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Ford 3.8 head gasket/trans failures--"secret warranty" Part 2

bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
edited April 2014 in Ford
Well, now that you have found the new topic, Here
is the link back to the old one.

Your host, Bruce


  • fclspatfclspat Posts: 61
    My wife bought her '92 Cougar new in 1993. The car really had no problems to date. Then it blew a head gasket (cylinder #4 - typical) a few months ago. I knew Ford would be of no help (not to mention the dealer she bought at went out of business recently).

    Just finished replacing the HG myself (with the help of my uncle who is a retired GM mechanic). In all it took about 10 hours labor (each of us) and $200 in parts (I changes the plugs and belts while we had it apart).

    Car seems to run fine (though the check engine light still comes on sporadically - it was coming on for several month B4 the HG went). Anyone know of an easy way to get decipher the check engine lite trouble codes.

    Considering a small claims case against Ford... but for $200 it hardly seems worth it. Am waiting for the class action...

  • bobs5bobs5 Posts: 557

    Here is a site with code retrieval information.
  • I posted a while back about my WS tranny problems: the o/d light flashing and dealers never really figuring out what was going on.
    It's a '95 LX w/ about 57k. Finally diagnosed as needing a new torque converter (of course it took a few days to get it and we had to squeeze the family into a rental chevy lumina for our trip from NJ to VT and back) but it was covered under the extended warranty and Holman ford didn't even try to charge me the extra $50 deductible for taking it back in within a week for the same problem - been almost two months now and seems to be fine.

    Also, I had HG go back in the winter and got a new engine - back before extension to 100k and commitment to pick up rental car during repair. I didn't get any rental reimbursement at the time (despite calls to the clueless customer care reps - they wouldn't even give me the $25 a day the extended warranty provides, since work wasn't being done under that warranty). Recently resubmitted my rental expenses to Crest L-M in CT (of course I was on the road when it blew) explaining that now Ford was reimbursing and I should get some $ and lo & behold they were able to come through with a check!

    Lesson # 1: Don't give up! and keep checking this BB for new ideas
    Lesson # 2: If you're going to own a ford for more than 2 or 3 years it pays to get an extended warranty.

    Thx to all for your posts & good luck!
  • Was happy to receive in the mail last week a letter from Ford advising that they had processed my claim for the $4K CFC... dealership was a big help in getting this, since when they followed up the last week of September (I was concerned about possible 10/1/00 end date of program), Ford had 'no record of receiving it'. So duplicate paperwork was faxed and obviously this time worked like a charm.

    So now big question is what we're going to do with this windfall of sorts... have 'til 3/28/01 to decide :-) Am anxious to hear reports of 2001 Windstar, the 2000 model has its share of complaints (tho, thankfully, so far nothing as major as head gasket, transmission, etc!)

    Thanks to a fluke call to Ford (who was the first to mention that I was eligible due to $50 deductible payment towards head gasket repair) and also to this forum, now I can stress out over what to do next, ha!

  • We have a 96 Windstar and have looked at the possibility of trading for either Ford and GM products and all dealers seem reluctant to accept it as a trade, and then only at what appears to be a very low value. Invariably they express surprise that I have not had head gasket failure or transmission problems yet. I have 79K on the 3.8 liter and it runs great, burns no oil, and handles as well as the day I drove it off the lot. It does have the trailer towing package. I wonder if this might account for the lack of problems, since I have never towed a trailer, the additional cooling might help the longevity. Anyway, since my son's wife is expecting their second child, and he is in need of a larger vehicle, I was considering an even trade with him for his 95 Jetta GTI with 140K on it. The Jetta has a little rust, leaks a little oil, but I would hate to saddle him with a Windstar that is about to self-destruct. Even with the extra miles I believe the Jetta would be an easier vehicle to sell second hand. My question regards how many more trouble free miles I should expect from the Windstar drive train. VW's, Volvo's, Toyota's, and even Chevrolets have been know to record hundreds of thousands of trouble free miles. Has anyone out there ever gotten over 100K trouble free with the 3.8 in a Windstar??
  • Just this past weekend I found out that my '96 WS has a blown head gasket. I am only at 56K miles. I was told by the dealer that the '96 WS were not being covered under the new extended warranty. Anyone else out there with the same problems on this year?
  • xbzzxbzz Posts: 4
    My '95 WS, with ~60K miles, had a blown head gasket last week (10/11). The local Ford dealer said there is no recall nor warranty for that problem so I have to have it fix on my own
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    There is an extended warranty for 7 years of 100K miles on 95 Windstar headgaskets. Ask your dealer to check for any communication to him around February 25, 2000. That's when they announced the following (in part):

    "DEARBORN, Mich., Feb, 25, 2000 -- In the interest of customer satisfaction, Ford
    Motor Company is extending the warranty on the head gaskets on the 1994 Lincoln
    Continental, 1994-1995 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, and 1995 Ford Windstar with
    3.8L V-6 engines to 7 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. The original
    extension, issued in 1998, was for 5 year/60,000 miles for the Taurus, Sable and
    Windstar vehicles, and 6 years/75,000 miles on Continental."

    If it's damaged the engine enough to require a replacement, they will also buy back the van AND provide a $3,000 certificate towards the purchase of another vehicle.

    If that dealer insists that there's no program in place, call Ford's Customer Service number, or visit another Ford dealer. You shouldn't have to pay a nickle for this repair.
  • We might be purchasing my parents '99 Windstar. I have had it 3 days and it is in the dealer with a idle/air sensor that needs to be replaced. And after having some "slam shifting" I asked them to change the transmission fluid and do a diagnostics. It has 31K on it. The tran fluid had brass and metal shavings in it. So now they are going to check out the tran and possibly replace if needed. Has anyone else had any problems with the newer models? I have read all the HG problems and tran problems with the 96 - 98. Ford tells me that this '99 has a new designed engine and those problems have been worked out????
  • pat455pat455 Posts: 603
    You should also check out our Windstar topics over in the Vans conference. An easy way to find them is the key Windstar into the Topic Search feature on the left side of this page.

    Good luck.

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • This board has been very helpful. Time to post my 95 Windstar story. The van was bought on Halloween night in 1994 (unforseen foreshadowing I guess). Ford was the first out the door with the new design for minivans that they now all have. With a kid on the way and no reliable car (81 Escort wagon, 88 Tempo - Ok, so I'm a slow learner), it was time to buy.

    The van actually was great until this past year or so. Had to get new tires , plugs&wires & clean carbeurator (sp), new battery. All likely par for the course on a 5 year old vehicle with 55k on it.

    Then on the way back from a camping trip the van heated up and stared blowing white smoke out the rear - the infamous head gasket problem I was so blissfully unaware of. Next the call from the dealer (Crossroads Ford, Cary, NC). Engine shot - buyback for $6,650 + $3,000 CFC (Car Failure Coupon)or 6-8 weeks for a "new" engine. Fortunately, I read this board and did research on the reliability of the Windstar and decided that the $3,000 was not worth the chance of being in this position in another 5 years. I like to keep my vehicles for 15+ years.

    We went and got a Honda Odyssey LX at MSRP from Leith Honda. It will be here in about 2 weeks. My inlaws are partial to Fords and are in the market for a new car. We may end up buying a Ford car for them with the CFC (good for 6 months) and then selling it to them.

    BTW - Surely we can come up with something better for the CFC than "Customer Focus Certificate".
  • sancosanco Posts: 1
    Purchased the '95 WS used with 36,000 miles in Calif in 1996. Got the extended warranty to 80,000 miles. Head gasket blew at 87,000 miles in Oct 1998. Inquired at the dealer if there was a recall or recurring problem with head gaskets. Answer was "No, first I heard of one blowing".

    Being mechanically inclined, I replaced the gaskets at a cost of $109.00 and about 8 hours of my time. In April 1998 we got the recall notice on head gaskets from Ford. Talk about a cowboy spinning his spurs--**^#_). I wish I was still in Calif. instead of New Mexico, else I would be in jail for assaulting a service manager at Galpin

    In Oct 1999, the head gaskets blew again at 117,000 miles. Remembered that I still had the recall notice, I took the WS to Don Chalmers in Rio Rancho, NM. They agreed it was head gaskets and started to work on the car based on the recall. Got our own rental car. Didn't know about all the programs available and the dealer didn't say
    anything either.

    When the WS was picked up, the dealer said the recall had expired, but they would fix the paper work and not change us anything. A week later, the WS was jerking, hesitating and shifting erratically.
    Took it back to the dealer. Said it was the transmission speed sensor--replaced it at our cost. Two days later, same problems. Back to the dealer. This time they said the speed senor was
    ok, just a bad computer--lost it's grounds. $480 later, it's running again. Three weeks later, same sort of problems with the shifting. The dealer says its not the speed senor, the nor the computer, it's the speedometer drive gear. They wanted $1400 to fix it--said no and took the WS home and parked it.

    A few days later, the wife took 5 people to the airport (18 miles away) and on the way home, more noises from the engine. Sounds like it's in the head again, but not a blown head gasket. May be a broken valve.

    Thanks to the info on the list, I may just try to get Ford to take some action on a buy back or fix it again and dump it. We will be taking delivery on our PT Cruiser in 10 days or so. Always been a Ford fan but things are changing. My 1993 Ford F250 with 7.3 diesel and AOD transmission is also dead. Tranny blew two weeks ago. Same old thing
    with known Ford defects.

    Any chances on Ford buying back the WS with 118,543 on the ODO with bad engine and trans?
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    Unfortunately, No.
  • I have a 99 Ford Windstar with 75000 km (45000 miles) and its transmission has just gone. I know that 95-96 windstars had a history of transmission problems. Is this a common occurrence for 1999 years as well, or is mine an anomaly. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    But try looking at the NHTSA site and looking under "problems", then "consumer complaints". There is a searchable database there that should give you an idea of how common or rare a problem is.
  • Drove my brand new 95 WS off the lot and 12 months later had the HG go (about 17K...way before the recall). Took the dealer 4 attempts to figure out it was the HG. I drove a their expense... more the first year than I did my own car (and it was always 1/5 the size of the WS). Had numerous electrical problems i.e. interior lights that stayed on, door ajar buzzer going off all the time, check engine light, idiot lights, etc. It was as if the car was possessed. The tranny started slipping very occasionally...just hoped it would stop. Finally took it to the dealer for the check engine light and the tranny. For $75. they shut the light off and reported the tranny was fine. After 4 miles, the engine light came on and stayed on and the tranny continued to slip. This Sept. the HG went again and the tranny was slipping so much it was unsafe to drive. I asked about the CFC for the HG and was told by the dealer they could continue to replace the HG for 100K miles or 7 years, but another car was not an option unless my engine was blown. How many times can HG go before the engine suffers damage? Anyway, replaced the tranny at $2200. (Ford did eat $1000. of it because I raised such a fuss). All totaled this year I've spent 3000. out of pocket on this car. Essentially, my tranny was bad at around 50k miles...shouldn't it last a lot longer than that? I've driven cars that were 12 years old with 150K miles and didn't have as much go wrong as I had with this $26,000 POC. Story ends...I bailed this weekend and bought a 98 Mazda MPV All Sport. I signed the WS title over and never looked back. I'll never step into a FORD showroom again. I feel like I just was taken to the cleaners.
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    I got my check ($1,900) for the head gaskets in my 1993 Thunderbird. One year and two months, and one small claims case later. I won the case and today via certified mail, I got the settlement check.
  • kaabkaab Posts: 1
    Ditch57 and nickyrl both wrote about 99 windstar trans problems. I had a 99 windstar and after 2300 miles I had severe trans and starter problems. After many months and dozens of phone calls and letters I got my windstar replaced on the lemon law. It was not easy, I now have 2000 windstar and am not happy with it. I'm about to purchase a 2001 odyssey
  • HEELLPPP!!! I have a 96 Windstar with (luckily I now see) no engine trouble but a transmission that has been slipping for a while, and some of the wierd little electrical problems I've been reading about - passanger window that responds only when it feels like it, door ajar ringing warning whenever it likes and a speedometer that says I'm going 90 when I'm doing 65 (only sometimes other days the car is perfect) Obviously no one is going to recommend that I have it repaired (except for the dealer ofter a $138 diagnosis) are there any buyback or rebate programs anyone is aware of for 96's with bad transmissions?? Only 82,000 miles!!! Am I completely insane for thinking of getting another Windstar, or if my dreams come true an Expedition?? Thanks for any input.
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    I've pretty much decided to wholesale the Windstar to escape the pending tranny troubles. I might be able to get a bit more selling it myself, but I cannot sell it to an individual and live with myself. Since I really have no other need for a minivan, I plan on buying a used honda for about the same amount of money. Our original plan was to keep the Windstar for 10 years. It's obvious that's not going to happen. So, I'll get a used accord or civic 4 door sedan to last the next 5 years and avoid the expense of the Windstar.
  • Got the news from the mechanic this morning.

    It's 700 miles over the warranty. Ford suggestted
    I work through the dealer and get a Ford regional
    rep to approve the work. Hopefully this gets done

  • Congrats on the $1900 check!

    I was wondering how you arrived at $1900? Was that what you paid to get the HG replaced?

    I have a '92 Cougar and replaced the HG myself. In all I spent about $150 - $200 in parts and wasted 8 hours of my time.

    I'd love to get compensation from Ford, but if I'm only going to get $150... I'll wait to see if a class action gets started.

  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    $1900 was easy. When my gaskets blew, the repairs cost $1,970 at the local Ford dealer. The limit for Small Claims cases in my state is $1,800. I was awarded the maximum that I could get in this state, Ford paid court costs and interest. They must have just rounded everything up to the nearest hundred to make it easier.

    I'm no mechanic, so I am at the mercy of the dealership. They had to replace the head gaskets and repair some additional engine damage as my gaskets went at 70 mph. on the freeway. It wasn't pretty.

    IMHO, if there is a class action suit, I can only imagine that the best anyone could expect is a certificate for a discount on a new Ford. Not a bad deal if one is willing to buy another Ford. I think I'll stay away for a few years before I jump back in the Ford family, which is kind of a shame because I think the new T-bird is one cool car. Oh well, maybe later.
  • When they replaced our 95WS head gasket under the extended warranty(45k miles), they sent the heads to get them baked and re surfaced because they warp. The warp is more than the 3 or so thousanths that they can remove by surfacing, so they put them in a press and bake them. Then, they cool slowly so most of the warp is removed and can be surfaced out. Our dealer said they hadn't had any back using this process. It was in for about 3 days.
  • I have a 99 windstar, almost since new I have been experiencing harsh shift(Transmission kick) from 2nd in slow traffic,you would almost think that you got struck from behind,kind of embarrassing when you have friends with you.Does anyone know of a fix. I had it to the dealer atleast five times,they finally replaced the trans.the new one is worse than original.They updated the PCM still no fix.
  • We bought our Windstar with 30K miles. About 2weeks later the speedometer starting jumping around on us... then the passenger door auto-locks stopped working... then the alert for door ajar kept going off... then the lights would stay on in the car after all of the doors were closed (oh, by the way, that hasn't happened in a while?)... the transmission has always been rough, but it's getting worse and slipping... and the fumes are making me now think that we probably have a headgasket ready to go... Also, I've noticed the thermostat sometimes works and sometimes doesn't??? I thought we had the worst luck, but now I know we just didn't research enough. I say screw Ford. I also don't want to sell the car to any poor soul... what can we do?
  • I bought a 98 Windstar with 10,000 miles on it. I have put 40,000 miles on it and have not had one problem. WE love the ride, power, room and all the nice bells and whistles. Is the 98, 3.8 engine subject to the gasket problem ? Does the 98 have the transmission problem ?
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    95 owners loved the ride, power, room, etc. Just had a problem with the gasket thing. Head gasket problems appear to be resolved for 98's. DOn't now about the transmissions, but you can check the complaint database (problems and issues) at to get a fair idea of complaints.
  • sncsnc Posts: 1
    We are owners of a 98 Windstar - bought second-hand with 80000 kms on it. All was fine for one year - loved the ride, power, room - no complaints. Until the transmission starting slipping sporadically until it left me in the middle of an intersection on a two lane highway with no power to go anywhere. Believing it was past its warranty we took it to a transmission specialist. It could over 7 months and numerous returns to that shop (and others for diagnostics) to finally get it fixed. In addition, we have problems with open door warning lights, along with interior lights, when the weather is warm, door ajar warning bell which sporadically goes off - only stopping when driving over 30 kms/hr! and also we had to replace a seized motor in the rear windshield wiper.

    Now we are talking about getting rid of it before the transmission and another $2000+ are blown. We have owned several Fords without these problems previously - we are just unsure if we trust Ford now.

    Good Luck!
  • Just to add yet another story: bought 95WS in fall 96. Have spent $4500 in two transmissions and HG problems. We think the first tranny prob was an unnecessary repair as the car continued with all its shuddering/surging problems. We took it back a couple months later, they fixed the oxygen sensor for no charge (after $1400 for the tranny) and that seemed to fix. Then the HG went at 100,601 in Jan before the 'secret warranty' letter came with the mileage parameter at 100,00 to fix the HG. After this latest fiasco, $1900 for a rebuilt tranny, I decided we were dumping this car and got on here and read about everyone else's nightmare 95WS's. After reading alot on the internet,I have just begun the process of trying to get Ford to pay for at least the $1075 for the HG and also complain alot about the transmission probs. I am following the procedure outlined on

    I hope it works. We'd love to see some of our money back from this mess. In the meantime we're looking at Honda and Toyota vans. Honda is my first choice, but will have to buy a 99 to try to keep the cost down. Not too many out there so far. We're trying to get rid of this car before anything else goes. I also don't want to sell to an individual because it doesn't seem morally right, knowing what we know, even if fully disclosed.
This discussion has been closed.