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Ford Windstar Problems



  • excelent3excelent3 Posts: 197
    Purchased Aug of 2000. Has had 3 recalls since. Poorest paint job I have ever seen. We are Fords attempt to "win us back" as a valued customer. Our '95 Taurus LX wagon blew two headgaskets. Ford purchased it back for $6300 + $3000 coupon and 0.9% interest for 5 years. It was a good deal at the time. Took delivery on the Windstar, first thing I noticed was all the small particles of hair and dirt in the paint. Left year quater panel had a piece as big as a pencil eraser! They offered to paint it. I said I did'nt want it. They said I would lose the 0.9% rate if I didn't purchase by following Monday. They put us in a corner, found out later I could have got the rate on a different unit, because they could'nt deliver a satisfactory product. It goes on further with problems with service dept. Never, EVER, will I buy a Ford again. Purchased a new Kia Sedona minivan totally loaded for $22,995 last comparison...great van...great warranty for the money and a first rate paint job!
  • Man, I thought I did my homework. Looking up safety specs., reliability, Consumer Reports, ect. I never thought I would have the problems that I do now. I just bought a 2000 Windstar LX with 34,000 miles on it and had problems since day one of purchase. I bought it in December and it has been in the Garage more than in my driveway. I recently had the motor replaced @ a Ford Dealership due to the "pinging" heard around the world as well as a Tranny replacement. Transmission works fine now, but the pinging is still there after 80 miles on the new motor with the smell of oil burning while at a stop light with the heat on. I traded in my 1992 buick LeSabre w/ 162k miles with no problems for these headaches? I have printed out some related TSB's and will bring them to the dealer with my Winstar. Any other "real" advice would be great.
  • All these posts make me nervous about holding on to my 97 Windstar with 62K miles on it. The only two problems I have right now is a passenger power window that is toast and a speedometer that makes all kinds of noise.

    Occassionally the tranny makes hard shifts during stopping/starting maneuvers when the engine is cold. But that never happens when the engine is warm.

    I've put this van through the ringer, as I've been pulling my camper for the past 5 seasons. My current camper is about 2400 lbs, and the HP and torque of the 3.8L engine is excellent.

    Still debating on trading it in on a pickup truck, maybe even the new Avalanche. But like someone else posted, it's tough to go back to that monthly payment once you've paid a vehicle off.
  • wholiganwholigan Posts: 148

    Keep in mind that I have 95WS with three replacement motors (52500, 75000, 85000). Having said that...

    I have found it VERY interesting that the bulk of comments/issues/postings surrounding the Ford WS have been suprisingly LIGHT for 1997. Obviously the 95/96's had problems... Then starting again in 98, a bunch of electrical problems came forward - with occasional tranny and engine/head gasket posts.

    Regardless, here is some food for thought. I have been fortunate in that Ford has paid for all the motor replacements. One theme that has run true on this board: if you are out of the warranty, you are out of luck! I have worked with folks that have had their motor blow right where you are now (just over the 60000 extended plan) and Ford, quite literally, will not work with them. At all. No flexibility. I am certain that this is at least partially due to the recent performance of FMC in the last year. To admit yet another design problem at Ford would be disastrous (yes, the 3.8L has design issues). I really do find it pretty amazing that you have been pulling a trailer and have NOT had problems!

    Its all risk/reward. Personally, I keep thinking that the van should last (at least) another three years because they keep putting new motors in mine! Well, lets say that tie rods, brakes, and electrical gremlins have also been problematic for me.

    Sooooo, I am rolling the dice once again. I know that I will be purchasing a new vehicle this fall. That means I risk another eight months of engine, transmission, or other catastrophic failure. If the engine fails, I am covered. If anything else fails, I lose the bet... Trade in for this thing is terrible. I have not asked lately, however, given my vehicle history and the current glut of used cars (the 0% thing really hurt trade in values), it can't be all that good. Edmunds says I should be able to sell it for $6000. Given my current tax bracket, I can donate it to a local technical college and take the $1680 as a write off. Any trade-in above $1680 would be that much less I have to borrow. It is just amazing to me that a vehicle that stickered for 25000 7 years ago is now worth (probably) 3000 to a dealer. This is why if I buy any vehicle other than a truck, I am buying a non-american manufacturer. The depreciation alone is just not worth it to people that want to KEEP ther cars as long as they possibly can.

    One last thought... If the van has been good luck to this point, it just might stay that way.

    My advise: If you like to gamble, keep your van another year. Take the money that would have been for a car payment and SAVE it for a down payment. Otherwise - get rid of it.
  • Well, the dealer found nothing wrong with the speedometer (driving around the lot) but looks like this van will see it's third motor in 1 month. What does it take to get these things to stop nocking, besides shutting them off? Smells like the Lemon law to me... it sucks because I really like everything else about the van.
  • To mike01075 & soooey. If your dealer has not REPLACED your PCM yet and re-programmed the new one likely your pinging will continue, new motors or not. Based upon the experience with my 99WS the factory fix [replacing intake manifold components] does not work. They need to chemically remove all carbon deposits then replace and reprogram the PCM. Anything else is smoke & mirrors. Good luck and please keep us posted.
  • I also used my '96 WS to tow a boat trailer. I did it for 4.5 years with no trouble. My '96 head gasket problems did not arise until approx 80k miles. When I traded the vehicle at 96k, it still only had a seeping gasket.

    The thing I find odd about the entire head gasket design problem is: Ford claims that the design changes they made in the '97 and later years have solved the problem. If that is true, why are they not using the new head gasket design engines as replacements when repairing/replacing failed '95 & '96 engines? For instance, wholigan says he is on his third replacement engine in his '95 WS. Why??? If the gasket design change has solved the problem why do his replacement engines keep failing? And the same question can be asked of the 3.8l engines in the Taurus and other Ford/Mercury models which use that engine. The changes Ford made do not impact or preclude using the newer designed engine as a replacement in the older model cars. They will fit and mate up transmissions and accessories. So, why do they continue to fail? Because the fix helps but does not solve the problem. And, to admit this would require Ford accepting additional responsibility and liability for the later year engine failures. And financially, this would crush the company.

    I own 2 other Ford cars, a 1988 Taurus, 3.0l engine and a 1995 Ford Thunderbird, 4.6l engine. I am satisfied with both of those vehicles. Stay away from the Ford 3.8l engines. (And I would also avoid the new 3.9l engine)
  • I guess I need to catch up. My 95 was totaled at 135k after many years of hard, and I mean hard, running. I would still have it but for the red light runner. Anyway, I have replaced it with a 99 SE. Very nice but I do hear a light ping. Nothing really serious or loud--just a light ping. Is what is being talked about or is it a heavy, really loud ping? Thanks,
  • penguinpenguin Posts: 32
    Now my '98 passenger power window won't work. The dinging of the door chime has stopped for the moment. Can't figure that out. Sprayed contact cleaner on the door contacts and about a week later, the chiming stopped. Now the power window. It's always something with the Windstar.
  • elarszelarsz Posts: 1
    I have a 1996 Windstar 3.8L V6 with 97,000 miles. Was in at the Ford Dealer getting new plugs and wires, (because of the high miles), when they told me that the "water jackets" were leaking into the engine. I have had no white smoke or over-heating in fact the van runs fine. I marked the level of the coolant overflow tank and check it weekly for change (its been a month now, the level is still at the pencil mark) I have changed the oil twice at 150 mile intervals and have not seen any coolant or foam in the oil, no engine lights either. What else should I look for? I have a feeling the Dealer is full of it.
  • rayt2rayt2 Posts: 1,208
    Hello to All,

    First time posting here because of a problem my wife pointed out to me last night. I am hearing a hell of a racket with engine running when turning steering wheel left or right whether driving or just standing still. I checked power steering fluid and found level OK but it looked like chocolate milk and smelled terrible, the pump sounds like something is going wrong internally but I have no clue. The van was dropped off at dealers this A.M. to be checked out and I'm holding my hand on my wallet. TSB's I got from NHTSA site don't go into any detail on this, is there something one of you mechanic's out there might know or anyone who has been thru this with their Windstar? The van has 48000 miles so a warranty fix is outta the question.
    Thanks for the help........

    Ray T.
  • rayt2rayt2 Posts: 1,208
    What proof is the dealer showing you for their concern of internal coolant leak? Since you have been monitoring fluid levels and found no change where is their info coming from? I think your summation may be the correct one, their looking for a big dollar item to fix that isn't needed based solely on mileage. My take on that is "if it ain't broke than there's nothing to fix"
    My 2 cents worth.

    Ray T.
  • My '96 had that same problem. I had to replace the power steering pump. In my case, the problem was caused by a local garage that topped off my fluids when I brought the van in for an oil change. Ford uses ONLY Type 'F' auto transmission fluid in their power steering units. This fluid is not compatible with any other type of power steering fluid or power steering fluid conditioner. If other fluids are mixed in, the seals in the pump and the system begin to break down, the fluid gets clumpy and smelly, and the pump gets very noisy. You will need to replace the pump unit and flush out the entire system. Hopefully, the seals in the system haven't been destroyed and will not leak after you refill the system. When I told my garage about the problem, they tried to convince me that all Ford power steering units get noisy and that it was normal. They also said they were unaware of any special fluid requirement for the Ford power steering systems. I showed them the manual and they still tried to convince me any transmission fluid would operate in the unit. I don't allow them to touch the fluids any more. After I replaced the pump and flushed the system, the noise went away and the system worked fine.
  • rayt2rayt2 Posts: 1,208
    Too Late, Dealer Service called said seals leaked and they think the pump may be damaged so they recommend changing pump, seals, flush & refill system, and realign front end all for just $753. I guess to remove pump requires disassembly of front end. Imagine that a 2 year old vehicle with 8 TSB's issued on this problem and because I'm outta warranty with mileage it's my wallet to foot the bill. Well I called the General Manager & explained that the very first time my wife brought it in for service she complained about a noise from power steering and service said it was "normal", now here I am 2 years later needing a major repair on it. He is going to look into this issue and get back to me, hopefully today !

    Ray T.
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    If, and that is a big if, you have the paperwork from the first visit where you complained of the noise in the power steering pump, you should be entitled to a repair free of charge. You need that documentation. Don't let them talk you out of it. You complained about the problem within the warranty period and they failed to fix it. It is as simple as that. Don't even settle for the "we'll pay parts if you pay labor routine". Also, If you can find TSB's that also address the subject, that gives you even more ammunition.
  • rayt2rayt2 Posts: 1,208
    Yea, I had the 8 TSB's BUT there was no written documentation of the problem on the first service visit when my wife brought it in, they just told her it was normal, so we got screwed! She was not acertive enough nor did she notice it wasn't put on the service ticket at the time, so NO written documentation.(That service writer no longer works there either) They looked over our service history and FORD has a Good Customer Award Program, or something like that, so based on the fact we are a good customer they are willing to deduct $273 off the $873 repair bill, whoopi ! The service manager said that was the best he could do for us and he could find NO TSB's for our van listed, I told him I pulled 8 off the NHTSA site directly related but they got an attitude after that. My wife told him that as soon as it's fixed we are selling or trading it in for anything but a FORD. FORD will be history for ever more in my book, never again.

    Now how about a Grand Voyager?

    Ray T.
  • You think you have trouble now, just wait. If you want real reliability go with the Honda, but you will pay for it. From what I have read the wait is 60 days and you will pay a few K over list. BTW-I am on my second Windstar and have nothing but good things to say about it and my dealer. Good Luck
  • rayt2rayt2 Posts: 1,208
    I can see you deal with dogs as is the case with my wife's van needs, she breeds/raises/shows Siberian Huskies and after trying her fathers 2001 Odessey she says it seems smaller inside compared to Windstar and may not handle the 4 crates and grooming equip. she takes to shows/competitions. So it's either a Chevy or Chrysler/Dodge for our next choice. We have 48000 miles on the 2000 now & she averages 25000 miles a year so I don't want to wait till another major out of warranty issue arises before unloading this thing. Kelley Blue Book figures show we have already lost $13k from our $27000 purchase price in 2 years time, time to get rid of it now before it's absolutely worthless for anything other than a donation to a charity.

    If FORD would just own up to the persistant repeated problems with the Windstars & do right by the customer they could bolster their credibility and sales in the market, rather than throwing away customers as they do.

    My 2 cents.......

    Ray T.
  • I took my '98 with 67,000 miles around last fall and looked at various cars and vans, including the Forester, Caravan, and Sienna. By the way, I was really impressed by the Sienna. For a van that cost 22,000 I couldn't get any more than 7000 in trade. I thought they were just trying to take me until I looked around at what they were selling for on the open market. The Toyota dealer said if I had a '98 Toyota, they could have given me 4,000+ more. I really do like the features and feel of the Windstar, but every week it's another oddball problem that crops up. Then there is always the realiabilty problem lurking in the back of your mind. Even if you haven't had a major problem like trans. or head gasket, you know that it could happen any time and that Ford will just leave you hanging.
  • Hi, I am here because of a problem with our 2001 Windstar. We traded off our 95 Windstar on the 2001. It seems we have had problems since day 1.
    Ford has not fixed the issues we experienced with the 95. This week we took it to the bank and signed it over to them. We don't need more Ford headaches.
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