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really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
50,320 miles
Total Complaints:
1 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine gaskets (1 reports)
2003 Ford Thunderbird engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Thunderbird Owner Comments

problem #1

Jan 062011

Thunderbird V8

  • Manual transmission
  • 50,320 miles


My car engine light came on on my 2003 Thunderbird in late January, then on February 1st, as I was driving my son to school, the car went into, what my mechanic called, a "limp in" mode. I had very VERY low acceleration... it took about 10 minutes to get it up to 35 MPH. I took my car to my mechanic (Goddard Auto) that day as my son thought it needed a tune up, and to date, I had not had a tune up yet. My son followed me to Goddard Auto, and I was scared to death driving that car... once there Doug started to do the tune up and realized that there was oil in the spark plug well. He checked and there was an extended warranty for this EXACT problem. A letter was written by Allen Ligon, the Director of Service Engineering Operations SUBJECT: Customer Satisfaction Program 07M07 where he describes the EXACT thing my car was doing as well as the oil in the sparkplug well. In this letter, he defines the program terms of the warranty as:

“This program extends the warranty coverage of the ignition coils and engine valve cover gaskets to 10 years of service from the warranty start date of the vehicle or 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first. For vehicles that have accumulated more than 100,000 miles, coverage will last until December 31, 2007. Coverage is automatically transferred to subsequent owners. “

My car was run through their OASIS program and found to have the defective valve cover gasket he speaks of and should be eligible for coverage under this warranty.

At first They told me it would be covered then the "service manager" called me and told me that it was not covered as the program "expired" I explained that my car only had about 52,000 miles on it and was a 2003, it was still well within the limits of the warranty. He said he would look into it. He later called me back and apologized multiple times saying that it WOULD be covered (this was on Monday, Feb 14) then he called me AGAIN on Tuesday, Feb 15th and said it was NOT covered because my coil didn't "short out." Now, according to the letter sent to the dealers concerning this problem, Mr. Ligon says....

"Some of the affected vehicles may experience an engine misfire condition predominantly due to internal breakdown in the coil and lack of adhesion between the epoxy and the coil housing material. These issues may cause the coil to operate at an insufficient voltage level, resulting in ignition coil misfires. In addition, on some of these vehicles, the valve cover gaskets may allow engine oil to enter the spark plug well and cause degradation of the ignition coil boot, resulting in ignition coil misfire. Drivability symptoms associated with an ignition coil misfire include rough running engine, surge or hesitation on acceleration, and/or illumination of the check engine light."

Note he says, "SOME (SIC)of the affected vehicles MAY (SIC)experience an engine misfire condition predominantly due to internal breakdown in the coil and lack of adhesion..." and…. "In addition, on SOME (SIC) of these vehicles, the valve cover gaskets may allow engine oil to enter the spark plug well and cause degradation of the ignition coil boot, resulting in IGNITION COIL MISFIRE (SIC)." Nowhere does it say that the coil MUST short out in order for the warranty to hold.... Likewise.... Mr. Ligon goes on to say...

"If ANY (SIC) of the above mentioned drivability issues are reported on an affected vehicle, dealers are to identify any engine cylinder that is misfiring and perform an ignition coil stress test on the affected cylinders. IF (SIC) the coil fails the stress test, dealers are to replace the ignition coil and ASSOCIATED SPARK PLUG (SIC). If ANY (SIC) coil boot is contaminated with engine oil, (mine did on the second cylinder) dealers are to contact the Special Service Support Center for prior approval to replace the contaminated ignition coil boot, the ASSOCIATED SPARK PLUG (SIC) and install a new valve cover gasket set. This service will be performed on affected vehicles at no charge to the vehicle owner."

Please note in this paragraph that the "associated spark plug" is mentioned TWICE pointing out that Mr. Ligon did not mean for these two events to be mutually inclusive, but rather mutually EXCLUSIVE as separate events to be dealt with SEPERATELY!!! Upon pointing this out to the "Customer Satisfaction" division, they have now changed the reason for denying this repair to the fact that I had a TUNE UP done to my car by my mechanic who not a "Ford authorized" mechanic, even though he is FULLY licensed mechanic in the State of Michigan. I contend that Ford should NOT be allowed to dictate whom I take my car for routine maintenance such as tune ups and oil changes. Further, they are attempting to say that my mechanic "worked on" the car, even though my mechanic DIRECTLY spoke to the managers at Taylor Ford and TOLD them that all he did was do a "full tune up" which brought the car out of "limp mode" and allowed me to safely traverse Telegraph Road and get the car to the dealership to repair the leak caused by the faulty gasket installed at the Wixom plant when the car was originally built.

Also, BEFORE my mechanic did the tune up, as soon as he discovered the oil, he called Taylor Ford and spoke to a Ford representative to see what would be covered under the warranty….and told that a tune up would NOT be covered under this extended warranty but never said ANYTHING about the warranty being VOIDED if he did the tune up.

Ford is trying to take advantage of me because I am a stupid woman and my husband passed away and isn't here to deal with this repair issue.... he purchased this car for me.... and the car was in his name but passed to me on his death... Please note Mr. Ligon specifically mentions that "Coverage is automatically transferred to subsequent owners." in his warranty bulletin.

I am taking the car to an independent mechanic that I TRUST to get this issue fixed and will NEVER own a Ford product again… and coming from a loyal Ford owner that says a lot!! However, my daughter is car shopping now and says SHE won’t buy Ford, nor will my best friend (also car shopping) nor my friend in NY…. Negativity is spreading Ford….. you can screw one poor widow, but you are really just screwing yourself.

Nancy Joyner-Lutz

- , Taylor, MI, USA

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