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Ford Windstar Problems

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  • The Windstar has been around for a long time. I read a lot about problems but seems like a lot of them are in "pre-2000 models" (totally unscientific seat-of-the-pants guestimate). Is this true or am I just not seeing the big picture? If it is true, is it just that the newer models haven't been driven as much yet?

    I am also interested in this because the Odyssey seems like a great van, but certainly has had its problems and I wonder what a 7 year old Odyssey will look like (i.e, comparable to a 1995 Windstar).
  • I know most of us on this topic have had or still have trouble with our vans but all in all if you look at the number of complaints on the Chevy, Chrysler, Dodge or even the Honda topics we are not all that many. In this day and age and with the complexity of cars you almost have to purchase the extended warranty. If a power window motor goes bad you are looking at 500 alone. Heaven forbid that your central computer go bad. That is 3k.

    It would also appear most of us have trouble with the dealer. I have been buying from the same dealer for about 20 years. I get around 25% off all my work since I bring all my vehicles (I have a 99 Windstar SE, my wife has 94 Probe GT and we just purchased a 2001 Suzuki XL-7 in August) in for service. Yes, I even got a 25% discount on a balance, rotate and align on the XL-7. Had a long talk with the owner about the XL-7. When I went to purchase an Escape they wanted 2k over list and the sales people laughed when I said 500 over invoice. So I got the XL-7. The sales people did not even talk with the sales manager about my offer so they lost a sale. The owner was not really happy about that. When he saw the XL-7 he asked what happened. I told him the story. He told me to come directly to him the next time I wanted a car and I will get anything I want a invoice, plus any rebates on top of that. I said even an Excursion, and he said yes. I told him I would hold him to it in a few years. Anyway, I have a good relationship with
    the service people and have not had any trouble getting things fixed. Hex, they had the Probe in just prior to it going out of warranty and the tech who serviced it said they wanted to keep it for an extra day to look at the auto trans and the next thing I knew there was a new one going in. The slightly hard shifting that I felt was the start of a major problem so they just replaced it, not an overhaul of the one in the car but a factory job. Not bad at all. The dealer is Sterling Ford in Sterling VA

    Yes, we do Greyhound Rescue as part of Greyhound Pets of America. We will haul around 5 dogs lose or 4 with large crates. And yes, the Honda is a little small on the inside. The Chrysler products seem to have a better layout inside and a little more space. Our four crates require some jury rigging to get them all to fit in the Windstar. In the Dodge they just fit in with no trouble.
  • rayt2rayt2 Posts: 1,208
    I could not disagree with you more when it comes to buying an extended warranty. The only person making out on it is the salesman and dealership. What ever happened to vehicle reliability? To have to purchase additional coverage just in case something goes wrong outside the warranty coverage is ludicrous. If manufacturers can't stand behind their products than we as the consumer should show them the door. I say dump the load as soon as warranty runs out not purchase additional coverage at over inflated prices and STILL have a deductable to meet EACH time you go in for repairs. This power steering pump on our 2000 Windstar should have been covered regardless of the mileage since there were so many TSB's issued on it, the dealers stance of TSB's are only there to assist the mechanics when vehicle comes in for this problem (provided you state it properly when you bring it in) is pure baloney and I'm not eating it! FORD is doing a terrible disservice to we, the consumer, with it's handling of problems related to their products. Their commercials constantly harp about their build quality being job #1 but what do they actually dish out in reality?, an unreliable vehicle since it's inception!
    I'm glad you have a good repore with your dealer but this is the exception not the norm in this case. Bottom line is that the service dept. is there to bring in money to dealership and if they dupe the customer by NOT informing them of known TSB who pays the price?

    Sorry for ranting but dealerships that operate like this tic me off when the only way they stand behind their product is at the customers expense.

    Ray T.
  • I understand your point, however, we keep our vehicles for a long, long time. I would still have my 95 Windstar if it has not been totaled. It had 135k of hard miles on it and was tight as a drum. The nice thing about the extended warranty is when you bring it in for service, even for routine maintainance you get a car while it is there and if they need it for a few days you get to keep it. Also, I know of no car that goes 100K without some kind of major repair needing to be done. Even the high end cars break down. To my wife and I it is not a question if something major will break, it is when it will break. I get the Ford extended 6 year-100k 6/100k for 1K less than a regular customer.
    It would be nice if more dealers stood behind their cars as mine does. That is one of the reasons I go back to them. Now then, I do not expect them to repair the trans or AC unit for free at 150K. I maintain a reasonable stance with them and it pays benefits in the long run.
  • I can't agree with your conclusions. I believe every car maker eventually introduces a product that turns into a complete bag of worms for both the consumer and the manufacturer. In this case, Ford's 3.8l engines and transmissions are the culprit. Ford can make a very decent product, as evidenced by their line of trucks. But they screwed up big time with this engine and transmission combo. And, unfortunately for the consumer, they used that catastrophic combo in multiple car models and for many years before the problems were discovered. I say unfortunate because had the use been limited to a select model, Ford may have been more willing to stand behind the consumer. But, the usage extended for so many years and models, Ford can't afford to foot the bill for each and every one of those disasters. It's happened before and it will happen again. Chevy had the Vega, Ford also had the Edsel and the infamous fireball, the Pinto, and there was the explosive GM sidemount gas tank pickup trucks. These were just bad ideas, mistakes. That is what the 3.8l engine and associated tranny are, a mistake.

    Just about any expert will tell you that extended warranties are a waste of your hard earned money.
    Outside of the infrequent disaster model, most major problems that are likely to develop will occur in the first 50k miles. Most manufacturers are providing 3yr/36k miles bumper to bumper coverage and some provide an extended drivetrain warranty of 5yr/60k miles.

    Did you also know that some polution control devices on your car, such as the ECU/OBD (computer), catalytic converter and a few others are actually covered by a federal mandated warranty for 8yrs/80k miles if you live in an area which has an EPA approved emissions inspection and your car fails this inspection because the specified device is defective?

    There are three specified major emission control components, covered for the first 8 years or 80,000 miles of vehicle use on 1995 and newer vehicles:

    * Catalytic converters.

    * The electronic emissions control unit or computer (ECU).

    * The onboard emissions diagnostic device or computer (OBD).

    There are also other emissions related parts covered under the EPA federally mandated Design and Defect Warranty for the first 2yrs/24K miles. Did you know that if you fail an emission inspection in the first 2yrs/24K miles on a 1995 or newer vehicle due to a bad PCV valve or defective spark plugs, you are fully covered under warranty for parts, labor and cost of testing and diagnosis?

    Of course, the longer you own and drive a vehicle eventually parts will wear out and require repair.
    I have a 1989 Chevy with 140K miles. The only major repair has been the timing gear at approx 90K. Everything, including the A/C, still operates. I have a 1988 Ford Taurus wagon (3.0l engine) with 130K miles. No major repairs required on that vehicle yet. I have a 1995 Ford Thunderbird (4.6L engine) with 107K miles. No major repairs required on that vehicle yet. If you spend your money on proper care and maintenance instead of an extended warranty, you'll be ahead of the game. I've only ever driven 2 vehicles for less than 100K before I sold them or traded them. A Chevette that was damaged in an accident and my 1996 Windstar. At least there was a good excuse for the Chevette.
  • I am aware of all the things you have said. However, from my experience I have used all my extended warranties way over the cost to me on every car I have ever owned. It is a personal preference with my wife and myself.
    I am a fanatic about maintance. I use Mobil 1 with a new filter every 5k. All maintance is pulled on time. I have the transmissions power flushed every 60K with new transfluid installed after the first 5k and put in synthetic fluid that meets Ford specs. I never let them use recycled fluids. I do all the things to keep them up and running. However, the miles we put on are hard ones. The Probe and Windstar do about 60 miles in DC rush hour traffic every day. That is 15K a year just going to work. We have a third vehicle (the XL-7) for the weekends and that will be suplimented by a 1990 Maxima next month. My mother died this past December and we now have the Maxima being shipped from Arizona later this month. It is the car driven by the "gray haired little old lady". It only has 72k on it and is in prime shape so that will help. I put over 6k a year doing greyhound events with a full load of either dogs or display materials. How you use your vehicle is also a part of the equation on an extended warranty. As I said above, I have used all the ones I have had way over the cost to me so in my instance the up front cost has been worth the investment.
  • I think I have hit upon the worlds largest conspiracy: There is only one car manufacturer in the world. All the different ones we see are just fakes!! Why do I say this? I was going into several of the van discussion groups to see what was going on and it appears all vans, no matter who makes them, have the same trouble: bad transmissions, bad A/C, bad power door systems, bad power steering units and the most infamous of all: the unknown noise or clunk from the front end. I can not believe every auto maker has the same problems so it just must be there is only one out there with a bunch of clones. :-) Any thoughts on this!!!
  • About a week ago I asked about the infamous ping the 99s have. Is it a loud one or hard to hear? I have had my 99 SE for a few months now and hear a light ping once in a while and if it is a problem that there is a solution to I need to bring it up to my dealer. Thanks.
  • I owned a 95 Windstar, which we kept for about 30K miles and then traded in for our 97 Windstar with many more options. Sounds like I made the right choice in opting for the 97 model.

    I hear all kinds of stories from co-workers about problems with their vans. Especially Dodges, which apparently have self-destructing trannies. Two people I know have 96 Windstars with high mileage and not troubles to speak of. Wouldn't it make sense that the people with troubles would be attracted to a forum like this to discuss the problems? Thus, a high percentage of people posting here are having problems?

    Last I checked, the 96 and 97 Windstar got average reliability ratings in Consumers Report. All other year Windstars got worse or much worse than average ratings.
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    5greyhounds: We had a 99 that had the pinging problem. There were some days it was very noticable and others where you would barely hear it. It seemed to be affected by atmospheric conditions. We ended up getting rid of it prior to having it fixed, the dealer wasn't very helpful in trying to fix it. We replaced it with a 00 SE, no pinging problems with it.

    You mentioned in a prior post that you got an extended warranty for about a grand less then normal, I shopped the net to find the best price on the same plan, what was the final cost you paid? We paid around $1200. By the way, we already made use of the plan we purchased for the 00, the torque converter went shortly after the factory warranty expired. To me, extended warranties are a crap shoot, sometimes you win sometimes you don't, the odds that you will need one with a windstar are rather high, thats why I bought one.
  • My plan is the Ford plan and it was $1,500. I had done some research on what I will call after market plans but read various stories, both good and bad, about them so I went with the Ford plan since I never had a problem with coverage. You are correct about it being a crap shoot. However, I forgot to mention one thing. If I do not use it I get my money back from the dealer. If I have repairs done and the total is less than the plan I get the difference back. For example, if I have $1,200 worth of repairs done I get $300 back. This is part of the employee purchase package from the dealer. For me it is a no lose situation. I even have it in witting.
    Thanks for the information on the Ping. It goes in for some minor work while I am on a trip to Arizona (I am flying) and I will leave it with them to work on and have it looked into. Again, thanks.
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    5greyhounds: I got my Ford Premium plan over the web from a dealer in Iowa, 6yr/100k with $50 ded. The local dealers wouldn't get anywhere near it. I like the sound of money back deal on yours. You definitely can't lose. I hadn't heard of that before. I avoided the aftermarket plans as well after a trying time with one on my 95 windstar.

    Regarding the ping again, I haven't heard of anyone having a problem with the 2000 model's pinging. Based on this I assume Ford was able to get a decent fix for it. Maybe its a component (PCM or whatever) that they can put on yours from a 2000 model that'll take care of it.
  • Yours is like mine except I do not have the deductible. How does your dealer feel when you bring it in and he did not sell it to you or does he care just as long as he gets the money from the repairs? I had the money back deal on my wife's Probe GT also. They do it for long time customers. This is my 6th car in 17 years (also my mother-in-law has purchased two from them and my sister-in-law has purchased one) so I am considered not just a loyal customer but a long time loyal customer, even with the XL-7 in my garage.

    On the ping, thanks. From what I have found on this site the PCM (?) has to be replaced. Even re-programming does not do it, it has to be replaced. You are probably right, they use a 2000 model year part. Thanks for the info and good luck with your van.
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    5greyhounds: Before I bought the warranty, I went to the dealer that sold me the van and services it. I told them of the deal I had found on the web. The manager said they couldn't touch it price wise. About a month after I got the warranty I took the van in for the torque converter replacement. The service manager looked up the van on the computer and noticed the warranty. He made no comment on where I bought it, just did the work.
  • Well the third motor has gone in and no pinging what so ever wqith the additional replacement of the manifold. Speedomeeter is back to normal and everything seems to be running great. According to Ford, TSB's are progressive. They take the first step in a necessary repair, if that doesn't work, then they replace more parts pertaining to the TSB's. I told him, "what ever you are smoking, you're not sharing with the rest of us." What a crock?! Anyway, 2000 windstar is up and running..........time will tell.
  • I take my '98 Windstar in to the dealer to fix a power window and a squealing belt. They call me and say the check engine light is on and it needs a coil in one of the cylinders, $350. The car was driving fine and the engine light was not on when I drove it in to the dealer. I say let it go for now. I pick up the car and it drives like crap. Actually, I feel it is unsafe, no power, vibrates, etc. Take it back for them to check it out. They replace the coil and tell me no charge, warranty work. Now my car has 70,000 miles and is almost 5 years old. Some strange deal.
  • dnecednece Posts: 1
    Just got my 99 back after 3 weeks worth of extended warranty work. Thank goodness for the $50 ded. Our pinging problem was taken care of by replacing a bad intake manifold gasket(had to wait 2 weeks for the part from Ford) and the PCM. Also had a transmission leak and power steering leak(second time around) repaired. If you've had problems with a groaning noise on slow turns have the front rack checked out. Ours had to be replaced. All of this and only 55k miles. Service rep told me I'd be back before 75K for a new transmission. Lovely.
  • My windstar with 74K on motor has been good to me,although I had to replace te intake manifold at 67K due to a crack that made the engine constantly misfire and the check engine light would not go out. Now I have a coolant leak and I'm told it's the timing chain cover ? Cheap part but expensive labor to repair. Anyone know of any recalls or TSBs on this problem????
  • wholiganwholigan Posts: 148
    Skip - not covered. In fact, if I am incorrect, this is the most common repair AFTER the #4 cylinder has coolant leaking into it and you need a new engine.

    As most experiences go, if you do not have the extended warranty, you are out of luck... Start with the Service Manager. If that goes nowhere, ask to have the dealership contact the Ford CSR (Customer Service Rep) and explain that you would like to work with that individual.

    Yea, I am still a little bitter about my whole 95WS dealings (4th tranny and 4th engine) and I have only one course of action - No more Fords for me...

    Good Luck!

    Gill
  • I've searched and can't find anyone with this problem...About ten days after my 3 yr warranty expired, the check engine light came on, dealer said it was the intake manifold/gaskets (at 33,000 miles). A week after "repair", check engine light is on again. Dealer said hose disconnected. A week later, check engine light is on again because "computer believes the engine is running lean." Dealer says it's the vapor management gasket. Four days after "repair", the check engine light is on and the dealer says the "Detroit engineers are working on it, keep checking back to see if they have a fix!!" Anyone who has experienced/heard of this I would appreciate hearing from you. My next step is going to the General Manager and making an appointment with the Area Rep. Couldn't find TSB's that fit this problem. I did find the TSBs regarding spark knock intriguing, as my service manager recommended a higher octane gas--what a laugh. I'll be taking copies of all related TSBs for that problem to the meeting.
This discussion has been closed.