TOP FIVE 02-05 T-Bird Problems

DrSarabi

Well-Known Member
2003. Replaced an old battery (original), coils , and put on new 18" wheels & Goodrich tires because the original owner had scraped the $@!&%@$ out of one original 7 spoke chrome wheel.
My dealer actually honored the old warranty and gave me a great deal - they replaced all the coils not just the bad one. They checked it over for me before I made a 2000 mile road trip last year. They say everything looks like new (and I told them to really give the suspension engine & other parts a close inspection).
Incidentally, my husband's Taurus had the same coil issues and he had replaced them a few times. He, and then my son, drove that Taurus until it had 243,000 miles. We sold it to a neighbor last year and she is still driving it.
He has an Edge ST now and absolutely loves it. My daughter has a Focus ST. So I guess we're a Ford family.
If you hate the car, then sell it. I love driving mine.
 

biddle

Forum Moderator
Staff member
Incidentally, my husband's Taurus had the same coil issues and he had replaced them a few times. He, and then my son, drove that Taurus until it had 243,000 miles. We sold it to a neighbor last year and she is still driving it.
I had a 2001 Mercury Sable (same as Ford Taurus) that I bought new and drove for 15 years. It blew a head gasket around 215,000 miles, so I got rid of it.
 
2003. Replaced an old battery (original), coils , and put on new 18" wheels & Goodrich tires because the original owner had scraped the $@!&%@$ out of one original 7 spoke chrome wheel.
My dealer actually honored the old warranty and gave me a great deal - they replaced all the coils not just the bad one. They checked it over for me before I made a 2000 mile road trip last year. They say everything looks like new (and I told them to really give the suspension engine & other parts a close inspection).
Incidentally, my husband's Taurus had the same coil issues and he had replaced them a few times. He, and then my son, drove that Taurus until it had 243,000 miles. We sold it to a neighbor last year and she is still driving it.
He has an Edge ST now and absolutely loves it. My daughter has a Focus ST. So I guess we're a Ford family.
If you hate the car, then sell it. I love driving mine.
I am looking for my forever Bird-guess I should try to be patient and buy my mine from the Ford dealership!! How sweet is that, honoring your old warranty!
 

Frankie the Fink

Well-Known Member
My brother in law in Oklahoma has a Taurus with 235K miles on it; the window tint has bubbled up and clear coat shot on the hood but it runs and drives just fine.

My big problem was the electronics on the 2002 TBird,

Bubba hot-wired the instrument cluster for "constant on" gauge lights because of a faulty FEM (electronics module). Once I fixed the instrument cluster (myself) and found a good replacement FEM I was in business... So far the COPS and all else has been just fine... I had the suspension gone over and it's all still very good. I did torque the X-braces to 46 ft-lbs per advice on here and it noticeably tightened things up.
 
Bubba hot-wired the instrument cluster for "constant on" gauge lights because of a faulty FEM (electronics module). Once I fixed the instrument cluster (myself) and found a good replacement FEM I was in business... So far the COPS and all else has been just fine... I had the suspension gone over and it's all still very good. I did torque the X-braces to 46 ft-lbs per advice on here and it noticeably tightened things up.


Did you need the dealer to program that FEM to your cars network?
 
I would like to ask if everyone would like to make a list of five issues these cars have?
It would be very helpful and interesting to hear what they are.
It would also help the newbies hear what they are in for.
Everyone already knows the positives of the car or we would not have purchased them, THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL.
Here is my list.
COPS, stereo, AC,transmission, suspension.
for listening......
#1 Problem: ignition coils getting shorted out by oil leaking into the plug tunnels from the valve cover and shorting out the coils.
 
I am the third owner of my beautiful 176,000 mile Pacific Coast #824. I have no complaints after 3 years of ownership and 26,000 miles of daily driving! Yes I have replaced hoses and thermostat housing and replaced radio to get Bluetooth. Oh yes, .... and new tires and alignment when I bought it.
By the way nost transmission shift problems go away if you simply update the firmware code in the controller. I consider that normal maint.

How did you update the firmware code in the controller?
 
COPS LACKING POWER. PAINT CHECKING. WIND WHISTLING. VALVE COUVERS LEAK MAKES IT SMOKE REAL BAD
OMG! I've had my 2002 since then. Guess I got a good one. 108k miles. CD player stopped but radio fine. Just replaced the struts and battery (yup.. original). Alternator, wiper motor and gas cap. Pretty much it. Paint is in great condition even tho it's been parked outside in Florida weather all these yrs. Do a good wax every 3 months.
 
I have to be honest and say only problems I have had in the 17 years I have owned it is suspension,
and ac compressor. Not sure I can blame the fuel pump, car did sit for 2 years, and fuel did go bad,
had to pump out fuel tank first.


what happened with the suspension? mine is squeaking like old bed springs in the back, havent started looking at what it could be yet. 140k miles not sure whats been done before 115k
 
OMG! I've had my 2002 since then. Guess I got a good one. 108k miles. CD player stopped but radio fine. Just replaced the struts and battery (yup.. original). Alternator, wiper motor and gas cap. Pretty much it. Paint is in great condition even tho it's been parked outside in Florida weather all these yrs. Do a good wax every 3 months.

what was the alternator doing when it failed? mine has a occasional squeaking which I think is either the alternator, or idler. I'm about to try replacing the idler because it is much cheaper. I use fomoco parts only, btw.

also, what wax do u use?
 
what happened with the suspension? mine is squeaking like old bed springs in the back, havent started looking at what it could be yet. 140k miles not sure whats been done before 115k
On my car I noticed the front ball joint boots were rotted, I then looked at all the other rubber suspension parts, and noticed
most of them were rotted also. My rear suspension squeaked, and made knocking noises going over big bumps. When I took
the rear suspension parts off, I noticed the rear bushings were in bad shape. This is most likely what you have.
 
Well this might be in other postings as well. I’ve reached the 55k mark and was just cruising around the neighborhood and heard a groaning noise. The
Engine temperature gauge was full hot. Had it towed to local Bluebonnet Motors and they found a crack in the thermostat housing. Only $1500.00 later I was back on the road.
I did have all fluids changed at the 50k mark.
Are there any more surprises I need to look out for?
 
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I bought a beautiful, show-room clean 2003 Thunderbird Deluxe Hardtop/Convertible with the 3.9 liter Jaguar engine in August of 2019. Only 56,000 miles on her. Purchased from a Ford dealership - the previous owner collected cars and traded her and a Corvette in to purchase an SUV. She was on the market less than 48 hrs., and 5 people were trying to buy her, but I called and put a deposit down. No time to do research on her - just had to hope and pray she was a good car. After putting 350 miles on her, that darn engine light and wrench lit-up on the dash, and she went into "limp home" mode. ONLY 25 mph. Good thing I was near home. Took her to my ace mechanics here at a classic car dealership. The original owner never did the recommended "recalls" on the COPS. All 8 were original from 2003. 2 had gone bad. I spent close to $1,000.00 and replaced all 8 of them. After another 200 miles - same darn thing - "limp home" mode and that damned wrench symbol. (I've learned to HATE that darn wrench!!!). The codes were indicating COPS again. Couldn't be - just replaced them all. They called Ford and were told to check the ECM - the main computer. It had malfuctioned, (due to the COPS?). Ford no longer makes the ECM's for the 2002-2005 T-Birds. I didn't want a re-built one. We sent the old one off for repair. They called and said it was completely "fried" and couldn't be re-built. We finally found a brand new one, after weeks of searching, (She's been in the shop since April 14th), we found a brand new ECM out west somewhere with a lifetime warranty. They "flashed" it, and are sending it here to be programmed and installed. Then the car has to finish the programming itself. This will cost $1,655.00. After that, she has to be driven and tested to make sure the Throttle Module wasn't damaged. If it was, that's another $850.00 that I don't have. (I pray THAT isn't damaged.) When everything is said and done - I hope the problems are cured. She is a beautiful car - but I don't trust her, right now. I will rent a car for out-of-town trips until she gains my trust for anything but short, close-to-home driving. I love the T-Bird and want to keep her, but darn she's costing me a LOT of money! I am NOT a rich person. I retire in 2 years. She's supposed to be my retirement car. I've done a lot of reading about the "Little 'Birds, and IF I HAD KNOWN about the problems they had - I would NOT have bought her. Expensive lesson learned. I hope she can be repaired - and run like she is supposed to - RELIABLY! I have never had the kind of problem with any of my T-Birds that I've had with this one. Thank goodness I didn't trade my 1995 T-Bird LX!!!! She's 25 years old, but running great! Never had any problems with her, besides routine maintenance. I drive her to my second job and back. 20 miles per week. At that rate, she'll theoretically last the rest my lifetime....... But, that 2003 has been a NIGHTMARE!!!!!
 
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