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Old 10-17-2002, 11:11 AM   #1
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Replace Thermostat for $303?

My Cobra started over heating yesterday so I took it to my friendly Ford dealer. He said the thermostat needed to be replaced and it would cost me a total of $303 in parts and labor.

I realize that the thermostat on these cars are in the lower radiator hose, but that sounds pretty freaken' expensive to me. Anyone know just how much of a PITA it is to replace this thing? I can't see it being that bad.
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Old 10-17-2002, 11:26 AM   #2
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To replace the thermostat, you drain the radiator, remove two bolts, pull out the old one, insert the new one, replace the two bolts, refill the radiator.

It should only cost marginally more than flushing/refilling the radiator. $300 is WAY out of line.

One thing to note... a lot of time 96 Cobras have other cooling issues... it may note be as simple as the thermostat.

Issues affecting 96 cooling:
- Not having the cooling TSB performed. The 96 Cobras had an inferior cooling system. 97 and up fixed it. Ford has a TSB that replaces the radiator, fan, ac condensor to 97 specs. Some people's dealers will install it for free, some won't.
- Air bubble in cooling system... you need to fill the cooling system properly through the coolant overfill tube following a specific procedure. Failure to do this will put an air pocket in your cooling system that can cause you to overheat.
- Fan or fan connector burning up. A couple people here have had the connector going to the fan start on fire.
- CCRM going bad. People using manual high speed fan mods and even others have had the CCRM relay located in the passenger side fender burn out... symptons are that the fan won't go on, causing overheating. It costs $125 for a new one, and you just remove the plastic inner fender liner to get access to it.

Whew!!

EDIT: BTW, I've had every one of these things go bad on my Cobra. I've also tried replacing radiator with aftermarket Fluidyne, replacing a/c condensor with 97 style, using an Evans water pump. And I still had some overheating problems!!!

Good luck!

Last edited by jslagel; 10-17-2002 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 10-17-2002, 12:55 PM   #3
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Thanks for all the info! Ford called me back and said they could do it for about $100 less if I didn't mind not having the Check Engine light re-setted. I told them I would re-set it myslef by discontecting the battery keep the $100. So now the price to replace the termostat is down to $204.

I guess the lesson here is that dealerships quote negotiable prices to their customers. I guess they took that lesson from the sales department.
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Old 10-17-2002, 01:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by 96CC
Thanks for all the info! Ford called me back and said they could do it for about $100 less if I didn't mind not having the Check Engine light re-setted. I told them I would re-set it myslef by discontecting the battery keep the $100. So now the price to replace the termostat is down to $204.

I guess the lesson here is that dealerships quote negotiable prices to their customers. I guess they took that lesson from the sales department.
Huh?

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Old 10-17-2002, 02:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by 96CC
So now the price to replace the termostat is down to $204.
First, I doubt it is just a faulty thermostat causing your problem. You're going to pay $200, they're going to say "that wasn't the problem, now it's going to cost you $$$" .. I would go to another dealer and get a 2nd opinion.

Second, if it is just a faulty 'stat, for $200, you could buy all the tools/parts/fluids/manuals necessary to do the job yourself. And you'd have the tools to do this and other stuff in the future.

What are your symptoms?
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Old 10-17-2002, 02:53 PM   #6
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Just yesterday the temp guage got in the red zone and the Check Engine light came on. There's antifreeze in the resavior and its not leaking. Never had a problem before and haven't messed with anything recently. After letting it sit a couple of hours I started it back up and the temp started rising again.

I have the tools to fix it and could figure it out. The problem is even if I told the dealership I'm coming by to pick it up, they are going to charge me $85 for having already looked at it. Then I have to have it towed to my house. The engine heats up to quick to drive it any long distances.

I originally thought it might be the water pump, but they are telling me it is thermostat. I'm not sure what else could of caused it. It wasn't amazingly hot and I wasn't even running the A/C. On top of that I only have 35k miles on the stock engine.
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Old 10-17-2002, 03:08 PM   #7
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I have dealt with overheating problems on my 94GT many, many times. My recommendation is to cover the basics first, flush the entire cooling system with one of the flush kits you can get from oreilly/autozone and if that does not solve the problem then replace the thermostat. Neither of these jobs are difficult AT ALL. Almost as easy as changing your oil. Good luck...

PS: that dealer is trying to rip you off @ even $204 for a tstat change. It costs $5 for the tstat and gasket together + about 30 minutes of labor, if that.

Edit: oh yea and make sure your fan is operating correctly (turning on/off at the right temps, etc)
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Old 10-18-2002, 10:05 AM   #8
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Call around and get other estimates that way you have some bargaining power with the price. Since this will be a quick job anyways, I would watch them do the entire procedure. This might be a challenge though, cuz dealerships don't get to things at specific times.

Sounds like you are kinda over a barrel here, and it looks like the dealership knows it. Is there a "Quick Lube" place near by that dealership? If so, you could drive it to them and have them do a full cooling flush and refill and I am sure you could have the guy doing it slap in the T-stat and O-ring for a few extra bucks. Most "Lube" places will charge about $60-$90 for a full flush and refill.

Hope you get it figured out, but it definitely sounds like the Tstat. Also, mention that this was a problem that Ford was SUPPOSED to fix for free back a few years ago and that the prev owner(if there is one) never had it done out of laziness. I got a discounted price on a paint job for my 88 5.0 because the factory paint was peeling and the orig owner never bothered to fight to get it repainted. It is worth a shot.
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Old 10-18-2002, 06:59 PM   #9
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jslagel, you were right! I picked-up my Cobra today and the actual cost was $171. Anyways, I drove about 2 miles and it over heated again, just like before! I pulled over and let it sit for a while then turned it on with the heater at full blast. Nothing but cold air. That means their is no anti-freeze getting to the heater core and probably means the water pump is out or there are some huge air pockets. After turning it off to rest again, it wouldn't start.

I called the dealer and spoke to the manager. He called a wrecker and gave me a free rental car. I then asked if I could get my old termostat back to see if it was really stuck. Of coarse they had already thrown it away. What kind of mechanic doesn't test something after they think they fixed it?

When I pick it up I am going to demand the $171 back since the the themostat was not the problem. I have a feeling they are going to argue that the thermostat was part of the problem and needed to be replaced as well as what other problems they find.

What a PITA.
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Old 10-19-2002, 09:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by 96CC
jslagel, you were right! I picked-up my Cobra today and the actual cost was $171. Anyways, I drove about 2 miles and it over heated again
I was afraid of that.

Sounds like it is the water pump or air pockets... if your heater doesn't blow hot air, something is WRONG.

To make sure air pockets are gone, take theoverflow tank cap off. Fill the system through the plug on the crossover tube (up near the intake), adding water slowly in a "dribble" so air can get out as you pour new antifreeze/water in. I'd just fill it with plain water until you figure out your problem since you may be doing this a lot. Fill it until the crossover tube is full. Then cap it. Usally when I start it, I crank the heater, it'll warm up, get a little hot (like to the "A" in normal) and then the thermostat will open or some small air pockets go away, and it'll go down to normal temps.

If it isn't that, the water pump is not hard to change yourself... you basically drain the radiator and take off the belt and a couple bolts around the pump and it pops right out. No big deal, real easy to get to, no gaskets, it uses an o-ring to seal.

Good luck!

PS: You're in TX... I think there are several really good Mustang pperformance shops in the area... you may want to find one that people on this board like and have them look into your issue instead of a Ford garage.
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Old 10-20-2002, 01:34 AM   #11
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Man, I would call Ford on this one, tell them about their service writers there. They will listen.
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Old 10-21-2002, 10:24 AM   #12
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I finally got my car back. They said that there were some air pockets in the cooling system. They fixed this for free of coarse and were very apologetic. Seems to be working fine now.

So I guess the lessons I have learned are:

1. Dealerships still suck.
2. Don't assume just because a mechanic works for and was trained by Ford does not mean they have any idea what they are doing.
3. If they replace any parts, make sure you get the old parts back so you can ensure that they did need to be replaced. I asked for my old thermostat after they replaced it, but they told me they had already thrown it away. It makes me wonder if it needed to be replaced at all.
4. Inspect and test the work done before you leave the dealership.

Thanks for eveyone's help and advice!
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Old 10-21-2002, 11:54 AM   #13
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Hey guys,

the first thing to check is the fan. if it doesn't start every 3-4 minutes then the CCRM is gone.

I learned the hard way. When the CCRM goes bad it takes the fan with it. It cost me $500+ to fix this. Oh by the way, the warranty expired 4 weeks earlier.

Now the engine vibrates every time the fan starts. As if the altenator couldn't handle the current load. Also, found out the CD player died this weekend. I rarely use it.

This is my new tally:

engine recall for performance
rear suspension recall
park brake recall
starter motor replaced
CD player gone
cooling fan burnt out
CCRM relay defective
clearcoat peeling off
Front brake disks warped

At Ford, quality is not Job #1.
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