really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
65,250 miles
Total Complaints:
2 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. reimbuse owners for replacing head gasket (1 reports)
  2. replaced both heads & gaskets (1 reports)
1994 Ford Thunderbird engine problems

engine problem

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1994 Ford Thunderbird Owner Comments

problem #2

Dec 142010

Thunderbird LX 3.8L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,500 miles


This problem presented itself with absolutely no warning. One morning I went out to start the car. It started, but ran roughly (which had never happened before). I shut off the engine and tried again -- no start (wouldn't even crank, just the click of the starter solenoid). So I replaced the starter motor. That mostly solved the cranking problem. At least the car would (after several attempts) start again. But plumes of white smoke were coming out the exhaust pipe! I ran the car in the driveway for less than 5 minutes to see if the smoke would clear up (thinking maybe it was just a very rich gas mixture), and it started to overheat. I shut the car off immediately. Then I noticed that the water dripping from the tailpipe was actually antifreeze. The smoke and coolant coming out of the tailpipe were sure symptoms of head gasket failure. I had the repair work done by a home mechanic for $950 -- this included $300 in new/reconditioned heads, plus head gaskets, thermostat, spark plugs, spark plug wires, oil change, and coolant fill. Many shops simply didn't want to take the job; others quoted $1500-2000, but would do nothing more than replace the heads and head gaskets. The quality of the work done by the home mechanic was definitely subpar (found loose alternator bolt, missing engine brackets, loose dipstick, misgapped spark plugs). Thankfully I check under the hood often, so it wasn't long before I caught and fixed these problems. Being mechanically inclined, I would have rather purchased a few extra tools and done the job myself. The T-Bird isn't too difficult to work on. But college (especially leading up to finals week) has an annoying way of eliminating any potential free time. By the way, I've heard that this head gasket problem with Ford's 3.8L V6 is quite common. There was a recall issued on it a few years ago, but I didn't have the car then and it's no longer eligible.

- Danny M., Waterford, MI, US

problem #1

Oct 082003

(reported on)


  • 60,000 miles

I purchased the T-bird used from Smith Ford in Omaha. Shortly after that, I got a selective recall notice from Ford that the head gasket on 6 cylinder T-birds might need to be replaced. I brought mine in because I was leaking coolant from around the gasket on the head. The dealer that looked at it was Bob Zimmerman Ford. They looked at it and told me it was leaking from the valve covers, which it wasn't. They even charged me for the examination.

Evenutally the gasket had to be replaced and it cost me $1,100.00. Ford should have to repay owners who get screwed over by their poor quaility parts.

Don't buy a Ford. They are cheap cars that are not meant to last beyond the warranty period.

- David F., Indianapolis, IN, US

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