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Old 11-15-2010, 14:43   #1 (permalink)
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Thumbs up New (to me) 1995 Thunderbird LX; basic repair questions...

Greetings all!



Just picked up a 1995 V8 LX with low miles (~65,000) and starting some research! Seems to be very mechanically solid; did fine on the 200 mile trip home. This will actually be for my daughter (graduating and needs a reliable, safe transport) and she doesn't have a clue I bought it. She'll find out Thanksgiving Day- her birthday!

The car is actually in excellent shape with a few minor issues. I'm trying to figure out the best places to find stuff and get some advice. Before I get flamed, I have been doing a lot of searches here, but the search engine seems a little buggy sometimes so I figured I'd list what I'm working on...

Issues:

- Passenger window won't roll down. I can hear the motor running fine so I plan to order a gear kit from RockAuto. The door panel looks like it comes off easily, just unsure what the gear replacement involves. If this is a PITA, would it be a better idea to just swap the entire motor out? Not keen on the idea, but I'd prefer to do stuff once when I can.

- Power antenna snapped off. Found a place to get a replacement mast but I am wondering if there is a simple swap for a fixed mast available for the TB. Seems like it would be a better solution, especially since I'm guessing she'll swap out the cassette head unit for something a little newer and I have no clue what powers/triggers the antenna. Also, I figure a fixed mast would be more durable in the long run...

- Moonroof shade is loose and floating around instead of running in some sort of track. Can't figure out how it is supposed to go in or if there is a broken stop somewhere. I'd also like to find a replacement seal for the roof itself if it is not a bugger to find and then swap.

- Odometer crapped out at 59,777 last year. I found a place that sells the little gear that apparently is prone to fail. It's funny since the car was only driven in the winter (snow-bird and the car was kept in Florida) and he put new tires on it last winter and they showed the mileage at just a tick over 59K. He only drove it a few times last winter and just noticed it stopped at 59,777. Most of the time I would call total BS on anything relating to an odometer, but this seemed legit based on the receipts and the car's condition.

- The brakes work OK (previous owner claimed he had them serviced last year) but there seems to me to be a lot of travel before they engage. Not sure if this is typical for these cars but was thinking about doing a brake fluid flush and refill? No brake lights on and they seem to stop OK (maybe a SLIGHT pull to the right under hard braking)...

- Transmission seems pretty firm and the fluid looks good (clear and bright red). Never done a tranny fluid/filter swap on these cars just wondering if it would be worth the extra cash to have it power flushed and filled?

- Ride seems pretty "floaty" but figure this is normal for a 15+ year old car! Anything to look out for with a shock swap on these? Not looking for a "sporty" ride just firmer so I'd appreciate suggestions for shocks.



That's the major items for now. I know, nothing on that list is major which is why I jumped on the car!

Thanks and I'm looking forward to learning a ton about this car!

/r

Allen
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Old 11-16-2010, 17:31   #2 (permalink)
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Re: New (to me) 1995 Thunderbird LX; basic repair questions...

The first thing you do is get the shop manual for that car. You will need it. From what i've read so far you will spend a minimum $1000.00 in the first repair attempts. No offence but why are you giving your daughter a 15 year old car. Especailly a T.Bird ?
I know money is tight but even a 15 year old rice burner or VW will do twice the mileage than the T.Bird. You didn't get your tbird so you want your daughter to have the one you should of had ? Just my in put. No offence. Please disregaurd if out of line.
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Old 11-16-2010, 18:59   #3 (permalink)
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Re: New (to me) 1995 Thunderbird LX; basic repair questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by chipset View Post
The first thing you do is get the shop manual for that car. You will need it. From what i've read so far you will spend a minimum $1000.00 in the first repair attempts. No offence but why are you giving your daughter a 15 year old car. Especailly a T.Bird ?
I know money is tight but even a 15 year old rice burner or VW will do twice the mileage than the T.Bird. You didn't get your tbird so you want your daughter to have the one you should of had ? Just my in put. No offence. Please disregaurd if out of line.
No offense taken; you offer valid points although I'm not sure where I will spend $1k. Unless I have missed something, I'm estimating:

Needed:
- $80 for a brake system flush. Not sure if needed, hence the question on the pedal feel.
- $20 Tranny- drain and fill the fluid myself and swap the filter. $129 for a shop to flush it and swap the filter if I went wild, but I seriously doubt it would be worth it- that's why I asked the question.
- $120 Shocks and struts, but that's a guess since I'm looking for suggestions on which ones to go with. Not a necessity since it actually handles pretty good and doesn't nose-dive under braking just not sure if the floaty feel is normal for the LX. It doesn't help that my daily transportation is either a 4x4 truck or a sport-tour motorcycle.
- $50 for general basic service (oil, filters etc).

Nice to have:
$20 Window fix if it is gears, $50 for the entire assembly locally
$15 Antenna mast replacement if I go with the power antenna repair
$0 for the Moonroof shade- Hoping I just need to figure out how it is designed to go together since I didn't notice anything broken; not sure about the seal but it doesn't leak, just being cautious.
$25 Odometer replacement drive gear.

As for a 15 year old car for her, I opted for the TBird for a number of reasons...

- I will buy American whenever I can and I try to instill that in my girls...
- The TBird was a solid, safe, reliable car when new and with some basic maintenance it still is...
- The vast majority of the other model cars out there in the same shape as this one are MANY thousands more...
- Everything in the same price range has over 200k miles on it and is falling apart, to the point of being almost scary to drive.
- I would feel more comfortable with her in a larger car, compared to a Hyundai/Kia/VW/Toyota/Nissan/Honda (insert crap-box deathmobile name as you see fit)...
- She can actually fix it from plentiful parts (and she is pretty handy to boot)...
- It is not another boring rice burning, refrigerator clone in the road...
- If she gets tired of it, I can pass it on to one of her 2 other sisters in a few years, and it should still be running strong...
- I was actually more of a Mustang/Camaro kinda guy (owned several of both); never really shopped the TBird. Liked and respected it, but never really shopped them when they were new. Truth be told now, I would have gone with a Grand National if were secretly for me but then it wouldn't be in her name...

A down-side I considered was the gas mileage, but to me it helps teach that you have to pay to play. If she wants to go places, she need to not take it for granted and realize she needs to budget or she can't put gas in it and if her friends want to bum a ride, they need to chip in. On the plus side, it is going to run her about $35 a month for insurance- pretty cheap for someone her age (around here anyway).

I guess the better question would be why wouldn't I jump on the opportunity to put her in a safe car that's in great shape with low miles on it- that just happens to be 15 years old. An added benefit is it has some cool factor and will blow the doors off of her friends Hondas in style! I just hope she likes it!



/r

Allen
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Old 11-16-2010, 19:31   #4 (permalink)
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Re: New (to me) 1995 Thunderbird LX; basic repair questions...

It is a very nice car, don't get me wrong. An antenna mast for $15.00 ? For the Ford replacement mast, as in repair it's $65.00. That transmission holds 13 qts. of oil. At $ 3.00 a qt. ? Not counting the filter and gasket ! A " floaty drive feel " for that car is normal. It's a heavy car. You don't say what engine. Is it the 4.6 or 4.9 ? (302 ) ?
One thing that comes to mind as in " peer pressure " what happends when your girl pulls up beside all her friend's rice burners with her land yaught ? Just wondered. Again no offence. if you need help with your car feel free to contact me. I'll be more than happy
to help. If i can.
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Old 11-16-2010, 19:33   #5 (permalink)
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Re: New (to me) 1995 Thunderbird LX; basic repair questions...

Quote:
One thing that comes to mind as in " peer pressure " what happends when your girl pulls up beside all her friend's rice burners with her land yaught ?
Step on the gas and say "see ya"!!
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Old 11-16-2010, 19:59   #6 (permalink)
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Re: New (to me) 1995 Thunderbird LX; basic repair questions...

Only if your condoning street racing. Or i'm going to the gas pumps. :)
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Old 11-16-2010, 19:59   #7 (permalink)
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Re: New (to me) 1995 Thunderbird LX; basic repair questions...

You can get quite a bit of information at Autozones website. AutoZone.com | Vehicle Selection | Year

For the power window, I'd suggest pulling the door panel and see if it could be the regulator or gears. It isn't hard to replace the gears if it's that. To remove the motor, drill ¾" holes where there are dimples to access the bolts. The rest is easy once it's out.

If you get a replacement fixed antenna that's the same as an OEM , the cable should connect to it. If you get an aftermarket antenna, you'll probably have to run the cable inside.

I'm not familiar with the moon roof.

The odometer gear can be replaced. This how it's done on a mustang.ou can email them and they will help you with the Tbird. They're fairly similar. Pictorial Guide To Replacement of Ford Odometer Gears

If it has rear drum brakes, they may need an adjustment. If the pedal is better with the park brake on, an adjustment will help. If it pulls, there could be a brake hose plugged that would take some checking to see what's up. It should be fixed because in an emergency stop, she may lose control. A brake flush would be a good idea.

I'd only change the trans filter and fluid. I believe that trans has a drain plug on the convertor. There's be a rubber plug at the bottom of the bellhousing and you'd have to turn the engine to see it. Don't do a power flush. Mercon fluid is replaced by Mercon V fluid per a Ford TSB.

The shocks may be alright and if you want a more sporty ride, get KYB shocks. Monores and Gabriels aren't as good as OEM.
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Old 11-16-2010, 20:04   #8 (permalink)
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Re: New (to me) 1995 Thunderbird LX; basic repair questions...

Gabriels are no longer in busness. Haven't for 2 years.
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Old 11-16-2010, 20:30   #9 (permalink)
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Re: New (to me) 1995 Thunderbird LX; basic repair questions...

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Gabriels are no longer in busness. Haven't for 2 years.
There's no loss there.
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Old 11-21-2010, 16:36   #10 (permalink)
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Re: New (to me) 1995 Thunderbird LX; basic repair questions...

Well, had the chance to scrub her down inside and out with great results! Carpets came out like new and the paint buffed out well. Some acid etching on the trunk but overall, looks great for it's age. The interior has held up well with no cracking on the leather or the dash (a little color fading though). I'll try to get some pics on Thursday afternoon...

Thankfully, the passenger window issue was a stripped gear assembly. Took forever (and some good cussing) to get all of the old plastic "shrapnel" out of the housing after taking it all apart, but works like a champ now. Those damn motor brushes are a biatch to get back into place standing in O'Riley's...

Got lucky that the power antenna motor seems to be fine so getting off for less than $20 shipped to replace the mast.

Headlights came out OK. Not brand-new but look MUCH better.

A few cosmetic issues inside with the hardest I can see fixing is the high brake-light assembly. Look like the bulbs ran too hot so the casing is melted a bit and the wiring harness will need to be replaced (still searching).

Another thing I see being a PITA is the sunroof gasket. The one on now has a small piece missing on the passenger side that I made temp fix with some generic weatherstrip. I think I could replace the entire seal with the generic stuff, but I don't see it lasting so I'll need to find an OEM piece.

Running fine with no detectable leaks. After reading some posts here and the chance to drive it a little, seems like the "issues" are mainly inherent to the TBird. Brakes are pretty good, just take some getting used to. After putting a few miles on it, they seem fine just different than what I am accustomed to. The brake fluid looks very clean but I may still flush the system for good measure.

With the V8, it pulls strong with no smoke or knocking. Cleaning the TB and MAF sensor along with new filters should perk it up a little more. The previous owner said he just swapped the plugs and wires (look new) but I may still pull the plugs to check the gap and look for any evidence of fouling.

She'll still need to do a tranny fluid and filter swap and an oil change and the usual routine stuff to baseline everything, but overall it looks pretty darn solid from what I can tell.

Anything on these cars that is really prone to crapping out that I may want to get a head-start on?

Thanks...


/r

Allen
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