That pesky "E"

Hi all,

As a new T-Bird owner (of a used '03 with just over 17K miles) I see that I now have the "E" showing up on my display. Seems that I saw something about this in an old post, but I'm ****ed if I can find it now. Manual is alarming in stating that this is a transmission "malfunction"??

The car is not under warranty (I purchased privately - not through a dealer), yet I will be looking into the possibility of getting one through some service, if not a dealer, in the near future based on suggestions herein.

Can anyone tell me if this is a serious issue, or just a sneaky way to get the car brought in for service?
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Magicfen, go to page 3 and find "Help only had it 3 days", then on page 2 " Help need quick response" and also on page 2 "Found a little humor". This the story of that pesky "E" and how it affected my wallet! :D I have the address for Mr. Alan R. Mulally, CEO of Ford if you would like to write him a note after your "E" code is resolved like I did! :eek: A small piece of advice, take the car to a Lincoln dealer, they seem to know more about Fords than the Ford dealers and if you get the same response I received Ford Corp. will tell you they don't have anything to do with after the sale service anyway! :mad: Good Luck! :confused:


Passed Away July 25, 2015
I did some quick research and called in some favors and here's an assortment of data I have gathered for you. Please take from it what you can:

Steady "E" is drivable. ---- Flashing "E" have it towed.

If it is the same valve body problem that most of us have had, after you shutdown the car the display will reset to normal (ie: D5 etc.). You should then be able to drive under 40 mph without the "E" coming back on.
Drive for a while under 40, then drive faster. If the "E" comes on at the higher speed it is the torque converter not locking up which is caused by a sticky rod in the valve body.

Most people have had the Valve body replaced to correct this problem, but my service department just fixed it for me in less than half a day.
Those "fixes" take a long time and don't usually solve the problem (ie: they replace the display unit, then you get the "E" back , then they tell you that the valve body now needs replacement--when if they worked on the valve body first it would have solved the problem).

The "dreaded E" club. The problem we all had was that the torque converter was not locking up due to a problem in the valve body of the transmission.
I had an '03 with about 2500-3000 miles on it. The steady "E" will go away when you restart the car (note: Ford says do not drive the car if the "E" is flashing as this indicates an imminent serious problem)

When service tech plugs in the laptop diagnonsis computer it will say "torque converter lockup failure".
Most people had the valve body replaced, but my dealer fixed the original valve body (His explaination--a piston moves back and forth to engage the torque converter--due to some metal shavings debris left over from the manufacturing process the piston gets hung up--clean it out and it works like new). I have put on 6000 trouble free miles since the fix.

Please remember that all of this is just "nice to know" information for you. Don't go to the dealer demanding that they replace the valve body. Let them diagnose the problem and fix it in their own way. (My dealers first try was to reprogram the transmission computer which didn't work and then he continued on to fix the valve body)

More to follow on next post


Passed Away July 25, 2015
Here's some more:

There is a TSB for 2003 Thunderbirds and the final repair is to replace the valve body. 50400 - DRIVELINE OTHER AUTO TRANS CONCERNS IS THE TITLE NUMBER 16893 SEEMS TO BE THE DESCRIPTION OF THE ISSUE. It contains the serial numbers of concern and what needs tobe replaced.

The car performs better with the new valve body. The original shift pattern seemed to pull a lot to timing from the engine between shifts. Very noticable.
Now the car performs like you would expect a HP sports car to perform. So maybe replacing the valve body will be a benefit. Only time will tell.
TSB 504 000-16893
The above numbers are the only identifiers that I can find. It is titled "DRIVELINE OTHER AUTO TRANS CONCERNS"

2003 Lincoln LS and Thunderbird built between 11/06/02 and 03/13/03 Illuminated TCIL and DTC P1744 Only (TCC slippage Detected) May exhibit an "E" or an error message with DTC P1744 only

Serial number refers to Transmission serial number, not VIN (My Error) Only 5R55S Transmissions built betwen 11/06/2002 and 02/13/2003 are affected.

Solution is to replace Main Control Valve Body Assembly

This text was printed from site using my VIN as the codes.

Text is a very, very poor quality FAX.

There is a reference to a TSB numbered 03-15-08 that reads as follows:
2003 Thunderbirds, LS, Transmission 5R55S - Harsh Shifts _ Vehicles built between 11/18-2002 and 5/17/2003 only. Nothing else is shown on this TSB. There must be a full detail TSB available to the Ford Techs.

I hope this and the above post helps resolve your problems – Good Luck

I have an early 2003 with 65k miles and the "E" came up a while a go. It had the code related to the torkconverter. We found that halve way 2003 ford superside the converter. So we pull down the transmission to install a new tork converter and filter and cleaned/flushed all the system and every thing works well now. If you do not drive the car much after the E came on the first time everything should be OK.
I have also installed a K&M cool air instake with an electric blower and used autoenginuity, and sniper tuning software to fine tune the ECM. What a difference, I am getting about 40-45 HP more, and not only that, the engine sound a lot better.


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I fell victim to the Dreaded E last week.
Will be replacing the tranny this week.
Lost 5th and had slipping gears.
Nothing new for those of you with a 2003.
Bummer, when was your car made and how many miles are currently on it? I was curious if the old post from 2007 stating that Ford fixed the problem after 5/17/2003 was accurate.
Bummer, when was your car made and how many miles are currently on it? I was curious if the old post from 2007 stating that Ford fixed the problem after 5/17/2003 was accurate.
Mine was made March 4th 2003.
So it was within the “bad” range.
Had almost 86000 on it when it hit me.
I hope they fixed it after May 17th 2003.
Too sweet a car to have such a hefty issue.
The '03 finally came out of storage yesterday after a six month hibernation. All is well, battery was disconnected. Driving it home I worked it over, checking everything to see if there were any issues. Only thing to report is the steady "E" code appeared again, as it always has since I got the car three years ago. Only appears when shifting with the SST, something I rarely use. Resets when key off and restarted. Even with the "E" code displayed the car will shift normally except for the fact it will not SST shift into 5th gear. With 17k miles, I had already planned to change the trans fluid and filter and add some Lucas. Any tips on the "E" code fix would be helpful. Unless I find something that raises a concern in the oil or filter, I will likely just live with it. I do pretty much everything else myself, but besides oil/filter changes, I do not mess around inside automatic transmissions. Especially the newer computer controlled ones. If you have ever seen one torn apart, you'll understand. I'll leave that to the experts.
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Is there a way to correlate the 5R55S tranny build dates to vehicle VIN serial number build dates, in order to determine if the tranny in a 2003-2004 car was built after 02/13/2003 or 05/17/2003?

Thanks, Zootr