View Full Version : RetroBird Tbird Engine Control Module

09-08-2013, 12:51 AM
Yesterday, while out driving, I had a 2005 red RetroBird with Oregon plates go zipping by me. I followed him, since he was going my direction anyway. I wanted to see if he stopped somewhere along the way so I could find out if he was local and tell him about our Tbird club here, and this Forum and invite him to become active on them. He did stop and I was able to meet him and talk with him for awhile.

During our conversation, he told me that he had just in the last few weeks experienced a problem with his 2005 Tbird. It quit on him and he had to have it taken in for service at a big Ford dealership here. It was his engine control module, Ford Part# 5W6Z-12A650-AFRM that had died on him. They tried to get a replacement for it and there was none to be found anywhere. They looked all over the country to no avail. He ended up having several conversations with people at FOMOCO headquarters, which led to them eventually finding ONE unit in Canada. That unit cost him $487.47 and a total of $806.97 with labor. Once they got the new module in the car it has been fine, but not his wallet!

Here is what I have been able to find out about this. First of all, this is not necessarily a rare situation. I have seen other reports on the internet of other 2005 Tbird owners having the same problem. The lack of availability of this part, I am told, is caused by the recent problems the automotive industry experienced during the present DC administration. I was told that so many parts companies supplying the auto manufacturers have gone out of business. Including the company that was making this unit for FOMOCO. So, apparently, this very important part is very difficult to locate now.

Upon googling that Ford Part # I find these links.


Towards the bottom of the page it tells you if you want to check and see if it fits your car, to Click Here.

It might even have been used on Mercury's but I do not know that.

I googled this again and got this eBay listing for a re-manufactured part which had already been sold.. But it has some good information on it regarding what cars and year this unit is used on.


Down towards the bottom, in the Compatability Check you can put in the year 2002, 2003, 2004 Ford Thunderbird Base Convertible 2Dr, and All Engines. When I did that for 2002, 2003, and 2004 I got the notification that this part number 5W6Z-12A650-AFRM is not compatible with 2002 Ford Thunderbird Base Convertible 2-Door. It says that on all three years, 2002, 2003, and 2004.

Only for 2005 does it say This part is compatible with matching 2005 Ford Thunderbird 50th Anniversary Edition Convertible 2-Door. And also This part is compatible with matching 2005 Ford Thunderbird Base Convertible 2-Door 3.9L 242Cu. In. V8 GAS DOHC Naturally Aspirated.

This eBay page says this part is also used on the 2005 Lincoln LS. So Lincoln might be another source for it.

So the good news is that it appears that those of you who own 2002-2004 RetroBirds DO NOT have this part in your Tbird... The bad news is only those who own 2005 Tbirds have a concern. Or a 2005 Lincoln LS.

I also found this link for this OEM new part Number.


This news regarding this 2005 Tbird and Lincoln LS does not bode well for owners of these two cars...

09-08-2013, 03:14 AM
Ray, I don't doubt you for a second but I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the many '05 Tbirds that were wrecked and crushed with their EEC. That means every rusted-out junk car is worth at least $400 just for the controller.

Something else preys on my mind... Why wouldn't this computer work on any other car with that engine and trans combination? These engines are manufactured in Ford's Romeo, Michigan plant, so they are used for years and are common.

Ford rarely makes low-production parts. They usually make a generic part that will accept different chips or reprogrammable software, to be used on a host of models. Ford also uses more than one supplier for important parts.

Finally, I know bone yards usually charge half the dealership price for good used parts. I'm sure there are many '05 Tbirds still on the road and many that are recently retired. That doesn't help the poor guy with a car that broke down and he needs it fixed, now. - Dave

09-08-2013, 03:27 AM
I was speaking of obtaining a new OEM or re-manufactured module. There are probably 05 Tbirds and 05 Lincoln LS's in bone yards that you might be able to pull one off of.

I can only tell you what this gentleman told me. After this very large Ford Dealership could not find a unit anywhere across this country (in other Ford dealerships I gather) he finally made several calls to people in FOMOCO headquarters. After several calls, he finally found someone who would return his calls and help him. That person, whoever it was, found a unit in Canada and arranged to have it shipped to the dealership here for install.

For all I know, this unit might be in Mercuries also. However, the search that I did shows that this unit was only used in 2005 Tbirds, and Lincoln Ls's. No other years or models were listed.

If Ford had other suppliers for this part they must have gone out of business also... I can only relay on what I was told about this module and the problems his Ford dealership had in finding one. If he had not taken further action himself, he probably never would have found one. One of the other reports I read was by an owner on the East Coast. She said her 05 Tbird has been in the shop since March, while they try to find another module. So far, they had not been able to find one... Someone should think about looking in a boneyard for one maybe....

09-08-2013, 08:26 PM
As it turns out, 2004 Tbird owners need to be concerned about this problem also, though at first I thought it was just the 2005 year. Until I received this email from Ray Spreen, President of the Vintage Tbirds Of Houston. He has a 2004 and ran into the same problem, different part #, but same or similar module. Here is what he had to say.

"Ray / et al,

I had this problem with my 2004 earlier this year (with 29K miles and still under the ESP warranty). Ford could not diagnose it until the check engine light finally stayed on. Early symptoms included:
· stalling in traffic when in gear at a stoplight
· low speed stalls at 5-10 mph.
· momentary engine stall at freeway speed, with nearly an immediate start from the transmission being engaged
· complete power failure after the car was driven and parked, just like the battery was disconnected. Slamming the door or engine hood would usually get it going again!

The part number for the 2004 is different: 4W4Z-12A650-BTCRM (vs.5W6Z-12A650-AFRM for the 2005 ). I had the same issue with Ford as the original parts supplier is out of business. My car sat in the “Retrobird graveyard” with 4 others at Russell & Smith Ford in Houston for nearly 3 weeks while they exhausted all Ford / Lincoln sources for a new part. They told me I was out of luck until Ford could find another vendor. I checked around on the Thunderbirdnest (TBN) website http://www.thunderbirdnest.com/ and found several others had experienced the same problem with Ford. On an individual exception basis under the ESP warranty, Ford will authorize use of a re-manufactured engine control module if the vendor is certified by them. Long story short – Ford did authorize replacement of mine with a re-manufactured unit, uploaded all the latest software and it has operated perfectly since February.

Following is the information that I found on TBN:

Re: Back ordered - Module-engine control-EEC

Don't know about finding a NEW replacement. Ask the dealer to search for one in salvage at no charge to you and have them ask Ford since none are available to cover it with the Ford ESP. I have been told by Lou, the gentleman here on TBN who helps us all to get ESPs, that Ford can & will do this depending on each individual situation.

Your dealer should know exactly how to do salvage part research.

Re: Back ordered - Module-engine control-EEC

There are also companies that sell re-manufactured EEC V Modules. No assurance they are in stock here but this is one listing I did find for that part number.


Re: Back ordered - Module-engine control-EEC

Here is a link to Cardone which is one of the companies that rebuild/re-manufacture EEC Modules


Here are the top 4 vendor hits from a Google search :



Ford MODULE - ENGINE CONT, Genuine Ford part: 4W4Z12A650BTCRM, Retail Price: $716.78, Your Price: $666.83, you save: $49.95.





Genuine Ford 4W4Z12A650BTCRM REMAN MODULE - ENGINE CONTROL at wholesale prices.

4. 4W4Z12A650BTCRM - Sarad Automotive Parts


4W4Z12A650BTCRM: Powertrain Control Module. 3.9L Dohc EFI NA V8 Gas*HP (+)"CDN/MEX/USA" ; 4SR11S0505 (EEW0); Replaced by remanufacture.

I suspect that these cars are going to become increasingly difficult (and expensive) to maintain as they age. Last month, two COP units failed and were replaced under warranty. I am hopeful that the ESP warranty can be extended when it expires this November, otherwise will have to think hard about keeping it. As most of the failed parts have been either Jaguar or Lucas, it is evident that Ford did not have Jaguar’s quality control in check when these were made.


Ray Spreen
Vintage Thunderbirds of Houston"

I have made Alan Tast and "Fuz" Johnson aware of this, though Alan had heard that this was happening. He hopes to do a technical article on this for the Scoop.

09-13-2013, 09:30 PM
As it turns out, it is not just the 2004 and 2005 RetroBirds that have a engine control module problem. I provided a 2003 VIN # to the local Ford dealerships Service Manager. He ran that number and found that the Engine Control Module 4W4Z-12A650-ZRM for the 2003 is in the same boat as the 2004-2005's. No ECM module for the 2003 is available either. Like the others, they are on backorder with no indication as to when they might get them. Not until Ford finds another vendor to make them he tells me. I suspect that the same thing applies to the 2002 and I will provide him with a VIN # for one of them to see what he finds. There might be re-manufactured units out there, but he says they can't be found either.

09-18-2013, 09:54 AM
On Monday, September 16th, I was able to provide the Ford dealership Service Manager with a 2002 Retrobird VIN #. He was able to tell me that the part # for the 2002 Retrobird ECM unit is 2W6Z-12A650-DBRM. He also told me that of the four years of the Retrobird production only the 2002 year shows any availability of this part. His search showed that there are 3 of these units available in the USA.

11-06-2013, 03:10 AM
I took it upon myself, with the blessing of Buddy Cox, our VTCI Regional Director, to provide a copy of the information I sent out regarding this problem. It was sent to all the VTCI Regional Directors, and the VTCI President. The intent of this mailing was three fold. One was to alert all VTCI members of the possibility of this module failing on them, and the consequences of what could happen if it did. The second intent was to attempt to determine, from all the VTCI members, how many Retrobird owners have already experienced a failure of this unit; and if a replacement for it was found and the problem fixed; and where they found the part. It is also my intent to provide this information to Alan Tast, the VTCI Technical Director. The third intent was to hope that the VTCI leadership would interact with FOMOCO to find a fix for this problem that unknown numbers of Retrobird owners have already faced. I am pleased to tell you that as a result of that mailing, I immediately received an email from our VTCI President, Rod Wake, telling me that he has made contact with an old friend in the FOMOCO upper echelon hierarchy, now retired. He was very much upset that this is happening and was going to contact Bill Ford to look into this and see what it was going to take to fix this potential huge problem for Retrobird owners. He sees this as a PR problem that Ford does not need to have. Hopefully, something will be done to quickly rectify this potential problem. In speaking with Ray Sprool, President of the VTCI Houston Tbird Club, I learned that not only is that module almost impossible to find, but that other parts for the Retrobirds are also. It was also confirmed by Ray that the ECM from the Lincoln LS and the Jaguar are NOT interchangeable with the Retrobird. I will let you know as I learn more.

11-06-2013, 05:23 AM
We're talking about Ford's 3.9L V8 (not to be confused with Ford's 3.8L or 3.9L V6 engines).

This one is a can of worms:
The 3.9L (3934 cc) AJ30/AJ35 variant is a unique displacement used only by Ford and Lincoln and is built in Ford's Lima, OH engine plant. Bore is 86 mm (3.4 in) and stroke is 85 mm (3.3 in). The AJ35 version introduced for the 2003 model year added variable valve timing of the intake camshafts and electronic throttle control. While the block, crankshaft, pistons, and connecting rods are all unique to this displacement, many other parts are shared with the AJ-V8 engines produced in the UK by Jaguar.

Since South Wales was making this engine for 'then' Ford Jaguar, I'm sure many of the parts Lima Engine Plant used came from there. I know there were (bore liner material) problems with this engine early on, so get a later one.

Good luck asking Bill Ford for help. Ford Motor Co., won't supply obsolete parts past eight years and the last 3.9L engine Lima produced was in 2005. They made their money, and now Ford is done. Just like Squarebirds, Ford helps with nothing for our cars or engines.

Usually, we can retrofit a computer for the same engine that was installed in another car body. Lincoln LS used this engine. So did the Ford 49.

Maybe aftermarket companies will take over production of the EEC if Ford won't. I guess it all depends on supply and demand.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why Ford didn't use the 4.9L Romeo engine in the Retro Birds. That would have ended all discussion and the car would have been a rocket. - Dave

11-16-2013, 01:41 AM
Response from: Barry Iverson NW VTCI Regional Director & Mike Hall of VTCI Okanagon Club.

http://www.cardone.com/ Retrobird Re-manufactured ECC/ECM units.

2002 Thunderbird Engine Control Computer (ECC) (also called an Engine Control Module) (ECM)

All Calibrations w/Module ID # NCB-311
Vehicle specific Flash programming req'd ON or OFF the vehicle.Accurate VIN and mileage are req'd. Additional vehicle specific on-car programming must be performed AFTER installation to prevent drivability and starting issues.;Parameter Reset May Be Req'd Cardone Part # 78-8532F

All Calibrations w/Module ID # NCB-312
Vehicle specific Flash programming req'd ON or OFF the vehicle.Accurate VIN and mileage are req'd. Additional vehicle specific on-car programming must be performed AFTER installation to prevent drivability and starting issues.;Parameter Reset May Be Req'd Cardone Part # 78-8533F

I was told by one 2002 Retrobird owner that his Tbird required Part # 78-8533F and that no OEM Retrobird parts were available anywhere in Canada where he lives. Lordco Parts, in BC, get rebuilt ECM’s for his car in Philadelphia from A-1 Cardone.

2003 Thunderbird Engine Control Computer (ECC) (also called an Engine Control Module) (ECM)

Engine Control Computer - A1 CARDONE [Reman.]
3.9 Liters and All Calibrations w/Module ID # HBO-340, 360
Vehicle specific Flash programming req'd ON or OFF the vehicle.Accurate VIN and mileage are req'd. Additional vehicle specific on-car programming must be performed AFTER installation to prevent drivability and starting issues.;PATS Mod Req's Programming Cardone Part # 78-9053F

2004 Thunderbird Engine Control Computer (ECC) (also called an Engine Control Module) (ECM)

3.9 Liters and All Calibrations w/Module ID # HBO-340, 360
Vehicle specific Flash programming req'd ON or OFF the vehicle.Accurate VIN and mileage are req'd. Additional vehicle specific on-car programming must be performed AFTER installation to prevent drivability and starting issues.;PATS Mod Req's Programming Cardone Part # 78-9053F

I notice that is the same part # for the 2003.

2005 Thunderbird Engine Control Computer (ECC) (also called an Engine Control Module) (ECM)

3.9 Liters and All Calibrations w/Module ID # HBO-361
First Source -Call For Avail.;Parameter Reset May Be Req'd After Install if Modified Vehicle.;Vehicle specific Flash programming required ON or OFF the vehicle.Accurate VIN and mileage are req'd. Cardone Part # 78-1056F

11-16-2013, 01:43 AM
Alan Tast has asked for pictures of the Retrobird ECM/ECC module and also where it is located at. He is writing a report on this problem for the VTCI Scoop. If you have any please email them to me, or post them here.