1997 Ford Thunderbird LX Sport 4.6L V8 from North America


The best kept secret in performance luxury coupes


This has been an extremely reliable car. Other than normal service items, only the following have required repair:

The computer was replaced at 10,000 miles.

The air mass sensor was replaced at 12,000 miles.

Both repairs were made under warranty.

General Comments:

The Thunderbird LX with Sport package is an excellent combination of performance, style and luxury. This vehicle came with the leather interior complete with sunroof, premium audio and temperature controlled air conditioning. Almost everything that a Lincoln Mark VIII has, but for half the price!

This vehicle has very good power, good brakes and excellent handling. Not many cars come with four wheel independent suspension, four wheel anti-lock disk brakes and a V8 in this price class. Altogether, this is an excellent value.

The best use for this car is long highway cruises. It is quiet and the ride quality is very good. Economy is good as well, considering this is a V8. That power comes in handy when passing or climbing a grade-- just watch your speed. It is very easy to get a Thunderbird well above the legal limit before you realize it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th September, 2002

1997 Ford Thunderbird LX 3.8 V6 from North America


This car requires regular scheduled maintenance to run at it's best.

Continuing problem with small coolant leak.

Door ajar light has been checked twice, still stays on.

When braking get shake in steering wheel & accelerator.

General Comments:

No major problems at this point.

I love the feel of this car on the road.

For a relativly small engine it has suprisingly consistent power. (3.8 V6)

Hard to beat for the money paid considering size and comfort.

Good mileage per gallon more kick.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th September, 2002

4th Feb 2003, 13:46


Don't know who's survey this was, but I have had the same problems with my 96' Ford Thunderbird. I have a small coolant leak, my door agar light doesn't go off and I have had Ford look at it 4 times now, and finally when I press the brakes I get a lot more shaking in the car now as it has been getting older. I am going to try replacing the rotors, brakes and my shocks and struts. If anyone has any info on any of these problems or have any questions about working on the 96' Thunderbird let me know! roserobbins99@hotmail.com.

18th Jul 2003, 16:00

In regards to the "door ajar" light staying on, I had the same problem. The switch is worn. You can replace the switch or shim it a bit by gluing a small.5" x.5" piece of thin.060" metal to the door pillar.

Good Luck!

2nd Oct 2003, 11:11

This is a really good car. I bought it used in 1999. It had right at 20K miles on it. I've had some minor problems with the brakes and a small coolant leak. Right now I'm a little concerned because there is some hesitation when the automatic transmission shifts. I'm going to have it serviced ASAP! Other than this it has been a great car. It has about 87K miles on it now.

1997 Ford Thunderbird LX 4.6L V8 from North America


An excellent balance of performance and comfort at a great price


Transmission began shifting poorly at 30K miles. Dealer service did not improve the shifting. A trans fluid flush at a local transmission shop fixed the problem. It is still shifting OK. A letter that accompanied the new car explained that the 46 miles were from a factory performance test. They must have paid careful attention to this one, it has run flawlessly for over 72K miles.

General Comments:

This car is a good balance between comfort and performance at a very good price. For me seats are exceptionally comfortable, the ride is reasonably smooth with the sport option. The handling is a cut above most other passenger cars, but definitely not sports car level. The car has been exceptionally reliable. This is fortunate since the service by the dealer is so poor.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd August, 2002

25th Dec 2003, 08:58

On the recommendation of my mechanic (who was chasing down a miss caused by a faulty spark plug wire around 20,000 miles), I had the transmission fluid replaced in my 1997 T-Bird. Apparently the transmission fluid Ford used was prone to thicken and generate a lot of noise while driving. A mechanic at a local dealership made a comment that basically supported this story. The rough shifting may have been due to the same problem.

16th Jan 2010, 09:20

The Mercon III that Ford was using at the time didn't have the heat resistance needed. Flushing the fluid and putting in Mercon V removes the shudder in the transmission.

Another issue was the 1-2 Accumulator spring, which is a simple fix as well. If you have a very hard shift from first to second, this spring is bad. I think the 97's may have the redesigned part stock, but I'm not sure.

A plate style transmission cooler is a wise investment if you drive this car often; it keeps the fluid cooler and helps it work better.