2003 Ford Thunderbird needs a mechanic in Richmond, VA

Does anyone know a trustworthy independent mechanic or dealer service center in the Richmond, Virginia area with experience maintaining 2002-2005 Thunderbirds? More critically, address and fix the most common problems endemic to these cars!

There is nothing exotic about these vehicles . As for common problems you might say what they are . Just ask friends , relatives and co - workers for reference . The online review sites are always a help . And of course there is always the dealer.
Do you have a problem now , if so this site has some excellent mechanics that can make suggestions.

The engine might be considered exotic since it is a Jaguar design.

Agree with all the above but on cartalk.com, click on Mechanics Files. You might find something there, too.

Well, the Jaguar engine was designed when Ford owned them. Also used in the Lincoln LS.

I happen to live in the RVA area. I can point you to some mechanics that I trust, but none would actually specialize in 11th-gen T-Birds, as those are pretty niche cars.

When you find a good shop who’s knowledgeable about that car, make sure to get the recall & extended warranty work done as applicable. Ignition coils and valve cover gasket, wiper motor bracket, transmission solenoid. Also good idea to check for sludge build up in throttle body, and if it sports any of the 5R555/5R55N/5R55W transmissions & there are any shifting problems, check for transmission servo pin bore wear. I don’t see much in the way of serious problems with the engine as long as it is well-maintained, but the transmission it appears may prove challenging.

As far as finding a good shop, ask folks around town who drive the same car , or higher end Fords, who they use.

Thanks for the feedback, George!

Fortunately/unfortunately, I’d already been through the whole coil/valve body/transmission/“dreaded E” nightmare a few years back. Did get some money from Ford for the coil issues, but it took a lot of digging for info on my part and good-money-thrown-after-bad “fixes” at various Ford dealerships before I finally found a transmission specialist in a small town in North Carolina who not only listened to me and followed through on the TSB# I gave him, but – hallelujah! – also resolved that problem for good.

Now the primary issues are the a.c. blowing hot air – another problem common to the '03 and for which I already paid my regular mechanic to NOT fix last summer! This time I have more specific info on what is likely causing the problem. The newest hitch is the convertible top not working. These are my current priority fixes and just two more reasons why I’m determined to find a local mechanic – independent or working for a Lincoln dealership – who’s actually worked on these finicky 'Birds!

I know. Other than age, that’s the crux of the issue! (Thanks a lot, Ford.)

The owners on the T-bird Forum suggest going to Lincoln dealerships because the Thunderbirds built between 11/6/02 and 03/13/03 share many of the same issues as the 2003 Lincoln LS built at the same time (i.e., same drive train).

I have a mechanic I trust for the standard stuff, but now that it’s coming down to such specific things as the convertible top suddenly not working or the car smelling “oily” because the filter wasn’t torqued to the correct 18lb (found that tidbit from another owner on the Thunderbirdforum.com), I’ve made it a priority to find a mechanic who’s worked on at least one or two of these cars before. He or she may be the only thing stopping me from finally losing patience with my still-fun-to-drive 'Bird enough to ditch it for something newer, more practical, and senior-friendly, too (bleh).

At any rate, a few people have offered suggestions, so I’m glad I put the question out there. My long-ago niche car purchase was a Pontiac Fiero. I have a knack for falling for new, shiny, high-maintenance lemons!

Thank you! Over the years of owning this car (bought new in '03) I have practically had to become a mechanic myself to understand all its foibles and idiosyncrasies! Or at least throw out the correct terminology and describe the problems in such a way that mechanics will listen and not mistake me for a pushover. Unfortunately, this tactic has not always been fail-safe in the past – especially and ironically, when dealing with some Ford dealerships in Richmond, Roanoke, and elsewhere.

I have a mechanic in town I trust for the standard stuff – oil change, tire rotation, brake pads, new battery, etc. But some of the latest issues are more specific to these now-defunct models. That, age, and their “niche” design/mechanical systems just make the challenge of finding a mechanic who has actually worked on one or two harder!

There’s a classic T-bird car club in your area. Someone there might be able to recommend a mechanic even for your modern bird.


Here’s a forum

That’s a good suggestion. The online Thunderbird forum is used by both as well. It would be interesting to compare “war stories” about theirs vs. ours. Maybe less bells and whistles than the '02-'05s but perhaps better made and engineered, too!