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Ford Windstar Problems



  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins, and Other Good Stuff

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  • I have a 2001 Windstar LX. It has 1100 miles on it. I am bringing it in for some minor items. I have been getting about 14mpg, much lower than stated. I know of a couple of other Windstar owners getting 18-24mpg. Has anyone with this poor MPG gotten better results once they brought it in for service? I am already preparing myself for grief because the sevice desk was already making up excuses. They were even questioning my math ability. So, I am going in both barrels loaded, but I am curious if any of you guys did get better MPG once you brought it in. Thanks.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    In my experience with my Quest, it took several thousand miles before the mileage got acceptable (went from a low of 12 to around 20 overall). Get your concerns into the service history now, but it may just take a while for the mpg to get up there. Good luck!

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  • I have been reading all the comments. My 95 GL has been really good. No problems in the last 50K except for a ground strip that rusted through. However, I was making a left turn with a left turn green arrow and a pickup ran the red light. Well, both bags went off and I was out for about 5 minutes but except for a few lacerations from the bag I am fine. Not so my Windstar. It is totaled. I have a line on a 99 SE with 19k on it for $16,450. After dealing with my long time Ford dealer I an getting the 6 year 100k warranty for the price of an employee with zero deductible and no proicessing fee with a total price of $17,700 after Taxes. I talked with my service manager who has been dealing with me for 15 years (very trustworthy) and he said the 99 was the best one since it was the last year prior to the power doors and a lot of the problems have been fixed. With the warranty I really am not concerned but the SE is in really good shape. I guess the average miles were 6,500 for three years--not bad.
  • I picked up my 99 SE last night and everyone was correct about the engine being a little more harsh than my 95 but it does have good power. It has just over 19k on it and I drove it to work this morning. Nice drive, but floats a little more than my 95. It is nice to have the cruise buttons illuminated. No more guess work. I had all the recalls done so that is taken care of. I need to put a few extra PSI in the front tires. It has the quad seats and is really nice. I just hope it is as good as my 95 was. yes, I had a 95GL and except for the head gasket it was a really good van.
  • I got the number for the executive offices from post #597 and called. The person whose name is shown is no longer in that department. I was on the phone about 25 minutes and still don't have any satisfaction.

    Background: Our 21-year-old son (who's a college student with no job!!) drives the '95 Windstar. Well, he drives it when it's actually running, which isn't often. He has had it 21 months and at 106,000 miles, the head gasket(s) has blown. He had been losing coolant since about 96,000 miles but the dealership said they couldn't do anything until the gasket(s) actually blew. So now, here we are, with a $1,600 problem. We've already had the transmission, one fuel injector, and the computer replaced. Fortunately I have a husband who took care of the fuel injector and will replace the head gasket ... otherwise we'd just have to junk it.

    Here's what I got after speaking to the executive offices:

    They said to take it to a service department and get an estimate on what it will cost to fix it (the estimate will be around $70 which will come out of my pocket). Then we can contact a salesperson, decide what NEW FORD PRODUCT we would like to buy, and the salesperson can call and get authorization to reduce the sales price of what we want. I'm sorry, but what college student without a job can afford to buy a new Ford product???

    I started the conversation by saying that I was considering never buying another Ford product. The "executive" said if that was the case, then they couldn't do anything to help me: they could lose me for free. His tone wasn't tacky, but I understood what he was saying.

    So now, my husband is going to fix the head gasket problem, we're going to sell or trade in the van, and try our luck on another used car ... probably a Toyota or Honda. They've always been very reliable brands for us. Whatever possessed us to buy the Windstar, I'll never know!! Maybe it's that our son is 6'4" and has trouble fitting in little cars!

    Hopefully others have had better luck with the executive number!
  • The continuing saga of my van (see post # 632)....
    This is the 4th week that my van has been sitting in the dealership service department. They have no idea what is wrong with it. They got it to start once but it has failed again. Ford engineers have come out twice to look at it and I was informed yesterday that they are trying one last thing this morning to see if they can fix it. I have already gotten approval through Ford to be traded out of my van even if they fix it. There are several options for making the deal so I will still have to do some negotiating and it could take a couple more weeks. I will know later this morning if they were able to fix it and I will post what they did as soon as I find out. Has anyone else had similar issues?
  • I've got a 1997 Windstar with 59K miles on it now. It's been relatively good for the past couple years. I did have the speedometer replaced just before the warranty ran out. It was making a slight grinding noise, like the cable needed to be lubricated or something. Of course, two weeks later when the warranty was up, the sound came right back and I can't get rid of it! Now the passenger window seems to only work intermittedly. Can't figure that one out.

    We use the van to pull a large popup camper and it tows pretty well with the 200 HP engine. I wish I got the quad seats because the bench is a real bear to remove when I need to load up the van.

    Gas mileage in mixed driving only averages 16-17 mpg. On trips with no towing, we can manage 20-21 mpg. I think the gas mileage has been the biggest disappointment of the van. Other than that, we have no major complaints and hope to keep the van for a couple more years.

    PS - the driver's seat has been the most comfortable of any vehicle I've driven on long hauls. Last year I drove 5 1/2 hours straight without stopping. Thank goodness for a 25 gallon gas tank!
  • Ford is buying my van back. The Ford engineers still do not know what is wrong with my van (see posting #640). They have replaced the instrument cluster thinking that would help but it made things worse and they also replaced the Passive Anti Theft System and that did not help. This van is apparently not fixable. I am waiting for word from the regional service rep on exactly what to do next. Just thought everyone might want to know (or maybe not). This 2000 Windstar has been about as frustrating as the 95-96's with the head gasket problems. I will be glad to see it go and I am glad they cannot fix it because I do not want to see it sold to some other poor soul and have them go through the same problems and safety concerns.
  • bmaigebmaige Posts: 140
    My wife and I bought a '95 Windstar new in 1995, as well as a new Mustang the same year with the 3.8 liter engine for our son. His Mustang blew a head gasket, for which Ford finally agreed to pay the cost of replacement, but our Windstar, for which we were given an extended warranty to 100,000 miles for head gaskets, did fine--until it reached 94,000 miles. Because of the head gaskets we were watching the coolant level and noticed we were losing it, but didn't have "muddy" oil which would have indicated it was a head gasket and coolant was getting into the oil. There appeared to be a coolant leak on the passenger side front under the engine. We took it to our local Ford dealer, they checked and said it was a leak around the timing chain cover, which is in the area the leak appeared to be. The design of the engine, believe it or not, includes a timing chain cover that can leak coolant. That was repaired, due to the problem of getting to that area, I had a new water pump put on, and they changed the oil and filter. My wife was driving it home a day or so after we got it back when the dash lights went nuts and it cut off on her. I went to it, checked the oil, the level was fine, but it smelled like burned rubber. We had it towed to the dealer, they checked it and said we had let it run hot. The van did run hot--when it was brand new and the hose blew off the radiator--but that was 80,000+ miles ago and never since.

    The verdict was we needed the engine rebuilt. I got a price from the Ford dealer, but got a better one from an independent I trust. We discussed buying rebuilt engines. He had a company with a 12,000 mile 12 month warranty that he used and had good luck with the engines. I had found a company that gave a 3 year, 100,000 mile warranty on their products, but our mechanic said he had rather have a good engine than a good warranty, that he had used some of those engines and had problems with them. I couldn't get my hands on the actual warranty of that company, so I found it on the internet and printed it. Once I read it I told the mechanic they didn't even have a good warranty. It didn't cover head gasket failures, which I was most interested in with that engine, and it appeared the limit of their liability was one half of what their customer paid for the engine. In addition, the customer had to put the cash out up front to have the engine work done if a failure occurred, send them the alleged failed parts, with no mention of who paid freight, and they would determine whether they would cover the problem or not--with no limit as to how long they could take to make that decision and reimburse the customer.

    We went with the engine our independent recommended. Oh, one other factor. We live in a small town, so any problems with a company get around fast and results in an immediate economic pinch on the offender, so they can't hide in the masses of similar companies. The result is only the honest ones stay in business long.

    Question. Does anyone know why new oil in an engine would smell like burned rubber? The problem we had came so quickly after the work done at the Ford place that I wonder if they didn't get some sealant or gasket material in the timing chain area that got into the engine and stopped a vital oil channel up, causing our failure.

    We have had absolutely no problems with this van since we bought it, other than the radiator hose not being put on properly at the factory, the interior is still in good condition, AC is still good, and the transmission is still working fine. I expect that to be the next thing to go, but if it does we'll put another one in and keep driving this van for a few more years. My wife loves it, and I can stand putting a few thousand dollars in an engine and another transmission better than I can buying another vehicle--especially since she would want another Windstar.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Your mechanical and oil questions may better be answered in the Maintenance & Repair message board, so I suggest that you try posting your message in there as well.

    Good luck,

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  • Does anyone know how much Ford Motor Co. charges for an extended warranty for the 02 Windstar? When I was on the lot, the salesman said that information could be addressed at the time of sale. I was just curious since that factor can impact your decision before an offer is made. Can't seem to find one on the site. Thanks.
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    autolover3: The price of the warranty can range dramatically. It all depends on the plan you want (deductible, mileage/time limits). For instance, Ford ESP plans (there are 4 available) can range between $700 to $2400. You will be better off shopping this after the deal. I recently bought one for my 2000 off the internet from a ford dealer in Iowa. They had beaten my local rates by about $600. If you want to save $100, buy it before 12 months or 12000 miles. Third party warranties are a different story. The dealer may try to sell you one of those. I had to press one of the dealers near me to get them to quote a Ford ESP plan. You will have to determine which is best for you.
  • I just purchased a used 99 SE with a little less than 20K on it. It still had 8 months left on the factory warranty and I was able to purchase the new car extended warranty with a zero deductible, 6 years 100K, for $1,500. It is usually $2,400. It is referred to as the employee price. The one with the $50 deductible was around $1,100. I figured the extra $400 was worth the zero deductible.
  • The dealership that has my van just called me and told me they fixed it. I thought they had given up on it but I still do not want that van back. The problem was in the fuse box. There was some insulation crimped in with some pins or wires that was causing a faulty connection. The electrical system was then searching for a ground and that was setting off the relays and that is why they had such a hard time tracking down the problem. This is going to change the deal I had in the works with Ford on a new van but I will see what they can do.
  • Thanks for the warranty info. As usual, these boards are full of advice and help. I appreciate it. I will look at the Windstar again.
  • It is amazing how the little things can get in the way. I was having a real problem with a ping in my engine and finally the Area Ford rep came out and when he started to drive it he asked how could he hear this ping with the speedometer cable making so much noise.
  • I own a 99 Windstar SE. The first few months the van seemed fine. I then started getting a roaring sound when turning the steering wheel. I took it to the Ford service center and was told nothing was wrong. I took it back at a later date and they put a new powersteering pump on. The van seemed ok but after a short while starting making the same sound. I took the van back and another powersteering pump was put on. The van still makes the roaring sound and also makes a clicking sound when you turn the wheel. I have contacted the Ford Consumer Affairs office and they tell me the engineer dept. has deemed this to be normal. So I am stuck with a van that has 31,000 miles and sounds like it needs the powersteering replaced. I am in the process of contacting a lawyer,I am not a happy person right now.
  • Kirkley1, There is definitely something wrong with you van. I am currently on my 6th week of driving a 99 loaner Windstar because mine is in the shop (although they claim it is fixed now)but it has not made any type of roaring sound or any ohter sound from the power steering pump. Please see my previous postings starting with # 648 and working your way back.
  • I had a similar experience with the Windstar power steering system. I was able to eliminate most of the noise by completely flushing out the system twice and then refilling it with Ford type 'F' transmission fluid. This is the fluid that Ford power steering systems use. If you (or possibly a service garage or inspection station)have added any other power steering fluids or conditioners to your system (pre- or post- pump changeout) this could be causing your noise. Try the flush, it's actually a very cheap cure if it helps. A little messy though. Make sure you use Type 'F' transmission fluid.
  • 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.
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