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Ford Windstar Problems



  • bfyerxabfyerxa Posts: 78
    Our 99 LX (33K KM/20K mi) has started developing the harsh 3-2 downshift problem when stepping on the gas after coasting around a corner (especially left hand turns). The symptom is a ~1 sec. delay in downshift then a very abrupt engagement into 2nd when stepping on the gas. It has started to get worse in that only mild acceleration is required. Also seems to "shimmy" or "shudder" when upshifting from 1-2 under hard acceleration. I checked out the NHTSA TSBs and found a bunch on the downshift problem (among others). I noticed various posts here as well. My question is this; what is the fix? Repair the existing tranny (yuck!) or replace it? It seems most people have had to fight the dealer with less than satisfactory results. I am under warranty (1 year left) and I want to get this resolved before that's gone. What's worse is the value of these vans is plumetting as leases come flooding back. Once Honda starts pumping out more Odys (bringing their asking price down) the Windstars will be worth zilch. You'd think I'd listen to myself (you get what you pay for)!
  • I just purchased a 99 SE with about 19k on it and have no power steering noise. However, my 95 had a whistle in the steering that never went away but never caused any trouble. It was caused by the fluid moving through the lines where the connectors to the pump and the lines were.
    Actually, I had one of the more in-famous 95s with 128k on it and had it totaled a few weeks ago by a fellow who ran a red light. The insurance company set the price at $6,940 as the replacement cost. Not all that bad actually. After about 50k it ran like top. This was to good of a deal to pass on: $16,450 for an SE with less than 20K. Except for one or two little scratches it looks new. I contacted the old owner and they upgraded to a 2001 SLE to get the video system and leather along with "financing to good to pass up". I know what people say about the value but if you keep them for as long as we do it balances out. While I was happy with my 95 I was not dumb when I purchased this one I also got the 6 year, 100k none deductible warranty. ($1,500 for it and now for the next 6 years I really have no concern.)
  • I have a 96 Ford Windstar with 75K miles on it. I recently broke down and was told by my mechanic and a Ford dealership that the connecting rod had snapped in the engine and that I would need to have the engine replaced. This shouldn't happen on a vehicle with 75K miles on it. Ford has offered no assistance to date. Has anybody else had a similar problem or knows of some recourse I might have?
  • You might want to go to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration ( and see if anyone has sent a complaint to them. Yours is the first one with a rod breaking that I have heard of. While I agree it should not have happened these are machines and things like this will happen on occasion.
  • penguinpenguin Posts: 32
    Why would you pay an extra $400 so you would have no deductible instead of a $50 deductible? That means you'll have to have 8 covered repairs to make up for your $400. I sure hope you don't need that many repair trips to the garage over the next 4 years.
  • I hope I do not either but my 95 averaged one visit every three months after the 3/36 warranty ran out. Not big things but items that needed work. Besides, I am very particular about my cars/trucks/van. I got tired on putting out the $50 bucks every time I took it in. It is a matter of personal preference.
  • Mine is a 96 windstar GL. It has about 72K now.
    A year ago, I had a minor crash on the front bumper (that I can live with without repairment) and since then I noticed there is clicking noise coming from the dash broad when I drive above 50 miles per hour.

    Then about 6 month ago, the speedometer needle started to shaking (swinging) when it goes above 60 mph. I took it to a dealer, and they said I need to change speedomter head as well as cables. And they want $800 for parts + about $100 per hour for labor. Yes, I live in silicon valley and labor is very expensive.

    Since then I talked to two other repair shops since I don't want to speed a lot of money and also don't believe that I need to replace the whole thing. One of them said he needs 2 hours to do diagnostic, and may need more than 10 hours to do the repair. The other said he can find out what's wrong in 10 minutes and can repair for me for below $600.

    I would like to find one that can do the repair for about $300 to $400. Is it possible? Does anyone else has the similar problems with their speedometer? I saw a few post on the internet for the similar problem, but none of them mentioned how difficult it is for fixing the problem and how much it could cost.

    Thanks for the help.
  • penguinpenguin Posts: 32
    Just talked to the Ford dealer about my '98 Windstar with 65,000 miles on it and he tells me the turbine shaft bearing is going out and recommends replacing the transmission at a cost of almost $3,000. Two year/24,000 mile warranty on the replacement, whoopee! Anybody want to buy a 4 year old van?
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    The shaking needle is a fairly common problem for the Windstar and apparently the Taurus it is based on. The solution according to Ford is to replace the speedometer head unit. I have read of people sending their units out to be rebuilt for less than the cost of a new speedometer.

    I had the problem about a year ago. At that time, I reached behind the dashboard and made sure that all the wiring was tight, jiggling the connections to make sure that each was a clean connection. I haven't had the problem since. I have heard of others that have tried the same technique and it didn't work.
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    penguin: What were the symptons for them to replace the tranny? I just took mine in today for a shuddering problem that would occur when shifting. Mine is a 2000 with 36800 mile on it. I wanted to demonstrate it to the mechanic. He said he didn't need the demo, he figures its the torque converter. I'm glad I just bought an extended warranty.
  • penguinpenguin Posts: 32
    I wasn't having any problems. I was getting an unusal noise, like a whistling fluttering sound and I ask them to check it out. They came back and said the turbine shaft was going bad and that I should replace the whole transmission. The thing is I did have a problem when it was under warranty. At 2700 it leaked fluid and they replaced the cover and seals. At around 34,000 miles it would shake and shudder at 50-55 MPH, when it was going from 3rd to overdrive. For that they changed the fluid and screen assembly. Since that time I haven't really noticed any drivability problems, just the noise the last few weeks. I really don't know what to believe. And if it truly is the trans. going bad, was the previous problem an indication that Ford should have picked up on.
  • selasela Posts: 5
    I own a 95windstar with apprx. 92000 miles. I had the headgasket problem that ford fixed under extended recall warranty. (I bought the van used.) My biggest concern was safety, so the windstar has met my needs. I recently looked at upgrading to a 2000 model. what concerns me is the fact that I found one at a dealership for $14500. Wasn't this van around $28,000 new? If someone had purchased it new, wouldn't they still be paying on it, and more than $14,500? How can this be that the vehicle depreciates so quickly? What other vehicles get great safety ratings, esp. vans that are reasonably priced. I am only interested in used ones. I have purchased only one new vehicle and it was a regrettable expense. I think now that we will buy a relatively new smaller vehicle and pay about $10000 for it and just not upgrade our van. I may just try to get as much mileage out of it as I can. Two questions: what are some realistic "high mileage" estimates people are getting on their windstars? What is an excellent, safe and fuel-efficient used car for approx. $10,000? FYI: I have had problems with cars that were supposedly problem-free vehicles. I think it is just dumb-luck getting a really great, reliable vehicle.
  • Welcome to the world of leasing. I also had a 95 Windstar GL. It was totaled last month when a man in a pickup ran a red light. It had 138K on it. The bags went off and I had my belts on. Came out with only a few cuts on my arm. I replaced it with a 99 SE. I purchased it for $16,450. According to the sticker that was in the package of ownership material in the glove box it was $28,500K when new. In 98 and 99 Ford (and all the other big three) were pushing leases really hard and they are now coming off lease and flooding the market. This does not just impact the 98 and 99 years but the others as well. The more on the market, the less the price. Thus, the prices are down. However, I did find the owner and he did not lease his, he paid cash for it and he just wanted to get a 2001 SEL with the video and leather package. There were no problems with it. He said with the great deals and low interest he just decided to upgrade. It only had 19k on it when I picked it up last month. There are a few trim items that need work but other than that it is in really good shape for three years old.
    This is my first used car. I have always bought new but this one was in really good condition and I was able to get the new car extended warranty on it since it was still under the 3/36 new car warranty. I may never buy new again depending on how this one turns out.
    You are 100% correct about the luck of the draw on getting a new car. The 95 Windstar had a bad rep since it was the first year. However, mine was just fine except for the head gasket. I only had one repair after 75K and that was for a broken ground wire. I have the dealer do all the major maintenance as called for by the manufacturer and it just kept on going. I would still have it if not for the accident.
  • A relative of mine bought it new and it has 80,000 miles on it. Never had any problems, will let me have it for $8,100. Extended warranty good for 1 more year. Based upon previous messages it seems like the 1997 version didn't have too many problems. Any opinions on this would be appreciated.
  • gibbergibber Posts: 41
    I have a 96 Windstar(62000 miles) which now has no heat. The mechanic says it is a broken "heater box" which requires removal of the dashboard and replacement of the box. The estimate is $1225 which includes a new heater core and A/C recharge. Has anyone had this happen and is this a reasonable charge? It certainly is frightening to see the sheer quantity of problems with the Windstar. I think Ford has really stumbled of late. Last year I rented an Explorer with 9 total miles on it. 11 miles later the tranmission failed completely. Needless to say, I won't be buying a Ford in the future.
  • My 97 Windstar has been pretty good over the last 3 years. When the van had only 400 miles on it, I had problems with the transmission not shifting correctly and getting stuck in certain gears. They finally realized it was an electronic sensor and once they replaced it, the engine worked fine. I haven't had any transmission or drivetrain problems since, with 59,000 miles now on the vehicle. I've been using it to pull a large popup camper over the last 4 years, so it's put the van through its paces.

    I had the speedometer replaced, only to have it come back and make a grinding noise again once the warranty was up. The only other thing I can remember replacing was the driver's door regulator under warranty. Overall I think the 97 has been the most reliable of the Windstars. We plan on keeping it another year or so, and then replacing it with a pick up truck with additional pulling power.
  • My first one was a 95 and lots of little problems till about 75k and then trouble free till it was totaled at 138k by a pickup that ran a light. The head gasket problem was fixed by time the 97s came out. It sounds reasonable but it would be considered high miles for a 97. Also, remember, the worst way to ruin a family relationship is to buy a car from a relative and then have it go bad.
    Does it have rear air? That is what usually makes the difference in the price. Unless it has rear air and tinted windows to help keep the sun under control you may want to give it a second thought if you need rear air and it does not have it.
  • penguinpenguin Posts: 32
    After reading all the posts here why would you even consider buying a used Windstar? For $8100. you could get something a lot better than a bucket of trouble.
  • This is true, for $8100 you can get a 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan with a wonderful transmission.
  • Yes, it has rear heat and AC, and keyless entry/alarm. Kelly Blue Book indicates it is worth much more than $8100. Of course I would prefer to have a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey, but we're talking an extra $20k for those cars. I wouldn't consider anything other than the 1997 Windstar after reading the posts here. It seems that was their only good year.
    Given the fact that this car has never had any problems and was driven mostly freeway miles by a very unaggressive driver makes me give it strong consideration. In any case I am taking it in for a professional 125 point inspection today before I decide.
  • I have purchased an 01 SEL and am interested in a hard sided luggage carrier. I have ran across posts elsewhere to the effect of Thule and Ford Customer service saying you cannot use a hard-side carrier on the factory installed roof rack, that it won't take the stress. Does anyone have the correct answer to this?
  • As far as I know, there was no restriction on my 97 Windstar. The only regulation was a maximum weight on the roof rack, which I think was 200 pounds.

    I use a soft-sided luggage carrier only because it was much cheaper and I could jam all kinds of big odd-shaped stuff in it.
  • I used one on my 95 with no trouble.
  • I live at 6500 ft elevation and our octane grades are different from lower altitude areas.
    Our octane grades are 85, 87, and 89 for Premium. It has always been my understanding
    that at the higher altitude areas 85 octane should perform equivalent to 87 octane at
    lower altitude. I have never had any problems with 85 pinging in my other cars, but now
    with the Windstar being over 20,000 miles it seems to ping with 85 octane gas. Just wanted
    to know if other owners find it difficult to run the regular octane gas. The car is doing much
    better with mid-grade gas. Wondering if it needs an adjustment since there was no ping
    problem in the early miles of the car.
  • wmy99wmy99 Posts: 7
    I also recently had a no front heat problem in my 1996 Windstar. About 2 months ago, with our very hot summer, my air conditoner was working fine and one chilly evening, I turned on my heater and cold air only was blowing through my front heater.
    ---I had my local Ford dealer check the heater & was shocked when informed the estimate to repair the front heater would be $1250.
    ---I was told newer Ford, GM & Chrysler vehicles all have their heater/vent/air conditioner doors & controls mounted into one common heater/air conditioner unit or box and this is mounted under the dash and replacement, not repair of this box is the usual fix.
    ---To replace this box, the dash & steering column must be removed which would take many hours resulting in a major labour and parts bill.
    ---The Ford dealer after inspecting my heater box, stated no repair could be made and it would have to be replaced.
    ---I obtained a 2nd opinion from an independant mechanic in my area and he was able to repair the heater box for $160 labour charge.
    ---The problem was the hot/cold air flow door had broken & jammed closed in the cold position.

    ---I suggest, for any costly or major repair to have a 2nd opinion from an independant, reliable mechanic.
  • I had a 1996 Windstar for 3 1/2 years and liked it very much. I traded it in for a 2000 SEL and we (my wife and I) also like this van very much. I would buy another Windstar but my wife loves this one. I have nothing but good things to say about this van. (PS: I don't work for Ford).
  • If you are lucky enough to get a good Ford, keep it. If you keep trading it in on new Fords, eventually you will be singing the same song as everyone else here.
  • I agree with Penguin. My 95 GL was totaled a few months ago and I purchased a 99 SE. The reason was even with the faults of the 95 it still did yeoman service for 135k. I would still have it if it had not been hit. The 99 is what I call "pre-Nasser". It was designed when Ford had some good engineers. When he came on board ford started to go down hill. It will take several years for Ford to recover from his screw ups. I was talking with my sales person and I told him I would not buy anything that was built under Nasser. He concurred. He said that is why Ford is going back and doing a front end structural redesign of the F150 and Explorer since they did not do well in crash tests. The basic design was just not that good due to the push for profits and cost cutting. Keep the 2000. Pull the maintance and it will last a long, long time. While I am a die hard Ford man I purchased a Suzuki XL-7 and not an Escape due to all the recalls several months ago. I told my dealer why I did it and, while disappointed, he understood. To many recalls.
  • In response to my previous posts about my 2000 Windstar that stranded me on vacation twice, Ford has finally reacquired it and put me in a new 2002 with a 5 year premium extended service plan. It took over two months and tons of phone calls but it is over (hopefully). I hope the 02 does not have problems like my 00. I want to recommend Tri-Ford in Highland Illinois to anyone in the St. Louis metro area who might read this. Even though I purchased my 00 van at Jack Schmitt in Collinsville, IL (THEY SUCK. DO NOT GO THERE!) Tri Ford was happy to work with me and Ford Motor Co and they treated me with nothing but respect, honesty, and overall kindness. They have had multiple people come to them after dealing with Jack Schmitt. Anyway, this concludes yet another Ford nightmare.
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    Good for you!! Hope you have good luck with your new Windstar.

    I have a question for the forum. My 2000 Windstar LX is getting rotten gas mileage (12 mpg). I have taken it back once and they reprogrammed the PCM and replaced the front control module (whatever that is). This appears to be to no avail. Still getting rotten mileage (12-13 mpg). Any ideas as to what I can try before I take it back to the dealer? Any info would be appreciated.
  • How many miles do you have on your Windstar? I recently had my air filter replaced at 25,000 miles and it was completely caked with dirt. This could be part of the problem with poor gas mileage.
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    It has less than 15000 miles. I'll take a look at the filter, but I don't think that is the problem.
  • I assume they have checked for a clogged converter. 12MPG is really low. Even if you are carrying a lot of things in it (you did not say one way or the other) it is low. My only other thought would be a bad fuel injector. My 99 is doing about 21 to 22.
  • My ford dealer in Sterling VA sold a black 2001 Limited and it had been in the front of the parking lot for a month with temp tags on it and then it disappeared. I made mention of it and was told it was in the back. The man bought it and then found he could not get insurance on it based on his driving record till Jan, 2002. so it is in the back lot, he is making payments but can not drive it till Jan.
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    Van is unloaded. Checked air filter and it appeared to be normal for 14,000 miles. May replace this weekend but don't think that is the problem. Defective injector sounds like a possibility. I'm sure there are numerous possiblities. I'm going to take it back in the next few weeks. Any other suggestions would be great.

  • Sorry if this has already been discussed before, but I am new to this, and haven't gone through all the messages yet.
    Last week, while STOPPED in a McDonalds drive through, the rear window on my 2000 Windstar SE exploded outward. Thankfully my children and their friends in the car were not injured.
    We heard 2 pops, then I looked in my rear view mirror and watched the rear window crack. When I exited the van, there were two large holes, one on the left and one on the right of the window, with glass shattered all over the ground. the glass that still remained in the frame was completely cracked. No glass had fallen inside the van. The witnesses (the woman stopped in her car behind me, my other adult passenger, and the McDonalds' employee who was outside taking the orders) all reported the same thing - nothing hit the van, and the glass exploded outward. It was a warm day, so there was no heat on or the rear window defroster.
    My Ford dealer, of course, said they couldn't help me and I needed to go through my insurance. Someone I spoke with recently mentioned he had heard this happening before.
    Has anyone had a similar experience? I'd appreciate any info you could provide. Thanks!
    My Ford dealer
  • bob57bob57 Posts: 302
    One friend and one relative had the rear window implosion problem but both are SUV's - although, both are Ford products (one was a Mercury).
    It was blamed on the Texas heat and the dealers refused warranty replacement.
    Might be interesting to see if any more "pop" up here...
  • Yes, I think I have heard that happening to Explorers (window shattering: I read that somewhere?). Also, if you bought an extended warranty by Ford Motor Company, do you need to get your oil changed at a Ford Motor Co to meet warranty standards? Thanks.
  • Lisat3-- Look out at Edmund's Honda Odyssey Problems board. Someone recently (last 50 posts or so) posted a problem that sounds a lot like your's, except I think it was a side passenger window and they didn't mention heat. Honda, of course, replaced the window under warranty rather than sending them to their insurance company... (I have an Odyssey and I keep up on their problem posts, of which there are quite a few; but I sometimes like to look here too to remind myself my odds are still better with Honda! Many Odyssey posts are for relatively minor problems compared to what I see here. But I have nothing against Ford, and good luck with your Windstar.)
  • gibbergibber Posts: 41
    My 1996 Windstar with no front heat now has creaking noises in the suspension. It also groans when steering. Has anyone had this problem?
  • wmy99wmy99 Posts: 7
    My 1996 Windstar had no front heat (see posting 678). --Also, similar to your problems, I have groans and creaking noises coming from the steering (power steering unit will have to be replaced). --Also-Squeaking, crunching, creaking & clunking noises when turning coming from the front passenger side.(I thought it was a loose exhaust, these noises are apparently from the front suspension upper A-pillar which can not be greased) It will have to be replaced. -Side door which will only lock manually. --Sad to say,I wonder what will malfunction next!!!--Lets face it, these vehicles have poor quality parts which make them a money pit.
  • Does anyone have coolant leak from the engine front cover/timing cover? I am experiencing this now on my 95 Windstar with only 50,000 miles. The dealer check and asked $1800 to fix it. Test showed no leak from the head gasket (yet).
  • Antifreeze leakage can occur and compression tests may not reveal the leakage. This is common with Windstars with their factory defective 3.8 V6 engine. 960 complaints have been posted with the NHTSA pertaining to head gaskets in 95 Windstars.We had five dye compression tests done on our 96 Windstar, none of them revealing leakage. Within two days the head gaskets blew, causing coolant to leak into the engine destroying the bearings and necessitating engine replacement. We negotiated 50% engine replacement with Ford and after getting this, we got full reimbursement by taking Ford to small claims court.Email me at [email protected] if you want copies of the documents.
  • My 97 Windstar now has a dead passenger power window. I'll make one last ditch effort by checking the fuses, but I doubt that't the problem. The window was working intermittedly over the last few months, and now does not work at all. It may be the solenoid switch. All I know is that I won't be spending the money to fix it now that it's out of warranty.

    I also have a groaning noise coming from the front suspension when I hit rough pavement. I too thought maybe it was something loose like the exhaust system. The mechanic thinks it may be the front bushings, which I'm sure will be pretty expensive to replace. I'll leave them for now, since it doesn't affect handling and is only a minor annoyance.
  • I see in here about TSB what is a TSB, I have 53K on mine and it has started to stall out when you slow down quickly or make a turn.
  • rugmankcrugmankc Posts: 133
    My 98 has a small coolant leak from the timing chain cover only during cold months. It is garaged. Not enough too necessitate repair at this time, since I have not had to add colant. My mechanic will fix when needed for $800.00. Find a good mechanic and keep dealer visits to a minimum. Good luck.
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    TSB's are bulletins sent to dealer garages that explain the proper ways to diagnose and repair known problems. They are NOT recalls. If your vehicle is out of warranty and needs a repair in accordance with a TSB, you may be able to negotiate warranty coverage, but the dealers do not have to perform TSB repairs for free.
  • bmaigebmaige Posts: 140
    I was amazed when my son's '95 Mustang with a 3.8 L engine blew a head gasket to be told the timing chain cover was leaking coolant and the gasket would have to be replaced. I have worked on my cars for years and had NEVER seen one in which coolant routed through a timing chain cover, but the 3.8 does. I subscribe to one wise man's advice, "Know thyself," so I went to a manual and checked it to be sure I wasn't being fed a line of bull, and it will leak. And it is a bear to get to. I imagine most of the cost of fixing that leak is labor to get things off to get to it and replace them.
  • A TBS is a Technical Service Bulletin. When a car has problems that are common ,then SOMETIMES the factory will put out a TSB.
This discussion has been closed.