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Ford Windstar Problems

Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
edited March 2014 in Ford
Please continue discussing and posting your
Windstar troubles here.


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Ford Windstar Problems


  • koolerbkoolerb Posts: 10
    Does the noise happen right after you start the car and last about seven or eight seconds? I had the same noise. You need to make sure the defroster and the air conditioner are turned off before you start the car. The grinding noise is the air conditioning clutch trying to engauge.
  • We owed 11900 on the 96 Windstar. The dealer said the van was only worth 8100 so they took our 1k down and the 2k rebate and used it towards the negative equity. The van had 80k and was in good condition other than the coolant leaks. My independant mechanic quoted 2400 to fix the head gasket and timing cover coolant leak.
  • We traded in our 95 Windstar at just under 49K miles back in September '99 for $8100. Bought a Toyota Sienna. I think the word was out about the Windstar among the industry people at that time, but not the general public. When we went looking for vans, several salespeople kind of smirked under their breath when we said we had a 95 Windstar to trade. Our Toyota dealer gave us the best quote at the time, Honda would not even commit to a number. Now it seems the price is dropping since the news reports from Detroit hit the airwaves. It was in good condition, with just some scratches on the paint from the kids. The back hatch lock did not work, but I don't know if they noticed that. Coolant was leaking again (this with the "new" engine after the old one blew on vacation), and I was so glad to get out of that car, you cannot imagine.
  • al_dinal_din Posts: 1
    My family and I are thinking of buying a WS. Are the years after 95/96 having the same problems w/ the 3.8L or coolant leaks? I can definitely understand how frustrating recurring problems with vehicles can be - I don't need another! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  • arthur3arthur3 Posts: 3
    I have a '99 SEL with approx 8K miles. The best looking of all vans, but coming from a '96 Caravan, this has been a worse experience. I have read all of the postings - my transmission problems are similar with one added twist - when moving along at about 10-20 miles an hour, then stepping on the gas pedal to go faster, the engine revs loudly but doesn't go any faster - for about 5-15 seconds - then all of the sudden it shoots out with a violent shake.

    You can imagine how dangerous this is when getting on the highway and trying to accelerate. It's been in for fixing twice, the dealer's noticed it too and said that it was "just the way the engine is built" - ridiculous.... anyone else experiencing this?

    Also - How long, hard is the process for a Ford Buyback (from the resolution board)?
  • WE filed with the DSB on Dec. 6,1999- we had our case heard Feb. 24,2000 and accepted their decision on March 6, 2000- the buyback was supposed to be complete in 30 days. It is still not done with no end in sight. The Ford DSB resolution specialist will not return our calls and the dealer keeps passing the paperwork around the place because no one seems to know how to do it. The Board itself is very fair- but once again we are faced with the nightmare of dealing with Ford and the dealership and they just do not care about the customer. So we are still driving an unsafe vehicle and making payments on it while Ford takes its own sweet time- another reason we won't be buying another Ford.
  • HCLEMOHCLEMO Posts: 19
    Has anyone had trouble with reverse suddenly going in their 95 Windstars? I had the shift piston replaced under warranty in the fall of 97 (45K mi). I had the transmission fluid changed at 55K mi (summer 99) and was told that it looked clean (no metal shavings or other problems). Now (4/00, 58K mi), the reverse suddenly went. We were driving up to West Va to go rock climbing and biking when I pulled into a gas station and reverse would not engage despite jiggling the transmission lever, etc. The van drove just fine as long as we were going forward! We had some interesting moments on the rest of the trip trying to avoid situations where we had to reverse (thanks to all of the kayakers and climbers who pushed us out of several sticky situations).

    My dealer (Richmond Ford) tells me that I will be out at least $1000 just to pull the transmission to look at it, not to mention parts. They think that it is a "band" that works reverse and first gear. I guess that I will start a letter writing campaign to Ford to try and get them to pay for some of this now that my warranty has finally run out.

    Now, I am beginning to believe those who feel that Ford stands for "Found On Road Dead". This vehicle was great for the first 36K mi, but 2 sets of head gaskets and now the second transmission repair in under 60K mi leaves me doubting about Ford quality. I should have unloaded this bucket of bolts several years ago. The only smart thing that I did do was to get another car for my every day commuting. This thing was retired to weekend duties and hauling of canoes and bicycles.

    I have had the following thoughts about this bucket of bolts:

    1. Push it off a cliff into the New River (the Ford dealer in Beckley who I initially consulted about this problem liked this idea. They could not get to the vehicle for a week because of an onslaught of transmission problems. I drove it back to Richmond to get it looked at)

    2. Leave it where we were rock climbing as a shelter for climbers caught in the rain (the Park Service would probably not approve)

    3. Donate it to the Kidney Foundation and take the charity deduction (the best idea, I think, given the crummy trade in value that this thing commands)
  • melvanmelvan Posts: 1
    I just bought a '98 Windstar and although it was used I got a good deal. Only problem was loose steering coupling on steering column. Since there was a 100% 30 day or 1,000 mile warranty dealer replaced tie rod ends and when that didn't fix I assume they sent it to a ford shop where the loose coupling was found and tightened. Steering tight as new now. Actually I bought it at CARMAX. Why did I opt for a '98? Check them out! It seems to me that was the year Ford got it right. If you compare to a '99 or 2000 you'll notice a lot of the nice little amenities have disappeared. The little drawer on the floor under the dash is gone, the overhead console was shortened up, etc. Also I found this nice little door lock switch in the back cargo area which locks or unlocks all the doors. Nice when you have other people, kids, etc. and they want to get in right away. I did not see a lot of problems posted with the '98s either. The 3.8 V6 get's up and goes very smoothly with the automatic trans. I looked for a long time. The '98 was the year they got it right, then they went and "unproved" it for '99 and beyond. The thing is to really compare apples with apples. I think you will be surprised.
  • HCLEMOHCLEMO Posts: 19
    Richmond Ford pulled my transmission on Friday--apparently, the clutches and a bunch of other stuff is torn up. They recommend a remanufactured transmission at $2500. I am somewhat confused since this transmission only demonstrated a problem with not engaging reverse. The forward gears worked okay coming back from West Va. to Richmond--the vehicle downshifted appropriately and otherwise cruised okay at 70 - 75 mph on the interstate.

    I am stuck--the resale value on this bucket of bolts is only $2500 without a new transmission, $6000 - $7000 with a rebuilt one.

    I investigated giving the thing to the Kidney Foundation and taking the tax writeoff. The IRS is tricky--you need to get a professional appraisal for anything over $5000 and the appraiser must sign IRS form 8283 where you make the deduction. If the charity sells the vehicle within 2 years, they must declare the sale value on another form to the IRS. As far as I can tell, the only benefit is if you are donating a vehicle worth less than several grand.

    I will replace the transmission (it will have a 2 year, 24K warranty on it) and then sell this thing pronto!
  • lsg1lsg1 Posts: 42
    I had a 1998 Windstar which was bought back from Ford. I did not go through the DSB, so my experience may be a little different. My dealership was totally helpful, and I think they made all the difference in the world. I had a problem that they could not fix after about 5 attempts, and they brought in an engineer who decided it would be better for them to buy back the vehicle than to keep on fixing it, and it happen over and over again. The problem( TRAC OFF light intermittently flashing and ABS light on), was first noticed in May 1999 when I had the vehicle 6 months. It took them until November 1999 to decide to buy back the vehicle when I had it exactly 1 year, and 20,000 miles on it! I was thrilled when they decided to buy it back. I got fair market value for it, plus a $5000 buy back bonus, which put me in a 2000 LX with little out of my pocket. I have only good things to say about my dealership who always gave me a free loaner when ever they had my van, and even suggested picking up my van from my house, and bringing a loaner to me! I worked with the managers in the service department, and I really did notice that honey brings alot more respect and effect than vinegar does.
  • My 95 Windstar has had the head gaskets blow twice and two months after the second time, the engine blew (2/00 at 81000 miles). Each time I had to fight with the dealership to get them to take some responsibility for the costs. On our way to Florida, our engine blew again in the middle of the night in the middle of Alabama (4/00). Only 2 months after a small block engine repair had been made! We had to sleep in our van in a truck stop until we could get it towed to a Ford dealer the next morning. I have a family of six and it was a long night. We continued on our vacation with a rented van. It put a real dent in our trip as we arrived late, and each day we had to call to check status on the repairs. We were not sure how we were going to get home. By Thursday Ford had decided to offer us a buyout of $6650 plus $3000 certificate. I understand that the amount can only be used to buy another Ford product. I really do not want to deal with Ford again!!! Is there anyway I can get Ford to just give me the cash?? I am considering a foreign van now. Any advice??
  • wholiganwholigan Posts: 148
    FYI - to this point, I have heard/read of NO PERSON that has received a cash only option. As bad as it sounds, you may want to take them up on the buyback option and get a 2000 WS. See posting #515 in the original Ford Windstar Problems topic for the economic reasons. Good Luck!
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  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    It's a low $$ trade in combined with a $4000 credit from Ford. If it were truly a "buyback", then they should have no problem offering a reasonable price (something other than KBB "push pull drag it in" priceing) to take it off your hands.

    Attention Honda, Toyota, GM, and Chrysler: offer 95 Windstar owners a $2000 incentive to buy one of your vans. Ford is offering KBB "poor" trade in values for them, so you can always offer the same and wholesale it to some "Sanford & Son" Ford dealer. I think you might find a lot of Ford owners who are willing to forgo the extra $2,000 and buy one of your vans.
  • With the buyout program, do you know if a car rental offer is part of the deal? And if so, how long is the rental offered?
  • waynerpwaynerp Posts: 35
    A while back I posted about problems I have had with engine pinging when under load. I took my '99 SE in for the third time to have this problem worked on. After some discussion with the service writer about by dissatisfaction with their efforts thus far, they apparently contacted Ford and obtained an updated program for the PCM. This new program was loaded, and I was advised to "use the highest available octane fuel if pinging is still objectionable". Well, the pinging is reduced but not eliminated. Some pinging can still be heard with A/C on when going up hill even with 93 octane premium. Pinging is still pronounced with regular fuel. I don't know if the pinging is doing any damage to the engine or how long it would take for damage to become apparent - any thoughts? I guess my options now are to (1) use high octane fuel and live with it, (2) pursue action against Ford via Lemon Law or DSB, (3) trade the vehicle I welcome any comments or advice -
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    waynerp: My dealer tried the same thing, they called it reflashing the PCM. Same results as yours. My dealer has advised against using higher octane fuel due to carbon build up. I had a discussion with the head service manager about the pinging (and other problems). He recommended trying different brands of gas, not different octanes. I told him I usually fill it with one brand while my wife uses 2 or 3 different ones, the pinging is still there. Then he told me that the pinging won't cause any harm anyway, to try and live with it. That goes against what I have heard.
  • My heart goes out to you, anightmare, and your experience with your 95WS. Makes mine pale in comparison. I think I had angels watching over me, but they must have been on their vacation when you had your troubles!
    PJYoung's analysis of the "buyback" is pretty correct, and you should consider this carefully. As referenced above, too, many have looked at the economics of the "deal," and found it acceptable, many with the intent of getting rid of the new Ford before the 3 year warranty is up. You can do that, too, if you think that would be the only way to get out of this miserable situation. Only you can decide if you would be able to stand getting into another Ford product again. We lost a lot of money when we traded our 95WS in last year, but it was water under the bridge in my book. And I got to get rid of the knot in my stomach.
    I think PJYoung's suggestion to Honda, Toyota, etc is a good one in this climate of the buybacks/trade-ins. But I don't think Honda will take them up on it, considering they don't really have to even try selling the Odys right now!
    Good Luck to you anightmare. I hope you can figure out the best plan for your family.
  • ian17ian17 Posts: 1
    My initial excitement of owning my first new vehicle - Windstar SEL - soon turned to despair when I discovered that all was not that it should have been. After 300 miles my oil life setting showed 24%. Result new PC Board including new keys needing to be cut. Then a loud wind noise traveling at 40mph+. Result new windshield. I've only had the van four weeks and have resigned myself that the next wave of problems is imminent. Anyone else having problems with the so called "top of the line" Windstar, and is there any possiblity that the dealershiop will exchange this lemon for another one? Do
  • 1846618466 Posts: 46
    I had my share of problems with my 99 LX. Engine and Transmission problems with only 13k miles on it. I traded the Windstar in on a 2000 Sienna LE and never had any regrets. If I was to advise anyone on weather they should keep or trade their late model Windstar in if they are having problems, I would reccomend trade it because every quarter you keep it you loose more and more on trade in value and believe me with time the problems only get worse. Good luck to you all and hope you all do what suites you best but in my circumstance trading was my best alternative.
  • Believe it or not, some Ford are very reliable and some aren't. Like the Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, Escort, Town Car, and Ranger is a very good buy for people deserve for a decent reliability that is one of the most reliable American car ever make for those people who are a Ford fan. You should avoid the Windstar, Taurus, Sable, and Continental for it's one of the worse American car ever made. In my opinion, Ford have tricky reliabilty car.
  • lsg1lsg1 Posts: 42
    I have always had bad luck with all my vans so far: '96 Plymouth Grand Voyager(the worst), '98 Windstar LX(dealer bought back), and now '00 Windstar LX. Latest problem is when I start the car, and turn the key in the ignition, I hear a grinding sound as though I turned the key too far( but didnt). Also, when first starting the van for the first time, after turn the key, and shift from park to drive, I hear(and feel) a grinding sound in the motor. I really am tempted to trade this van in(Have it 6 months) and get a Sienna, but love the ride and roominess of the windstar, but am getting very tired of going to the dealer. The dealer is also very good, and I don't blame them for my problems, the reliablility of the van is getting to me.
    Has anyone else had this problem of this grinding sound, and what do you think it is?
  • sthevenowsthevenow Posts: 1
    My 1998 Windstar with 50,000 miles has the same problem. I have taken it to the Ford dealer who has yet to figure out the problem. It sounds so terrible that I am considering a trade. It doesn't do it consistently.
    I would love to hear from anyone who has solved this problem. I love my van and really hate the thought of getting rid of it.
  • mbriggs1mbriggs1 Posts: 1
    We have a 98 GL. At around 20K mi, we noticed a grinding sound at lower speeds on turns. The dealer's diagnosis was "outer tie rods binding" which was remedied by replacement of the outer tie rods. The dealer stated this problem was not uncommon. We are disappointed in low life of brake pads and ease in which the rear brakes seem to get out of adjustment.
  • yamanyaman Posts: 113
    We traded ours in 3 weeks ago for a Sienna.We too were delighted to get rid of it.The Ford Motor company needs to seriously think about the products it is putting out. That Windstar was our last Ford product!
  • knight10knight10 Posts: 1
    Looks like finding this site is a little too late for me. Yesterday bought a 98 Windstar GL because my Toyota Camry had 161000 miles on it and i needed more room for the family. Today i noticed that it was leaking transmission fluid, brought it back to the dealer were they said it needed new torqe converter. Got the service records on the vehicle and find out that the previous owner had the van in 3 times for the same problem, twice they repaired the seals and the other tightened gaskets. Van has only 26700 miles on it so it is still under warrenty, my problem is that i have to look forward to the day when the transmission goes completely. If i trade it in i get nothing for it so im stuck. Bye the way , the reason i didn't get another Toyota is i didn't think i could afford a Sienna, looks as if i couldn't afford not to.
  • kent25kent25 Posts: 15
    and good luck. Our new WS SE is performing as promised and we hope to have good luck with it. I will continue to monitor this site and, hopefully, will not need to address problems with our WS anytime soon. But it is nice to know there is a clearninghouse for info is power. Good luck to all.
  • HCLEMOHCLEMO Posts: 19
    If you are curious, a factory rebuilt transmission from Ford (2Y/24K warranty) for my 95 Windstar set me back $2570. I had to put one in just so I could get $5500 used for it (a Windstar with a trashed transmission is only about $2000).

    I am now going to get my 95 WS detailed and then off to the used car lot` with it. I will wait awhile before replacing it and make do with my VW Cabrio and my wife's Outback. The only problem is that the Outback is a little small when we pile on the kayak/bicycles/camping stuff/etc. It is also a problem if grandparents want to ride when we are visiting. The Cabrio is a hoot of a commuting vehicle (bombing around with the top down is a great stress reliever) in and thusfar has been trouble free wehicle. I will miss the comfortable ride and big junk carrying capacity of the WS.

    I hope that with a rebuilt transmission and ??new and improved head gaskets (second replacement put on in 8/99) my 95 WS will give someone else at least 40 - 50K relatively trouble free miles (or am I being too optimistic?).
  • birkiebobbirkiebob Posts: 19
    Mbriggsl did they put the same tie rods in as the originals, or were they upgraded? I'm having mine done next week. Had the rear brakes adjusted too. Waynerp and bdems: I had some pinging with my '98 GL also (3.8 ltr) and my dealer cleaned the injectors for me and it seemed to go away. Maybe you had some lousy gas in there at some time-check the injectors. I'll be having a DRB hearing next month on a serious whine from my radio when the alternator is loaded with lights, a/c etc. No solution has worked in numerous attempts, including alternator replacement, radio replacement, aftermarket noise suppresor and ground strap adjustment. I still like this vehicle though and will not give up easy!
  • lsg1lsg1 Posts: 42
    I have been checking this message board all last week, and there was only 1 or 2 messages posted. Does anyone else notice that there may be a problem with this board? Or maybe everyone is just so happy with their Windstars, that there are not problems to post....Naw!
  • mjevansmjevans Posts: 1

    I have a '99 Windstar that so far has been fine, but then again it only has 4,000 miles on it! However, ever since we purchased it in January we had trouble getting the cruise control to work. We've taken it in three times to the dealer who said they found nothing wrong with it. My husband and I have both tried to use it and it only works about 20% of the time and sometimes it will not at the beginning of a trip and work 10 minutes later. Now, I know this is not a major problem. Just annoying.

    By the way, I have also heard a grinding noise when starting. This has happened only a handful of times and no other problems have shown up yet...Thank goodness.

    As for the cruise control, the repairmen said that he has a Windstar that does the same thing and that sometimes you just have to play with it a little to get it to work. I hope that's not his answer for everything that goes wrong from now on!
This discussion has been closed.