The valve cover gaskets may leak oil into the spark plug wells, shorting out the spark plugs, causing a misfire, and illuminating the Check Engine Light. Commonly the spark plugs and ignition coils or wires will require replacement, along with resealing the valve cover to correct this concern.
Problems for specific Ford Thunderbird years:
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Most reported 1997 Ford Thunderbird problems
The composite (plastic) intake manifold may crack near the thermostat housing and cause a coolant leak. Ford released an updated manifold that was reinforced to prevent a recurrence. No recall was issued for this problem but Ford did extend the warranty to seven years on some models from the date of purchase.
If you experience difficulty starting the engine when cold, stalling at idle, or hesitations during acceleration, it may be the idle air bypass valve. This valve helps the vehicle idle steady when the accelerator pedal is not pressed.