View Full Version : Retrobird Tech Tip...

04-03-2015, 12:24 AM
Courtesy of the Kelowna, BC, Canada "Valley Thunder" April newsletter...

~ By Mike Schwartz
Mike & Evelyn Schwartz
Richland, WA
Car Display
Emergency Key Release Built Into the
Carpeted Back Panel
The Unique Retro Bird’s Trunk Release
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Spring is here for most of us and our T-Birds are coming out of winter storage eager to stretch out, loosen up & hit the open road.

The Retro Thunderbird due to some of its very own unique features may not come out of winter storage without showing its stubbornness. Some owners may find that their Retro has a dead battery, and where is that battery stored? In the trunk of course. But you can’t open the trunk. There isn’t an exterior key lock on the trunk. The only trunk release is either the button on your key fob or the electric release push button on the driver’s door. But neither of these will work when the Bird’s battery is a gonner. Oh what to do?! Oh what to do?!

Calling a locksmith won’t work there is no lock to pick, jimmy or make a key to. Calling a Ford dealer won’t work, the last Retro build was 10 years ago, no one at the dealer will remember what to do.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh YES! You Remembered.!

Way back long ago you spotted the emergency key release built into the carpeted back panel, just below the package ledge behind the driver’s seat. When you first saw this circular ring, You probably wondered what that could possibly be for. Trying the door/ignition key in this key slot showed you that you could manually release the trunk. Here is a photo to help. (See photo below).

Turning the key should release the trunk. It is designed to do just that. However it has been reported that some trunks are not popping open when the key is turned. Some owners have told me that they needed someone to lift the trunk lid while they turned the key. The worst reported situation I have heard about is from an owner that told me that turning the key had no affect at all. That the cable had disconnected from the backside of the key linkage. In this case getting the trunk to open required the use of a battery charger that had the plug to fit into the cigarette lighter. Back charging the battery in this fashion for only 20 minutes gave this owner enough charge to get the trunk open from the driver’s door push button.

Access to the back side of the interior manual trunk release is not difficult if a repair is necessary like in the above situation. It is a matter of removing the interior trim pieces. They all will pop off their clips when tugged on with some effort.

Lesson to be learned here is to avoid frustration, try to release the trunk from time to time with the interior manual release & get it fixed if necessary. And when putting your Retro Bird away for the winter, if you don’t put the battery on a trickle charger don’t latch the trunk, just close it down on a rolled up towel.

01-02-2017, 09:30 PM
In a previous post we discussed replacing the COP (Coil On Plug) Ignition Coils on your Retrobirds. After doing some more research on this due to one of our members having her 2004 Retrobird go into "Limp Mode" recently, cutting down the engine power, we discovered that it appears that these Ignition Coils are the cause of this, once they get oil or water into them because of leaking seals. So Dave ~ simplyconnected did some more research for me and found a good OEM replacement for these coils and here is that information. It has been recommended and what Ford/Lincoln usually does is replace all 8 of them. Because what they and the Retrobird users have found is that if just one goes bad, down the road, more will also and you will have to replace them too. So Ford/Lincoln, when having this problem, have been replacing all 8 and be done with it. I will post more information about this "Limp Mode" later on.

OUR5T8BIRD said that the latest version of the COP's coils is the Model DG529. So if you need to replace yours, make sure they do not sell you the older DG509 or DG515 units. Demand the newest one.

COP Ignition Coil OEM replacement unit.
UNITED MOTOR PRODUCTS COP13 United Premium OEM replacement COP coil Info One of our most popular parts. Complete Coil Assembly. $16.53 each. 8 required for a complete replacement of each coil.

http://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/ford,2004,thunderbird,3.9l+v8,1425079,ignition,ign ition+coil,7060

You can obtain the latest Rock Auto Discount Code from the Advertisements Forum

01-02-2017, 10:06 PM
I do recommend the UNITED MOTOR PRODUCTS COP13 spark plug coils. They are OEM replacement W/12-month warranty so save your receipt.

These are basically plastic parts with epoxy holding them together. After many hundreds of heat/cool cycles, inferior plastics and epoxies will not hold up so I do not recommend the cheaper models.

OEM parts constantly improve over time. I'm sure part of this is from failures due to materials that simply weren't suitable or the evolution of new and better plastics. The idea and practice of individual coils is great; no high tension wires or the possibility of getting zapped by high voltage and they save space. - Dave

01-13-2017, 12:58 AM
Barbara ~ bbordelon, our 2004 Retrobird owner in Houston, has her Tbird back from the shop! She said they found two COPs (Coil On Plug) with oil in them. They had already replaced the throttle sensor and it did not fix the "limp mode" problem. Once they found the two bad coils, they replaced all of them and a gasket set. She said that since she got it back the car runs like new and you can really tell the difference. So, unless something else pops up, it looks like coils going bad caused this problem. She will let me know if she has anymore "limp mode" problems.

03-03-2017, 01:48 PM
Here is an update from Barbara on her '04! It is running like new, with no problems so far, as of a few days ago.

I just completed a terrific phone conversation with Martin ~ OUR5T8BIRD. He just told me that so far, he has not had the Coil On Plug problem with his '03 that others have had with the Retrobird. He also told me that the latest version of the COP's coils is the Motorcraft Model DG529 for about $48ea. So if you need to replace yours, make sure they do not sell you the older DG509 or DG515 units. Demand the newest one.

DG509 DG515 DG529 02-05 Ford Thunderbird V8 3.9L Ignition Coil

10-27-2017, 02:26 AM
Dot Lang of Porthole Authority provided me with this additional information regarding the 2002-2005 Retrobird Limp Mode problem..

"As for the limp mode. There are other causes of that happening besides it being a coil problem. It can also happen if there is an air bubble in the water system. (had that happen to our 05, once only). Thank goodness the limp mode didn't affect the driving of our 02 like I've heard of for a very few of the 04s. Had a friend with an 04 limited edition PCR that sold hers because she found it unreliable because of that problem though her dealership never seemed to find the source. She lived in Dallas at the time. We didn't know much about the coils at that time. Most of us have quit using Ford dealers to diagnose problems as they just remove and replace. Parts are getting much harder to find thru Ford dealers. Independents are the way to go now with their age.

Part of the problem with going into limp mode, is the driver. When there are 1 or 2 coils going out, stomping on the gas is sure to bring in the limp mode but that's hard to keep from doing if you're in traffic and need a sudden burst of energy from the car. Best to keep a steady, light foot on the gas until it can be checked out and fixed. You may have experienced that feel when you're driving an old car at slow speeds in high gear and trying to go up hill and you find the engine "lugging". Remember that term? You probably just put it in a lower gear and moved on. Whenever we have a coil going out in our 02, we're just more careful about pushing that gas pedal but we're also aware that it is a coil going out when we start to feel the car jerking. We also take it out of 5th "overdrive" gear and back into the more direct 4th gear. The 02 has gone thru 2 sets of coils and is on it's 3rd set now for 2 years but we also have 177,000 miles on it now. I drive it almost daily. Dot."