How to Read Ford Part Numbers

Written by thomas west
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How to Read Ford Part Numbers
Decode your Ford part number easily. (ford thunderbird image by George Wada from

The Ford Motor Company has been making vehicles since 1903. All of these vehicles require a supply of parts to keep them running, even if some of those vehicles are out of production. If you are looking for a particular part for a Ford product, knowing what all those numbers and letters cast into the part stand for will help.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Locate the code stamped into your part. Note that the first character is a letter that stands for the decade of manufacture. "A" stands for the 1940s, "B" the 1950s, and so forth.

  2. 2

    Locate the second character in the code; it is a number that stands for the year of manufacture.

  3. 3

    The third character is a letter and stands for the car line that the part was made for, such as "Z" for Mustang, "S" for Thunderbird and "M" for Mercury.

  4. 4

    Check the fourth character for the engineering department that was the source of the part, such as "E" for engine, "B" for body and "W" for axle.

  5. 5

    Note the next four digits--the sequential numbering of the part. Any letters that appear after these digits stand for the application that the part is designed for, such as "A" for a 289-cubic-inch engine or "C" for a 351-cubic-inch engine.

  6. 6

    Locate the last four characters of the part code to determine the actual date the part was made. The first character is a number that stands for the year. Check the second character to determine the month of manufacture, such as "A" for January and up through "H" for August. "I" is not used, so "J" stands for September, through "M" for December. The last two digits are the day of the month the part was made.

Tips and warnings

  • Using the above information, the Ford part number C5ZE-XXXX-XX 5L14 can be decoded as follows: 1965, Mustang, engine part, sequential part number, manufactured November 14, 1965.
  • Some parts made by Ford for one model often were used on other models. For instance, some parts made with a Falcon part code often were used on early Mustangs.

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