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Ford Windstar Problems



  • Sounds like you have a pretty good Windstar. To answer your question - it depends on what the transmission issue is. New transmission runs up to $2500-$3000 in bigger cities. Part replacements (mine was the crappy aluminum transmission piston) runs $1200 five years ago when I had it replaced at 57k. As I noted in an earlier post, 3 of the 9 cars on the local transmission repair shop lot were Windstars - not a good sign! For $1200 I would fix it at 65k. Had your car had over 100k or more - I would certainly recommend the scrap yard as the repair would exceed its trade value.

    Ford will be of 0 value in helping you cover costs of tranny repair at 65k. Maybe their attitude has changed in the last 5 years, but I wouldn't bank on it. If you have no extended warranty - look for zip to 10% off at best.

    I got a '95 to 100k with relatively little pain, as compared to most of the posts around here at Edmunds/Ford/Windstar with just a head gasket, a tranny, a few tie rods, a few speedometers, a few broken door locks, a broken rear wiper. The truely expensive stuff started just after 100k with a water pump, fuel injectors, thermostat, ball joint, etc.

    May want to buy stock in a repair shop.
  • I have a 1998 Ford Windstar and Im having a lot of problems with this van. The only main problem Im concerned about is the van ONLY stalls when I apply the brake when coming to a stop. I can put the vehicle in neutral or park and it starts right back up with no problem. Also it idles very rough. I have taken it to the Ford dealer and the problems keep on persisting. Any replies are greatly appreciated.
  • c33c33 Posts: 1
    Help - my 2003 SE has a wiring harness (?) in the overhead console at the edge of the windshield.
    This is not wiring going to light at back of console.
    The overhead console can be dropped down by removing one screw and pulling down to remove console from clamps - easy to do. The wiring harness (?) does not look like factory installed. If you have a 03 SE please drop your
    overhead console and check for wiring at /near windshield - this may be a tracking device.

    03 SE owners - thanks for your help.

  • peterzpeterz Posts: 1
    I notice that the loud clunk at a traffic light, followed by a transmission that goes only in reverse seems to be a widespread problem. Does anyone know what actually goes out on the tranny when this happens? It happened to me last Saturday.

  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Oh boy, that sure sounds like the good old forward piston failing. What year Windstar? 95-96 failed due to an aluminum piston that cracked. And some later year models failed due to the new bonded rubber seal on the redesigned steel piston that separated. In other words, Ford magically found a way to re-engineer the same failure. Either way it's big $$$.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    I can't guess what may be wrong without seeing some test data, so my only suggestion would be to take it to a shop that specializes in auto A/C repair. They'll most likely find the problem whereas a general mechanic may be stumped.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    At that mileage, you can pretty much forget $ assistance. My suggestion would be to first determine the cost of replacing the failed part. If it's less than half the cost of a full trans replacement, then it may be sensible considering the relatively low mileage on the other parts in your transmission. If you go for a full rebuild, consider the costs of an independent shop versus a Ford factory rebuilt at a dealer. If they're fairly close, go with the dealer transmission as it will carry a 3/36 warranty and you'll probably get as good or better warranty service from the selling dealer than an indie.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    What was done at the dealer? I ask because there were a number of "programs" (Ford's term for reimbursed non-warranty non-recall repairs) on the valve cover/PCV systems on late-90s Windstars> Symptopms were similar to what you're describing. Basically Ford screwed up the entire valve cover design on those 3.8s and caused all sorts of driveability problems like high idle/stalling/low idle/pinging/loss of power.
    If you feel the dealer is making an honest effort, give them a few chances to fix it. If not, express your dissatisfaction and go to another dealer.
  • Well I took it to my trusted mechanic and the transmission is shot. It will cost 2500 to 3000 for a re manufactured transmission to replace it, good thing is that the reman tranny carries a 3/36,000 mile warranty. That is my course of action. I am disappointed that this part failed, I will consider other auto manufacturers when replacing this vehicle. Thanks for your input.
  • jtk152jtk152 Posts: 139
    tug- out of curiosity, did you ever have the automatic transmission fluid changed out in your windstar prior to the transaxle failure? The AX4N (2001+) & AX4S transaxles seem to fail early unless you do regular ATF changeouts on them- like every 25K miles. The large/heavy windstar puts a HUGE load on these transaxles & overheats the ATF. The ATF in my 2001 LX looked & smelled BAD @ 34K miles. Sorry to hear yours bombed so early. You will find this same situation is true with any domestic minivan. Gotta keep the ATF clean & fresh!! Make sure to use ONLY Mercon 5 in newer fords (1999+)
  • reading this made me make a list:
    35k, tranny shot, rebuilt by Ford. :)
    67k starter and torque converter problems. Replaced starter, new seal on torque converter.
    88K beginning of serious coolant leak. We all know what that probably means....

    No support from FORD or dealer. Even tried to trade it in on another Ford, but the trade in value SUCKED! Ford dealers know they are a problem car. Got a much higher trade in quote from a Toyota dealer.

    My wife has an Explorer, NO Problems and it's older. Why won't Ford built a decent mini van?
    Now, is it time for a Nissan, Toyota to Honda?
    Yes, that's my real question, I have enough stress in my life without worrying about about a "family hauler" breaking down.
  • I had the fluid changed at 40,000 miles, I was told it was also changed prior to my buying with 13,000 miles on it. It was a dealer demo vehicle. I did not change it again after that. My fault. I learned from that and will get it changed regularly after that. Thanks for your input joel.
  • The power sliding door won't close completely automatically. I have to manually push the door in to completely close it. A Ford dealer technician suggested that I clean the contacts. Have done so, but the problem remains. Any leads on how a similar problem has been resolved?
  • drtdrt Posts: 2
    Stalling is occurring while driving at regular speeds. Have had it at the dealer 2x now but van will not re-create issue while there. No codes are coming up. Stalling is becoming more frequent. Can anybody give me a hint at the possible problem(s)????
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Does it stall under power or when you lift off the throttle?
  • drtdrt Posts: 2
    Both. It is now stalling under power, off the throttle, in turns and at idle. The dealer has had their computer hooked up but it doesnt catch anything as it stalls. They seem to be waiting for the computer to tell them what is wrong instead of looking for the problem.
  • There is a TSB from Ford on stalling while in turns. Since your's is at highway speed, I don't know if this is applicable. The 2 times I have had it fixed involved a computer reprogram, not very expensive. Or replacement of the TPS (throttle positioning sensor). I believe that was the name. It sits on top of the engine a little to right of center as you face the engine. It is sort of barrel shaped about an inch and a half in diameter and maybe 3 inches long. Has a hose or two coming out of it. Maybe someone else can confirm the name. It is a common problem and dealer should be aware of it. I can dig up the paperwork if you can't confirm that it is the TPS. It solved my stalling problem.

    Good Luck
  • I have a 96 WS 3.8L engine with 80k miles on it. I regularly change the oil at 3k miles but, regretfully, have been less attentive to other tune up and replacement parts. Anyway, last week the "Check Engine Light" came on.Checked the gas cap first and it was tightly screwed on. My air filter was changed within the last 6 months. Went to a Ford Dealer and he ran the diagnostic codes and said that the engine is starved for fuel. He rercommended I get a new set of ignition wires, a new set of spark plugs and reprogramming the ECU. I decided I couldn't afford the $600+ tune up at that time as I was on vacation.

    He did a "chemical" clean of my fuel injectors and replaced the (I'm embarrassed to say) original fuel filter. He also cleared the code so that the "Check Engine" light no longer lit up. After driving 900 miles I find that this light has come on again.

    Is it time to get that tune up? What ignition wires and platinum plugs would you recommend? I can't afford to trade the WS in and besides the trade in value would be too low.
    By the way, the best mileage I got on my trip, averaging 60-65 mph was 28 mpg. There is definitely a loss of power in the car going uphill.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    At 80K it's due for servicing, but before you do anything else go to any AutoZone and have them retrieve the stored trouble codes (no charge). Post the code #'s and we'll go from there.
  • My advice is do some research and find a good, honest local mechanic. Stay away from the dealers except for warranty work. You'll cut your repair bills by up to 50% and avoid some work that was never needed in the first place. Develop a maintenance schedule from the owners manual making some common sense adjustments to the mileage intervals in the manual. These two things will save you money and ensure less unexpected repair bills.

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