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Ford Windstar Problems



  • I have seen mixed information about the head gasket problem on the new Windstars. Ford claims they had the problem fixed as of the 1998 model year. But several independent and unconfirmed sources say the problem is inherent in the design of the engine, and has not been changed.

    The 1999 model has been on the road for nearly two years now, and I have not seen anything about head gasket problems in that one. I'm sure there are plenty on the road that have enough miles on them for the problem to show up if it exists. Based on that, I'd say it's probably fixed.

    I just leased a new 2000 LX and so far we love the van. It only has 1300 miles on it so far, so I can't really speak of reliability yet.

    But, if you search the other forums here on Edmunds, you will see that Ford is not the only manufacturer with recurring problems. Chryslers are notorious for their transmission problems. I don't know much about reliability in the GM products, but I do know that their safety ratings are far below those of Ford and Chrysler. Probably the most reliable vans are from Toyota and Honda, but when I was looking, I found them to be a little bit smaller (and more expensive) than the Ford. If the Honda interests you, take a look at the Mazda MPV. It is basically a clone of the Odyssey, costs a good bit less, and is actually more available. Go figure?

    Anyway, I hope this info was helpful, and if you do decide to get the Ford, you might want to get the extended warranty. That way you will be protected if the problems do arise in the 2000.
  • I own a 99 Windstar SE, 10000 miles, since we had it we had to call A tow truck for a boost four times. If the van sits for the weekend, or a couple of days it fails to start. Everything is dead when you turn the key, We had it to the dealer 4 times. They told us we weren't driving it enough and told us to start it everyday. Everything checks out OK they told us. I thought the SE model has the run dowm time power saving ability. Shouln't the battery kept enough power to start. I think we should have kept the VW Eurovan.
  • rugmankcrugmankc Posts: 133
    That's bunk on having to start the van everyday. Something is draining the battery. See the dealership owner or go over their heads to ford. If no luck try a different dealer. Also, you may have lemon laws to go to after they fail 3 times to fix it. I would feel insulted if a service rep gave me that answer. I am no mechanic and the problem may not be easy to find, but there is definetly a problem.
  • anonymousanonymous Posts: 314
    Just purchased a 2000 Windstar LX. Two minor noises associated with shifting that I am curious about. One: when shifting from Drive to Park the transmission clunks. I have been told by others that this is not uncommon for a truck. Second: after starting the vehicle and accelerating their is a small grind when the tranny shifts from second to third gear. Grind does not occur again during a driving cycle, even from complete stops.

    Otherwise very happy with the van. What a horse with the 3.8L, 200 horsepower!!!!! Had a 93 Taurus for 7 years and no major problems. Thanks
  • I own a 1995 Winstar GL. I don't know where to start with my problems. I have replaced all but one electronic latch, because my door ajar light was on constantly (pretty funny watching me jump out of car to run around and open and shut every door multiple times). I have had my sliding door recalled,the transmission went at 80k miles, and the real biggie that had me floored was that at 4yrs, my GAS TANK FAILED!!! I went into the dealer and they charged me $700 to replace it. When I practically stood on the maintenance manager's desk and very loudly proclaimed that gas tanks shoudn't fail (I have not been in any accidents with this car) his reponse is that sometimes they do!! I have owned cars for over 30 years and never once did I have one fail. After much gnashing of teeth, he knocked the price down to $500. Then three months later I get a letter from Ford Motor company recalling the gas tank, BUT ONLY IF I LIVED IN CERTAIN HOT WEATHER STATES!!! I called Ford to see if I could also be covered under this recall, since they admitted in their notice that it was a SAFETY recall, but they said no. I asked the nice young man if he had ever been to Virginia in August if Ford didn't think I lived in a "hot weather state". I called the dealer back and discussed my conversation with the parent company. I also filed a complaint on the NHSTB web site and informed the dealer that I planned to go to the local media, because this should be a nation wide recall. I could have been killed because I noticed the gas smell right after refueling and thought I had just overfilled and spilled gas. I drove this car for two days before I realized something else had to be wrong. Had someone rear ended me, we would have gone up in a fireball. End result, I must commend my dealership because I had a check from the dealership within a week for a full refund. They did the right thing, I can only hope Ford does the same for others
  • scouts2scouts2 Posts: 1
    You don't pay unless they win...Helped me on 99 Chrysler Town & Country A/W/D...Frank
  • kathy36kathy36 Posts: 4
    Well, another week, another headache! The last report I gave you was that my NY dealer would have had the car towed from PA if he had known about the problem right from the start. Well, he claimed he tried to call PA and got no returned phone calls. I went to PA for eight days last week. I decided to go to the Wayne County dealer and speak for myself. (By the way, my 12 letters to many had already gone out in the mail.) So the owner/service manager said the car could be towed, as he understood my need for a loaner car (which the NY dealer promised me, if he could tow the car down). I gave him the NY dealer phone number and the owner's cell phone number, where he left two voice mails on a Wednesday. I call my husband and say, "Let's see what happens." My husband, still in NY, stops at the dealer on Thursday, and was told by the owner, "everything's been arranged, see the service manager in back." Service manager says, "no way, it's too costly, not worth it." What do we do? I come home the following Monday, and ask my husband, "anything?" No. Ok. He gets on the phone with the 800 Ford people. The woman calls PA to find out what's what and tells us, PA says the car was going to be towed and he cancelled the engine order last Thursday. Whoa! We call PA, and dealer says, yes, this was so. We call NY dealer and owner says, what did service manager tell you last week? My husband says, too expensive, no go. He says, I'll call you back in half an hour. That was yesterday. Today, we left 2 messages, nothing. My husband stops at the dealer and he gets the go around. AGAIN! I'm leaving in 2 days for vacation with a rental car and have no answers as to who will do my car and if an engine (ordered 4 weeks ago) is still on order or if we have to start all over. ANY ADVICE?
  • Our '98 Windstar has started vibrating when we brake. Anyone else have this problem?
  • sam121sam121 Posts: 10
    I have a 2000 lx and am experiencing a popping sound in the front of the car. Some other folks have experienced that as well. Did anyone find a solution for this? I would love some feedback before I take it in and hear some B.S from the dealer.
  • rpc1rpc1 Posts: 2
    I have a 98 Windstar, with 35000 miles. For the last few months, the van would not move in drive while stopped at a light. The engine would race, but it felt like it was in neutral.
    If I turned off the engine, and re-started the van the problem went away, and the van would drive normally. This problem would happen about once a week, but NEVER when the dealer drove it.
    Anyone have a problem like this??
  • rpc1rpc1 Posts: 2
    There was a recall on 98 Windstar brakes. Have your dealer check this out. The problem may also be warped brake rotors, that would cause the vibration in the front when the brakes are applied . Rob
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  • I had the same problem--shift piston is the cause. It is made out of aluminum. You need the steel one. If the van is still under warranty, insist that the transmission be pulled and inspected. Make sure that all of the clutches are examined carefully, also.
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    The steel piston would already be in the 1998 Windstar. That change was made early in the 1996 model year when it was realized that the aluminum piston was the culprit for much of the transmission failure.
  • I have a 99 windstar SEL . It has now been towed to the dealer 3 times because as soon as I try to start it the car dies before I can switch it into drive. It seems as if it is starting right up but it just dies before switching into gear. Has anyone else had this problem and had success figuring out what it is . Thanks
  • I have a 98 WS with the 3.8 engine and it has a tendency to stall. I had it into the dealer 4 or 5 times last winter. He finally decided the problem was a corroded fuse box under the hood and he replaced the whole thing. After that it ran fine until now (6 mos. later) and it started doing the same thing again. It is an intermittent problem and, of course, it won't do it when the dealer is in the van. Sound familiar to anyone?
  • There is a tsb on the stalling, my 98 had it done and it never stalled again. Don't remember the part replaced, someone else may. But, it is definitely fixable.
  • I have been following the Windstar problems and I haven't seen this one yet.
    Our car was in for 2 and a half months for an engine replacement this summer. We had it back for less than two weeks and the engine died and had to be towed back to the dealer. Guess what? It needs another new engine. We were never given the buyout + certificate option. Until I discovered this site, I didn't know that there was such a thing. Now, the Ford dealer is refusing to give us the buyout option because we had the engine replace. (Despite the fact that the engine they put in was even more worthless (if possible) than the original.) I have to add that we paid $1,100 for other work done over the summer( tie rods,fuel leak at the fuel rail, transmission gaskets, etc.) Also, the car went back for $307 immediately after we got it back, because the front brake was making a noise, which it didn't make before it went in this summer. (New rotors, break pads.)Anyway, they are telling me it will be 2 more months for another rebuilt engine. I thought Ford's press release said 5 days for an engine or the buyout plan. I have had it and I don't want this car, repaired or not. I am interested in any suggestions anyone might have to get action on this.
  • For CASEOPIA - Aug 21, 2000
    Sounds like you have a light on somewhere. My battery did the same thing after a remote-entry trunk adjustment that resulted in the trunk light staying on all the time. Follow the light.
  • 12000 miles -----Break service done under warranty
    32000 miles---Broke down Highway Interstate 78---replaced with a new transmission--under waranty
    43738 miles ----Intense leak from transmission, happened interstate 80 on the way to drop my daughter in college near Syracuse---fluid leak under the car. Car could be moved.Signs of ABS and traction control---always on--never went away.
    The dealers at two places could not find the source of leak even after 4 days.ABS-T/C fixed. Now I am afraid to drive more than one hour. It is a shame.Transmission was never smooth.
This discussion has been closed.