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Ford Windstar Problems



  • cobra71cobra71 Posts: 3
    I own a 2000 Windstar SE and have experienced many of the same problems posted on this site: power sliding doors, rattles, pinging engine and poor fuel economy. None of which has been fixed after repeated attempts by the dealer and discussions with the district representative. The van has 21,000 miles on it and the latest 3 problems are a "possessed" back-up sensor system that the dealer experienced first hand but could not fix (it beeps continually when nothing is behind the van), cruise control that would not turn off (finally fixed after 3rd time it was returned for this problem) and finally I learned that my transmission fluid being brown and smelling burnt is OKAY (no codes in the computer). They did remind me that transmission service is recommended at 30,000 miles and if I wanted the fluid changed now they would be happy to quote me a price. But the real reason I am writing is to ask for help with the pinging problem and 13.7 MPG. Dealer re programmed the computer (that didn't work) so they blamed it on a bad mass-air sensor and replaced that, but the pinging persists and the mileage is about 17 highway and 13 in town. (I have a 4x4 full size pickup that gets better mileage) Does anyone know what the fix is for these problems?? TSB number?? so I can have some more ammunition when I go back to the dealer again?? Dealer and district guy claim the van is just fine. I just want the damn thing fixed so I can sell it without feeling guilty. I should have gone with my first instincts and bought the Honda.
  • dsciodscio Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 SEL with 34K miles. For the most part everything has been great until now. We have noticed that the top of the leather steering wheel has started to blister and peel and asked that this be replaced under the 36k warranty. Ford has decided that this is not a defect but a "damage" issue. There assessment is that this is caused by cuts from a sharp object, possibly a ring. We disagree with this since neither my wife or I wear a lot of jewelry (none for me). I have experienced a similar problem with my 96 Contour and unfortunately did not address it before the warranty expired. Now I have a steering wheel that is ruined. Has anybody else experienced this problem? Please help!
  • karvinskarvins Posts: 5
    Here's an update to my posts #890 and #891 with the blown transmission in the 99 Windstar at 30K miles.

    The dealer has managed to throw in, supposedly from Ford, the 6 year, 100,000 mile Powertrain warranty, a $600 value they said. When I went in to the dealership I talked to their Customer Service person and brought with me 20 pages of various items pointing out the problems with the 99 transmissions and also the low quality rating of the Windstar in the Ford family. I requested to meet with the Ford regional rep and they said they would be meeting with them and pass the case and information along. I followed up on this and they said the rep could not do any more since Ford had already taken care of some of it and that I had the opportunity to buy the extended waranty at the time of purchase which was $1450 and so the response was Pay now or pay later. I said while that was interesting it does not speak to the quality of the Ford products and the business they will lose unless they keep owners happy.

    My goal as I stated to this Customer service person is to get Ford to kick in another $600 and then I will be satisfied that I am paying for the Powertrain warranty only.

    I requested the face to face meeting with the Ford regional rep and they said he may take it or request me to write down the information and send it to them depending on the person. The saga continues... when is someone going to start the class action lawsuit for transmission issues, particularly the 1999 like was done for the 1995 model? It is still ridiculous that consumers have to put up with this kind of lack of quality and backing of a product.

    On another note the van is on a road trip with a working transmission and pinging like crazy my wife tells me since she is going through 85 to 100 degree highway driving conditions which are the optimal conditions for pinging. Mine had the TSB's done already so now what? Do I push to have the PCM replaced or carbon buildup blown out like others have suggested? With all that pinging the next thing to go will be the pistons and engine as this is not a healthy situation for any car. I guess my Powertrain warranty will cover this with a deductible I suppose.
  • karvinskarvins Posts: 5
    Reference posts #890, #891, #906.

    I received a call back from the dealer Customer Service rep and they called the regional rep who apparently will only take things in writing. So now I guess I am down to a letter writing campaign and avoidance of facing up to the reality that the transmission should be covered in its entirety. The saga continuess...
  • storkdudestorkdude Omaha, NE. Formerly Tokyo, Japan/ Dayton, OH/ Wash, DC, Minot, ND, etc. etc.Posts: 26
    I have a 98 w/ 3.8l engine, 68K. About 6 times since we've bought it (beginning @ 1 yr after purchase) the xmission disengages when stopping at a stop light. Forgot all about it until it did it 3 times yesterday--I almost got into an accident turning left at a busy intersection. I have to turn off the engine and restart it to work right. I thought it was software. After scanning the web it looks like it's a forward piston in the xmission that's cracked-not really uncommon. Going to call Ford Friday and raise some hell. Any suggestions?
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    The forward piston cracking was an issue with the 95 Windstar only. In 1995 the forward piston was constructed of aluminum and would fracture, the piston was changed to stainless steel in 1996, which corrected that particular problem.
  • karvinskarvins Posts: 5
    There is another credible avenue for all transmission issues or safety issues in general to be officially reported and that is with the NHTSA. Storkdude's case is a good example. It appears you can post to:

    What is interesting is that they say

    "If a safety-related defect exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment, the manufacturer must fix it at no cost to the owner. Your report is the first step in the process."

    So I would consider any transmission failure a safety issue considering the consequences of the situations you can find yourself in with failure while on the road.

    I would think the more people that complain about their defects, eventually Ford will have to fess up here they designed a poor transmission.

  • I had the same problem with my 97 windstar and believe it or not, our dealer did an automatic transmission flush ($135) and that did the trick. It is hard to believe that this took care of the problem, but it did. I also thought I would need an alignment and balance, but I didn't. This van has been nothing but trouble and we are getting ready to trade it in for a new
    Toyota Sienna (sp). Hope this helps!
  • raheelmraheelm Posts: 1
    I took my windstar GL 19196 in because of the check engine light - the dealer fixed the problem but said my timing cover was leaking coolant. Has anyone else had this problem and what are the symptoms?. He wants $1200 to replace this because the engine of the car would have to be dropped to get to the timing cover - so most of the charge is for labor. Is this true?. What happens if I delay fixing this. Thanks in advance for all your answers.
  • richdb1richdb1 Posts: 1
    I've owned a 99 SE Windstar where the sliding door rattled so badly, that through the Dispute Settlement Board, Ford bought it back! I opted to take them up on an offer to exchange that money towards the purchase of a new 2002 Windstar Limited. The doors are no better. It constantly rattles & squeaks. My rear sensor is going crazy, beeping every time I put it in reverse. I intend to contact the DSB once again to beg them for a refund. I've owned Ford's all of my life and had great success with them. The Windstars that I've owned have required constant trips to the dealer. I'm looking into the Oldmobile Sillouette Premiere edition. I'll watch for your feedback.
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    Unfortunately, along with problems with the head gasket, the 3.8L engine has also been plagued with leaking timing chain covers.
  • gdenisongdenison Posts: 1
    Our 1999 Windstar developed a "clunk" in the right front wheel area when hitting bumps. The car was in the shop from 7/3 to 7/8 and is now back in the shop again. The mechanics have taken on this problem as a challenge. So far, the mechanic has replaced the right coil spring and the struts.
    Has anyone had a similar problem? Does anyone have any suggestions?
  • I just bought a Windstar (June 19) and noticed that several front-end parts are rusting on the front-end. i.e. the front wheel drive shaft, an L bracket and bolts located near the top of the suspension mechanism.

    Has anybody else encountered rusting problems? The dealer claims this is 'normal'.

  • storkdudestorkdude Omaha, NE. Formerly Tokyo, Japan/ Dayton, OH/ Wash, DC, Minot, ND, etc. etc.Posts: 26
    I had a similar problem. It was the tie-rod end. Easy to replace if you have an air compressor, otherwise you'll need to rent a ball joint splitter and use a big hammer (this is no Corolla.) Dry tie-rod ends can feel normal until you remove it when you find that the ball joint it easily movable-it still won't make noise. Good ones can barely be moved using your hands. Common problem. Hard to think the Ford garage would miss it. Cost me $25 for one with a Zerk fitting to grease it when it runs dry. The other one still is OK after 70K.
  • mikec123mikec123 Posts: 6
    I bought the van from a Ford dealer in March of '02 when it had 33K miles on it. On 7/3 (about 38K miles on it then), while driving on the highway at about 70mph the "O/D Off" light started flashing. When I was able to pull of the road I checked the Trans. fluid (it was at a good level although it looks like the recommended 30K mile fluid change was never done) and restarted the car. The code was cleared but later when we started up a slight hill the light started flashing again. I can get the light to come on any time I go up hill when the car is in overdrive (highway speeds). It does not seem to shift any harder than usual (it has always shifted somewhat rough). My guess is that it can't engage third gear on the downshift but, again, it does not make any loud noises or jerks. I got the light to flash and went to autozone for the free scan but they insisted I turn the car off even when I told the tech that it looses the code when the engine is off. Sure enough the scanner reported no codes!!! Anyway, I don't want to go on like this so I'm taking into the dealer tomorrow to get it evaluated. I'm pretty worried that they're going to tell me the transmission has to be rebuilt (especially after reading some of these posts!!). I'd like to hear from some of you that have gotten the $400 transmission replacement. What is the best way to approach the situation? Do I come right out and say that I know they have this program or should I just insist that I'm not paying for a new transmission on a car with <40K miles?

    thanks in advance for all your help!!!
  • mikec123mikec123 Posts: 6
    Follow-up to # 918:

    Well the car was diagnosed by the Ford Dealership and this is what they found:

    Code P0174, they said that the valve body failed and the torque converter went bad. The code description I found said that "Torque Converter Clutch Circuit Performance or Stuck Off". The dealer gave me an oral estimate of $1625 to repair the valvebody and torque converter. I was pretty annoyed and grilled the service rep as to why internal transmission parts fail after 3.5 years and only 38K miles. He actually admitted that the valve body was defective. I asked for the number of Ford's customer service and he would not give it to me. I then found the number (1-800-392-3673) on and gave them a call.

    Herman, the rep I spoke with at Ford, was very polite and asked me what the problem was. After I told him that my transmission had failed at 38K he said that it was unusual and all he hears are good things about the Windstar. I told him to check on and see all the '99 windstar owners with transmission problems. He then asked what I would like Ford to do for me (remember that the van is OUT OF WARRANTY!). I told him I would like them to pay for my transmission to be replaced. After putting me on hold he got back on the line and asked if I would be happy if Ford replaced the tranny and extended the powertrain warranty to 6yrs/100K miles at an expense to me of $495. I accepted his solution and the new transmission is now on order!!

    The experience of dealing with Ford's customer service was pleasant and they offered me a fair solution without argument. Obviously they know that there is a problem with the transmissions on those vans or they would have told me to go fly a kite, but none-the-less it's far better than taking them to court and enduring all of that nonsense.

    My advice to anyone with a '99 Windstar that has transmission problems is not to waste your time at the dealer level and instead give Ford a call right a way.

    By the way if they don't help you to your satisfaction be sure to visit That site has lots of insight and advice as well as great links.

    If anyone has any questions feel free to email me at Be sure to put Windstar in the subject line because I get lots of spam and I'm quick to delete messages from unfamiliar senders.

    Thanks to all those that have posted previously. Without this info I would have been lost.

  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    Maybe the reason you get lots of spam is because you post your email address on public boards ;-). You can make it available in your profile (mark it "public") and that'll fool some of the spambots.

    Isn't it interesting how customer service reps only hear good things about the products they support? I never call those folks unless I do have a problem.

    Anyway, great story - thanks for sharing!

    SUVs, Vans and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards
  • mikec123mikec123 Posts: 6
    Yeah Steve, I think the Ford rep was over-the-top with all of his rah-rah Ford stuff but I really think that perhaps Ford is paying attention to all of the customers who have been dissatisfied in the past. Maybe their record low stock prices and poor quality ratings (well behind GM in the domestic rankings) are finally hitting them right in the wallet. That's really what it comes down to. They're a corporation whose number 1 goal is to increase profits. If it is profitable to treat customers fairly and stand behind their products (read "repeat customers" and "customer referrals") than they'll do it. It appears that it has taken Ford a while to put 2 and 2 together.

    ...I would guess that the majority of the spam I recieve is the direct result of certain sites (I won't name any names) selling my account info to the highest bidder!!!!

  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    Well, Ford did make a profit in the second quarter for a change (previous 5 or 6 quarters were "losers"). So maybe they really are paying attention (and maybe it's time to buy the stock!).

    SUVs, Vans and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards
  • oregon4oregon4 Posts: 2
    We had the head gasket recall done at 47,000 miles and the timing cover gasket replaced at 92,000 miles due to leaking coolant- three days after the last repair, a rod bearing failed and wiped out the crankshaft. Oil and filter changed every 3000 miles on this van- is there any relationship between these two repairs and then having the bottom end fail like this?
    Mechanics- I would love to hear from you as the van is sitting in the shop right now.
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    mikec123: The deal the ford rep gave sounds typical of what others have received on this board. Our 2000 had the torque converter replaced at just over 36k. We didn't have the OD light sympton, ours would shudder a bit. The mechanic didn't even hesitate when I brought it in, I told him how it was acting and he said it was the torque converter. Something tells me he had seen a few before me.
  • I have read over 100 posts so far but did not see anything mentioned about my latest problem. The needle for all dashboard readings (RPM, Speed, Fuel, Temp.) occasionally go crazy. They bounce from zero to 140 mph, rpms redlined then zero, or just freezing at a certain level before reverting back to proper levels. This is not a problem with the engine just a chip or sensor I assume. Has anyone one else had this problem and if so what was the approx. cost? I want to have a heads up going to the dealer. I, like most others here, have had my share of problems; transmission, rack & pinion, fuel pump, lights staying on, etc.
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    I think the 99 still had the speedometer cable. My 95 had to have the speedometer head replaced at 35K. My 99SE is just going over 30K now and no problem.
  • tmanttmant Posts: 70
    I just replaced my front disc brakes with $40 semi metallic Raybestos brakes from Pep Boys. In replacing them, I noticed there are little metal clips that hold the brake pad onto the disc (2 for each pad, or 4 for the tire). On the driver side, there was only 3 clips, on the passenger side, there was only 1! I thought this was very unusual, but the brakes never had a problem doing their job.

    The old pads were a little over 1/8 inch thick left. But I went ahead and changed them because I started hearing this strange grinding-like noise when I brake moderately. It sounded like the pads were worn out and scratching up the disc, it wasn't.

    Its only been a few days and maybe only 100 miles since the change, but I have not heard that grinding noise again. I suspect that perhaps my brake fluid level was a little low before the change (its close to max now after pushing the brake pistons back in).

    Another thing was a rattling noise I thought was coming from the exhaust system seems to have stop. I was going to buy replacement rubber mounts for the exhaust pipes, but since the brake change, I haven't heard the rattle. I am now suspecting those missing clips on the brake pads may have caused the strange rattling noise when I hit bumps.

    Oh yeah, the replacement pads did not come with the clips.

    Other than that, I've gotten over 50000 miles in almost 3 years with this van, without significant problems. I've brought it in for some routine maintenance and recalls and thats it so far!

    Can someone suggest a source (perhaps local to the Houston area) for brighter bulbs (halogen?) for the backup lights for the Windstar? Or even for other aftermarket products for the Windstar.
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    I guess you and I are the exception. I had a 95 GL with 135K on it and was very please with it but it did not survive a truck that ran a red light. I now have a used 99 SE with just under 30K and love it. I am in the DC area so can not help with your request for information but good luck.
  • roadrascalroadrascal Posts: 35
    We had a head gasket, timing cover gasket, water pump gasket and new intake manifold replaced on our '96 at 72,000 miles (under warranty). Less than 100 miles later the engine seized up on the interstate. The mechanics stated that there was an engine knock and the oil pressure was low. They didn't give me a logical explaination on why the engine blew, but a couple of friends of mine (non Ford mechanics and specialized race car engine builders) say that Ford crank, oil pump and connecting rod bearings absolutely do not like the presence of coolant in the oil. So I would say that coolant leaking into the engine would cause the engine to fail. You can read more about our van at and click on the Ford Windstar problems link.
  • oregon4oregon4 Posts: 2
    I think what you are saying may very well be true. The wrecking yard that is supplying a replacement engine for my Windstar mentioned the same thing. So it goes something like this- you drive around with coolant in your oil for thousands of miles and Ford is finally forced into doing the head gasket replacement... then your engine prematurely fails down the road and you are the one that gets stuck for their screw up. This is especially disheartening since we changed the oil and filter in this van religioulsly every 3000 miles!! I think this would make a very interesting lawsuit vs Ford if someone had the time and energy to work on it. How many people are having premature engine failures and have no idea that the previous coolant problem is probably the culprit?
  • haulthault Columbus OhioPosts: 126
    I had a 95 Windstar purchased new 6-94. Coolant problem started around 25000 miles. Head gaskets were finally done after my persistence around 55000 miles. While on vacation in Florida the engine bearings were replaced. Engine died on way back to Ohio. Vehicle had 65000 miles and was one month out of 6 yr extended warranty. My local FORD dealer salesman helped me with the FORD Buyback program. That got me about $10,500 off 2000 Windstar. Any way my experience and all that I have read indicates the coolant in the oil prevents the oil from doing all it's lubricating and the engine internals wear out sooner. If FORD won't help small claims court is good solution. Contact me I have experience with FORD but did not have to sue for help.
  • kelleyokelleyo Posts: 182
    worst quality I have ever seen in a vehicle. It has only 20,000 miles on it. We have had it in numurous times with Service Engine light. The last time they had to replace the gas tank to fix the problem.

    The Low Tire pressure warning light stays on constantly. I keep the tires set at 32 to 35 lbs and reset the light and within an hour it comes back on. Dealer has never been able to fix.

    We have a gasket leak around the drivers side sliding door that has never been fixed.

    We have had many (4 ?) recalls.

    It is now leaking oil like a sieve. They replaced the oil pan gasket but it has started leaking again.

    I would not recommend this car to my worst enemy.
  • My 95 Windstar has stalled twice in the last 6 weeks with vapor lock symptoms. I live in C Springs, both days it was hot and A/C was running. Car surges, then eventually stops running. I let it sit for about 10 mins, then the car starts up and everything is fine. Right now I have a fuel pressure gauge hooked up to the van waiting for it to happen again but the fuel pump seems to be okay (its within the PSI range of 30 - 40 psi). Anyone else experience this problem? I have 115K miles on the car, but a new engine (of course) and a rebuilt tranny (also of course). Once I fix this problem, I'm selling the van.
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