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Ford Windstar



  • I have been reading through the Windstar Problems. The Head gasket leaking and transmission breaking.

    I have questions as to why. I'm considering buying a Windstar. The GM's, VW and Japanese vans don't fit my needs and I've read and had experience with the Chryslers and they don't appeal to me at all. So here I'm left with the Windstar.


    1. Is the head gasket failure because the gaskets are sub-standard?
    2. Is it that the motor has too much power for that size motor (3.8)?
    3. Is the Van too heavy for the motor?
    4. Does the antifreeze have anything to do with the eating a way the gasket?

    I'm planning on installing a pre-lube system for the motor and using synthetic oil. Do you think this would help the head gasket problem?


    I see that ford has identified a few transmission hardware problems.
    1. Would synthetic trans fluid and a trans cooler help with these transmission problems?

    I know if you talk to a dealer they'll try to make a dead mule sound like a new Mercedes so you can't trust them. So does any one know whom I can email about the Windstar problems, like an email address to a Ford Company rep.?
  • haulthault Columbus OhioPosts: 126
    Long story short. I had a 95 and now have a 2000 Windstar. Only own a Windstar if you have it under warranty, factory or extended.
  • Mine lasted till 135k and then it was totaled by a red light runner. The trans was good to the last day. I did have the head gasket problem and had to replace the speedometer. However, from about 70K on it was routine maintance, of which I am a fanatic. On the transmission. I had the power flush done each 60K and that might be why I never had a problem. Just a guess.
    I now have a 99 SE. Good power, quad seats. It is a little loser than the 95 in the ride department and I think at about 30K I will put some after market shocks on it along with a heavier sway bar. We like it. It can hold 4 retired racing greyhounds with room for two more if need be.
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    glenn41: The head gasket failures were related to a bad selection in the gasket material, the head and block are different material and expand at different rates causing a weakening in the gasket. The antifreeze doesn't eat the gasket, though once the gasket is shot it ruins the bearings thus causing the motor to need replacement. In later years it appears they have fixed the problem and the motors have had more power, so its not power related.

    I don't think synthetic transmission fluid would have fixed the earlier transmission problems, those were caused by a part that would crack. There seems to be a lot of complaints on the newer windstars with harsh shifting in lower gears.

    We have had a 95 that blew the gasket, a 99 with the harsh shifting and persistent pinging problems and now a 2000 that had a clunking in the transmission at various speeds. They replaced the torque converter on that one. Of the 3 the 2000 has been the best. No pinging and the transmission seems better though not perfect. I don't think Ford knows how to build a decent transmission.

    I wouldn't go beyond the 3yr/36k mile factory warranty without getting an extended warranty. The torque converter replacement was right at 36k miles.
  • mjsumjsu Posts: 2
    I had a 95 Windstar. It lived at the dealership with numerous electrical problems and recalls. It blew head gaskets at 35,000 miles and 77,000 miles, which Ford stood behind eventually ( the second occasion destroyed the engine and a factory rebuilt was provided). The liquid filled motor mounts were shot at 77,000 and cost about $500 to replace. Fortunately I had an aftermarket policy from an excellent company which picked up the cost, minus a $25 deductible. Unfortunately, my Ford dealership in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angels lost my car the day all the repairs were completed. The vehicle had been inspected and I was told it was in top mechanical condition, with no other problems. The dealership was in the habit of parking cars with keys inside and leaving the lot entrance unattended. It was stolen, recovered six weeks and almost 2,000 miles later, with the interior stripped and over $13,000 damage. The interior panels, seats, radio, tow bar, never used Michelin spare tire and jack were stolen. The radio wiring harness was cut, the body damaged and the transmission severely damaged. Negligence was clear in this matter. After telling me what needed to be done to properly repair my vehicle, my Ford dealer turned the matter over to their insurance company, which screwed me - beware if you deal with "F" Insurance. I was underpaid the loss sustained after a year long dispute and orignally being low balled. The dealership was totally indifferent. They would not repair my vehicle because their insurance company refused to pay the cost. I attempted to talk to the owner, but got no closer than his son, who felt no responsibility for their blunder. I have a new vista on how this dealership treats its customers. I eventually disposed of the defective van for salvage cost plus the pittance provided by the scum insurance company. I called Ford Motor Company, but they said they have no control over what their dealers do. Does this sound like the kind of company you want to deal with? I am now looking for a late model Toyota Sienna. I have had it with Ford.
  • wholiganwholigan Posts: 148
    As we all know, it is worth more as an insurance reimbursement than anywhere else!

    BTW - you have a very clear case of negligence (seeing that the van was stolen from the Ford Dealership with the keys left in the vehicle by their employee) on your hands. If you did not recover the blue book value of your van, I think it is well worth the small claims $50 filing fee...
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  • Could you tell me how you were able to determine that it was the forward clutch piston? We have what sounds like the same trouble. Did you have to tear down the transmission? What was the cost and who did you have do it?
  • excelent3excelent3 Posts: 197
    Purchased Aug of 2000. Has had 3 recalls since. Poorest paint job I have ever seen. We are Fords attempt to "win us back" as a valued customer. Our '95 Taurus LX wagon blew two headgaskets. Ford purchased it back for $6300 + $3000 coupon and 0.9% interest for 5 years. It was a good deal at the time. Took delivery on the Windstar, first thing I noticed was all the small particles of hair and dirt in the paint. Left year quater panel had a piece as big as a pencil eraser! They offered to paint it. I said I did'nt want it. They said I would lose the 0.9% rate if I didn't purchase by following Monday. They put us in a corner, found out later I could have got the rate on a different unit, because they could'nt deliver a satisfactory product. It goes on further with problems with service dept. Never, EVER, will I buy a Ford again. Purchased a new Kia Sedona minivan totally loaded for $22,995 last comparison...great van...great warranty for the money and a first rate paint job!
  • Paula,

    When I took my windstar in to the dealer I allready suspected the forward clutch piston based on what I had read. The dealer confirmed it was the piston when they called me back. The repair was $ 1620. They did replace the aluminum version with the steel part. I asked them for the part they took out and it is aluminum.

    I have sued the dealer under the Michigan consumer protection Act. By issuing a TSB in 1994 Ford in effect admitted they knew the part was defective. In dealing with your Dealership you can get all the info you need from the following site. It just has a ton of history, pictures, small claims court info, ect.

    Maybe you can get Ford to chip in and stay out of court. Good luck

  • Robert,

    Not to be stupid, but again I ask, HOW were they able to tell it was the forward clutch piston? Did they infact tear the transmission down? The dealer found metal shavings in the burnt transmission fluid. I wish now that we had gotten an answer from them about what the shaving were. Feel free to answer at my e-mail address.
  • Bloemie: I once owned a '95 Windstar for two very painful and expensive years. Bomb of a van, Bomb of a car company! My Windstar needed the transmission overhaul because of the cracked forward shift piston. The classic signs of failure is that the vehicle fails to go into gear after you come to a complete stop. Transmission fluid is supposed to build pressure behind the piston causing the piston to move forward and shift the transmission back into gear. The crack which occurs in the aluminum pistons allows the transmission fluid to leak thru and it never develops enough force to shift into gear. So, you roll to a stop (like at a traffic signal) and sit there waiting for this harsh thumping action (feels like you are gently rear ended). Sometimes, you can get it to go into gear by downshifting manually to 1st gear. Eventually though, the beast will leave you stuck in traffic. The ford dealerships I dealt with played "Possum" with me. I had to contact a good independent transmission shop that soon as I told him what I had, and what it was doing, he knew exactly what the problem was (it took all of 30 seconds for him to figure out the problem). This transmission has been produced by ford since the 1985 Taurus's and this is a classic problem of the AXOD transmission.

    All I can recommend is unload the beast soon as you can. I sucked it up and took a beating cost wise, but picked up a 2000 Chevy Venture. It has 26,000 miles on it now and is a Great van, good mileage (25 -26 mpg), good performance, good seating (8 passenger-comfortable) and drives like the Oldsmobiles I've always driven for 250 K miles. It will be a cold day in hell before I ever go back to another Ford. I'm pleased to see them hit hard times now. But, as W.C. Fields said " A sucker is born every day". Based on the windstar experience, it's a few more then one sucker per day! Good Luck
  • Hi, I am here because of a problem with our 2001 Windstar. We traded off our 95 Windstar on the 2001. It seems we have had problems since day 1.
    Ford has not fixed the issues we experienced with the 95. This week we took it to the bank and signed it over to them. We don't need more Ford headaches.
  • I have had my 2000 Winstar SEL for over two years now. This vehicle has been the best vehicle I have ever owned. In actual fact I have not had one problem with it. In my line of work I meet with many different people each day and we often discuss vehicles. From my conversations it appears that Ford has better quality in their manufacturing of the SEL than the cheaper models. ONe client of mine bought two Winstars, one was for his business and the other was a top of the line SEL. My client told me that his SEL was perfect but the cheaper model Winstar he uses in his business is junk. I have also noticed the same thing with the chrysler minivans. My clients that drive the Town & Country have a wonderful expereince owning their minivan. But, the ones who buy the cheaper models have trouble. One could probably conclude that auto manufactuers put more quality in their higher margin vehicles, because they want to ensure their customer comes back. On their lower priced and lower margin vehicles their view of their customer is much different.
  • This may very well be true. We did not have $40,000 to spend on the van. At $30,000. we figured it should have some quality to it.
    The trans shifted the same as our 95 and we were told by a Ford man that the trans in the 95 needed to be replaced.We had only 7000 km on the van, the thing should have been perfect !
  • The Windstar's brochure states the third seat can be moved up to the second row's area. Can a second row's captain seats go in the third row area? (reversed--but would still allow seating for 7). Would ideally like captain seats in the second row but would like the option of putting a toddler in the middle seat on a bench behind the driver (for safety)and still hold 7. Thanks in advance.
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    autolover3: The captains seats cannot go in the third row. There are only 2 sets of slots in the back row for the bench seat. The spacing in the middle row allows the bench to be positioned in the middle. The captains seats have arm rests on both sides, maybe that will give you the added safety you need.
  • Thanks, bdemas. Still can't decide between second row captains or bench (with a toddler). Captains would be nicer in the long run.
  • Posting this here as well as the "Windstar Problems" board (which hopefully will provide different perspectives).

    The Windstar has been around for a long time. I read a lot about problems but seems mostly in "pre-2000 models" (totally unscientific seat-of-the-pants guestimate). Is this true? If so, is it just that the newer models haven't been driven as much yet?
  • We had a 2001 Windstar with less than 7000 km on it. It was nothing but a problem from day 1. Just last week we told the bank to come and get it. We had enough problems with Ford. After paying just over $30,000. for it and trading in our problematic 95 Windstar, we were not about to do it again.
  • Thanks candlemaker. Sounds like it was a dud. I've been through a similar, but not quite as painful experience with another manufacturer's car.

    Question is: are these duds as common in the recent models compared with the older ones? This may be impossible to say for sure, but maybe someone has some insight. Certainly, reading the "Problems" boards here makes me want to buy a skateboard! ;)
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    How can you tell the bank to come and get it? Did they take it off your hands and give you the remaining balance of your loan? Do they in turn force to manufacturer to take it back?
  • I don't know how the bank will dispose of it. We only made 3 payments on it and told the bank it was a lemon and we would no longer pay for it. It is called voluntary surrender.We don't have to pay the balance. When we bought the 2001, we traded our 95 junkstar. We owed 10,000 on it (95)since we just bought it. We feel we did the best thing getting out of it before all the headaches we had with the 95 drive us to our grave. !
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    Wow, that's awesome. That's lemon law on another level. Will that have any affect on your credit rating? Very interesting!
  • Yes it will but only for about 6 years. It would have taken that long to pay the loan off and we would have had all the headaches to boot! We figure on getting a cheap used car and save up for whatever we decide to buy. I could not fathom paying $639.02 a month for 6 years for that junk !
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Seems a bit extreme, but whatever works. I bet you could put a letter in your credit file with the big 3 credit companies to explain your actions, and that may help your "Beacon" score.

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  • Does the 2002 Windstar have this? In case I'm using the wrong term: you can't put the van out of Park without first stepping on the brake.

  • Thanks to those who responded. We are just glad to be rid of the van and the debt.
  • tlahayetlahaye Posts: 81
    This is our third Windstar. Its a Limited, and drives like a dream. Its smooth, no wind noise, no road noise, etc.

    It's the third one we've purchased the ext. warranty on. They've been expensive, as most repairs were done in first 36K.

    Yeah, the regular stuff you see on the problems board----transmission replaced on the 98, steering rack replaced, tie rod ends, etc. These problems are a hassle, but it seems all vehicles have them. My wife drives the Windstars, and loves them, so we buy more.

    Someone here observed that they've "cut costs" on the floor mats. Boy is that ever true---! The 95 essentially had two layers of carpet. The 98's mats were skimpy, and the rear was vinyl (I missed the two-way visors too). The mats on our 01 Limited are a joke. Dealer tells us there is no rear (cargo area) mat for the 01's, even in the Limited. Is this true?
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    I know what you mean about the carpets. I had a 95GL that was totaled last year at 135K and picked up a 99SE. The carpet of the 95 was so much nicer than the 99. As to routine problem I agree. Every board here has transmission, steering and other problems in each one.
  • gandalf17gandalf17 Posts: 348
    Prices are in Canadian Dollars. I may have an opportunity to purchase.





    APPROX. 91,000 KM
    3.8L 6 CYL ENGINE
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