 Owner feedback

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Gen11 'Birds offer a pleasant driving experience while still looking great with the Retro styling. Some complain about Gen 11styling however we always get looks from people when out and about in Da Bird.
We've had our "bird (AKA "Da Bird") for 11 years now with 37K miles on the clock, purchased in NC with 14K miles. During that time, Da Bird followed us from NC to OH and then back home to Tucson, AZ. Didn't see very many 'Birds in NC or OH but see quite a few back here in Tucson.
Some ruminations:
- Ford / Lincoln dealership for fluid changes always best choice. Inexpensive for minor repairs and maintenance unless you run into problems with major components such as power modules.
- My experiences with 'Bird issues include:
> Limp Mode shutting down power. I have a write-up in this forum relating to corrections. Net: Replaced TPS on Throttle Body Housing. Removed the awful Gen 1 TPS to the Gen 3 TPS which tells you something. Not easy to do but can be done if you have some mechanical aptitude. Don't be talked into replacing the throttle body housing by the dealer as the replacement might not have the latest Gen TPS installed. Plus it'll cost upwards to $1,500 or more to replace.
> While changing TPS, I changed spark plugs and installed complete set of new COPS (Coils on Plugs). A preventative task that adds to reliability.
> Recently had an issue with the Mass Air Flow sensor that I had to take to dealer for repair. Would have done this myself however I couldn't diagnose the issue as car needs to be running to use the OBD II tool.
= I suggest investing in an OBD II plug in device. Helps you diagnose issues that can be DIY tasks.
> Replacing the spare tire. Mine pretty much rotted away.
> Rubber bushings on rear suspension links have deteriorated however the ride is still fine. I'll replace the links once I notice changes in handling quality.

Hope this helps in your decision.

Regards,
 
I forgot to add that Da Bird is a Red '04 model which has most of the bugs worked out.
 
Hi,
I am new to the forum. I am a retired aerospace engineer who has restored many old Fords in the past as a hobby. Some of them include a 57 Tbird, 55 Crown Victoria, 65 Mustang coupe and fastback, and 68 Shelby GT500. I'll be 75 in a few days but the classic car hobby is still calling me back. I am thinking of purchasing a 2002 - 2005 Tbird for pleasure drives and car cruises and I would appreciate comments from 2002 - 2005 Tbird owners on the reliability, parts availability, electronics issues, and overall positive or negative thoughts on these vehicles. Thank you.

Tbirdtony
Beaver, PA
I bought my Grey (w/hardtop) 2003 in 2020 with 34.3K on the OD. The only problem I've had is not being able to find enough excuses to drive it. The car was in excellent condition, but I made a few modifications (okay, my mechanic did). I replaced the plugs & coils, had it street tuned, replaced the old air filter with a K&N, and installed a Borla cat-back. Best Buy replaced the 6CD with a modern one that works with android phones and a backup camera (which I highly recommend). The car is reliable, and my mechanic said it's easy to work on and parts are readily available, just like any other Ford. Back in my young and foolish days, I bought a 12-year-old Lamborghini, and I can honestly say the T-Bird is MUCH more enjoyable to drive and reliable. Easy to get in and out of, comfortable, more than quick enough for me, and it's great eye-candy. The "cons" are it doesn't have the safety features of the newer cars, it brakes like a 2003 car, visibility, takes premium gas, and the gas mileage isn't even as good as my RAV-4. By the way, I'm a few years older than you.
 
I am probably 4+ months in on a 2003 007. The only mechanical issue I had with the transmission was easily resolved by only a partial fluid change with a licensed Mercon V product - so I would not use the Valvoline Mercon V. Just make it easy on yourself and use the the Motorcraft Mercon V. The previous owner had the trans serviced at a Quick-Lube type place (I am sure with an "all trans" type fluid) and the shifting just was not right. I will do another partial change when the weather warms up a bit. IMO, this simple job is much easier with a lift.
 
Hi,
I am new to the forum. I am a retired aerospace engineer who has restored many old Fords in the past as a hobby. Some of them include a 57 Tbird, 55 Crown Victoria, 65 Mustang coupe and fastback, and 68 Shelby GT500. I'll be 75 in a few days but the classic car hobby is still calling me back. I am thinking of purchasing a 2002 - 2005 Tbird for pleasure drives and car cruises and I would appreciate comments from 2002 - 2005 Tbird owners on the reliability, parts availability, electronics issues, and overall positive or negative thoughts on these vehicles. Thank you.

Tbirdtony
Beaver, PA
I would recommend a pass, the build quality is poor and if you read a few forum pages you will see the problems. As bad as this sounds in my opinion Ford Taurus’s have no where near the problems. I’ve owned a low mileage Tbird and if you enjoy fix and repair daily for little issue's, suspension bushings and rubber seals that rot away, one of the poorest transmissions made and some of the worst electronics controls and poor ride quality especially with the hard top removed and poor performances and very difficult to work on then by all means buy one but you are for warned. I drove a 55 Tbird for 20 years and it was easily a much better car. Being a Ford enthusiast for 50 years and owning , from 67 427 Fairlane , 70 J code Torino, 40 ford I personally think the retro bird was a great mistake as it was sold, basically a low end Jag with more problems. I drive a 2013 31k miles Boss 302 Mustang now and it is so far superior in every aspect from ease of entry comfort performance and ride quality it’s not even close.
 
I love mine & have had zero problems because I searched and paid high for a very low mileage 04. I'm 85 & entry/exit are fine. I also have a 52 Ford & a modern car. The big item for me was modern brakes, air bags, etc., and I like the looks & performance of the retros.
 
Hi,
I am new to the forum. I am a retired aerospace engineer who has restored many old Fords in the past as a hobby. Some of them include a 57 Tbird, 55 Crown Victoria, 65 Mustang coupe and fastback, and 68 Shelby GT500. I'll be 75 in a few days but the classic car hobby is still calling me back. I am thinking of purchasing a 2002 - 2005 Tbird for pleasure drives and car cruises and I would appreciate comments from 2002 - 2005 Tbird owners on the reliability, parts availability, electronics issues, and overall positive or negative thoughts on these vehicles. Thank you.

Tbirdtony
Beaver, PA
HI, I believe that the 2002 seems to have the most issues according to what I read on this forum. However there are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing any car that is 20 or so years old. How and where it was used/stored can affect any old car. That being said, I prefer the later model years. Ford made changes and improvements each year of production. It's best to have any old car inspected before purchasing. I love my 2005. It has had no issues yet (fingers crossed). I did replace the coils because they have been reported as being an issue on 2005s. Good luck. They are comfortable fun cars to drive.
 
I might add that I find the retro birds a bit tight. I am 6'3" and a bit rotund. I think 6" and under will find these cars very comfortable. I just rented a 2023 Mustang convertible and was surprised at how much roomier it was - my wife and I drove it from SF to Sacramento to Yosemite to Carmel and I found it very comfortable. I think I would be fit to be tied if I tried that in my retro bird. I will say that the 20+ year old retro bird stacks up really well (still!) in the ride and handling department. I daily drive my 2003 007 and am enjoying it with no real issues in the 6 months that I've owned it. I personally wouldn't be afraid own any year of retro bird, but I enjoy messing with cars and have a lift. My advice is to keep up with and know the cooling system and never let it overheat, if it does, it opens the door to serial issues on these cars.
 
I have several 2002 T Birds, and mine have never had the problems others are listing. Both have new suspensions because of bad rubber bushings,
and one had new fuel pump and AC compressor only because we let it sit for 28 months and the gas went bad, and AC compressor seal dried out.
The 02 have the hydraulic fan which can give problems if you let the hydraulic fluid get low, or do not change it out around 50k miles. However
the 03-05 have variable valve timing, and drive by wire accelerators which can give problems. Keeping my cars in the garage possibly have kept
them trouble free, but many garage their T Birds, so maybe I simply got some good T Birds. My T Birds have 13k miles, and 14k miles, and everything
on them both work perfectly.
 
Hi,
I am new to the forum. I am a retired aerospace engineer who has restored many old Fords in the past as a hobby. Some of them include a 57 Tbird, 55 Crown Victoria, 65 Mustang coupe and fastback, and 68 Shelby GT500. I'll be 75 in a few days but the classic car hobby is still calling me back. I am thinking of purchasing a 2002 - 2005 Tbird for pleasure drives and car cruises and I would appreciate comments from 2002 - 2005 Tbird owners on the reliability, parts availability, electronics issues, and overall positive or negative thoughts on these vehicles. Thank you.

Tbirdtony
Beaver, PA
Hi: I am also new to the forum and have found it helpful, I also just purchased a 2004 Pacific Coast Roadster Edition T-Bird. Only thing that came up after driving the car home was finding the Instrument Cluster lighting did not work when I drove in the dark. My research and trouble shooting all ended up with a problem with the FEM. I was surprised to find out all the functions the FEM controls. Fortunately some interior lighting functions were all the failures I can find. I've found a source to rebuild the FEM with a 5 year warrantee, so next step is to remove it and send for rebuild. Good you-tube videos on these subjects exist and answered a lot of questions. My advise is you verify ALL functions before you buy. I've looked at others with check engine and other (temp) warning lights or throwing codes on, but to my mind only a good mechanic and a thorough check out including a compression check would show the true conditions. Hope this helps
 
Hi,
I am new to the forum. I am a retired aerospace engineer who has restored many old Fords in the past as a hobby. Some of them include a 57 Tbird, 55 Crown Victoria, 65 Mustang coupe and fastback, and 68 Shelby GT500. I'll be 75 in a few days but the classic car hobby is still calling me back. I am thinking of purchasing a 2002 - 2005 Tbird for pleasure drives and car cruises and I would appreciate comments from 2002 - 2005 Tbird owners on the reliability, parts availability, electronics issues, and overall positive or negative thoughts on these vehicles. Thank you.

Tbirdtony
Beaver, PA
Hi, I will be 85 in August. I have a 2005 50th Anniversary model and we love it. The only issue it has had is an O-ring seal leak at the power steering rack where the hoses attach. I fixed it in about 10 minutes with a new one from my stash. The only other expense was for a set of lifetime guaranteed coil on plug coils. It did not need them but I was advised that the original ones could fail. I still have the factory coils on my workbench. Routine oil changes, two batteries and that's about it. I bought it 12 years ago and it now has only 50k miles. My wife wants me to sell it, because we rarely drive anymore and we have other cars. I expect that they will be appreciating in value soon.
 
I currently own a 1947 caddy series 62 4 door and a 1952 desoto fire dome hardtop with first year 276 ci hemi. Recently added a 2002 red thunderbird. most of the info is here to repair and troubleshoot. the biggest issue I had is changing over from a lot of metal and bolts to fiber glass and a lot of plastic clips. The thing is I got use to it very quickly, and I don’t miss frozen bolts, sheet metal cuts. But unfortunately I still find myself swearing under my breath at all of them on occasion. That’s life
 
Hi,
I am new to the forum. I am a retired aerospace engineer who has restored many old Fords in the past as a hobby. Some of them include a 57 Tbird, 55 Crown Victoria, 65 Mustang coupe and fastback, and 68 Shelby GT500. I'll be 75 in a few days but the classic car hobby is still calling me back. I am thinking of purchasing a 2002 - 2005 Tbird for pleasure drives and car cruises and I would appreciate comments from 2002 - 2005 Tbird owners on the reliability, parts availability, electronics issues, and overall positive or negative thoughts on these vehicles. Thank you.

Tbirdtony
Beaver, PA
There are many sources to get replacement parts for a 2002 Thunderbird. The best source is a reputable dealer. I have had my A/C motor replaced, rubber boots on the rear axles, my FEM this year. All of these service item were done by different mechanic shops here in Iowa.
 
Well, from a 72 year old woman with NO mechanical skills: I've had my black and white 2002 TB since it was delivered to my dealer in Illinois in June of 2002.
I convinced my husband to build a garage for the car, and it never saw a flake of snow. I used only the Ford dealer in Illinois for service there.
We retired in 2016, and had the Bird transported to our winter home outside of Phoenix, where we spend December through the end of March.
The key in AZ was finding a good mechanic, which took me a couple of tries. I've gone through fuel pumps, AC replacement, and about six batteries. Thanks to the forum, I finally found the correct one, although I had to wait a week for it. This winter was the most repair free one yet(I have probably now jinxed it for next winter).
Since I'm 5'2", it's supremely comfortable and fun to drive, and just approaching 66,000 miles. My husband would have me sell it, but that ain't gonna happen! Otto the Weimaraner(pictured)enjoys riding in the passenger seat, complete with it's own cover. We get many smiles when we're out and about.
Thanks to @biddle and the forum, and all those who contribute.
 
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