If you’ve owned your 2002-2005 Thunderbird from new, you’re already well aware of a growing problem … finding replacement parts. Of course, this is a problem all owners of older cars face, but for owners of the 11th generation Ford Thunderbird it’s particularly tough. Why? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think.
First, the 2002-2005 Thunderbird was a low-production car – only 68,098 built for all four model years. Compare that number to say the Ford Mustang, which is manufactured in the hundreds of thousands every model year. Low vehicle production numbers means low replacement part production as well. OEM factory replacement parts are built in relation to the number of vehicles those parts need to support. Fewer cars means fewer spare parts.
Another contributing factor was Ford’s financial struggles during the 2005-2009 period. Unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford refused government bail out money after the stock market and real estate crash of 2008-2009. To its credit, Ford remained afloat and solvent, but not without consequences. Many of Ford’s suppliers and outsource vendors didn’t fare as well, and shuttered their doors or filed for bankruptcy protection as parts orders disappeared. The maker of the Thunderbird hardtops was one notable case.
The low-volume production of the 2002-2005 Thunderbird contributed to a domino effect in terms of supply and demand. Typically, when replacement part inventories get low, auto makers can request new production runs of spare parts from their suppliers. But vendors and suppliers need fairly large minimum orders to make new runs economically viable. Because production of the 2002-2005 Thunderbird was small, demand for replacement parts was correspondingly low. A given part might have a demand of only a few dozen units instead of hundreds or even thousands. Set-up costs are very high, and unless a minimum production threshold is met, suppliers simply can’t afford to produce parts.
This is little consolation for the Retro Thunderbird owner whose car needs a vital replacement part to keep it running. Critical parts like electronic modules (FEMs, PCMs, ECMs, REMs, etc.) and instrument clusters are no longer being supplied or ‘serviced’ by Ford, and if your Thunderbird needs one, it won’t run without one.
Aftermarket companies offer rebuilt and remanufactured modules, but finding the correct one for your Thunderbird can be difficult. There are literally dozens of different part numbers for electronic modules for the 2002-2005 Thunderbird, and unless you have the right one, you and your T-Bird will be stranded. Instrument clusters are another common problem; they are part of a complex electronic systems that communicates with other electronic modules, and if you have a defective cluster you may have an un-driveable car.
One option for spare parts is to find used parts from salvage yards and auto dismantlers. But the low-production conundrum applies here also … low production means few available ‘parts cars’ in auto salvage yards.
So the question becomes, at what point does a 2002-2005 Thunderbird owner ‘throw in the towel’ and sell or trade-in his beloved car? Some owners will never sell, no matter how difficult the parts problem becomes. Others, who love the car but simply don’t want to deal with break-downs, long waits and the unavailability of replacement parts, make the tough decision to part ways with their Thunderbirds.
If you’re one of the former Thunderbird owners who have already sold or traded your Retro for another car, your parts worries are over … at least for now. But if you’re one of the legions of dedicated, die-hard 2002-2005 Thunderbird owners who simply won’t give up, there is hope.
Powersport/Thunderbird Specialties is the oldest and largest company dedicated exclusively to the 2002-2005 Thunderbird. We have the largest selection of custom accessories, performance upgrades, OEM replacement parts and collectibles available anywhere … over 350 unique items to choose from. We can find virtually ANY part your Thunderbird needs, even if your Ford dealer can’t find it. We have access to specialty suppliers and obsolete parts vendors that even Ford dealers don’t know about. We can even repair and rebuild electronic components, instrument clusters and electronic modules that others won’t touch.
If your Thunderbird has been sidelined and is out of commission because you can’t find the part you need, contact us today! We’ll give you the information and product details your Ford dealer doesn’t have, and find the part you need quickly and often at prices lower than Ford’s list price. If we don’t have it, we’ll find it. If we can’t find it, it doesn’t exist!
Powersport/Thunderbird Specialties … THE 2002-2005 Thunderbird experts!