How to Decode a Ford Part Numberby Kahlie Richards
So many things in the automotive world read like Greek to the uninitiated -- and that's not even counting today's alphabet soup of badge names. Deeper inside the beast lay thousands of other parts, each with with their own special place in Ford's parts reference catalog. These codes break down into three parts: a typically four-digit "prefix," a four- or five-digit "part number" and "suffix," which typically consists of one or more letters. A trained eye can pick apart any part number and know the assigned vehicle's year and chassis, as well as the nature of the component itself. Obscure talent it may be, but it sure helps when you're digging through piles of parts at junkyards and swap meets.
Look at the first two digits of the Ford part number. The letter refers to the decade of manufacture. The letter “A” stands for 1940s, “B” for 1950s, “C” for 1960s, “D” for 1970s, “E” for 1980s, “F” for 1990s and “G” for 2000s. The second digit indicates the year within the decade, for instance, “A3” means 1943, “C8” is 1968 and “F5” is 1995.
Decode the third digit as the product line. If it is letter “A,” the part is originally designed for a 1958 to later year "generic" Ford or Galaxie vehicle. If it is letter “B,” it is for a 1970 to 1973 Bronco, 1975 to 1977 Maverick or a 1978 to 1983 Fairmont. The letter “C” indicates 1966 to 1975 remanufactured parts. The letter “D” is for a 1960 to 1969 Falcon, 1970 to 1974 Maverick, 1975 to 1982 Granada or a 1983 to later year LTD.
Use the fourth digit as the source code. For example, the letter "A” stands for Light Truck Engineering, “B” for Body and Electrical Product Engineering, “C” for Chassis Engineering or Powertrain and Chassis Product Engineering, “D” for Overseas Product Engineering, “E” for Engine Engineering or Powertrain and Chassis Product Engineering, and “F” for Electrical and Electronics Division or Product Engineering office.
Read the group of numbers as the basic part number, which is between the first four digits and the suffix. It identifies what type of Ford part it is. There are different groupings of part types used by Ford, such as “1000” for wheels, “2000” for brakes, “3000” for suspension and steering, “4000” for axle and driveshaft, “5200” for exhaust, “5300” to “5400” for front springs and stabilizer, “5500” to “5900” for rear springs, “6000” for engine and “7000” for transmission. If the part has to do with the body of a car, the basic part number may start with the body code, such as “65” for hardtop, “25” for luggage rack or “76” for convertible, just to mention a few.
Know that the suffix letter is used for compatibility purposes. The first time the part was manufactured, “A” was assigned as the suffix. For the first revision, “B” was used as the suffix, then “C” for second revision and so on. It continues through the alphabet as the design changes. Use a Ford part with the same or later suffix as a replacement or substitution. A suffix with a three-letter code usually represents color.