North American Turbocoupe Organization

New member with several questions
Chano Offline
Junior Member
I am the proud new owner of an 88 turbo coupe, 5 speed. I paid 1000 for the car which has 174,000 miles and is suprisingly clean.
I can post pics if ther is a proper section to do so and/or anyone is interested.

Anyhow the story behind the car is the guy sold it to me because he cant figure out what is wrong with the car. I have done a search on the forum here and seems that it is a fairly common problem.

When i start the car up it is fine till the engine begins to warm up. Roughly the same time the engine reaches its normal running tem the car will begin bucking at 3k rpm,If you stay below 3k your fine.

If you allow the car time to warm up for about 5 minutes after it reaches running temp the idle will drop to 500rpm or so and sound as if the car is going to die, after a minute or so the car will come back up to normal idle and you will not have issue.

Car also grinds slightly if above idle when going into 4th. I wasnt sure about this a buddy told me probably sut syncronisers.

In my searh people reccomend the tfi and pip sensor.

My question is although i havent tried pulling the codes i dont get a check engine light, will i even get codes if no light is showing? Or will the sensors give codes if they are bad, i would think thats the whole point of a sensor but i've been wrong before.

Also if i buy a new distributor will the sensors be included?

Lastly is there any topics that would be benificial (other that stickied obviously) to begin reaserching my car and begin getting it back to perfect shape.

edited to add the list of new parts on the car.

exahust Y'd from cat back with thrust mufflers.
water pump.
clutch has about 500 miles on it.
plugs, wires.
turbo rebuild with about 10k
fuel filter (but tank has not been flushed. had an 85 rx-7 that did the exact same thing untill i flushed the tank and changed the fuel pump and filter.)
Radiator and hoses.
88 t-bird turbo, 5 speed manual

rs1sensen Offline
My '85 had very similar symptoms when the catalytic converter got clogged. Eventually it died all-together on me.

Still...could be lots of things.

This thread also may have some good suggestions:;t=023504

I'll leave the majority of the answers to more-educated posters on these mechanical matters.
1985 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe w/ Approx 75k miles

Pete D Offline
Welcome to the board.
Does the check engine light even work? What brand(s) of plugs and wires did you use.
Definitely pull the codes and let us know what you get.

Try changing the trans fluid and even add a little friction modifier (for rear ends) This may or may not help the grinding but it's the cheapest, easiest possibility you have
Pete Dunham


Chano Offline
Junior Member
Yes the engine light does work. Or at least it appears to it comes on while you turn the engine on with all the others.

The plugs and wires are motorcraft.

going to pull the codes tonight and see what i come up with. is there a good place to look up and find out what the codes are? (going old school jumper wire)
88 t-bird turbo, 5 speed manual

Pete D Offline
Posting here would be a start.

Also see
Pete Dunham


The Shredder Offline
Chano, welcome to the obsession!

Hopefully you can get the bugs worked out! This forum will help you anything and everything.

88TC blue/blue, auto, loaded except leather, bone stock, 127K mi. - back in the TC game!
88TC white, converted 5 spd, K&N filter, Manual Gillis BV, 189K mi. SOLD :-(

Chano Offline
Junior Member
Did the fluid/filtercheck oil change today and oil didnt look bad all the fluids looked good except the powersteering fluid was pretty milky.

Valvecover gasket leaks a bit.
Air filter looks to be the origional but have to order one none of my local parts stores have one available.

Now the major downside. I am basically positive the transmission is well on its way out. When any load is put on the transmission it seems to let loose as if the clutch was slipping, but the clutch is working properly. I called around and looked for a transmission today but nobody close to me has one.

After reading here i am going to see if i cant find a t5 out of a mustang and i should be good.
Will i have to change the bell housing for the transmission to bolt up?
88 t-bird turbo, 5 speed manual

BJL Offline
a t-5 transmission out a of a 87-93 4cyl mustang will work also.
the v8 t-5 trans will need to be modified to work.. and first gear is steeper in the v8 trans.
Brian Larkin
88TC 330,000 miles
Slightly Modified

Pete D Offline
You should be able to retain the TC bell housing with a Mustang trans if you want to retain the hydraulic system. I'm not sure what could slip besides the clutch. How do you know it's not at fault??

Ford sells a rubber VC gasket with metal grommets in it that act as positive stops and it is reusable and much better than the cork stock gasket. It will probably be the last one you ever have to buy.
Ford Part# - F57Z-6584A

Felpro makes a similar type gasket. Some people don't feel it is as good but I have no complaints about it. Mine has been on and off several times.

Felpro Part# 50043 R-1, comes in a set with part# VS 50043 R-1

You may have to tell your local parts person that you have a 1990 Ranger for the correct part number to come up
Pete Dunham


Chano Offline
Junior Member
I say the clutch seems to be working mainly for two reasons.

1. The car will get up to about 35 mile an hour normally as long as you baby it. It started with only 4th doing it but progressively worse throughout the day. takeoff and transfering gears is smooth and everything in the clutch feels good. When i have replaced clutches in the past you could feeel in the pedal that the clutch is slipping while this seems like the tires are spinning however they are not.

2. A good friend of mines father is a gm master mechanic and shop manager he looked at it and checked it out a bit and he seems to feel 100% without a doubt the trans is shot.

It is entirely possible that its the clutch and the guy who sold me the car is being dishonest.
88 t-bird turbo, 5 speed manual

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