12th Aug 2001, 17:20
The car is not a turbo model (it is a 3.8 V6 - the turbo was a I4) so nothing can really be done about that.
As far as the brakes go, I don't hammer on them. I pretty much drive the car like a conservative 70 year old. It receives far less abuse than probably 98% of all the other cars out there.
20th Dec 2001, 17:06
Sounds like you have some of the same problems I do. I always wanted an 87-88 Tbird, so I kinda knew that it wasn't smooth sailing. To go through your list:
Heater core, yup, did it myself, messy job. Planning to replace the water pump since I have a spare one.
Head gaskets, Nope. I have a solid V-8. This is where you should keep an eye open. Ford knew they had a problem with the 3.8 and they are just now starting to do something about it.
Brakes - Base and LX birds have brakes that are at best adeqaute. 9" drums and 10" rotors. I do my own and religiously check the pads and shoes for wear. Also I have a Sport, so I have more brakes then you do. If you really want to get wild, you could find an old Turbocoupe and go 4-wheel disk. Not easy job tho. Whenever you or anyone puts a rim on the car, use a torque wrench set to the right torque. A lot of rotors are warped by improper use of an air wrench.
Whenever the rotors come off the vehicle, yes, the front wheel bearings should be inspected and replaced if needed. I'll go one further, Since they are cheap, I just throw on new ones when I do it.
Rear axle. Yup, had same problem. Previous owner left a dead shock on far too long. The vibrations destroyed the rear right axle shaft and bearings. Bad shocks and struts can destroy more then a good ride.
Gas tank. Not yet but thanks for the warning.
Voltage regulator is integrel with the alternator. OEM alternators are inadequate. I'm going to have to get a heavier duty one and they are hard to find. Not looking forward to that.
Fan switch. I only have on and off. Another project. Will probably just replace it with a rheostat.
Axle seals will leak after 14 years. Good thing you did it, I have to do the left side soon. Hopefully you replace the gear lube every year.
Fuel pump. It's in the tank. Drop the tank to get to it. My gas gauge lies, but I go by miles driven and average MPG anyway.
Transmission. Old but you still got hope. I thought mine was slipping and what it really wanted was more fluid. DON'T OVERFILL. Also, unlike urban legend and other guff one hears from mechanics, transmission fluid and filter should be changed yearly.
Seals leaking. Yup, just age. I'll get to them when I start tearing down the car back to the firewall.
Oil burning. Lot of miles, you could probably fix it, but if it's burning a qaurt at say, every other fill up, why bother? An easy and cheap check, is to look at your PVC valve. Mine was throwing a bit of oil through the manifold now and then.
I do my own work. I was tired of paying outrageous sums to get my car screwed up when I could screw it up myself. Suggest Haynes or Chiltons. Start with the small stuff first. Remember, the car's old. I like mine, but it's not and never will be as reliable as a new or late model car.
So? Why did you go from a Honda to an old Bird? Just curious.
6th Sep 2002, 13:31
Speaking of transmissions, does anyone know where or how to find one? I've had my T-bird for 1 year now and only got to drive it for about 5 1/2 months. My transmission started slipping. I checked the transmission fluid and it was full, so I drove it. Later that day, I was having it towed home because the transmission went completely out. For the past 6 1/2 months I've been looking for a used transmission and can't find one anywhere. Everyone I talked to said they are rare, especially the automatic transmissions. If anyone can help me I sure would appreciate it.
29th Oct 2002, 14:29
1988 t-bird with a 302? great car till now 178k, How to fix the heater core, without taking the dash out?
I got the dash 1/2 apart, but cannot seem to remove the black cover to the heater core? There not much room. I have been working on this for 3 days? Can some one please help me? Thank you Lkocick@hotmil.com.
12th Feb 2003, 10:18
We just changed the heater core in my 88 thunder-bird. We had to use a heat gun to loosen the rubber on the case that holds the heater core. Hope that helps.
22nd Sep 2007, 08:27
The best car I ever had in my life, my 88 Tbird turbo coupe. The best never let me down.. never. It has 214500 miles on it, and is still running fast and nice...
19th Aug 2009, 05:27
I have a 88 t-bird base and I was trying to update my head and tail lights. Can anyone help me out with a website or something??? And I was wondering if six lugs rims could fit on my 4 lug hub, because someone told me that they could work, because they line up or something. That's all!!!