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Ford Windstar Problems



  • My 96, which I've had for exactly 4 years, has 84000 miles. Blew the head gasket. Ford says only the 95's had problems and that the 96's were fixed and aren't having any trouble. Guess they don't talk to their customers much or read this website. I'm thinking about getting a 2001 Windstar, thinking surely that all those highly paid engineers have had enough time now to get it right. Perhaps Chrysler can share its head gasket technology and Ford can share its transmission technology and between the two (FordDaimlerChrysler?) things might finally work. Just be glad these companies don't make airplanes!!
  • Here is a brief summary. Transmission problems, hard shifting between 1st and 2nd. Also failed to move after highway driving even though it was in gear. Result a $ 2,500 fix to transmission. Had rattles in right front side. Cost me $ 250 after market repair because Ford used two different metals when press fitting the front wheels. Did a front brake job at 45,000 but had to replace the rear pistons. All were leaking.
    Another $ 150 fix because the motor driving the tail gate lock blew its 'PLACTIC' gears. No more Fords for me.
  • macodymacody Posts: 18
    Every once in a while I "peek" in this forum to see how many people have hit the "60000 wall" with their Windstar and had the head gasket or transmission fail. We put lots of miles on our cars (about 25000 a year) so experienced the pleasure of both the head gasket failure and transmission failure within a 6 month period in the 4th year of ownership (@63000). I can't say I'm surprised to "read" the outrage in posts regarding the poor customer service Ford has and how horribly they treat their customers.

    Got rid of the Windstar when the transmission went out the 2nd time. Fixed it and immediately took to the dealer for trade in (drove from the repair to the Honda dealer in fact). Have never regretted it for ONE minute. I let everyone I know in on the Ford story of poor customer service and poor quality.

  • I have a 97 Windstar GL w/ 66,000 miles on it. I bought it used. First warning was the documented service records from the previous owners. Cylinder heads were rebuilt. Second warning was a vibration when shifting from 3rd to overdrive. It progressively got worse. Third warning was a "Whistle" from the driver side behind the front wheel. Took it to the dealer and Ford said this was normal!!!The mechanic said it needed the valve body replaced. Sounds like I should dump it.
  • While deciding whether or not to fix the spindle before we get rid of our van to buy an odyssey, our 1998 Windstar's transmission died at 77500 miles. Recently fixed a head gasket too. Also had sensors for engine light go bad twice. Also had the problem of dome light coming on. And never could fix rear heater which you had to turn off and on 10 times to get it to work. The dealer and Ford do not want to hear it. This was one of the early 98's made in Jan 97. Not to mention how often we've changed the brakes. A week berore the transmission blew, had it at Ford for the engine light being on. They replaced an air filter(which was new) and blew out the throttle. This made the light go out. A week later, no transmission.
  • wholiganwholigan Posts: 148
    I'm BBBB AAAA CCCC KKKK! And Oh, how I hate to be here... Nothing against you folks; we are all just part of a club that nobody wants to be a member of... Nonetheless, the 95 WS has bitten me again!

    Brief history:
    JAN 1999 - 47000 - New Transmission (warranty)
    MAY 1999 - 52000 - New Transmission (warranty)
    MAY 1999 - 52000 - New Head Gaskets (warranty)
    MAY 1999 - 52025 - New Motor (warranty)
    JUL 1999 - 53000 - Replace O2 Sensors (warranty - $50)
    OCT 1999 - 56000 - New Transmission (warranty)
    JAN 2000 - 59600 - New Blower Motor (et al - only $400!) - Extended Warranty is about to expire...
    FEB 2000 - 61000 - New Front Brakes & Rotors ($225)
    APR 2000 - 63000 - New Inner Tie Rods ($300)
    At EVERY oil change from this point forward, I indicated to the service rep that we were constantly smelling coolant....

    Luck Me! What now! We are at 75000 and guess what?! We need another engine again! Oh yeah! You'll even give me a rental car? Why? It is going to take 10 days to get another engine! Wait a minute... Isn't there a buy back program? That program for 95WS ended in October.

    I cannot believe this... I'll keep you posted...
  • Wow!
    I am amazed at the number of transmission problems on this model.
    Our AS 98 has 56K.
    Here's it's dirty laundry list:
    1. The Tracking bar has been replaced at 25K - Warranty.
    2. The Windshield developed a growing crack for an unknown reason - replaced windshield via insurance, beyond 36K warranty.
    3. Door Handle on sliding door coming loose. I have to push in on the handle to get it to work. Dealer estimated $250 to fix. - beyond 36K warranty.
    4. Right passenger side mirror coming loose at base that attached to door ( not the glass itself ). Dealer estimated $250 to fix. - beyond 36K warranty.
    5. 12V DC power socket on center console blew a fuse. Replaced fuse and it worked. 3 months later the same socket stopped working again. It might be a blown fuse. I haven't bothered checking it since I've become accustomed to things breaking in this car and really wish it would go away. If it is a blown fuse again, might this indicate an electrical short somewhere that could cause a fire?
    6. After a wheel rotation, the car started pulling right. I have to turn the steering wheel 5 beg left of center to keep going straight. The pulling seems worse when accelerating or when the engine is pulling at a higher torque.
    First Try: Dealer rotated tires ( back to the original position ), checked alignment to be good. They must not have test drove it because the car still was pulling.
    Second Try: Dealer rotated tires, adjusted alignment with a greater attention to detail. I was told that it was test driven, and I believe them, as I requested the dealer to pick up and drop off the car at our house. The pulling was less severe, but it was still there. Service manager said it was "radial pull" ( tires ) or shocks. Using the old fashion "bounce" test, the shocks did not appear to be a factor.
    7. The rim covers keep coming off. I replaced a missing cover twice( at $50 - $75 each ). I made sure the metal tabs were bent out enough to grip the rim to the point it was difficult to get the cover on. Regardless, I am down to one rim and don't plan on replacing any more. Oddly, that last rim is holding tight.
    8. The last straw. The transmission made a grinding noise that grew Louver over a week, and was most prominent when accelerating. Finally, while driving it the day before I was to take it to the shop the transmission seized up on a hill. If this happens to you, - get behind the wheel, shift it to Neutral and have some one else rock it. Eventually it will break loose and roll back down the hill, so be ready to move out of the way.

    I've owned 4 different cars over the past 18 years each from different manufactures. A couple I have kept over 5 years/100,000 miles. Personally, I have never seen a car develop so many problems inside of 3 years and in only 56K miles. 3 years ago this was a $29,000 car and I was expecting $29,000 worth of quality.

    Does anyone remember when Ford's motto was "Quality Is Job #1" ?
    Is it a coincidence that they don't advertise that any more?
    Instead, "Built Ford Tough" implies "Tough" to maintain one.
  • I bought my 1997 Ford Windstar brand new while living in Arkansas and have since moved to Georgia. Last June while driving from Atlanta to Missouri, the transmission went out completely right at 50,000 miles. This left my family and I stranded somewhere between Chattanooga and Nashville at 5:30 am. After discussing the problem with the Manager of the Ford service center where this was towed, I was told that even without him looking at the vehicle the transmission would have to be replaced. Interestingly the Manager said that this was a "rare" occurance. Later when I talked with a mechanic at that same shop he mentioned that they regularly replace transmissions in these vehicles. After reading about the number of others Windstar owners plagued with similar Transmission failures, it seems to confirm that this truly is not a "rare" occurance. It also leave me with serious doubts about Manager and his misleading statements.

    Without having obtained an extended warranty, Ford did not provide any assistance with the cost of the transmission replacment. This cost me roughly $2,300. The rebuilt transmission was only warranted for 10,000 miles which has now since expired. In addition, I had to pay several hundred dollars for a car rental in order to complete our vacation plans. This was also paid for out of pocket.

    In addition to the transmission failure, have I also had to leaks develop in 3 of the 4 wheel rims during the first 24 months. The entire rims had to be replaced. Although covered under warranty, it was a tremendous inconvenience since one incident also occurred while on an long distance holiday trip during an ice storm. Sounds like I should have taken the hint and started thinking about getting rid of this vehicle sooner.
  • wholiganwholigan Posts: 148
    OK - I am awaiting the call from either the dealership or the FMC representative. FWIW, every Ford dealership is assigned a Regional Representative. This person works for the Ford Motor Company. This person is only available through the Service Manager at each dealership (the 1-800-392-FORD folks will NOT acknowledge that this person exists). If you feel you are not getting anywhere with your dealer, I suggest you ask for the Ford Regional Representative.

    Well, it is now after 3:30PM and I was supposed to hear from them by 3:00PM. I have called the 1800 number again. Another rep (LeRoy) is taking all the information (again). It is just amazing to me that that all I seem to do is repeat the story - over and over - the reps do all they can to keep you from getting upset. Which is probably good. THey have all the history of calls that I have made. Funny, I asked them to send a copy of that infomration to me, however, they wont send anything?! They say that their "system" cannot do it...

    Nonetheless, FORD has dished out a LOT of money to keep this car running. WHY? I have asked, once again, to get the same offer that was made under program M010. While he has not stated so,
    I am under the impression that this program is over. I still can't get confirmation on that. It is now 4:10PM and I have been on the phone since 3:40PM.

    At 4:10PM the Service Manager FINALLY joined the phone conversation. His name is JEFF. Turns out, he knows NOTHING about this! It appears that TERRY, the Parts Manager, was the person who spoke with the the Ford contact yesterday! This is absolutely screwed! Jeff has claimed complete ignorance to this issue. I have asked that Jeff talk with Terry and the Regional Rep to review the situation. Jeff stated that he will call tonight. I'll believe it when that happens...

    More to come...
  • I own a 95 p.o.s Windstar. Have had all the same troubles tarns at 30,000 headgaskets at 60,000. Hell I even had to replace the A/Crs evaporator coil inside the dash. A $300 part and a$600 in labor job. How does that part go bad? Anyway now I'm at 80,000 miles and I cannot get the @#$%%^&
    thing out of park. I can start it but can't shift gears. I now have to put the key in the acc position to take it out of park. Then put it in neutral to start and shift from there. Oh and it has a rod knock now also. Its like a action movie you never know whats going to happen. Any info if that buy back still applys please send em-ail to
    ps: Don't ever even think about buy a Ford ever! If you do think about it and don't believe these post, then go ahead.But lease it so in two years you can give it back. If you buy it, We'll be waiting to read your comments in say 24,000 to 30,000 miles
  • wholiganwholigan Posts: 148
    Well - I tried... Just got off the phone with the Regional Rep for Ford. I'll give her some credit - she was much more compassionate than the last one; nonetheless, the buy-back is not in my future. According to her, the buy-back option was NOT a part of the head gasket program. It was an addendum to the program because the demand for rebuild 3.8L V6 far outstripped supply. As part of the program, they were offering a rental car for the time that you would be out of your car. Unfortunately, they found that some waits (the combination of getting the motor and having it installed) were running in excess of four months. It was more cost advantageous to buy those people out of their vehicle. According to what she said, for the region that I live in, she had to use the addendum in June, July, and part of September.

    Whatever the case, I did find out one VERY interesting thing... The first motor replacement (in June 1999) did NOT include the re-designed head gasket - as I was told...

    Soooooo, tomorrow I get a rental and wait for a motor to be installed. I can't wait for the Customer Satisfaction Survey on this one...
  • callo_callo_ Posts: 18
    I must say after reading all of these posts, I am a little nervous about our new van. My wife and I chose the Windstar for the five star safety rateing and settled for what it had to offer. So far we have been very pleased with all the options of the 01 SEL (except the price). I will keep my fingers crossed that the problems Ford has been having will not show up in our production vechicle. But if not, I will keep everyone posted.
  • This post is mainly to reassure "call_" (#334). I have owned my 2000 SE since January 2000 and currently have 27K miles. We take 3-4 trips from Atlanta to Chicago every year and my wife drives it about 45 miles daily. I have experienced no major problems. The only minor inconveniences to date:

    1. Blew a fuse on one of the front Power Ports. (dealer replaced fuse)
    2. Plastic cover for rear seat belt assembly came off (dealer has ordered entire new assembly!)

    I can verify the slightly raucous nature of the 3.8L V6 engine, but I will also verify that it really moves this van! I have hauled 6 adults averaging 200 lfs with no noticeable difference in power or acceleration. And I've surprised many an unwary driver at a traffic light with the acceleration from a standing start.

    For prospective buyers of the 2001 edition, the rear seat is heavy. Unless you're used to lifting heavy weights and have long arms, it takes two people to remove it. But the trade off here is comfort - it's almost like your sofa at home (especially if you have a 19" TV running off the power ports).

    One note - in the interest of "not taking any chances" I only use Mobil 1 synthetic oil, Mobil 1 filters, and Amoco Ultimate gasoline.

    I am debating on whether to trade it in before the 50K mile mark. I would be especially interested in hearing from 2000 Windstar owners with high mileage on their vehicle.
  • callo_callo_ Posts: 18
    Thanks for that quick response nuceng1. We (the wife,two children, and myself) love the van. In all honesty, I picked the safety and she picked the options. She only missed the painted mirrors and heated seats. The children have their theater and daddy has a piece of mind. The performance of the van has been great, but she only has about 3000 miles on it. The motor does seem a little loud, but your right it is snappy. We find the interior very appealing (except I feel that the instruments panel is lack luster since I like gauges). The seats are incredibly comfortable, and in general we have never had a vehicle with so much luxury. If the rest of the vans life is anything like the first 3000 miles, I would recommend this van over any other.
  • I just traded my other make and model van in for a 1995 Windstar. BIG mistake. asked the salesman if he new why there was coolant on the engine... he stated it was just filled and extra was spilled. two weeks later it wouldnt stop. took it in for service, they said there was a broken head bolt and only a hand full of techs new how to extract it, so it was sent to the main center. two days later, the tech calls, tells me it needs a new engine, that the 1995's have a problem with gaskets and the engines needed to be switched out. Gee... i thought it was a broken head bolt. He ordered the engine, and meanwhile I fought with management, upper management and the general manager about even keeping it. I wanted my down-payment back. Nope, they were not budging. I just bought the thing two weeks ago. the other major problem... PARENTS ARE YOU AWARE THAT YOU ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE "H-LATCHES" ATTACHED TO THE SEAT BELTS IN THE REAR IN ORDER TO HOLD A CHILD SEATS IN?????? My childrens carseats wouldnt stay in the seat when you came to a stop, Ford knew that this was required with this year van, but didnt say anything. They wanted to drill holes in the floorboard to attach a anchor for tether straps, didnt the tech know this van already comes with 6 anchor's???? No he did not. Well after two weeks of fighting about the van, I ended up having to keep it. The new engine is in, and 10 mins later I drove it right back... another coolant leak, grinding noise, sqeaking noise, and RPM's jumping up making the car jerk forward, even though the brakes are pressed.(thanks to this, i came dangerously close to hitting a woman walking in front of my van, my husband came close to hitting the back of another car). back in for service 1 week later. The problem... the rocker arms and push rods. This is on a new engine, what in gods name is going on. The rpm's was air in the hose. They said there was a special lubricant and this was a TSB about the rocker arms and push rods. The special lubricant is NO-WHERE to be found. They called an old worker who just happend to have it in his garage and brought it in. What kind of place is this, that doesnt carry a TSB related product. After talking with several other non-ford mechanics, I was told this should NOT happen with a new engine. 1 week later I pick the van back up (yesterday) and the coolant has stopped (but for how long), however the RPM's are still going nuts, the engine is stilling ticking, and there is still a grinding noise. Not to mention when you put the van in park, drive reverse or nuetral the whole engine moves forward and backwards. I wasnt aware engines did this. The brakes are sqeaking now, the van misses, the van hesitates on acceleration, and when you come to a stop, it jerks to a stop. Called the GM again, this time he was more pleasant, and said to bring it back today and he will have a customer rep. drive with me, so i can point out exactley what its doing. This should be interesting.
    I have done extensive research on the net and found some very interesting articles on this van. Wish i had done this before the purchase. Oh and just for the record... TWO reps from the Canadian Ford Cutomer Relations Center stated that the Dealer was LIABLE for informing me prior to the sale transaction that there may be potential problems with this year engine and might require a engine switch. They did not. They are also Liable to tell any family with children that this van requires "h-latches" to ensure the safety of the children riding. They did not. Do I have a case against them... YES. I dont know how many of you have checked the internet for information, but I have printed over 300 pages of documentation that can be used as evidence in the courts against my dealership. They really messed with the wrong person this time. If I invest good hard earned money into a 5 star safety related product, I expect it to work. no... if, ands, or buts about it. Check your internet for information, it may help you win your case. I am determined to get what I am entitled to. They knew about the problem, they knew they were liable to inform me, they knew about a serious issue with the seat belts... and didnt say a word. They will be held liable. Email me with information you may have, or if you need information. Good luck to you all. And parents... please check with your local dealer about providing you FREE of charge with a required latch to hold your carseats in.
  • Some of you have mentioned the "Buy Back Program" and stated that it ended in OCT. Just wanted to inform everyone that according to Ted Britt Ford in Fairfax, Va. They have re-instated the buy back program as of two weeks ago... because of all the issues with the gaskets and engines being replaced. Mine, being one of them. The buy back program in my opinion is nothing but crap too. any money that you are ahead, MUST be applied towards a NEW vehicle on Fords lot. If you dont spend the money there, you dont get the buy back program. Alot of help that does many of us who only have some $800.00 and dont want over $400.00 payments. Especially since I just spent $3000.00 for a downpayment two weeks prior and can only afford $218.00. Bottom line.... if I wanted a new car in the first place, I would have bought one and another thing.. who says I want another Ford after all these problems and very rude service.???? Not me, EVER AGAIN.
  • callo_callo_ Posts: 18
    My Windstar is averaging 13mpg. Not exactly what the sticker said. WasssssUp!!
  • Have been a very satisfied 1995 Windstar LX owner and just parted with it at 97,000 miles. Purchased a 1999 Windstar SEL with 30,000 miles, and I'm extremely dissapointed with the drivetrain noise... beginning at 45 mph and terminating at 68 mph. Up until 45 mph, the vehicle is extremely quiet. The Dealer Service Manager requested that I first rotate the tires, to insure that I didn't have a defective tire creating the noise. The noise is of lower frequency than the normal Michelin Symmetry Tire noise, which sing loudly on concrete surfaces. I could live with that...however, this noise pulsates on and off, which makes one want to go above the 68 mph point to achieve the quietness! Since the front tires were worn, I replaced them with two new Michelins.The noise level remained the same. Could this be a bad wheel bearing or transmission problem? Has anyone had similar problems? I would like to solve it before the warranty is up. Thanks for your assistance...
  • suzersuzer Posts: 2
    We have had our 2000 SEL for 11 months and have loved it. We have had no mechanical problems since we got the key fobs fixed (they didn't work from day one and it was a problem in the computer in the engine, it also took three visits to get it fixed because Ford wouldn't authorize the dealer to replace the part until they had tried all the "fixes" and it still failed). We are only at 12000 miles but so far so good.

    Our gas mileage around town is 14.7 by the computer. We live in the suburbs of SLC, UT and I do a lot of running kids here and there. I can't remember for sure but I think we get between 19 and 22 mpg on the road.

    I would recommend the late model Windstars (and in fact we did recommend it to my husband's sister and they have also loved their 2000 LX).
This discussion has been closed.