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Ford Windstar Problems

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  • I'm somewhat late joining this forum, but thought I'd add my experiences.
         So far, our 99 SE (77k miles) has been in the shop 5 times for the check engine light since mid-November. And yes, the shop is one that I do trust.
         The following has been replaced during the various shop visits and I know I'm forgetting something (receipts not in front of me): mass air sensor (?), fuel filter, fuel pressure regulator, fuel pump. The fuel system was thought to be the culprit because the O2 sensors checked out. With the O2 working, the next step was to consider the fuel delivery. The fuel pressure was fluctuating while the engine was running. Therefore, the filter, regulator and finally pump were replaced after each was tested and found to be suspect.
         About every two weeks the light simply comes back on. The van runs fine. No hard starts. No rough idle. Plenty of get-up-and-go even with the 'fault' is detected.
         Oh, and in between, the light came on for an emissions code. The gas cap was replaced.
         In July the van wouldn't start. At that time, we had the valve cover gasket replaced per a service bulletin (as has been reported by other folks). To fix the fault, the Idle Air Control Valve motor was replaced.
         Now, the light came back on a couple of days ago and the mechanics just don't have a clue. Even though the reoccuring code doesn't have an effect on the driveability, it is very unnerving to see the light glowing all the time. How would you know if it is something more drastic?
  • Forgot to mention... the first 70,000 miles were relatively trouble free. Normal brake replacements, etc. We did a 10 day 4000 mile family trip this last summer without any problems. Hope to do it again this summer; but only if the diagnotic issue is fixed.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Hmmm- you say you trust this shop? Well, don't! Why? They are playing russian roulette with your vehicle and your checkbook is on the losing end! They may be nice guys and are making a good effort, but I think at this point you have to question their competency. After replacing the filter, pump, regulator, IAC motor, valve gaskets, etc, it's clear to me that they have no idea what the problem is. I'm betting that you have spent close to $1000 in parts+labor using the shotgun approach. It's highly unlikely all those parts failed simultaneously, and I'm just guessing that a few pieces of your Windstar that were actually functioning properly got sent out with the weekly garbage. I would look around for another shop, preferably one that specializes in driveability problems on OBD II vehicles, and have them give it a full diagnostic. There are a number of problems with that late-model 3.8 design that can set those two codes, including carbon fouling/seal failure of the butterfly intake runners, which prevents the runners from closing tightly, creating a lean condition. There can also be a problem with the intake gasket losing its seal, creating a similar condition. I certainly don't know if these are the causes, but at least something else to consider. Consider a subscription to Alldata (alldata.com): for $25 a year you can read all factory tech service bulletins, recalls, and repair diagrams for your specific model. Plus it's all downloadable and printable. You might not see the magic answer jump out of the screen at you, but it will at least point you in the right direction. And just think-if it saves you replacement of another $50 part that you don't need, then you've doubled you money, right? ;)
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    I stole this from someone else's post at Cartrackers:

    2. Assuming a 3.8L engine, on the front/top of the engine (passenger side of vehicle) there is a gadget called the IMRC (Intake Manifold Runner Control). Don't ask me exactly what it does. I really don't know. I do know its a little electric motor with a crank arm that has little formed wire linkages connected to it. Now at each end of the wire links there should be little plastic bushings. You're looking for a total of 4 bushings. The bushings may be missing. Engine heat will take its toll and cause this bushings to crack and fall out. This causes strange things to happen to the engine. A bag of 4 bushings will cost you $15+/-.
  • mslmnmslmn Posts: 13
    Dear bdemas: I really didn't ask them what codes came up when the referred (by Preferred Warranties - I purchased 3 year warranty, better safe than sorry according to my research before I bought the van) mechanic stated that it was the gasket that had intake some air (?) therefore causing the engine light to come on. My understanding about cars is essentially minimal. I paid the warranty deductible ($100) plus change of oil and antifreeze (about $70, I don't know if I needed this). I purchased this van used - 24K, and have been "on top" of any problems that might come up because of "Ford's reputation". I noticed that I cannot use the recommended by Ford regular gas because of the poor performance and clacking noise I hear. I am just hoping that my van last without giving me any major headaches. Before I purchased my van I test drove a MPV 2002 brand new and did not like it, it felt like I was handling a feather!
  • As I posted a few days ago - our 99 Windstar SE had the yellow engine light come on a few days ago. I took it in to the Ford dealer where I have always had the vehicle serviced. They said computer indicated a vacuum leak in the intake manifold gasket. They replaced the manifold gaskets and the manifold bolts with the o-ring seals. They also replaced the fuel filter. Light is now off - but I haven't driven the vehicle very much since the repair. I'll let everyone know if light comes back on.
  • mslmn/chalupny--My problem was identical to both of your's and I know what you mean about being happy it was just the gasket. I have a 2000 SEL with 24k and the check engine light that indicated an emission problem came on over the weekend. It was the intake manifold and gaskets. Actually they replaced about 7 items for a cost to $118 for parts and $341 for labor but since I have the 6/100k warranty with zero deductible it was a big fat zero. It has now paid for one third of the warranty price. What is it with Ford and gaskets? The star drives really well, has good build quality (at least mine does) and all the goodies but there are always gaskets going bad.
  • Hello...
    I just purchased a base windstar for cash, on 1/11/03 and it's been in the shop since 1/27/03 due to a faulty turn signal and headlight and the driver door not closing easily.
    For the lights, they thoght it was a module, replaced it, still didn't fix it, now they are replacing the wiring harness.
    Called Ford, they said they have no power to do anything about swapping vehicles, called the dealer, and they said ford has the power.

    For a new vehicle bought off the lot with 3 miles on it, it shouldn't need a new wiring harness.

    Windstars have a five star safety rating??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHA
    Tell that to my wife who doesn't want it back!
  • well, I drove the van to work on Friday and all seems well. If not for the light I would not have known there was any problem since I did not notice any drivability problems. Thanks goodness I have the warranty though.
  • OK, got a call that the electrical is fixed...It'll be ready at 5pm. They replaced the entire wiring harness and fuse box.

    got to the dealer at 5 to pick it up, it was up on the lift, some problem with the abs light on the dash, they fixed that and drove it up to the other side of the dealership to wash it, and the drivers window wouldnt' go up. Fixed that (45 minutes later) and it was ready to leave.

    while driving home I clicked the window washer for the front, and it sprayed the front window, and the rear wiper came on...
    I then sprayed the rear window and the front wiper came on.

    you can bet this will be back in the shop monday.

    Oh yea...they are "giving" me a free extended warrenty, my comment to the service manager was "it looks like I will need it if I keep this piece of junk".

    have a nice day...
    Rich
  • mslmnmslmn Posts: 13
    I was told by the mechanic that fixed my problem that all Ford motors, no matter what kind of car you drive, have sooner or later "come down" with the gasket problem. I also have experienced other minor problems, like closing the right passenger electric door and it opens back again. This problem solved by itself (???!!!), also I could not opened the rear windows, once again, it solved by itself (???!!!). Otherwise, I am very happy with my van.
    I always said that I would never be caught driving a van because they seem so "mother of 11!"! Since I drove one for a vacation, I had to have one. And I don't care if I look like a mother of 11! LOL!
    Has anyone purchased the TV/VCR system separately? I have checked some prices and models, and heard through a friend that I can get one for about $400, the kind that goes on the floor. I think I would prefer the one that goes on top, but I guess that is more expensive. Any input on this topic would be really appreciated.
  • sel3sel3 Posts: 33
    We have the factory installed system in our 2000 SEL. The kids love it and we (parents) think that it is worth every penny during those long drives!

    We have the older model with the screen attached to the rear of the console. The new model has the screen mounted on the top.

    During the test drive period before finally going with the Windstar, I asked my son if he liked the TV/VCR of one of the GM vehicles. He said, "No, having to look up at the screen hurts my neck".

    Something to think about if you have young kids. The down side to the lower model is that if you have five passengers in the back one person does not have a good view of the screen. Hope this helps.
  • these things are machines and they wear out and break, fact of life. Funny though, my 95 had lots of little problems (to include the head gasket) but at about 70k it all of a sudden went perfect for 30k. At 100k the ground strap corroded through and then till it was hit by a red light runner at 135 not one problem to speak of. My 99 was trouble free for the 1 and 1/2 years I had it and now I hope this is it for the 2000. However, the power doors might be a problem down the road but all in all it is like any other machine, they have problems.
    Good luck with the TV/VCR. It was a good comment about having to look up all the time. The one on the floor I assume is the kind built into the center counsel or is just a pack that attaches to it.
    As for a van being a Mother of 11 we are mother and father to 6 retired racing greyhounds and a Chinese crested ((small little dog) and as I have said previously: A box is the best way to carry things and that is what a van is, a box on wheels no matter how you look at it. We could not do without one. You buy what you need and if a van is what you need, then you get a van. We are lucky, I have a 2001 Suzuki XL-7 and my wife has a maxima so we have all three food groups: car, van and SUV. We drive what we need as we need them. No SUV including the suburban or Excursion can hold as much as a van, plus a van is easier for the dogs to get into.
  • flackoflacko Posts: 13
    I own a 1998 Windstar with a 3.8 liter V6. I know the history of these engines and the trannies. I've had 2 Tauruses that had the same AXOD trans. One of my Tauruses had a 3.8 liter engine that blew the head gasket before I got it, and the other had a reliable 3.0 liter engine that ran well until I sold it with 155K on it. Right now on my 1998 Windstar I have 85K. I bought it with 38K, and I have only had problems with the door sensors. I bought an exteded warranty that takes me until about 100K, which I'll be at in about 9 months. I know some of the 1998 Windstars still used the 3.0 liter V-6. If my engine blows past the warranty period, would it be possible to put in either a rebuilt 3.0 liter or perhaps one from a junk yard? Will the accessories such as A/C, alternator, PS pump, etc. transfer from my 3.8 liter to a 3.0 liter. My gut feeling is yes, but can any mechanics out there give me some insight. I got on a rebuilt engine site and the 3.0 liter engines are $500 cheaper than the 3.8 liter engine with better reliability. Other than that potential engine problem, we like the van. As far as tranny's go, I pump out fluid (about 5 quarts every 10K) myself, and to date I have not had a trans problem on two tauruses, a continental and the current 1998 Windstar that I have. This van also is typically driven about 85% highway which probably helps with trans wear. Thanks
  • I bought one brand new in 2000. It has been in repair shop over 15 times, 4 recalls, towed twice & over $1,000 later, I appealed to Ford Motor Company and was told to hold my receipts for maybe recall later. I decided to cut my loses before the head gasket or transmission went . This vehicle depreciated over $20,000 in less than 3 years. I was lucky to get pay off at Carmax. By the way I own at Toyota now.
  • flackoflacko Posts: 13
    Does anyone have data on what the actual failure rate is on the head gaskets on a 3.8 liter engine with 85K miles or more. Mine is a 1998. I'm curious if the failure % is 0.5%, 2%, 20% or whatever. It appears that there are alot of complaints about this problem on this forum, but there are also millions of these 3.8 liter engines out there. I owned a 1990 Sable Wagon that had the hg blow at 97 K right before I bought it, but I had a 1991 Continental of my Dad's that I sold with 135 K on it, and the engine was running fine when I sold it. Just curious if anyone has hard data on what the head gasket failure rates are.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,818
    Excellent question Flacko -- the '01/'02 Odyssey failure rate that got everyone so excited in the Honda discussions was 1.6%.

    Maybe you can extrapolate something from this article:

    Ford's 3.8-Liter V-6 Head Gasket Problem - Straight Talk

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • flackoflacko Posts: 13
    To all of you 3.8 liter Windstar fans (ha,ha). Some of the Windstars have been sold with the 3.0 liter option. While this engine does not have as much power, it would probably be fine for most people, unless your trying to tow something, live in hilly terrain or constantly have your van loaded with 250 lb linebackers. I have checked into the possibility of swapping the 3.0 liter drivetrain into a Windstar that has a 3.8 liter drivetrain after the 3.8 liter blows up. This looks very promising. The 3.0 liter drivetrain is very common in the Tauruses (the platform the Windstar is based on).
       I owned two Taurus wagons in the past. One had a 3.8 liter (and yes the head gasket did blow..it was a 1990 model), and the other had a 3.0 liter V6. The 3.0 liter V6 performance was very similar to the 3.8, but the reliability was excellent. I sold the car with 155K on it, and I never had any problem with the 3.0 liter engine except for a tank mounted fuel pump at about 80K. But no head gasket problems or any of that 3.8 stuff. I've read on other web-sites from 3.0 liter owners who have 200K + on the engine, and it still runs fine. This engine drivetrain swap may be something to consider when your 3.8 liter blows and you want to keep the van but don't want to spend thousands putting in the same piece of crap 3.8 liter engine. Apparently Ford can design headgaskets properly in a few of their engines. Transmissions are another story though! Just remember to change that trans fluid very regularly (I pump 5 qts out every 10K, takes 15 minutes) and baby it because you are driving a Ford after all.
  • Howdy, Flacko. This isn't precise, but I, my uncle and a friend of mine all own Windstars, and all three have had blown gaskets. Guess that makes the failure rate that counts--i.e., mine--100%. Of course, the gaskets have been the least of my problems with this hideous lemon. Unfortunately, my poor uncle bought his because he liked mine when it was new. If he'd only waited 20,000 miles, he could've seen the twine start to unravel . . .

    Sienna, here I come.
  • flackoflacko Posts: 13
    Hey, clever name "Windstarloser". Yes, when the failure happens to you, then the failure rate is 100%. My buddy has a 1998 like mine, and I have watched him suffer through tranny problems. We went on vacation together the last two years, and on the way back the first year his tranny blew 800 miles from home. He had a brand new one put in for $2200 by Ford. This past summer we were driving through the mountains to NC tag teaming with the dualling crapstars. He would gun it and pass me occasionally on steep grades. At the next gas stop, I told him he better lay off the throttle in the hills because he's driving a crapstar. He just laughed and said, oh well the new tranny is under warranty. Within 50 miles he was blowing 3 quarts of tranny fluid all over his back window and on the road. We had to limp the thing to NC, and he had to spend his whole vacation without a vehicle and having the local dealership convince Ford corporate that they should install another new tranny. He now listens to me when I say "Baby them Fords".
        About Toyotas. My brother-in-law has driven Camrys for 15 years. His 1999 just blew an engine at the tune of $5000 with 59K on it, and it took him 8 months arguing with Toyota to pay for most of it even though the warranty went to 60K. I don't know if the Sienna is based on the Camry, but if it is, good luck with Toyota.
  • I laughed my head off when I read your post (although it dealt with unfortunate circumstances!). We call ours a crapstar, too!

    As for the Toyota . . . I'm hoping for some Toyota reliability magic to happen. Frankly, I'm so fed up with automobiles in general I'm ready to scream. The Camry story bugs me less because of the blown engine than Toyota's stonewalling. Makes me want to curl up into a fetal position and forget the whole thing . . .
  • flackoflacko Posts: 13
    Windstarloser,
    I took my daughter (age 9) to piano lessons tonight. As we walked from the "crapstar" to the door of the music studio, I looked back at the van and noticed that the dome light was staying on abnormally long AGAIN. But then about a minute later it shut off (I think I willed it to). I told my daughter that the crapstar was messing with us again. She ask why I called it a crapstar. I told her if I praised it, the van would probably break!
       So far it's working. It's a 1998 with 85K on it, and really the only problem I've had is with the dome lights. But I'll keep calling it a crapstar, so it doesn't get a big head (because we know it really is...it just hasn't shown it YET).
      At about 60K, I took it to Ford for some routine maintenance. At the time I had just bought my extended warranty. The service manager said, "That's good because you'll probably need it." So much for building ones confidence level! I think I even told the service manager that I call the van a crapstar.
       Maybe Ford can re-name it "Crapstar", and even write the name in that curly-Q writing like they did with the name "Windstar". Oh well, I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope it keeps running, or at least blows up BEFORE my extended warranty runs out at 100K.
       As for the Toyota engines, I have heard that the failures are due to excessive sludge forming in the engine even with regular oil changes. My brother-in-law is very religious about servicing his vehicles, so I don't think his engine blew because of lack of service. He is also very aggressive when it comes to demanding good service (we have gotten a number of free meals with him when he complains at a restaurant); therefore, if it took him 8 months to get Toyota to pay for some of his engine, then the average Joe would have gotten nothing.
  • Hi folks, after driving my 95 Windstar for more than 8 years and hoping the head gasket problem will never happened to me, WRONG. I had both the timing cover and head gasket problems happened to me last week after 8.5 years and 71,800 km (less than 50,000 miles). Of course, Ford will not cover it as the extended warranty has expired (7 years, 160,000 km whichever comes first). DON'T buy a Ford as Ford WILL NOT back their products
  • Bought mine brand new. Sticker price said $32,000 and change. We paid $25,000 at the end of year sale in year 2000. I put $5000 down. 27 months later I owe just under $12,000 We currently have just over 30,000 miles on it. Have not had any major problems YET but keeping my fingers crossed. We have noticed transmission acting kind of funny and have had dome light issue on several occasions. Also, had problem with auto sliding door staying shut. Well, we have been thinking about dumping it before the warranty is up. I was thinking I should be in pretty good equity standing since I put so much down at purchase...NOT!!!! I checked the value here on Edmunds and it had trade in at around $11,000 and selling myself at around $13,000. I thought surely this cannot be correct, I put $5000 down!!! Well I went to the Honda dealer last night just to test this info out. They came back with $10,000 offer and ultimately was willing to pay it off for me if I bought a new Honda...gee thanks. At least they confirmed what I could not believe. I am still in shock over the fact that this worthless (literally) vehicle has dropped $15,000 from what I paid for it 27 months earlier...quite possible the worst investment I have ever made. I should have paid more and put my $5000 towards the Honda. I am still trying to come to grips with the fact that I will have to sell this at break even or maybe a little more if I am lucky. After all of this and reading all of the postings, the question is "why do I want to own a vehicle?" Maybe there is something to leasing...always under warranty.
  • I know what you mean about losing value. Our 95 was totaled a few years ago and we got about 8k for it. A very generous payment. We picked up a 99 SE for 16 and them traded it in last month on a 2000 SEL. On a trade I was told it lost 50% of what I paid for it used. It was about the same as my 95 that was totaled. Did the usual going back and forth and the dealer came up 2k on mine and down 2k on the 2000. We tend to keep ours for along time so resale is usually not an issue for us but the trade of the 99 was a fluke. So, unless you intend to keep it for 6 or more years lease one.
    However, do not sell it simply based on this board. The 95 was famous for lots of things, but only the head gasket showed up on mine. It was totaled with 135k on it and between 70K and when it was hit I only had the ground strap break. Other than that it never let us down. The rule of thumb I go by is unless you put out more than a car payment a month on repairs keep what you have if you like it.
  • I bought one new in 2000, I decided to cut my loses and sell, read my post 1115. I had it on Autotrader, Trading Post magazine & flyers posted.(asking $13,000 under 40mi) Other vehicles with similar options selling for over $15000.NO bites in 4 weeks. The market is flooded with windstars in my area. went to 2 dealers for trade-in on a new van , the most they offered was $10,000. Carmax bought it for $11,500. I felt lucky just to get rid of this pile of junk & pay if off.NEVER AGAIN WILL I BUY A FORD PRODUCT !!!
  • I have been doing a lot of homework the last few days and am seriously considering buying an extended warranty on the vehicle instead of selling it...that way I can at least have peace of mind. I hate to take such a loss by selling or trading it in. I found one dealer that will sell me a warranty, 6 years or 100,000 miles, for $1754 and no deductables. It is the Total Care which means bumper to bumper, basically an extension of the mfg warranty. Also includes Roadside Assistance and rental reimbursement for out of town problems. I will hit the six years before the 100,000 miles. So, that will keep me covered until October of 2006. I figure I should have between 80 and 85,000 miles on it by then. I will have it paid off in Ocotober of 2005, so I will have a year without payments before the warranty runs out. I can save up in that year and put money down on something more reliable like a Honda or Toyota. I am just trying to determine whether I think I will have more than $1754.00 of warranty work done on this vehicle between now and October of 2006. I guess it is a gamble. Any thoughts on this idea would be welcomed. Seems like a lot of people posting major issues with these vehicles.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,818
    Our warranty articles are here:

    Tips & Advice - Warranty

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    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • tmanttmant Posts: 70
    I say be glad you got the warranty! You are bound to have even the slightest annoyance of a failure! My cruise control stopped working, my windshiled wiper fluid alarm goes off anytime I use it. My cool/heat selector stopped working until recently it did work! Finally heat for the winter. These were things that I COULD live with since I was out of warranty and didn't want to pay to fix it, yet.

    Just had a $3600 repair on transmission and lower intake manifold (I think the head gasket is part of this).
  • tmanttmant Posts: 70
    I didn't finish my post. Just last night my odometer read '------' and I had no idea what happened. The ABS light also lit up. Of course this is not good news. I found out later this morning my speedometer now longer functions and probably explains the odometer readout.

    Still drivable, but I will be taking it in for more repairs. The transmission repair doesn't have the van performing like it used to. Only from a stopped position and engaging the first gear that I notice a hesisitation as if it was a manual transmission. With the original tranny, I could floor it and it would just go. Now, it revs 2k+ and just lulls down to 1800rpms until it catches the gear (less than 2 seconds) and then it goes.

    I still owe $5000 left on this piece of junk and may start calling it crapstar as well. I really like this van, but I think it will be wise of me to considering getting rid of it!
This discussion has been closed.