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



  • I see you are looking at a Honda but considering a 99. Good luck finding one. They are incredibly popular right now. If it's your aim to keep cost down, consider the Mazda MPV. As of 2000, the MPV is very similar to (almost looks like a clone of) the Odyssey and it's a good bit cheaper. It is slightly smaller, but it's several thousand cheaper and availability is much better. Check out the Edmunds review in the new van section.
  • vatnvatn Posts: 4
    My 98 windstar has the brake light on the dash light up when the parking brake is NOT on, no pattern to th e nuisance any suggestions?
  • Check the Brake Fluid!
  • Here's the deal. I must say I was impressed with the Windstar's "5 Star" safety rating, especially after being hit in a '92 Nissan P/U and that vehicle was totalled. However, after driving my Windstar for a little over a year there was sever damage to the transmission. We did not purchase a warranty with this vehicle, there seemed to be no need. It was clean and all seemed to be going well. I purchased it in 1999, and after just two to four weeks of driving it the right front brake caliper fell off! I really started thinking then. Here I had just given up almost 20K and I'm thinking I got screwed! We started to feel a slight pulling to the left and a grabbing feeling upon acceleration. I informed the dealership about this a few times while it was still under the 36k miles and that warranty was valid. Sun machines were hooked up, services pulled and yet again no problems found. Just three days agao, it more or less died. The engine stalled and luckily it re started. rather than take it back to the dealer, we took it to a transmission specialist and told him of our troubles, No Warranty, and at 56K miles the van is still new and very clean. The transmission was pulled and lo and behold, the pan filled with metal and the torque converter shot! $1733.00 later we are driving it today! I am not pleased at all with any of this and neither is My family.
    What I am wondering is this; Are there many others out there who find themselves in this position with their Windstars? If so, what can be one about this situation. If in fact there was a defect with the original part; i.e. the torque converter, how can we the consumers hold Ford accountable for reimbursement of the dollars spent.
    People, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
  • We currently own a 1996 Windstar and have had several problems with it. Starting with the door locks mysteriously locking and unlocking themselves. This was a short in the hatch that was repaired. Next came the replacement of three of the four tie rods and the sub-frame on the drivers side. The PCV valve does not fit correctly and keeps slipping out causing the "check engine" light to come on. Now we have a head gasket problem. My question is, other then over-heating, what can cause the head gaskets to go? My vehicle has never experienced an over heating condition and still we have a gasket problem. If anyone has heard of other 1996 HeadGasket failures please let us know. It would appear that Ford will not take responsibility until there are substantial number of complaints lodge against the. For example the Firestone tire recall. We need media exposure.
  • I have a 1995 windstar with 82000 miles. Webought it in 1997 with 12975 miles. While under warenty there was 4 o2 sensors,3 radios,front struts,powersteering rack,door sensor,sensor on tramsmission, and 3 speedometers replacen. At present the door sensor is bad. We just made an appointment to have headgasket recall done. The symptons are at cold startup a slight miss for a few seconds and antifreze smell in exhaust.Ford should rethink the windstar
  • To the post concerning brake lights. I had a similar problem and it turned out that I needed the front brakes replaced. At 30,000 miles the emergency brake light would light up. I replaced the front brakes and problem is gone
  • I am eligible for "X Plan " pricing on new fords.Just got rid of an '88 Taurus that had 170k on it and never had any major problems. Thinking of buying a '00 or '01 Windstar. All the HG and tranny posts are scaring the daylights out of me. Have the engine or trann been changed for the '00 or '01 models. Or is it the same as the late 90's models I'm reading about?
  • pat455pat455 Posts: 603
    Welcome to Town Hall!

    I suggest you check out the other topics on this vehicle throughout Town Hall by keying Windstar into the Topic Search feature on the left side of the page.

    Good luck.

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • I have a 96 Windstar with 80K, and I won't bore you with the gory details. But on one of my many trips to the dealer for a myriad of electrical problems, they announced I had a leaky head gasket. Said one was leaking, but you better replace both, a $900 "job". After going into a tirade about my ownership experience, the service manager agreed to talk to the Service Rep. They came back a half hour later with an agreement to cover it as if I bought an extended warranty, i.e., everything covered except a $50 deductible. So far its has worked well.

    I felt they backed it because my 96 was actually a very early model year unit (produced in Sept. 95, sold in Nov. 95). I would dearly love to dump the thing, but following this experience, I bought an extended warranty from Allstate for $900, and damned if the thing hasn't behaved itself, except for a water pump and some minor stuff for the last year.

    But if anyone says they won't cover a 96, they will - just yell loud enough, and make sure there are other customers in the general vicinity....
  • To tjwcinti - my Windstar never overheated when my gasket failed. I had noticed it losing coolant, although very gradually, not enough to even cause an odor. Mine were replaced by Ford at 56K miles with a $50 deductible - at that point I did not have an extended warranty. I think another reason they did it is I own two Fords (other is a Taurus - I'm a masochist), and I've owned the Windstar since new.

    I can relate to you and others with electrical problems, particularly door locks. All the actuators have been replaced. I've been locked out with the engine running twice. Dealer says he can't fix. So any time I get out with the engine running, I roll down the window. My Windstar's name is "Christine"......

    8/20/98 Purchased brand new LX
    11/17/98 Returned to dealer for very harsh shifting in stop and go driving. Report said was normal operation!
    12/8/98 Took to a dealer in Fl. for harsh shifting. Was terrible on I95 in merging traffic of constructions zones or accidents. Service technician went with me for drive and acknowledged what I complained about but stated that there is nothing that can be done and that it will not harm the transmission!
    4/29/99 Returned to Pa dealer, shifting problem much worse. (7248 miles on it). They installed a piston seal, piston plate and new fluid! This did improve it a little bit but still did not seem normal to me!
    4/29/99 Returned PA dealer again . Service tech went with me. He acknowledged my complaint of hard shifting (clunking) in slow traffic and stated that it is as good as it is going to get! He also stated there is an extended warranty for this problem and advised to bring it in if it got any worse. He stated it will not harm the transmission
    10/6/99 Returned to selling dealer, because shifting problem appeared to be growing worse each day. Tech went with me again for a drive. Before he went with me though he took it into garage and I saw he had the hood up. Asked him what he did and he said it was low on transmission fluid. He said he put in a whole quart. I told him i did not understand why it would be low because I have had no sign of any leak on garage floor. He said the tech who worked on it in April most likely failed to fill it completly! He said it should not have caused any problem. During the drive with me I could not dublicate the rough shifting and he stated that it may have been due to low transmission fluid!!
    6/14/00 Again back at PA dealer for rough shifting. This time they put in some sensor assy, pump and control etc. Seemed to improve shifting some but still not normal to me!!
    11/13/00 Again back at PA dealer. During trip to NJ transmission began to slip from a dead stop. Sometimes could hardly get away from lights. Engine revved but we did not get anywhere till it shifted into 2nd. After 2 days I called service manager and asked what is going on with our Van he stated they drove it but could not tell anything was wrong! Told him that I noticed that when it was cold (engine) it did not do it. He said they would drive it again. Another 2 days later I called and asked service manager what is current status. He said they did discover the problem I complained about and they needed to put it on the computer!
    Next day I stopped at dealer and asked what is the status. He (service manager) said they ordered a new transmission. He said will be about 1 day job to install it when it comes in. Asked when it will be in, he called the parts man and he said should be in Monday Nov, 27th. GRRRRRRRRRRRR Will be 2 weeks on the 27th they have had the van. I did finally get a rental (under the warranty) on 11/22/00. Got tired of fighting with wife for use of other wheels. We do like the van except for this transmission problem. However I would never recommend anyone to buy a windstar, nor will we replace it with one at such time we get another vehecle. Van currently has 21,400 miles on it! The new trans will have a 24 month/24,000 mile, so providing there are no new problems we will probably keep it another 2 years!
  • The transmission went out a week ago when our 98 Windstar barely was over 50K. There was a bump every once and a while when the trans shifted but no other problems until it totally failed. Luckily we had an extended warranty so we're not going to be out much for the overhaul (dictated by the warranty carrier not the dealership). They also found that our power steering pump was going out. We had heard an occasional noise under the hood during a turn but had not been able to track it down.

    We bought the van last year with 24K on it. It's been great except for the gas mileage and that reall stinks.

    This was my first purchase of a Ford product and will probably be my last. My friend that talked me into getting a Windstar is now scared of his and may dump it.

    We had a 93 Chrysler minivan that was a nightmare. I finally gave up last year trying to get mileage out of it for all of the transmission overhauls, air conditioning problems and other misc. problems we spent big bucks on. I fear I may be heading down the same road again. We still have about 1 1/2 years of warranty left, so I'll see what happens.
  • I've got a `99 Windstar SE and I've been to the dealer 13 times. After the 12th my wife was ready to sell, but I wasn't. But then the transmission self destructed (sitting motionless at a traffic light, no less)with merely 25,000 miles on the car. Now I'm ready. (Too bad she didn't listen to me when I wanted to get the Honda or the Toyota. Backup warners and in-dash temperature readouts always seem to prevail over reliablity on day 1.) I know others who haven't had problems, but why play russian roulette?
  • We have a 2000 Winstar, with 9,000 miles, that is presently having the engine replace. We bought this piece of junk at KOON'S STERLING FORD, in Sterling VA. We have been treated so poorly that I strongly recommend anyone thinking of making a purchase through them, to think again and go elsewhere. If anyone wants all the depressing details, please feel free to email me
  • Hope someone knows: was there an actual recall on the 3.0 transmission? I replaced mine a few years ago and would like to know. BTW, the repairs on this car havae been horrible-you name it, it's been replaced!
  • How do I tell if the dealership really replaced my engine? My engine died over 2 weeks ago. They told me my engine was not repairable and Tuesday told me that I would be without my van for another few weeks, since the engines are on backorder. Needless to say I expressed my dissatisfaction very vehemently. Today, Thursday, they called to say my van was ready to be picked up. How do I know they really replaced my engine and didn't do some patch job?
  • EFPATEFPAT Posts: 3
    Can anyone answer the following questions?

    1. Is Ford still replacing head gaskets/engines on 1995 3.8 Windstars?

    2. Are they still offering buybacks and $4k extra rebate if you buy another?

    If anyone has done this in the last month or two, it would be great to hear your story.

  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    You'll find some information here, for both the US and Canada:
  • 1 have a dead 1995 Wind star with 125000 miles. Over heated and died. Dealer replaced head gaskets. Started and ran a few books and it still over heated. Suspects cracked heads. suggest new engine to the tune of $3300 with labor.
    How many miles does the ford real/buy back go for these engines, 100,000? Is worth sticking this kind of money into this? I only paid $5000 for the van last year. Does this an have a history of tranny problems too? Thanks.
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    Buyback(which I believe has expired) was 100,000 miles. And yes, the 95 Windstar has a history of tranny problems. IMHO, it isn't worth sinking another $3,300. There's a reason you were able to buy a 4 year old van for $5K.
  • Well, I finally dumped my 95 Windstar which I have had since new. I would advise anyone not to touch these things. I replaced my transmission two and a half years ago when the car was four years old and had 30,000 miles on it. A year ago with 40,000 miles on it, my head gaskets leaked and had to be replaced. four weeks after that, I needed a new engine. Through all of this, Ford said they could not do anything and bottom line was no one really cared. Finally when the extended warranty cam out early this year, I felt vindication end eventually got my money back for the gaskets and engine. the people at the customer care center are useless trained robots who just say there is nothing Ford can do at this time. When you ask for a manager, there is never anyone around and no one ever calls you back. Two weeks ago with 20,000 miles on the 2nd transmission they tell me I need another new one. When my wife went ballistic all they could say was "things break". Even when I tried to sell it, the first questions anyone asks is hows the engine and transmission.
    Well, its gone now and we just got ourselves a Toyota Sienna, even though the current windstar was a better deal.
    What amazes me is knowing how expensive it is to get a new customer, that Ford would willingly ignore all its existing customers. I will not touch another Ford ever, because our whole experience goes beyond the actaul vehicle, it goes to the whole arrogant non customer focused attitude of the organization from the dealership to the HQ.
  • I also have a 1996 windstar. What's the track record with these? It has 108,000 miles. No engine or tranny problems yet. Some misc door lock and power window problems though. Thanks.
  • I just paid $1500 for a head gasket. I have 78,000 miles & my extended warranty ran out at 75,000. My Ford dealer did not detect the problem,
    a Lincoln, Mercury dealer did. Has anyone else had problems with their gasket?? I called the Ford 1800 # & they denied any financial assistance
  • I had a 95 3.8 Winstar. If you had headgaskets done I would suggest selling the vehicle. Usually by the time the gasket problem is discovered and "fixed" the engine has suffered a lot of internal wear from the coolant being in the oil. My 95 had the motor fail at 65000 miles approximatly 1 year and 10,000 miles after the headgaskets were replaced.
  • fclspatfclspat Posts: 61
    It's been a while since I posted... but to sum up my experience my wife is the original owner of a 1992 Cougar with the 3.8. We've have no problems what so ever with the car until the summer of 2000 when the headgasket blew (98000 miles). After much debate, my uncle (a retired GM mechanic) and I replaced the head gasket (8 hours labor and $130 in parts).

    The car was never quite the same. The temperature gauge was all over the place, the check engine light came on all the time, etc.

    We've debated whether to just get rid of the Cougar (or donate it) as it was just too unreliable. We'll, we've been put out of our misery as a NY State Trooper just totaled the car while it was legally parked (he tried to avoid a double parked car and hit the Cougar). Once the insurance is settled I may end up with $3000. Which is about $2500 more than I could've sold the heap of trash for!
  • I bought a 98 Windstar Limited from an Acura dealership on January 31, on February 2 the transmission would not shift. But, of course wouldn't duplicate the next day for technicians. The van has only 26,200 miles on it and is in factory warranty until Nov. 6, 2001 (or 36,000 miles of course). I'm curious to know if they've fixed the problems in the old transmissions and if a new transmission would do the trick. Any comments?
  • 6 months ago I bought a'95 Windstar. I immediately experienced slipping of the trans.I had to go thru 3 people only to find out the vehicle had not even been prepped before I drove it off the lot. I was told I needed a new trans. I was very upset (to say the least) and the manager said he would take care of the problem. However rather than charge me the normal $100 fee for warranty work they charged me $200 because I had gone over the initial 1000 miles the warranty covered and I did not buy the extended. Now (7000 miles later) I am smelling a fluid burning and have taken it back only for them to tell me there is no leak and the trans is functioning properly. Now that I have read the dead Ford stories concerning head gaskets I will have that checked out(by my own mechanic). Thanks everyone
  • Yes, we too stupidly bought a new 1995 Windstar LX. In addition to various, annoying electrical glitches, at 37k the head gasket blew. Ford fixed and no major problems for the next 45k miles (yes, after the car was paid for and the warranty expired). Then at 82k miles, blew head gasket again. Under the extended head gasket replacement plan, Ford repaired. Of course, we never were told of the "secret" warranty offering $$ in lieu of repair. One month before, we bought a 2000 E150 conversion van - even though I swore the WS was my first, and last, Ford. Anyway, within a week of picking up the "repaired" Windstar, the oil pressure light came on. Seems it needed a new short block. Again, Ford paid for it. Ever since the new short block, the car stalls out frequently when leaving a light/stop. The local Ford dealer claimed it was various things, which cost us about $1100 over 3 different service trips for the same problem. Guess what? It still stalls out and they refuse to buy the car outright and do not seem interested in fixing the stalling problem! Guess the local Service staff hasn't read the corporate mission statement from their franchise's web site!!

    Anyway, cannot feel right about selling to some unsuspecting buyer, so we'll take what we can get in trade on a Toyota Sienna. Hope the E150 fairs better.

    Finally, if you're in the market for a used mini-van, avoid the 3.8L Ford Windstar at all costs!!
This discussion has been closed.