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Care of your car
|There's more to just driving around in your t-bird with the top down.
You want to keep this car in tip top shape for years to come so please
remember to put some extra effort into keeping it clean. I'm just
trying to hit the general points
#1 Read your 2002, 2003, 2004 or 2005 Thunderbird owner's manual - keep your warranty in force by following it's guidelines on care of your car.
#2 - Learn about your car -Don't have the the owner's manual? It's available for free on the net. Download from MotorCraftservice.com Sources for the printed manuals are your Ford dealer's parts department and auction sites such as eBay.com Sources for Technical Service manuals for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 are again on eBay.com and MotorCraft and at Helms Manuals (the publisher of the Ford OEM manuals).
Here's a transmission tip - Your Transmission is a "Sealed" unit. It is NOT a transaxle. There is No dip stick. Maintenence guide does NOT suggest changing the transmission fluid at 30,000 miles (48,000K) unless under severe useage. In fact it does not suggest changing the fluid until 150,000 miles HOWEVER the Service Manuals the Ford Techs use to help them fix your car, say the transmission is a sealed unit and the fluid is good for the LIFE of the car unless used under severe conditions - That translates to there is NO NEED to change the transmission fluid unless you drive in very slow or dusty condtions! Here's a couple of copies to read from the Service Manual for the 2002 and the 2005.
|Just my observations on care if you plan
to keep this car forever or just a little while - the next owner will appreciate
1 - Take care when using this car for shopping or for work - parking lots are the most likely spots to get door dings, dents & scrapes. You will find that some people will deliberately abuse your car if it's sitting in a parking lot unattended..
2 - SAVE ALL PAPERWORK associated with your car. Get a binder just for this purpose (2 or 3 inch). Paperwork includes that "window sticker" and service work sheets. Don't toss that owners manual after you know how things operate. Put it in that binder. Keep a sheet to record dates of oil changes, tire rotations, etc. Get one of the sales brochures for your year model that covers the options & color of your car and place it in that binder. Find one of the magazines that has a road test of your model & place that in the binder. Take photos of your car yearly and place them in the binder.
3 - Remember where you stored that binder!
4 - I've added a maintenance chart to the "get creative" page. Be sure to add that to your binder or make a separate binder for maintenance.
5 - Helpful Hint - Cleaning supplies - I keep a good supply of microfiber towels (they ARE machine washable) and Swiffers on hand for doing the following.
|Engine: Keep this
area clean - your mechanic will appreciate it, your engine parts will
appreciate it; your pocketbook will appreciate it & you'll be proud
to show off the engine (men love to look under the hood). You'll
also notice sooner when a belt or hose needs replacing.
Personal experience - found a leaking power brake booster within
miles before our basic warranty expired - because I keep the engine compartment
clean. Look at it this way - The engine is like your kitchen - the
heart of your car like your kitchen is to your home.
This is going to sound like a commercial but.... A good product to use frequently on the engine to keep it clean is a recent introduction on the market - the Swiffer Duster. It's a small microfiber brush/duster that is excellent for getting into the little corners and cracks of your engine compartment and it picks up the dirt without having to take a hose to the compartment It even works on the hood liner. I also keep one in the car for cleaning the interior while riding or driving - use it when you stop at lights.
About washing the engine compartment with water - do not do - there are numerous electronic parts under the hood. Most are sealed but don't count on the seals to work as they should. Our engine compartments are always "dry" cleaned, ie, wiped down with towels and brushes and the Swiffer Duster. If you keep "on top" of the cleaning, it'll never get to the point where you need drastic measures to get it clean.
Oil Filters - Your owners manual is what you go by. Here's the
filter part #s from Ford that the different years use:
2003-2005 P# FOFL-218 (Short) "DO NOT" use 2008 above
My thoughts on automatic car washes - avoid! take the time to do the job yourself or have a professional do the job but stay away from the automatic car washes - they're meant for speed and not for keeping your car in showroom shape.
"make sure you don't damage the hoodliner. It has a type of silver foil lining on the surface to aid in insulation and radio reception. The bird doesn't have an antenna on the fender, it has one incorporated into the windshield. -- words from supercrew from the Ford Wixom assembly plant.Polish - only as necessary
Waxing & polishing -There are products on the market to help
make your car shine even more. Here's an interesting article about
the comparison between 2 products:
Hardtop - Some have already noticed marks in the paint where the top meets the rear deck. It's important to keep this area clean as dirt is the major culprit. Also clean the rubber seal on the hardtop. A good coat of wax will slow down any sanding occurring from the top rubbing on the body. It may be wise to cut a piece of clear vinyl to place under the top when the top is in place. When storing car for any length of time with hardtop in place, it may be wise to release the latches and clean the area. If using the vinyl, make sure it is dry underneath after washing. Clear vinyl may be found at most fabric stores such as JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts and Hancocks. Ford supplied all 2003 - 2005s with a mylar tape kit - see below:
Starting around March 2002, Ford started supplying the new t-birds with a mylar tape kit for the rear deck area where the hardtop sits. You may order this part from your dealer:
Mylar Tape Kit" "to protect the paint when the hardtop is installed"
P/N 1W6276202W30-AA (issued with 2002-2004 T-birds)
Sources for Cleaning/polishing, etc... supplies: http://www.zainobros.com/ also http://www.meguiars.com/ and retail outlets such as auto parts stores, Walmart, Target, etc...
If you haven't taken your hardtop off your car, it is a MUST that this be done IF you bought the car brand new. (I started this page in 2001 so some hints were for "NEW" cars.) If you are unable to do this, take it in to your dealer to have them do it. Reason - some car owners have reported water on the soft top & wet soft tops when taking their hard tops off the cars for the first time when new. Soft Tops must be dry when stored.
Fabric soft tops are easy care
Top may stretch when out on the freeways due to difference in air pressure inside and outside of cockpit but it relaxes to it's normal shape after sitting for awhile so don't worry if you see that happen to your top. Update: so far no one has complained of this phenomena. It appears to not happen with the fabric used in the softtops. Update 2016: I have to take that back, with age and use, it is happening to the softtops now, but it does still go back to normal after sitting for awhile.
Wheels - Painted wheels are clear coat finished - harsh detergents may destroy the finish so be careful with them. Chromed wheels should be kept waxed - probably every time you wash them. Scrub those tires too.
Changing or rotating tires? Tighten lug nuts to 100ft/lbs torque.
Cover the lug wrench with a rubber tube or towel to help prevent scratching of the wheels when removing the hubcaps.
"Wheel Wax" is a very good product to use to reduce the amount of brake dust that adheres to your wheels.
Tires: Ford recommended tire inflation is 30 psi (pounds per square inch)and they seem to insist on this. Note that as delivered from the factory, your tires may be over-inflated so be sure to have your dealership check all 4 tires. You might even want to be there when they do. Many owners have reported tires set at between 40 and 45 psi, clearly indicating that their tires hadn't been checked at the dealership before owners took possession. There is NO correct tire inflation imprinted on the stock tires - all it has is the Maximum the tire will hold - it is not the recommended psi for use. read this page
Vacuum your car's carpets as often as your family home carpeting is done - if not more. Dirt that sifts down to the base of your carpets acts as an abrasive on the fibers and wears out your car's carpet.
I do not recommend Rainex on a "new" windshield but after car has been used awhile & windshield has weathered some, Rainex is a great product for use when you'll be anywhere near rain.
update: Ford now has a leather care kit:
F8AZ-19G253-AA - Deluxe Leather Care Kit
The light color seats and soft tops require more care to remove stains
than the black tops. If in doubt, use the Ford products unless you
feel comfortable with another brand. Be sure to test any new product
you plan to use on a hidden area before using.
Preferred Suede seat inserts on the 2004 special edition only - see PCR page - require special care and no protectantts..
© 2001-09 Dot Lang
Webpage Design/Photos/graphics by Dot
unless otherwise noted
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