'94 T-Bird LX

I'm looking at a 94 T-Bird to possibly buy. It's a 3.8L V6, with 83,xxx miles. I had a few questions for the Ford experts in here.
1. Are there any inherent problems with the 94 Birds?
2. The hood won't stay up - Any easy fixes for this? 3. The engine looks 'funny' without a fan on the front - Have there been any known defects with the electric fan attached to the radiator? 4. Has anyone had or heard of any serious problems with this model? 5. What would be a good asking price? 6. If the car is not driven very often (current owner has another vehicle she drives), will the rotors get 'rusty' and make noise when the brakes are applied?
I plan on taking it to a mechanic friend and have him look it over and get his opinion. Any thoughts/ideas I could gather here would be a great help.
Thanks,
Gerri
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You are smart for asking on here
I'm on my second "well-used" 93 Tbird 3.8... total miles accumulated on them: 400,000... by me, 140,000
There are 'only' two major problems, frequent to the model:
The engine head gaskets, and the transmission shift accumulator. Both quite expensive repairs when done in shop.
And these typically occur in the 80 - 130,000 mile window.. though obviously some outside that.
This is why the car sells so cheap for what it is... a great road car.
Ask the seller if one or both repairs have already been done... if so, that's GOOD - ESPECIALLY if it was in the last few years... ask for proof. Both of mine had been through both when I bought them.
If not, the car would be attractive to someone like me, (I'd give 2500 for one that's had both repairs, no more than 1000 if it hadnt)... but, otherwise, the buyer is probably in for a bad experience.
Frankly.. for someone on a tight budget, if neither of those repairs have been done, the car is a gamble. - - - - -- - - - - Dont worry about brake rotor rust, if the car was driven once a month it shouldnt be a factor, self-cleaning.
Replace one of those hood rods
Most cars, including fords, had electric fans for years, starting in eighties... that was one of the last to change over .
--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer..DEAL with it!

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the hood won't stay up

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Gerri, if your budget's limited and you have time to look.. here's the best bang for your buck, IN MY OPINION, for a reliable car:
95 Taurus GL 3.0 with AX4N trans (may have 'SHO' stamped on transmission pan).. and I mean exactly as described above... but there were a lot of them sold.
I lucked into one, and my experience with it seems borne out by the history of postings on here.
Of course, you want one with a history of being well-maintained.
--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
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On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 15:52:39 GMT, Backyard Mechanic

Did they mate a non-AX4N tranny with the 3.0 in '95? If so, how to tell?
Did you get hit with anything listed in: http://auto.consumerguide.com/Auto/Used/reviews/full/index.cfm/id/2043/Act/usedcarreviewreliability / ??
Thanks, Puddin'
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I think my '93 Cougar 3.8 has an AOD in it but I might be hallucinating... It gets regular fluid/filter changes and is at about 125k... (knocking on wood..)
PoD
wrote:

http://auto.consumerguide.com/Auto/Used/reviews/full/index.cfm/id/2043/Act/usedcarreviewreliability /
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And the saga continues...
Okay guys. I've listened to each and every one of you. I've talked to the service manager at the local Ford garage. I talked to the owner. I've taken this 94 T-BIrd to my mechanic and had him look at it and give me his opinion. I've even went into a Yahoo group specializing in Thunderbirds.
I've even had a friend tell me not to buy the car because the antifreeze was green...
Today, Saturday, I took the car for a second test drive. The first one was on a curvy and bumpy road. Nothing fell off the car. I didn't hear any body panels rattling. I didn't feel anything loose in the front suspension/steering. The drive today was on the open highway and then off down a secondary road that is actually in better condition than the highway I started out on.
This 94 feels completely different than my 87 BIrd. Suspension is 'softer', steering is different, the passenger compartment is quieter (better insulation), and the ride is smoother. Both roads had curves, hills and straight sections, the secondary road being much curvier and hillier.
It seemed to handle the curves well, more 'floating' into the curve, rather than slamming it into a bend like in the 87. Of course, where the car isn't mine, I was taking the road much easier than if I had had my car.
One thing I did notice, and I verified it with the owner and her boyfriend, is some "inappropiate shifting" of the transmission. This usually happened between 30 and 45 mph. It seemed like it would shift into a lower gear when it really shouldn't have. The tach reading might jump from 15-1700 rpm up to 23-2500 rpm. (NO! I wasn't over-reving the engine...). The owner's boyfriend has a Blazer that does the same thing.
Is this something any of you have heard of? Is this common to later model Birds? Is there a device of some kind controlling the shifting of the transmission? Is something is wearing out/broke, is it an easy (read: fairly inexpensive and easy to fix)?
Please let me know what your ideas are. I've appreciated all the advice/help I've received here over the years.
Thanks!
Gerri
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depending on the mileage, it may just be something as simple as a trans service. most people do not bother servicing the trans till it is to late. the trans should get a full service every 35k miles.

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Hi Gerri-
I drove the wheels off my '84 T-Bird and loved almost every minute of it. I have a '93 Cougar and it's a whole different beast. I personally think it is one of the best engineered vehicles on the road. Several others here have a similar opinion. The car feels very balanced. Everything seems to fit and work together wonderfully.
The only thing that worries me in your description is the odd shifting. I don't remember if you said it was a V-6 or V-8, the 6 has a head gasket history. If it's a V-8, it has a 4r70w tranny, I think. They are twitchy about tranny fluid. If you drive up a slight incline between 30-40 and it feels like you're driving over rumble strips (Brruuup, brruupp, brruupp), it likely needs a tranny fluid/filter change. I trust the dealer for this job but I've done it myself. Be sure to use the new Mercon V fluid and the shudder will probably go away.
What did the mechanic and dealer service manager tell you? I like that vehicle a lot but it is 12 years old - you will need to do some age-related maintenance.
I hope this is helpful - I'm sorry I don't remember the other post details. By the way, you gen get price guesstimates from www.kbb.com . The www.nadaguide.com site seems broken.
PoD

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It is a V6, 3.8L.
Because so many here had said something about head gaskets, I asked the Ford service manager and a mechanic about the head gaskets - They told me as long as I didn't let the engine overheat, I shouldn't have any problems with the head gaskets. My mechanic said this engine has a cast iron block with aluminum heads.
When test driving the car Saturday, I was on a hilly, curvy road, and this is where the unusual shifting happened. I didn't get the 'rumble strip sound' you described. It just seemed as tho it had downshifted from 4th to either 3rd or even 2nd. I noticed the tach jump from around 1500 up to about 2500 rpm.
I forgot to include this last nite: On this road are some of those small rises where you have a sharp drop-off in the road (The ones that make your stomach flutter - negative G's). When the car would hit the top of the hill and start down, I could hear a sound like you were wadding up a plastic shopping bag (OK. I know that is a weird description...) As the car hasn't been driven much lately (the owner has a Camaro she drives), could this have been flexing of body panels and/or unused suspension parts?
And I did notice while I checking the fluids, the power steering fluid is black, and not clear like my other Bird. Is this indicative of a problem? Can this PS fluid be changed?
Thanks guys!
Gerri
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The crunching sound is not uncommon - it's usually worse when cold. I think it's a different bushing material than before. Both my '93 Cougar and '95 Crown Vic do it. Not a worry. As for head gaskets, there was a change in them for '94 (I think) and some weren't made properly. Overheating can be a cause of effect of failed gaskets. I'm not sure I'd let it stop me from buying if the car checks OK.
Some Fords had bad bushings on the rod that went from the throttle body to the tranny. I forget when they went electronic, the electronic ones don't have the rod. (Kickdown rod) If the bushing is bad or gone, weird shifting and eventual tranny damage will occur. The new bushing is cheap. Also, you might want to see if the owners will make a deal about tranny fluid / filter service. I think the dealer does it for a little over $100. You might also try a short-term fix by getting a tube of "Dr. Tranny's Shudder Fix" and dumping it in the tranny down the dipstick tube. It's a Lubeguard product and won't hurt anything. If the odd behavior goes away you can be fairly sure a fluid / filter job will keep it away.
Yes, the steering can (and should be) flushed.
Have fun - let me know how you progress.
PoD

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Ford used type F tranny fluid in the power steering pump. It needs to be flushed out with fresh fluid. Even with that said the damage could be done and the pump may be real noisy. I read some where that a guy reduced his pump noise by replacing the type F fluid with a compatablie Mobil 1 ATF. Not the same as Mercon 5.
The transmission is a known weak spot of these cars, especially 94 and 95 models. If you don't like the shifting tell the owner you really like the car but have reservations about the transmission. Tell her to have the tranny fluid and filter replaced and test drive it again. Otherwise you might be in for a $1,700 repair.
If you like stiffer handling replace the rear stabilizer bar with a slightly larger Addco unit with poly bushings. Don't make it too big. Sheet metal starts tearing up past a certain stiffness per old message threads in the TCCOA web site. An export brace under the hood between spring towers will make it even better but they can be a chore to install with tight engine clearances.
Steve 95 T-Bird LX 4.6 former 85 T-Bird 3.8
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And the saga continues...
Okay guys. I've listened to each and every one of you. I've talked to the service manager at the local Ford garage. I talked to the owner. I've taken this 94 T-BIrd to my mechanic and had him look at it and give me his opinion. I've even went into a Yahoo group specializing in Thunderbirds.
I've even had a friend tell me not to buy the car because the antifreeze was green...
Today, Saturday, I took the car for a second test drive. The first one was on a curvy and bumpy road. Nothing fell off the car. I didn't hear any body panels rattling. I didn't feel anything loose in the front suspension/steering. The drive today was on the open highway and then off down a secondary road that is actually in better condition than the highway I started out on.
This 94 feels completely different than my 87 BIrd. Suspension is 'softer', steering is different, the passenger compartment is quieter (better insulation), and the ride is smoother. Both roads had curves, hills and straight sections, the secondary road being much curvier and hillier.
It seemed to handle the curves well, more 'floating' into the curve, rather than slamming it into a bend like in the 87. Of course, where the car isn't mine, I was taking the road much easier than if I had had my car.
One thing I did notice, and I verified it with the owner and her boyfriend, is some "inappropiate shifting" of the transmission. This usually happened between 30 and 45 mph. It seemed like it would shift into a lower gear when it really shouldn't have. The tach reading might jump from 15-1700 rpm up to 23-2500 rpm. (NO! I wasn't over-reving the engine...). The owner's boyfriend has a Blazer that does the same thing.
Is this something any of you have heard of? Is this common to later model Birds? Is there a device of some kind controlling the shifting of the transmission? Is something is wearing out/broke, is it an easy (read: fairly inexpensive and easy to fix)?
Please let me know what your ideas are. I've appreciated all the advice/help I've received here over the years.
Thanks!
Gerri
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I have a 95 T-Bird LX 4.6. I am the original owner. Good info on these cars can be found at www.tccoa.com

3.8 engine has head gasket issues. The transmissions are weak and if not maintained and treated gently tend to fail around 60 - 70k miles The front brake rotors are too small for the car and warp. The heater core is a nightmare for a DIY repair. They do fail too often. You have to remove the entire dash from the car and blow off the A/C charge. In rust belt states that use road salt watch for rust in the floor pan under the car near the brake and gas pedals. Ford didn't allow for much wiring harness clearance in the engine bay. Look for worn thru insulation and worn hoses at points where the hoses and harnesses touch a vibrating engine.

Replace the two gas struts. Any auto part store should have them.

I owned a 1985 3.8 T-Bird with a non electric cooling fan. The fan clutch failed 4 times over 235,000 miles requiring a replacement. You are probably better off with the electric version.

Yes. See top of reply. However it is a real nice touring coupe for the open road. Handling can be improved with a slightly larger rear stabilizer bar. Don't go too crazy with add ons. You will start stressing and tearing sheet metal where you least expect it.

Check eBay closed auctions.

Yes. It goes away after a few miles

See my list up top. Also check color of power steering fluid. They used type F tranny fluid which has a nasty habit of turning black if not changed on a regular basis. Also headlights turn a dingy hazy yellow if left outdoors for extended periods. about $100 for each new headlight. The taillights on the trunk are LEDS (at least on the 95). Make sure they work. Slamming the trunk lid will damage them. Some earlier models were not lit and were just reflectors. Check for oil leaks. Checks for worn rubber mounting pads for transmission and rear IRS differential. Check for loose catalytic convertor heat shields. If auto/ semi-automatic climate control check to make sure it works. If left outdoors in sun check headliner for detachment from foam padding and check top of rear seat for dry rot from sun.

Steve
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I think that's wrong... there's a tendency for tire mounters to install wheels the wrong direction. I see this EVERYWHERE!
I had the problem and reversed wheels so that they drew air out.. like a fan. Not had the problem since.
--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
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My wheels are not on backwards. Over 65,000 miles I've been thru the rotor warp thing a few times. How do I know they are not on backwards ? The wheels have "L" and "R" cut into them from the factory. I've had the car new from day 1 so I know how it was when I bought the car from the dealership. I've seen what you have seen, tire mounters from Sam's Club or equivalent not paying attention.
My current mix is cheap Chinese rotors with NAPA ceramix pads. Rotors have been okay for 10 - 15k miles this way. Tried the ceramix pads with made in USA rotors. Started giving me trouble after one hard stop, heading downhill, red light at the bottom of the hill, full load in the car.
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