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Ford Windstar



  • cavillercaviller Posts: 331
    All the recent model Windstar's I've seen at child carseat checkup events have not had switchable locking retractors (the kind you pull out all the way to lock). Instead, to meet government lockability requirements, they use a lightweight locking latchplate (the male end that plugs into the buckle). This should be adequate to secure most carseats and keep the lap portion of the belt tight. With some carseats, you may find this type of latchplate may need to be flipped 180 degrees to cinch tightly, or you may still need a locking clip.

    The Windstar, like all vehicles with locking latchplates, has an EMERGENCY locking retractor. This will lock the shoulder belt in a crash to secure an adult or child in a booster. While this gives passenger freedom to move, they will be at risk in a crash if they are not sitting properly. This type of retractor is also not any help if you own a booster that has a seatbelt guide that can cause the belt to "catch" and leaves too much slack around the child. Overall, not a big risk, and one that may require more supervision.

    I've not heard of a retrofit to put an switchable locking retractor in a vehicle that has an emergency locking retractor, though it may be possible.

    If you are still concerned, there are some restraints with higher weight limits that don't depend on a shoulder belt like a booster does. The Britax Laptop is rated to 65 pounds. The Britax SuperElite has a harness that goes to 80 pounds, though it must be tethered after 50 pounds. The Fisher Price Futura comes in a harness version up to 60 pounds. Simpson Racing will have a seat on the market soon with a harness rated to 60 pounds. The Fisher Price Futura (discontinued) and Britax Super Elite (new) may be hard to find, unfortunately.

    Though I also prefer vehicles with switchable locking retractors, they are not without issues. In some carseats, they can cause an excessive tilt because the shoulder belt portion has tension and may pull one side of the carseat up, depending on the path for the seatbelt. Overall, the Windstar is one of the most carseat friendly vehicles. Other manufacturers should follow Ford's lead on LATCH and tether implementations, too.
  • matycatmatycat Posts: 12
    Please check out message number 598 under Ford Windstar Problems for very important information that may benefit you.
  • 97 windstar has 35,000 mi. while braking at low speed i hear a grind in front brakes much like when you would need new brakes. mechanic put new struts and cut rotors brake pads were fine. still have the grind. i dont want to take it back to this mechanic because i think he is just guessing, but with low miles i doubt struts needed changing. may have to take it to the dealer. feed back please.
  • olear47olear47 Posts: 1
    I recently developed a problem with the van. The
    electronic instrument panel does not light up, the
    electric door locks do not work , and the cruise
    control is not functioning. I discovered a fuse
    (#19)in the van is probably the culprit. However,
    when I replace the fuse it blows out. Is anyone
    aware of any electrical recalls that may be causing this problem?
  • maw1982maw1982 Posts: 62

    I am looking at a '95 Windstar LX. It is fully loaded including leather, CD, and fog lamps. It has 75k miles and is being offerred at $5500.

    I know that there were many problems with this car. I owned a '93 Sable LS that blew a head gasket at 92k miles. I donated the car because I felt it was not worth fixing and I did not need a car at the time. I now need a car and want something like my sable but with the versatility of a minivan.

    I like this van because it has digital gauges and keyless entry, whch were two features I found very useful in my sable but are now impossible to find on newer cars:

    I want your feedback. I know only one person who has owned an LX van and she did not have a chance to experience major problem with it because it was totaled in feb. 2000.
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    The 95's seemed to be very troublesome, with engine, transmission and electrical problems. There is a reason why the van is so cheap. You might want to look elsewhere.
  • I have heard about Ford and their head gasket problem from the '90's. Is this still the case or have they "corrected" the problem w/ the later years? Thanks in advance.
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    The book is still open on that one. Certainly the matter has improved with the 1996 and newer vans, critics will argue that they have just not been in service long enough.

    I had purchased my 96 Windstar in 1997 and at that time there were already a large number of posts about problems with the 1995 engines. Problems arose very quickly, not long out of warrantee. Although there have been some complaints about problems with 96 and newer, there have certainly not been as many, nor as early a problem as with the 95's. In 1996 the engine power for the Windstar 3.8L engine was bumped from 150+ hp to 200 hp. At the same time there was a redesigned head gasket design. In 1997, the head gasket was redesigned yet again, the 1997 might be the most troublefree of all the Windstars.

    Other Ford cars that used the 3.8L engine didn't benefit from the modifications made to the Windstar engine and the head gaskets on those may continue to be problematic.
  • As always, it is nice to hear information from educated people willing to take time to answer questions. Thanks for the above advice. These posts sure come in handy. Thank you.
  • We sued Ford in small claims court because of head gasket / engine failure in our 96 Windstar. We were awarded $3600 in damages. A field service engineer from Ford testified (for Ford) at the trial that the 3.8L V6 engine in Windstars has NOT been changed. Ford did change the cooling system in 96 and later models. The reason that there are fewer postings of 96 and later models with head gasket failure is twofold:
    1)Ford sold fewer Windstars in 96 and later models (introduction of remodeled Chrysler van in 96 and later appearance of Sienna and Odyssey took away sales from Windstar). Their sales are down 30% this year. Secondly, most head gasket failures with Windstars occur between 50000 and 80000 miles. 96 and later models are increasingly accumulating this mileage level and the number of head gasket complaints with respect to 96 and later models is accordingly rising.
  • You're right. Many of us have done our best to convey this point to unsuspecting buyers. At this point, the only comment left to make to new purchasers of new and used Ford vehicles with 3.8 liter engines is: You have been informed, advised, and warned of past failures and continuing deficiencies. Good luck to you all.
  • Hello all,

    I have the oppurtunity to purchase a 1997 Windstar LX with 60K miles on it for $10,000. The vehicle has new tires and is loaded with almost all the goodies of this model year. The vehicle has a buzz coming from the instrument cluster when driving at high speeds and the passenger door weatherstriping is slightly torn, otherwise it drives great (tons of power!).

    Is this a good deal? Should I expect a price under $10000? Should I hold out for a Nissan Quest for the same price?
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    I saw a 1999 model with 50K miles the other day for $12,000 on a dealers lot. $10,000 for yours sounds high.
  • This vehicle is in the mileage area where these vehicles experience head gasket failure ($2000 to replace)/ engine failure ($4500 to replace & you'll only get a 1 yr 12000 warranty)/ transmission failure (also $2000 to replace). Windstars have 100 x the rate of the above failures compared to other manufacturers. The 3.8 V6 engine in the 97 is the SAME engine that is in the 94 & 95 Windstars. Ford had a buyback program to buy back these vehicles last year and they only offered $6600. Consider yourself forewarned.
  • Jerry, I've gone through court ordered (& Ford requested) arbitration to try to settle our suit in Small Claims Court without going to trial. Ford was just feeling us out to see if we had any real ammunition and refused to negotiate at all. Now we're just waiting for the trial date to be set, but I need your help.
    Ford's defence in this case will be that the blown head gasket and subsequent repair were in no way related to the complete engine blowing just 7 months later. These two repairs have cost ME over $6000, and I will not let Ford get away with looking the other way on this. There is no question that the blown head gasket forced the coolant into the cylinders which ultimately caused the engine to seize.
    My question is...Are you, or anyone else out there, aware of ANY documentation that would support this fact. The arbitrator stated that THIS would be the most important piece of evidence that I could present to the court. If you'd prefer to contact me directly, my e-mail address is
  • I'm not sure exactly what your attorney is looking for, but Ford's own notification letter sent to owners of vehicles covered by the warranty extension indicates that extensive engine damage/failure could occur from premature failure of head gaskets.

    The following websites also offer additional recent (June and September 2001) articles which confirm the above statement:

    Here are some excerpts from the above sites:

    "The notification, Ford Service Campaign 98M01, warned owners that "premature failure of head gaskets could cause engine failure."

    "Head-gasket repairs can cost $1,000. But if coolant damages the engine, it may need more serious work, which can cost $3,000 or more."

    "What is the head gasket? It seals the top of the engine, or cylinder head, to the bottom of the engine. When it leaks, it can allow coolant to escape. If the coolant leaks inside the engine, or the engine overheats badly, the engine can be destroyed.

    What are the symptoms of failure? Ford says the symptoms are persistent and worsening overheating; heavy, white smoke from the tailpipe; a flashing warning light for "low coolant;" and the constant loss of coolant. Some customers also reported that the heater stopped generating heat before the gasket failed."

    There is even an example of an engine failing within 10,000 miles after the head gaskets were replaced from the original damage:

    "...Then in August 1999 with roughly 77,000 miles on the odometer, a mechanic told her the head gasket was gone and soon she was going to need a new engine, which would be about $3,000.

    Edwards didn't have the money for a new engine, so the Sable sat for three months until a friend made some free, stopgap repairs including a new head gasket. That allowed her to drive it another 10,000 miles until May 2000 when the engine died ..."

    Also see the following site for a view of the Ford Service Campaign 98M01:

    I hope this helps.

  • Thanks a million Jerry. That info should really help us out. I'll keep you posted on how this all shakes out in court.
    ps - no lawyers, this is a Canadian Small Claims court...just me and my wife against Ford's lawyer in front of a judge.
    Thanks again
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    Thought you said no lawyers. Why does Ford get to have trained legal representation while you have to fend for yourself. Hiring an attorney may not be a bad idea.
  • Both parties are entitled to have legal representation, but it's a matter of economics. The most I could get, with or without a lawyer, would be $6000. (it was raised to $8000 less than a month after I filed...sorry about my luck) If I won the case and was awarded the full $6000, it wouldn't quite cover what this fiasco has cost me, WITHOUT including my own lawyer fees. If I loose, I would be out my $75 filing fees + court costs + Ford's legal fees (I think) + my own Lawyer's fees.
    As much as I want to show Ford that I won't allow them to screw me and just walk away... I have to be realistic about the financial losses that I've suffered so far, and how much more I could potentially incur before this is all over.
    thanks for your I said, I'll keep this forum posted on how this case shakes out
  • We are researching failure of 2000 SEL power sliding doors. The passenger side door kicks back open and will not latch closed. Ours has been in 5 times and still malfunctions on & off. Trying to get a buy back from the dealer or replacement. This is a safety issue. Just started the process. Looking for anyone who has been through this ordeal
  • PLEASE see post #713 in "Ford Windstar Problems" Thank-You!!
  • jj35jj35 Posts: 283
    I am looking for a replacement vehicle for my 2000 Toyota Sienna. One feature that I like in the Sienna is that I can remove or fold half of the back seat (can get extra cargo space and still seat five people). I cannot find anything on the Edmunds new car descriptions to see how the rear seat of the Windstar is configured. Can someone with a 2002 Windstar (or any year if the seats are the same) comment?
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    jj35: The rear seat of our 2001 can be moved to the middle row. We have the captain seats in the middle, but it will also works on the bench seat variety as well. Both the rear and middle row seat backs can be folded flat. I'm pretty sure this configuration hasn't changed for the 2002 model.
  • I own a 95 Windstar with 65,000 mi. I have had all the usual problems such as the speedometer, head gasket and finally the transmission. It seems the FORWARD CLUTCH PISTON went out in the tranny and the repair cost $ 1620.

    There was a TSB issued in 1994 (1 yr before I bought the car) that stated that the aluminum forward clutch pistons were failing and if they did they were to be replaced by a STEEL version. I will be in small claims court next week. My question is: Are there any of you windstar ownwers out there who have succesfully collected on this issue ? It is technically a breach of the warrenty of mechantabillity because they sold the car with a known latent defect.
  • This is my first post...but I have been reading all the others carefully. My 96 Windstar blew its engine on Dec. 1, with 78,000 miles on it. A year ago, I had to have the timing cover gasket replaced at great expense. Right now, without expensive diagnostics done on the blown engine, the engine failure can't be tied to the head gasket. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that the poor engine design others have been complaining about is the culprit here, too. I am just beginning my complaint process to Ford. Any suggestions will be welcome. PS. Coincidentally, I just met a woman in the town next to mine, whose 96 Windstar bit the dust the very same day mine did. Just how widespread is this issue with the 96's?
  • edo89edo89 Posts: 1
    I thought others might find my experience useful when deciding on buying a new van. We bought ours in May of 1998. We selected it over Chrysler and Sienna for several reasons and have not been disappointed, overall. We did have problems though. About 2 months after we bought it had a major transmission problem; tranny had to be replaced, of course, it was covered by warranty. Couple months later, another engine related problem occured and again it was fixed in 2 days by the dealer for free. Ever since we did not have any problem. My wife loves the van - it's powerful, quiet at cruising speeds, has comfortable driver seat, is roomy, 2 AC units for front and rear passengers etc. I know how most of you undecided feel since we did the same way - searching for news, postings etc. about every van on the market, test-driving them all, being concerned mostly with reliability. 3 and a half years and 40K miles later, we are still happy Windstar owners. The only thing I don't like is the sound of the engine during acceleration, but my wife who is the primary driver does not mind it at all. The things I like the most are power, nice and thick carpets, excellent visibility, superb brakes, and the best overhead console I have seen in any van or car.
  • We leased our second Windstar in June 2001.
    We have two problems the dealer has not addressed in the visits.

    1) The power sliding door is off track and will not close properly, 3 out of 5 attempts, the door reaches 3/4 the way shut and pops back open. The problem first occurred while on vacation @ Martha Vineyard parked in my driveway. The Dealer said someone hit it or a shopping cart hit it, I disagree. anyway I was told I have to bring to a body shop, can you believe it?

    2) The Driver side front speaker is blown, seems like a simple problem, not fixed yet.

    This is my third Ford, getting a bad taste. Mostly likely will not buy/lease @ Ford anytime soon. Anyone have any solutions for the Door?
  • After reading the posts here and everywhere, why would anyone even consider buying a Ford. As for me, no more Fords or other American cars. Its going to be Toyotas, Subarus, Hondas or Nissans from here on out.
  • I own a '97 Dodge Grand Caravan with 70,000 miles and am considering purchasing a 2001 Windstar SE with leather and quad seating. The manual side doors on the Windstar seem to require some muscle to close, as opposed to my Caravan which requires the push of a button and an easy slide. Does this bother anyone or am I out of shape?

    I was ready to purchase tomorow, but am having second thoughts due to my concern after reading the horror stories regarding blown engines and head gasket problems on older Windstars. The deal seem very good; x-plan, less $400. not to mention 0% for 60 months!

    I also have a 2001 Ford Escape XLT and LOVE IT!!
  • For the record, we purchased one of the last '98 Windstars made in June of 1998. Thought it would be okay because supposedly they had addressed he head gasket and transmission problems. However, right on queue at 3 and a half years and 55,000 miles, it now has significant coolant losses. We also had the standard problems of tie rods and radio replaced under warranty. Also the dealer went through the motions of replacing multiple sending units and gas tanks in a wasted effort to make the fuel gauge read accurately.

    So it remains the case that Ford is continuing to sell the 3.8 L engine when they know that it does not last much longer than a set of tires.
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