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Ford Windstar Problems



  • nyorkernyorker Posts: 2
  • rossross Posts: 17
    I have a 96 Windstar with 121,000 miles on it. I have had numerous problems, but not as serious as many of the posts. I have had to replace several O2 sensors, passenger door actuator, rear hatch actuator, turn signal assembly, and speedo head(it stopped working again, but I am not paying $900 to fix it). Now the rear air conditioner blows hot air when the front control is on A/C. The dealer said it will cost about $500 to repair. I don't want to spend $500 to repair this and want to know if anyone else has had this problem and if they know a cheaper fix?
  • laundryguylaundryguy Posts: 89
    You are entering the territory (109,000 miles) when my Windstar completely went to pot. IMHO cover your losses and ditch that thing and get a more reliable ride. That was the advice I was given when my water pump failed when I first checked out this site. I had too much pride and held on. Then the ignition control unit, a ball joint, and a thermostat failed. In the end I took a $2995 tax write off.

    The deals on new vans are exceptional. Honda's for $1000 under invoice (that would mean an LX for $21,700 plus tax). Toyotas now can be had for a bit less than MSRP. Nissans are not moving all that quickly. Caravans and Freestars (if you can stomach another Ford) can be had for less than you may have paid in 96 for the Windstar.

    Interest rates will never be lower. I'll admit a few of these 96 Windstars have made 175k and higher with few problems, but they are few and far between.
  • mikejojomikejojo Posts: 7
    I've posted previously about some clunking noise in the front end of my 1996 Ford Windstar. Recently, I've noticed that my temperature gauge seems to fluctuate a lot. I noticed the problem and have kept a much closer eye on it. I noticed the other day that while leaving work, I was 7 minutes into my ride (not even 3 miles away)when the temperature gauge spiked near the top of the "hot zone" without going "into the red" and then went back down towards the cool end of the gauge. The gauge does fluctuate while driving. We recently took a 2 1/2 hour drive (120 miles) without any problem at all. Any suggestions? My van is due for it's yearly inspection in July and I already know that the front rotors are going to have to be replaced as well.

    FYI, I did have the entire front end fluids changed in Sep 03 (roughly 4,000 miles ago). My last oil change (at a different "quick lube shop") 2 weeks ago, the shop recommended replacement of the power steering fluid and transmission fluid.

    I have a bad feeling that my van is probably on the way out.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?
  • wholiganwholigan Posts: 148

    This sounds like the classic "air pocket" in the coolant... If you are losing or burning coolant (over time) - it is VERY possible there is a "bubble" in the system causing the temperature gauge to spike. Since the temperature sensor is on the top of the engine, when the fluid level falls to a lower level an air pocket can rise to the top of the cooling system - close to the temperature gauge - showing a spike in the engine temperature.

    The more important question is: Where is your coolant going?

    Start by checking your coolant levels...

    And YES - The temperature spike was the beginning of the end for my WS...

    BTW - the THUNK in the front end is the inner or outer tie rods. another regular repair on the WS - About $350. Enjoy!
    2003 Honda Odyssey EX-LRES - Midnight Blue Pearl
    2004 Honda Accord EX-L Graphite Pearl
    2007 Honda Civic EX - Atomic Blue
    2013 Honda Civic LX - Crimson Pearl
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    You need to confirm the temp gauge is working first, a mechanic can do this with an infrared sensor.
    My guess is an intake or head gasket leak. If you catch it early it can be repaired, if you wait too long it will ruin the engine. Have you been adding coolant?
  • mikejojomikejojo Posts: 7
    Thanks wholigan & wijoco. I did remember something else after I posted my message....I recall when I first noticed the problem, that my wife & I tried to turn on the heat to help alleviate the engine overheating and recall that on 2 separate occasions (one time we had been driving for 20 minutes)that with the heat set as high as it could go, the blower was cold not hot. Other times, since those two instances, it's been blowing hot.

    When I had the oil change done 2 days before our trip, the lube shop indicated in their paperwork that the level was checked (OK? - did not indicate that anything was added)I'm going to take a look at the coolant levels next time I get a chance when the engine's cold. I'm also going to see if there's any indication of a visible engine leak.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    May also have a thermostat failure. Lost of things to check, but most likely somewhere in the cooling system. Good luck, that stuff can be tricky.
  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    Hi everyone. I am new to this board. My friend here in the office (in Toronto)has a 2000 Windstar with 80,000 km (50,000 miles) and the tranny is starting to give out. He uses it for his small family but has never towed with it and has it serviced at the local Ford dealer according to the service manual.

    He has the extended powertrain warrantee. How have the experiences been out there with getting Ford to pay for this. I see from some other Ford boards that the company has not supported many of its customers with this defect, which I understand to be a common one in this vehicle.

    He has been happy with this vehicle otherwise but is concerned about the safety of his vehicle,
  • laundryguylaundryguy Posts: 89
    Agree with earlier posts. When head gasket went - I could get no heat out of the heater, which was the symptom to a $940 repair in 1997. The second time I got no heat, it was the thermostat, which acted irregularly. This was $94 parts and labor to replace. My Windstar clunked to the bitter end of my ownership, even after several tie rods. Live with it, if you value money to any degree as replacing them is expensive. If you do have them done - replace inner and outer together. Have ball joints inspected before you dive into this. It may influence your decision to hold onto the Windstar. My Ford Windstar "lifetime" ball joints were just about shot at 115k miles each. I replaced one, and got rid of it before replacing the other which was essentially shot when we part ways.

    If you have the financial resources and your Windstar is at or near 100k - unload it. The real financial agony is just around the corner. Neighbor's had the power steering system gearing snap in half - $600 - ouch! at 96k. Interestingly, as I drove by the local transmission shop, three of the nine cars on the lot were Windstars, and since they aren't 30% of the population of all cars on the road, I would believe this to be a bad sign.

    Best of luck in whatever you do.
  • glenwglenw Posts: 2
    I have a 2000 Windstar SEL which has a bad road noise even at slow speeds. Sounds like a roar possibly caused by tires or bad bearings. Any thoughts?
  • selooseloo Posts: 606
    Wheel Bearings, I have been through two sets in 70K.

    2000 SEL
  • glenwglenw Posts: 2
    Thanks. thought wheel bearings might be problem. Will go have them checked.
  • filo0405filo0405 Posts: 2
    I have a 98 gl with 141000 miles, just last night, my interior lights would stay lit and my door chime goes off without any reason, also when I bought it, the passenger window and the back driver window didn't roll down, now none of them work!!! Is my van having a computer meltdown? Any suggestions?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Check the battery lately?

    Steve, Host
  • filo0405filo0405 Posts: 2
    Battery good, just found out that the light was caused by my "door ajar" switch. A quick fix is spray WD40 on the switch. The window problem was caused by me removing the fuse, no power windows...or wipers, but for now problem ok...just need to get lower ball joint fixed.
  • suchjoysuchjoy Posts: 1
    Has anyone had this problem? When I apply my brakes there is a squeak in the engine compartment/ under the dash. The squeak is driving my crazy. The Ford technician first told me that I needed to replace the booster cylinder, so I did($375.00). No change, maybe worse. The technician then says that I will need to replace the master cylinder. When will this end??? Maybe my wife will have to wear earplugs, especially in heavy traffic where you are braking a lot at slow speeds.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Thanks for the update, Filo.

    Sounds like you have a mediocre tech, Suchjoy.

    Try asking in Got a Quick, Technical Question? too.

    Steve, Host
  • gordon24gordon24 Posts: 1
    hi i am having a problem with my 96 ford windstar 3.8 fuel injected v6.the engine misses sometimes but not all the time .for instance i can be driving along just fine and then it will start to doesnt do it all the time.the check engine light is on and stays on but flashes on and off.i can pull up to a traffic light and it will be idleing just fine then it will start to miss.after about 30 - 45 seconds it will clear up and run like a brand new one.i dont understand what would cause this to do that.i have replaced the plugs but still no change.i had a diagnostic meter put on it and it says missfire on either # 3 or # 4 cylinder.they said that it had to be either the plug wires or coil pack.but if either of those were bad wouldnt it miss all the time?so if you have any suggestions on what would cause this problem i would greatly appreciate it ......thankyou
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Sounds like a reasonable diagnosis. At that mileage the wires should have been replaced with the plugs.
  • I'm having the same problem, although I'm not sure if it make a difference if I'm turning left or right...When the power steering oil is hot and you turn the wheel it make a whining...forced type sound. Any suggestions? I removed some of the old fluid and replace it...I also removed some old fluid and replaced with some super duper additive which helped marginally. Could it be that the belt needs to be replaced?

  • takbooftakboof Posts: 1
    Hi, I am trading in my 96 Windstar tomorrow morning. I just wanted to respond to your message. Unfortunately, at 87K, my first Intake Manifold Gasket went. I had the same troubles that you mentioned. The only difference, is the computer analysis was pegging #6 spark plug. I went and replaced all, then replaced the wires. After that, I went to the dealer and they replaced the intake manifold gasket. They warranteed the new on up to 100k...needless to say, at 110k, the check engine started to flash...just like before..the second one cost me $800...the first was $1200. Now at 139k...its reared its ugly head again. Trading it in for a new van tomorrow...yes another Windstar...because the crash tests results on a Venture are aweful...don't like Dodge...and am purchasing American.

    Just thought I could help. have a great night!
  • mb-s65mb-s65 Posts: 29
    I'm being told that the Rotors/Hubs were updated on windstars manufactured after 8/95 and that if I put new rotors on I have to buy new hubs, at 100 each! Does anyone else have any experience with this, is it true i need to put the new style hubs along with the rotors, or can i just slap the new rotors on the old style hubs.

    The van only has 66 k miles.

    Also, does anyone know what the factory spec is on cutting the original rotors?

  • mossfivemossfive Posts: 4
    I recently had my transmission flushed on my '99 Windstar at my local Ford dealership. This is the service where they do not drop the pan and blow the fluid to take the fluid out. This is supposed to clean the transmission of all debris and also clean the filter out. Since that time, the transmission has been leaking. They replaced the pan gasket yesterday but tonight I noticed fluid in my garage again. I put my van up on ramps and it looks like it is leaking from where the transmission is connected to the engine. Has anyone experienced a leak after having their transmission flushed? I'm going back to get my money back from the gasket tomorrow(hopefully) but will be taking it somewhere else to have it fixed.
  • jtk152jtk152 Posts: 139
    mossfive- ford dealers wont typically "flush" the ax4s/ax4n transaxles found in our windstars. A normal dealer service for these is to drop the pan, replace the filter (optional) & the ATF lost in the process (about 4qts). It sounds like they may have overpressurized your system during their "flush" process & blew out one of your seals. A good way to service these transaxles is to just pump out what you can thru the dipstick tube, and add fresh ATF. Service them OFTEN if you want them to last.
  • mark6mark6 Posts: 1
    Hi guys.
    I have a 1996 Windstar V6/3.8L with 173K km, and I just noticed contaminated coolant with oil, in the coolant reservoir. I have talked to my mechanic, and he said that Ford issued a TSB about this problem back in 1999. I have phoned FORD Canada, and they said this was just an advisory not a recall, and told me to go away. Am I being unreasonable asking Ford to cover the repair of the known problem? Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    You're way past the mileage for any assistance from Ford.
    140,000 miles is better than average for most vehicles, why does Ford owe you anything for it now? Pray to the car gods and thank them you got that much out of a Ford 3.8, junk it and move on. It's not worth fixing or replacing the engine. Once it's contaminated, it's cooked.
  • john54john54 Posts: 1
    The air bag light on my 2000 Windstar SEL has started coming on as well at 50,000. Started blinking after 5-10 minutes of driving then stayed on. The dash digital clock lost about two hours on the same day the air bag light started blinking. Clock problem hasn't recurred (yet). Ford dealer suggested it may be due to the battery getting old (it's now 5 years old) and low voltage condition. Apparently they've seen that problem before. It's hard to imagine low voltage happening during alternator operation, but it it may be possible. Last two days it hasn't come on. I plan to buy a new battery soon.
  • I would echo his comments -- you may be about to have a head gasket problem.

    I had my expensive'96 Windstar 3.8 liter defective head gasket job that Ford should cover but won't because they don't care about their customers at 86,000 miles. Two years later, I am only at 99,000 and when the check engine light went on recently the mechanic told me I needed a 100,000 mile tuneup. Now the tune up is done, the light came on again and he says the number 4 cylinder is misfiring and may be leaking -- i.e. the gasket is failing again. Moral of the story: Beware of spending money on a tuneup before checking for the infamous gasket problem.
  • laundryguylaundryguy Posts: 89
    Same symptoms at almost 100k, but reset of the radio was also found rather than the clock. Took and had battery test run - battery was shot. Air bag light never came on again. Got 8 years out of original battery - not bad.
  • thomasjthomasj Posts: 2
    My 2001 Windstar SE blew it's transmission on Saturday on our way back from vacation leaving my family stranded 200 miles from home. The vehicle has only 22,000 miles on it but is 3 months out of warranty. $3,000 to put a rebuilt tranny in. We are having it towed to our local dealer who is going to work with us on a trade (the wife has no confidence in the vehicle now). Thankfully the dealership also sells Honda - hoping to get into an Odessy at a reasonable price.
  • ormzormz Posts: 3
    like many of you I too have had some of these problems. now i noticed that my radiator fans don't go on at all. i checked all the fuses and there is no mention about relays .anybody help please
  • dhorydgdhorydg Posts: 1
    In reference to message 1409, my 98 windstar also blows hot air in the rear. It also has intermittent "service engine light" on. Any help to fix would be appreciated.
  • selooseloo Posts: 606
    I took the van to the dealership today for the following:

    Power door locks not working (problem inside the door panel)
    Clicking/knocking noise from the engine (new intake manifold)
    Broken compass/temp module behind the rear view mirror (Replacing)
    Loose front end (new tie rods)
    AC takes sometime to cool (dealer claims that nothing is wrong, and wants to charge me $80 for troubleshooting)

    Based on the messages on this board this seems to be normal issues for this van.

    ESP is covering all the costs, I highly recommend this product, its has paid for itself and then some.

    Troubleshooting charge? I have never heard or ever been asked to pay this charge. Anyone ever heard of this with a van under a Ford warranty? I do not plan on paying for this charge!
  • haulthault Columbus OhioPosts: 130
    I have a 2000 Windstar w/40,000 miles. I have had FORD charge me also when they could not verify problems. I just save the receipts and plan on adding it to my deductible when they find the problem. My Windstar has had some problems including the lack of cooling from the front air conditioner. They replaced an "O-Ring" kit and it seemed to help. Also had transmission seals replaced, tie rods. Overall I am pleased with the van so far. I have 6/60 extended warranty. I lived through a 95 Windstar.
  • selooseloo Posts: 606
    Picked-up my van from the dealer. They fixed all the problems. There was no charge for troubleshooting the AC even though they did not find a fault. The Ford ESP for the most part is an extension of the original warranty and has paid for itself!
  • ormzormz Posts: 3
    I thought I would get a reply by now but none so far .The fans on my windstar radiator do not go on at all. Anybody have some advice. P.S. Has anybody ever noticed that a good number of Windstars are missing their passenger side wheel covers.check it out
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Try the Got a Quick, Technical Question? discussion for the fans question - maybe more techies are hanging out over there.

    Steve, Host
  • thomasjthomasj Posts: 2
    I had hoped that our dealer would work with us after our transmission problems, but I was wrong. They tried to take us for a $6,000 ride by giving us $3,000 less for our van than it was worth and marking up the Honda over $3,500. Turns out that our problem was a torque converter and not the whole transmission. We will get it fixed and trade it somewhere that is not looking to turn such a huge profit.
  • Sometimes the bearings in the fan burn out and then it won't go when it's hot. Not sure that's your problem though.

    The reason you see so many Windstars without hubcaps is because the hubcaps were defectively designed. They fall off (at least on the '96s). The Ford dealer will charge you about $80 for a new one. I've had several and am currently missing one.
  • Your head gasket is likely shot -- the oil has gotten into the radiator fluid and vice-versa. Common problem with the '96s and '95s. Ford did a replacement program (not a recall -- just the company making good on its mistake)for owners of '95s but they claimed that they had fixed the problem on the '96s and refused to help any of us out. When I had my gasket job done the car was in the shop for two weeks "waiting its turn" behind all the other '96s. Bottom line: Ford should cover this since its a clear defect but they won't.

    So as somebody else said you can junk the car or pay something north of $1400 US to have a new gasket put on. As I said in a previous post, my experience was that the repair job didn't seem to hold up all that long. If the contamination is bad and the engine is blowing smoke, you should probably junk it.
  • gwcgwc Posts: 1
    I have the same problem. Took it to the dealer on Wednesday for what I thought would be a simple transmission flush and fill. Now, after taking it back to the dealer twice, I find out that a seal is blown and needs to be replaced at a cost of roughly $500. I think they over pressurized the system when they did the flush, but I have no way to prove this. The van never leaked a drop of trans fluid prior to the flush.
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    why do they go so quickly on Windstars??? I've never had to replace them on any other vehicle and they are shot at 45K! (Of course that was better still than the tranny at 38K!) Thank goodness for extended warranties!
  • I also have problems with my front door locks.This seems to be ongoing with thease cars.Is this a recall?
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    Ford seems to have a problem with Tie Rod ends. Not only the Windstar but also the Escort have had problems with them.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    That's because Ford uses junk front end parts. They have ever since they started making FWD cars in the 80s and it looks like they forever will.
  • selooseloo Posts: 606
    I do not think so, it was covered under the extended warranty. The EW seems to be the only way to go with these vehicles.
  • selooseloo Posts: 606
    Agree, I needed new tie rods on the passenger side at 70K, again EW picked-up the bill.

    I just hope I need a new engine and trans before the 100K, so Ford can pick-up the bill on these items also.
  • amilamil Posts: 1
    The air conditioning work well for 1-2 hours, after that it stop working. The fan blow hot air. If I stop the car for 15-30 minutes and restart the air conditioning function again. The car has been to several mechanics with no improvement. Freon was added, a valve in the air conditioning was changed, the battery and alternator were replaced. Most of the time nothing wrong can be found.
  • tug731tug731 Posts: 3
    Althought I never had any major problems with the winstar (replace tie rods, Brakes) I now have to replace a transmission after 65,000 Miles. based on the posts I have read, do we suck it up and pay for it or is ford any help. I am thinking I should trade it in if it costs 3000 dollars to repair. Any thoughts?
This discussion has been closed.