My first driving impressions of my #3 4.6 Thunderbird

GRWeldon

4th Gear Poster
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I finally got the #3 T-bird in drivable condition. I drove it for 65 miles during the round trip to the tag office. I have some issues still. First, the engine seems to run really well. The tranny seems to have some issues. I think it's acting like it has a broken accumulator spring (or two). It wants to prematurely shift into first under mild acceleration. It wants to hesitate shifting out of first under hard acceleration. Also, when driving normally, the shift from first to second STARTS to happen, then it slip a bit, then stays in first a tad longer, then shifts into second with "rubber band" effect, meaning that instead of the car going forward smoothly, it bounces a bit back and forth like a manual would if you let off the clutch too abruptly right at the end of pedal travel. If I'm going to have to pull the pan, I might as well do the J-mod. I did it once on my 95 XR7. I followed the write-up on TCCOA. Is there a write-up and parts list for the J-mod on this site someplace? Are the parts still available?

Also, the temp gauge is running hot, but I'm not sure if it IS ACTUALLY running hot. My OBDII scanner shows that it got up to 210 once, 205-208 a lot. The gauge inside was showing at the trailing edge of the M on the NORM. It didn't act like it was hot, not smoking of oil on the engine, no knocking, no boil-overs. I DID notice that when I removed the reservoir cap there was no pressure behind it. Also, the coolant is NASTY! I MUST flush the coolant out and refill with fresh. This alone might fix the issue. If not, I suspect temp sending unit(s).

I need an alignment bad. I replaced upper and lower control arms, steering rack and both tie rod ends. It's not horrible but it feels like it's pushing down the road instead of gliding freely. I also need new shocks all the way around. This is the sloppiest handling bird I've ever driven and I've driven at least (9) MN12s (no Mark VIII). I have an appointment for an alignment at 7AM on Monday.

The serpentine belt is running too far forward on the water pump pulley and one edge is not seating in the groove on the crank pulley (harmonic balancer?). I have no idea why this is happening but it's a brand new $33 belt an I don't want to have to buy another. It's riding in the groove on the AC compressor, the alternator and the PS pump. No clue what is going on.

I have a fuel leak. When I bought the car I was told that the reason it didn't run was because the fuel pump was bad, which was true. I replaced the pump but had trouble getting the metal ring to seal with the gasket under the pump plate due to restricted access. You know what they say... you never have the time to do it right, but always have enough time to do it over. That will be me. maybe I'll pull the whole tank down this time. I'm certainly not cutting a hole in the unibody.

One last thing... the speedo is off a bit. Up to about 45 it is accurate. At 64 indicated it's going 60 according to the PCM and GPS. At 78 indicated it's going 70. Not a really big thing, just a bit annoying. I wish I knew how to correct it.

Other non-driving issues that I must correct: Driver's window needs the puck and gear replaced, Passenger window doesn't even click. Have to do some troubleshooting. I HATE working inside doors. I will have to replace the entire AC system before summer. Many of the lines are crusty with rust. I've never seen this before on a vehicle from the south. I looked it up a couple of weeks ago.... about $500 minimum all the parts. This thing has become a money pit, however even with all the issues that I'll eventually work out, this thing feels great to drive!

If there are any suggestions or tips regarding any of the issues I've listed I'd be happy to hear them.
 
OK. long list. Likely the 1-2 spring is bad, or the accumulator is leaking. It also needs a rebuild. :) the water pump likely got replaced with the short style, which needs a different pulley. he ancient coolant has eaten it's way under the intake manifold gasket, causing the lack of pressure. next is the leaks into the spark plug wells, causing misfires. #8 seems particularly popular for this. If the ac lines are rusty, check the fuel lines and brake lines. Find a 2002 gran marquis transmission to rebuild, I wouldn't waste time fixing that one. Everything bad with it is fixed by then, but the parts in an o2 are 22 years old now, all the rubber needs replaced.
Find a pi manifold, the gasket hits in a slightly different spot, and is easier to get to seal again. If you have the intake off, replace the orings on the injectors. They leak...
 
Appreciate the write up and looking forward to any updates
 
I missed the speedo; you need to replace the vss gear in the trans, it depends a lot on tire size. a 225 60r 16 needs a purple gear. You can buy those from the dealer, or online. it's about 5mph per tooth. The speedos are pretty inaccurate at 100mph, use a gps.
 
All the J-mod and other transmission articles are here. Use the tech articles/transmission link at the top of the page. :)

What size tires are on the car?

The formula is tire RPM (rotations per mile) * final drive ratio * OSS drive gear teeth (always 7 for an auto MN12 or FN10) / 1000 (e.g. 775 * 3.73 * 7 / 1000 = 20 tooth gear)
 
OK. long list. Likely the 1-2 spring is bad, or the accumulator is leaking. It also needs a rebuild. :) the water pump likely got replaced with the short style, which needs a different pulley. he ancient coolant has eaten it's way under the intake manifold gasket, causing the lack of pressure. next is the leaks into the spark plug wells, causing misfires. #8 seems particularly popular for this. If the ac lines are rusty, check the fuel lines and brake lines. Find a 2002 gran marquis transmission to rebuild, I wouldn't waste time fixing that one. Everything bad with it is fixed by then, but the parts in an o2 are 22 years old now, all the rubber needs replaced.
Find a pi manifold, the gasket hits in a slightly different spot, and is easier to get to seal again. If you have the intake off, replace the orings on the injectors. They leak...
Thanks Grog for the info. I am not looking to spend a ton of money on this car, or ANY car at this point. I am living on Social Security and it doesn't leave much left over. If you remember, this is the car that had OEM gaskets under the aftermarket Doorman manifold. It no longer leaks. If any transmission is to be rebuilt, it will be one I have on-hand, regardless of how crappy it will be when finished and even though I have never rebuilt one, I will be the one to rebuild because of the cost of labor. Consequently that means it won't happen soon! :)

I asked about replacing the O-rings on the injectors while I had the manifold off since I actually have a set. The advice given was to leave them alone, which is what I did. As far as I know they are not leaking, it's the fuel pump opening where after I made a hard left turn into a parking space yesterday, fuel dripped out right near the end of the passenger door. I'm glad I only put about 10 gallons in instead of filling it up.

The tire size is stock, 215/70R-15. I have new Yokohama Avid Ascend tires. Just about 70 miles on them. I'm unimpressed. Since these are the size shown on the inflation sticker, would the speedo gear really need to be replaced?
 
Shouldn't be, presuming the rear end ratio and speedo gear are stock. It might be a speedo head issue; best way to confirm would be to read the speed from the PCM and compare it to the speedometer at various speeds.
 
Shouldn't be, presuming the rear end ratio and speedo gear are stock. It might be a speedo head issue; best way to confirm would be to read the speed from the PCM and compare it to the speedometer at various speeds.
Yeah, I've been doing exactly that. That's how I know the speedo is off.

From the original post: "Up to about 45 it is accurate. At 64 indicated it's going 60 according to the PCM and GPS. At 78 indicated it's going 70. Not a really big thing, just a bit annoying. I wish I knew how to correct it."
 
Yesterday I started working on the overheating issue. When I drained the coolant the first time, I kid you not, it looked like black coffee. With the car not running and the upper hose removed from the radiator I back-flushed through the overflow tank until it appeared to be a translucent light brown. While I had the upper hose off, I studied the serpentine belt issue. I noticed that the pully on the PS pump was not inline with the crank pulley. I had recently replaced the pump and apparently didn't get the pully back on far enough. A few miserable minutes with the installation tool fixed THAT problem. Belt tracks properly now.

Since I had a new water pump on-hand, i figured I'd swap out the old one, thinking that the impellers had probably been eaten away by the corrosive coolant. I had to literally pound out the old pump with a 24oz Ball Peen Hammer (also know as a Chevy Tool). The person who did the pump last used blue RTV to seal it, thinking the O-ring wasn't enough I guess. The old pump wasn't really bad and I could have reused it if it hadn't been for the fact that I had to beat on it to remove it. After cleaning the sealing area with a rotary wire brush and cleaning very well, the new pump with lubricated O-ring went in just fine and sealed perfectly without RTV...as designed.

I filled it up with water after reassembling everything and took for a test drive. As is normal, the speed is limited. The speedo said 120 and at that speed I didn't read the scan tool to see what the actual speed was. Aren't most of them limited to 105 or so? Temperature characteristics didn't change much. Right after hitting the limiter and slowing down to 60 or so, coolant temp according to the PCM got up to 212. After that, it didn't exceed 210. The temp gauge at 212 was about a quarter-inch past the M in NORM. I'm suspecting a faulty temp. sensor. Isn't the one that controls the gauge the sending unit on the left as you look at the engine from the nose/bumper? If so, I have a new one. I could replace it to check. In any case, at idle, the temp gets up to 210...the fan comes on, the temp slowly comes down to 199 and the fans go off. Within 3 minutes, the temp goes back up to 210 and the fans come on. I'm thinking this is normal?

I still have to deal with the fuel leak round the pump opening. Not looking forward to that. I have an appointment for an alignment on Monday morning. I'm sure I'll get to the shop and back, it only leaks when I take a hard right. I hope the shop won't refuse to work on it.

Then there's the brakes. I removed the calipers when replacing the front suspension and I had to remove the master cylinder when installing the driver's side UCA. I have tried to bleed the system twice but I'm not having luck. It WILL stop but not very well. When I had the calipers removed, I used ear plugs to keep fluid from leaking out. Turns out that brake fluid turns ear plugs into mush. I got the passenger side out no problem but I struggled with the drivers side. Some of the ear plug came out but some went inside the caliper. I know I should have pushed out the piston and removed the plug and resealed the caliper, but I didn't, mostly because I didn't have a reseal kit on-hand. I think that when I'm trying to bleed that caliper, bits of the plug might be blocking the bleeder valve. I guess I'll have to bit the bullet and order a reseal kit. Shipping will be more than the kit.

Still have to take the door apart to replace the motor pucks and gear. Not looking forward to that. More to come...
 
Removing the window motor is actually very easy. You just remove the door panel, speaker, and then grab the motor through the speaker opening.

Why exactly aren't you "looking forward" to it?

Now if the whole mechanism (regulator?) is the problem, that would be a pain to fix.
 
Removing the window motor is actually very easy. You just remove the door panel, speaker, and then grab the motor through the speaker opening.

Why exactly aren't you "looking forward" to it?

Now if the whole mechanism (regulator?) is the problem, that would be a pain to fix.
I'm not looking forward to removing the door panel, which currently doesn't fit correctly for some reason, then trying to reinstall the panel. The previous owner thought they were doing a good thing when they removed it to keep from damaging it because the door pins and bushings were worn and the panel was dragging. In the process it must have changed shape because when I put it back on after replacing the hinge pins/bushings, it didn't fit well. I struggled with it for quite a while. I don't look forward to doing it again. Also, while the panel is off I have to troubleshoot why the passenger window motor doesn't work.

Door panels in these cars have ALWAYS irritated me!
 
I'm not looking forward to removing the door panel, which currently doesn't fit correctly for some reason, then trying to reinstall the panel. The previous owner thought they were doing a good thing when they removed it to keep from damaging it because the door pins and bushings were worn and the panel was dragging. In the process it must have changed shape because when I put it back on after replacing the hinge pins/bushings, it didn't fit well. I struggled with it for quite a while. I don't look forward to doing it again. Also, while the panel is off I have to troubleshoot why the passenger window motor doesn't work.

Door panels in these cars have ALWAYS irritated me!

Pro-tip: take the inner window seal off the door and put it on the door panel first. It drops straight down without and of the hangups doing it the other way. Also helps to unscrew the lock button ad tape a straw to the top of the rod as a guide
 
Pro-tip: take the inner window seal off the door and put it on the door panel first. It drops straight down without and of the hangups doing it the other way. Also helps to unscrew the lock button ad tape a straw to the top of the rod as a guide
How does it attach to the door panel? The one in the V6 bird fell off and I don't see any way to attach it.
 
How does it attach to the door panel? The one in the V6 bird fell off and I don't see any way to attach it.

The door panel has molded in clips facing downwards and they go through square holes in the sheetmetal, you drop down the door panel. There's also two screws to keep it in place, one under the lens of the courtesy light and another on the zink metal bracket near the handle
 
The mph readings you gave are the same as one tooth off. I'd change the gear before I took out the speedo.
 
The mph readings you gave are the same as one tooth off. I'd change the gear before I took out the speedo.
Bought the Doorman Kit. Was told on this board that it worked great for 96 and below. Wouldn't have a clue where to get a new one with one less tooth. We ARE talking about the little gear right? Not the bigger gear that the little gear sits on?
 
The door panel has molded in clips facing downwards and they go through square holes in the sheetmetal, you drop down the door panel. There's also two screws to keep it in place, one under the lens of the courtesy light and another on the zink metal bracket near the handle
I'm talking about the window seal. How does it attach to the door panel. I know how the door panel attaches to the door. This one didn't want to go on very well at all.
 
Bought the Doorman Kit. Was told on this board that it worked great for 96 and below. Wouldn't have a clue where to get a new one with one less tooth. We ARE talking about the little gear right? Not the bigger gear that the little gear sits on?
He is talking about the driven speedo gear in the transmission. I believe you are talking about the odometer gears? I cannot imagine why your speedo gear would be incorrect, but it is possible. Might be worth pulling the gear from the trans just to see what you have. I think different 4R70W's had different tooth count driving gears so maybe somebody swapped in a trans from a different car at some point and just put the old speedo gear back in.
 
He is talking about the driven speedo gear in the transmission. I believe you are talking about the odometer gears? I cannot imagine why your speedo gear would be incorrect, but it is possible. Might be worth pulling the gear from the trans just to see what you have. I think different 4R70W's had different tooth count driving gears so maybe somebody swapped in a trans from a different car at some point and just put the old speedo gear back in.
Yes, I was talking about the odometer gear. As for the tranny... I believe it's the original. I don't know how long the odometer gear has been broken or IF it was even broken when the car was parked but the odometer reads 94989 after the 74 miles I've put on it since I fixed the odometer gear. Many things on this car appear to never have been touched since the factory, however the intake is the aftermarket Doorman plastic. Everything I look at that is usually broken on cars with high mileage like locks on electrical connectors, trunk lining plastic nuts and the like...they are in good condition. It's not a guarantee, just an indication. I haven't had the tranny pan off yet, but IT is acting weird. Going to replace accumulators with the updated units, might consider a mild J-mod but parts prices have risen greatly since I did my first J-mod 20 years ago. Since I'll be in the tranny area when I change the filter, I could pull the speed sending unit and see what gear it has and verify it's correct. Thanks for the post.
 
I'm talking about the window seal. How does it attach to the door panel. I know how the door panel attaches to the door. This one didn't want to go on very well at all.

There's a 1/4" slot along the length of it the edge of the door panel slots into, its a tight fit which is why I recommend preplacing it on the door panel instead of trying to push the door panel onto it while its still attached to the door. it slips onto the sheetmetal a lot easier
 
I got #3 aligned today. Dropped off the car at the shop (Firestone) and went to IHOP next door for breakfast, which was a total mistake. Let's just say they won't ever again get my business again at this location. I walk back over to the shop and the guy tells me it wasn't far off at all, so apparently my careful measurement and observations were pretty good. Then he tells me there is no camber adjustment for the rear. I tell him there is and would he like me to show him where. Not like they aren't obvious or anything. They have already pulled the car off the rack so they have to pull it back on, which takes entirely too long.

When the manager takes me out to the shop and I show the technician where the eccentric bushings are, he (the technician) tells me they aren't adjustable. We go back and forth with me telling him that is where the adjustment is done and him telling me it's not. I asked him if it weren't adjustable, why is the bolt off to one side and not go through the center. If the manager hadn't been there, there may have been a shouting match! You see, the technician has never seen a camber adjustment without the cam shims keyed to the bolt. The manager agrees to try what I told him. I go back in the waiting room and 15 minutes later he comes in from the shop and apologizes. Great. He gave me $20 off so I got out of there for just over $100, which is ridiculous since I know there was only about 30 minutes of labor in it. Anyway, it drives much better, however...

I'm still feeling too much of the road through the seat. I remember the ride being much smoother in a Thunderbird the last time I drove an LX. If I recall correctly, my XR7 seemed much smoother also. I KNOW that all 4 shocks need to be replaced. The car doesn't bounce per se but as you turn sharply from side-to-side like they do in NASCAR to keep the tires warm, the body ROLLS much more than is should. I know tires can influence this greatly as well as the transmission of road feel and I've never had a set of TOYO tires before. These are the Avid Ascend model. Reviews in general were good, as were reviews from MN12 specific customers. To be fair, I only have about 100 miles on the tires and I've experienced other tires that took a bit to "wear-in" before the ride was good so we will see what happens in the next 100 miles or so.

Got the window motor out and disassembled. Can't get the puck back in. Asked how to do it in another thread with an ongoing conversation about windows and motors.

Next thing to do before I can drive it daily is to fix the fuel leak. I believe all I'll have to do is reseat the fuel pump gasket and ring. Should take less than ten minutes if that's all it is. Too bad it take almost an hour to get to it to do the work, at least for THIS old man with my previous injuries. I'm sure you young mechanic types could get it done in much less time under much worse conditions. I remember those days!
 
So as far as the interior door panel installation is concerned, it's almost impossible to do with the window up. Before, because I couldn't roll it up or down because of crumbled buttons, I couldn't get the door panel to seat correctly.

Once I fixed the window, it was fairly easy to install the interior door panel correctly. Looks and feels much better now!

Tool the fuel tank out last night. Fairly easy to do using my lift and the transmission jack I scored for cheap at an estate auction last month. Looking for a new seal today for the fuel pump. Old one was too big and distorted when i installed it. Hope I can find one.
 

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There is a run of fake walbro pumps out there; make sure you get a real one, as the chinese copies die quickly. We have a flow-thru system, so you can use a bigger pump than you need now, to allow for future expansion. :) They usually come with a mustang sock, but you can get the right one at autozone.
 
Tool the fuel tank out last night. Fairly easy to do using my lift and the transmission jack I scored for cheap at an estate auction last month. Looking for a new seal today for the fuel pump. Old one was too big and distorted when i installed it. Hope I can find one.
Should still be able to get the fuel pump lock O-Ring from Ford. I bought a three pack last time I did mine.
 
tre performance sells cheap china pumps and they usually last alot longer than the waibros. I dont do the walbros cuz they are loud. The cheap waibros are quiet but have a horrible dying rate as mentioned.
 
tre performance sells cheap china pumps and they usually last alot longer than the waibros. I dont do the walbros cuz they are loud. The cheap waibros are quiet but have a horrible dying rate as mentioned.
Replaced the pump months ago. Didn't get the seal installed correctly. Re-seated the seal yesterday and all is well.
 

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