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Ford Windstar Problems



  • pandboypandboy Posts: 28
    I have a '96WS that had a similar problem 6 months ago. I bought new in 96 and have 40K on it. I visited the local dealer they estimated the cost for replacing speedometer head was $360.
    I called up to Ford Customer Service and complained the problem that they should pay for. In the end, I paid $60 for labor and Ford paid for the parts.
  • crankkycrankky Posts: 45
    We just bought a 2001 Windstar LX with 30k on it. I've noticed a slight shudder when the transmission shifts, especially under a load, i.e. loaded up for a vacation and driving through the hills. I'm going to take it in for a check in the next week or so and will ask them specifically about the torque converter that I've seen mentioned hear.

    I'm also going to buy an extended warranty for this van, since it looks like there may be some problems in the future. Are you folks using the Ford ESP warranty? Or a third party warranty. My gut feeling is to go with the Ford ESP plan even if it is a couple of hundred more. I tend to use dealerships for service anyway, and that would hopefully lessen any arguments over who pays. I've got a quote for $1540 for a 6yr/100k Premiumcare warranty. Sound like a decent price?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    "Manufacturer-backed warranties score very highly when it comes to ease of use. However, aftermarket warranties are often cheaper."

    Understanding Extended Warranties

    Extended Warranties: Extending The Joys Of Ownership



    SUVs, Vans and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards

  • Rather than scroll through 900some messages I think I'll just post anew. We have a 1999 3.8 liter LX Windstar with about 80,000 miles on the ticker. Lately the van will crank and start but only "run" for a second or so. It doesn't do it all the time. When it will do it is very difficult to predict. Outside temps and engine temps don't seem to matter. Sometimes once running it will be okay. Other times it'll run okay only to stall at traffic lights or other poor locations. It's definitely a safety issue not to mention an inconvenience. We recently had it tuned up (new plugs, fuel injection system cleaned, throttle body cleaned). My Chevy truck was doing the same thing. After tuning it up myself, the problem disappeared. My 1999 Crown Vic I drive at work did the same thing our van is doing. A new mass air flow sensor solved the Crown Vics problem. I'm wondering if maybe that's the van's problem too. ANY input would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
  • haulthault Columbus OhioPosts: 126
    Try They had the best prices. Less hastles when making claims.
  • I haven't finished troubleshooting my problem on my '95 Windstar (see "Vapor Lock Symptoms") but if it turns out not to be the fuel pump then according to my friend (ASE Certified Mechanic) the mass airflow sensor is the next culprit. I'll post the result whenever I get there....
  • My Windstar has been serviced 3 times by a Ford dealership for the same problem. The first time they charged me for the diagnosis, tested the O2 sensors and said they are fine, and then gave it back saying they didn't know what was wrong. The second time they put a PFE sensor on but shortly thereafter the check engine light was back on with the same code. The last time they cleaned all the injectors and intake manifold, replaced the plugs and wires, and air filter. I knew within 15 minutes of driving the van that they still did not fix the problem because of the odor that seems to be associated with this problem. Why is it so hard for this problem to be solved?
  • We had problems with the transmission getting "locked" in park (very hard to shift out) and a strange rumbling sound when putting it into park (but not all the time). The dealer was pretty much no help even after leaving it there for three days.

    My solution has been to make sure to do the following when parking: 1) stop the van and keep pressing the brake pedal, 2) shift into neutral 3) apply the emergency brake, 4) shift into park.

    This seems to help with both the locking in park and the mysterious rumbling sound no one at the dealership seemed to be able to help with. We opted to not get the extended warranty on a gamble. I just hope we're not sorry.
  • tmanttmant Posts: 70
    I have a similar problem with the "transmission binding" when pulling out of park. I was told that this was normal. I have not had any strange noise when putting it into park. Only sometimes do I have difficulty pulling out of park. The problem is usually more obvious when you are on an incline, but doesn't always bind on an incline. I use my parking brake out of habit, or maybe its a new habit so I don't have to hear that ugly shifting.

    Oh yeah, I have a 2000 SE. Change the transmission fluid at over 30k. I'm at 53k and will have it changed again shortly.

    My van came with Goodyear tires (215/70R15) and seems to be balding slightly on the inside edge. I'd like to think I have taken good care to balance/rotate and maintain proper air pressure. Am I about right on life expectancy of these tires? They are original and I'm at 53k now. I will be replacing them soon too.
  • There is a little pin in the transmission that is used to hold the car in park. It is not made to be the parking break as most people use it, as in my wife to speak of one. She pulls into the driveway (slight incline), puts it in park and then puts on the hand break/ When you go our later to drive the car the pin is wedged into the slot in the transmission and is hard to get out. that is most likely the problem.
    windstalker has it right. Put on the hand break, let it settle in and then put it in park. If that pin goes you will need a overhaul. I finally have my wife trained: Park in the street.
  • bdemasbdemas Posts: 51
    tmant: You got more out of your Goodyears then I did on my 2000 SE. I rotated them per the schedule. They are a 40-50K or so tire. I changed mine at 45K. I got a decent deal on Bridgetone BT70's ($280 for 4). My wife also has an aversion to putting on the parking break. I told her its going to cause problems in the future. We'll see.
  • tmanttmant Posts: 70
    I think I will start changing my habits and put it in neutral for a bit, while I pull the hand brake, and before I shift it into park! Scary!

    I just thought I could get to 60k I those tires, but I guess its OK.

    I asked about the oil light some time ago, but I'll bring it up again. My 2000 SE oil light does not seem to function as I would expect it to.

    If I put the ignition to on, after 3 chimes of the seatbelt (I'm guessing about 3 seconds as well), it lights up. If I start the van, the oil light will light up for a few seconds with the other lights. If I start the van without waiting the three seconds, the oil light will not ever turn on. I can't say for sure because I have (or think that I have) not had an oil pressure problem for it to light up.

    I have brought it into the dealer and they say nothing is wrong. They aren't getting and codes and even showed me two other Windstars that did the same thing (one was in the shop, the other was their courtesy van).

    So in the end, I just changed my habit of waiting the 3 seconds for the oil light to turn on before I crank it.

    Does anyone have this same strange problem?
  • On my 95GL I had michlens and was very disappointed when I had to get new ones at 95K. The secret, at least to me anyway, was to run them at max PSI and rotate. On FWD cars the fronts pull double duty: steer and pull. when you go around a corner the tires have a tendency to roll over on their sides and with the high pressure the wear is more evenly distributed. However, these are rated A for both hear and tread ware. The ones on the newer windstars are rated B so they will only get you 45 to 50K. However, they only cost about 40% on what the michlens do. However, they michlens have better traction, load range and heat resistance. When the generals on my 99 go I will replace them with michlens.
    I had my first failure last week. It would start but not keep running. Had to have the idle air control valve assembly replaced. I have the premium care so the tow was free, the repair was free and the rental car was free. It cost me 1500 for 6/100K so with the tow (60$), the repair (174) and the rental care(28) it is well on the way of paying for itself.
  • lbnfovlbnfov Posts: 1
    Our '98 WS did same thing at about 45,000 miles. Occasional stalling regardless of weather conditions. Friend is mechanic at Ford dealership. Can't remember particulars but some sort of small valve gets clogged. Simple procedure...he replaced and cleaned around and vehicle has not had any other issues (now at 85k miles). He noted that this can occur at 10k, 40k, 100k or never. He also noted that clogging was not linked to heavy city driving vs. highway or vica other words, it just happens.
  • pbwithpbwith Posts: 7
    Hi. We purchased a 2001 SEL, loaded. A beautiful van.

    We have had many naggin problems, however. Been back to the shop 4x for the air conditioning. And, it still does not work reliably. Plus, I have had brake problems, and rampant coolant leaks. In addition to that, there must of been at least 6 warranty recalls so far.

    So, I am a little nervous. I have 15K mile on this van. And, I am worried what happens as it gets a little older.

    I am thinking about taking my lumps, and getting a Honda or Caravan.

    What do you people think ? Hold onto the van, and roll the dice. Or, dump it and get something that may be more reliable.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
  • Pbwith,
    I would get rid of it just because I have had trouble with two Windstars. I bought a new 2000 Windstar in the summer of 2000 and it was in the shop multiple times for recalls, various squeaks and rattles, etc. (I have postings here on Edmunds with my ongoing problems). Anyway, We took a family trip from Illinois to Florida in 2001 and the Van broke down in Alabama on the way there and was taken to a dealer to be fixed. We got a rental and finished our trip. On the way home, we picked up the van in Alabama, it stalled once or twice in Tennessee but we made it back to Illinois (about 15-20 miles from home)when the van went dead again. It was taken to my local dealer where it took them over 2 months to find a problem. In the meantime, Ford (after many hours of dealing with upper level reps) agreed to trade us out of our van for a 2002. It has been in the shop multiple times also (mostly squeaks and rattles) but luckily, it has not had a major mechanical problem (yet). I will never buy another Ford again once I get rid of my Windstar.
  • mslmnmslmn Posts: 13
    Hi: I am still loving my 1999 SE Windstar. The transmission lick is finally fixed but... yesterday the right back sliding door was going crazy on me! It would not shut. No matter which bottom I pressed it would shut but I could hear the motor still running and open again. My daughter thought I was playing with her and vice-versa... Today, no problem at all... so far...! Any of the same problem?
  • Hi! I'm new to this forum but apparently not alone :-( . I bought my 98 Windstar Gl with just over 30K about two years ago. It now has about 60K. We've replaced a fuel pump, tie rod ends, and the front tires.

    We do have it stall when coming to a stop and making a sharp turn. Am I correct after reading these messages and other feedback that it may be the air idle control? Yes, I know about the TSB, but my Ford dealer says I must pay for the diagnostic tests so I haven't gotten it fixed. It happens in spells.

    My latest problem is possibly related to the transmission. This happened twice about a month apart. The vehicle was "off". I started the vehicle and shifted into reverse. I pressed the gas pedal and the engine only revved without moving or without moving much (much like the sound a vehicle makes trying to get it unstuck from snow or mud and the tires are spinning). The parking brake or foot brake was not on. A month later this happened again. I've been told to check and change the transmission fluid which I'm doing. I think the fluid level is OK though. Other possibilities suggested it was a valve getting stuck (under $1K to fix) or that the whole transmission (2K to 2.5K)! What do you think?

    Then there is a whining sound this vehicle makes sometimes when idling. Would that be the expensive power steering pump mentioned?

    Thanks for any feedback!

    BTW, the trade-in on these things is ridiculous. Two different dealerships offered me under $6500. This vehicle has no body damage, clean well cared for interior, and was running OK the day I took it. Then they want to charge me 15K for a 2000 model with only 30K less mileage? Is there another van in a comparable price range that is any better like Caravan, KIA, Pontiac Montana, and whatever a Mazda MPV is?

  • I have a 00 windstar SE with 46K miles. In the last month when traveling at highway speed the car will suddenly shake for no reason. The shake comes through the steering wheel and only lasts for about a second. The road is flat with no bumps. The sensation is like a sit down video racing game when you crash and the steering wheel shakes in your hand. The dealer balanced the front tires but this did not help. I am taking it back to the dealer in a couple of days and thought if anyone had a similar problem with possible solutions I could inform the dealer.
  • rigmanrigman Posts: 1
    You probably have a bad TORQUE CONVERTER. I also own a 2000 Windstar SEL and have two friends who own them a 2001 an older 95...and all seem to have torque converter problems starting around 34-38 thousand miles. Mine started at 34 thousand.. took it to dealer but they could not make it display the same problem. Had trans serviced at 35 thousand. At 40 thousand it felt like I was driving on a washboard.

    Also be aware that the motor for the power sliding doors are subject to go bad as well as the control module for the doors. There is also a recall/redesign of the power sliding door hinge. Somehow the hinge can cause a senser to send a wrong signal to the control module telling it to open the door.
  • We have owned our van for three years and two months. The van registers 28K miles and we were informed we need a new transmission. No wonder they only offer a 3yr or 36K mile manufacture warranty. After many calls to Ford and the dealership, they finally agreed to fix the transmission for $1,000, down from the original quote of $2,200. What they sold me was a power train warranty for 100,000 miles. When speaking to the servie manager at the dealership, he jokingly mentioned that the Windstars are know for their transmission and brake repairs. Brousing through this discussion thread, it appears he was correct. Life is full of lessons. Some more expensive than other. Lesson learned - "I will never buy another Van from Ford. We will be car shopping soon.
  • My transmission needed to be replaced when the van was 5 years old and had almost 72,000 miles on it. Ford replaced it for $500. They know they have a problem. It won't hurt to ask them about this.
  • I have a 99SE. Mine does a little stumble if I try to coax it into overdrive at 45. I just had the 30K service done and had a long talk with the chief of the service section at my dealer. He told me the hesitation was the torque converter trying to make up it's mind about going into OD. He said not to force it but to apply steady power and it would be fine. This I knew but he is correct. As long as I do that it is fine.

    I had a 95 GL with the infamous aluminium transmission piston and at 135K it was still going strong. I had the transmission serviced at each 60k with a pressure fluid change and never had any trouble. It is interesting that the fluid change for the 99 is every 30K, not 60K. Ford also now uses the semi-synthetic fluid, not the old stuff and they do the low pressure fluid flush. It took 10 quarts. I have the 100K extended warranty with no deductible so I will not worry about it for a few more years. I find most people do not do the transmission service. It is like they do not see it as an issue if they are not having any trouble. It is the old out of sight and of mind. These have gotten so complex you have to keep them serviced.
  • Looking at one at a car lot, has 74,000 miles, $6995, traction control, leather. How is this year on tranny/head gasket problems? Anything else I should look at/be concerned about? Thanks.
  • After drove home fine with the new 2002 Winstar, it rained during Labor day weekend. The steering felt stange as if there is slipping, binding during the turn. After one week of dry weather, the strange feeling went away. Any one had the same symptons while rainy days?
  • No problem in my 99 SE. Two questions: did what you are describing continue after the wet weather and disappear after a week or did it go away after the roads dried and it stopped raining? Did it do it on all wet roads or just one specific spot? I had the same feel on one piece of road and when I looked at the van the next day there was some oil on the side of the van. I obviously hit someone's oil.
  • I read through all of these posts trying to find information on the '98 model since I was having problems with mine. After what I read on this board, I'd stay away from the '95 and '96 models for sure. I've read about numerous head gasket and transmission problems. There are a few, though, that seemed to have escaped that.

    What do you think? I took my '98 Windstar GL in today to an independent shop that specializes in transmissions to have the transmission fluid drained/replaced and a new filter put on. I chose to do this so the contents of the pan could be examined. I hope I did not make a mistake by completely flushing it out and then replacing it but was told the contents could not be examined this way. I am pleased to say that the fluid revealed no signs of any transmission problems. This is something I wanted to know so I could decide how much of a loss I was willing to take. The mechanic suggested LubeGard automatic transmission protectant be added. The reason the suggestion was made was because he felt the problem I described was a valve sticking and was the result of time for servicing. He felt that the regular servicing and additive would probably eliminate this problem. I'll post back if it doesn't.

    The other scenario is that this has something to do with a valve sticking or pressure within the transmission (so I'm pretty much getting the same diagnosis) but these people (Ford included) did not feel like the regular servicing or additive would help. In other words, this problem will only begin to occur more frequently and continue to get worse resulting in the need to rebuild or replace the transmission. Yikes!

    Thank goodness no "service engine soon" lights are coming on. Well, what do you think?

    I called Ford customer service. They offered NO assistance. They just told me to keep my receipts and that if there was a recall later only then could I be reimbursed. Penguin and others, how did you get them to help? Was it a '98 model or later? I have no extended warranty. BTW, if they built quality products to start with there wouldn't even be a need for an extended warranty.


    I've mentioned the stalling problem. Well usually it happens when I'm at a stop. The other day it occurred in the middle of the road after I pulled out. This was very dangerous! Again, Ford offered NO assistance even though there is a TSB out on this. This is the second time I've called them about this. In order for them MAYBE to replace the part at THEIR expense, I'd have to have at least a couple hundred dollars worth of diagnostic tests done. You would think the dealership I bought this from would be more accommodating. They aren't, and Ford customer service says they can't regulate what the independent Ford dealerships charge for that. If we are in a crash because of a defective part they refuse to replace when there is a well known problem with this, then I informed them that I plan on pursuing a remedy to the full extent the law allows. Thank goodness this van has good crash test ratings and I am trained in child passenger safety (CPS). However, I'd rather not be the crash test dummies to test out my CPS skills or the van's crash test ratings!

    On a more positive note, this van is very child seat friendly. My '98 has the ALR belts which can be "locked" without the need for a separate metal locking clip. Also, it comes with three factory installed tether anchors. I had tether anchors installed on the rear bench as well so I can move the kids around as needed. It is very roomy and comfortable not to mention the dual A/C works great!

    I understand that the more bells and whistles a vehicle has, the more repairs one will be out. Up until now I have just accepted the tie rod ends, tires (because of the way the front end is), and a fuel pump are just quirks of this vehicle in the two years we've had it between 34K and about 60K and that if not this it would be something similar in another vehicle. However, I am NOT willing to accept the full financial responsibility of a transmission going out at 60K. It's all we can do to just make the payment much less all of these repairs. Please, can anyone offer me reassurance about the regular servicing and additive solving my transmission problem and a suggestion for getting a remedy to my stalling problem BEFORE we are involved in a crash because of it.

    I realize this was long. Thank you so much for your time and attention to this matter.
  • I had a 95 GL that lasted 135K (fellow in a pickup ran a red light and totaled me) and had the transmission serviced every 60K and did not have one problem. I had it flushed, not drained. It was put under light pressure, flushed, a cleaning solvent used, that was flushed, then a re-flush and then all new transmission fluid. It ran about $175 a shot. I know there were lots of problems with the aluminium piston but when mine was totaled it was not showing any signs of going bad.
    Funny though, the 99 service schedule says every 30K for the major service and ford now uses a semi-synthetic fluid.
    I service mine under the heavy duty schedule and the 95 did really well and never let me down. I had the head gasket problem but other than a ground wire rusting at 100k it just ran and ran and ran. I hope my 99 does as well.
  • rayt2rayt2 Posts: 1,208
    Code 1518 "Intake Manifold Runner Control Stuck Open"
    This is the code reading I am getting for the "check engine light" on my wife's 2000 Windstar LX w/3.8 V-6, 59k on the odometer. What the heck is this ?? it doesn't seem to effect the running but the light is annoying & I'm sure it has $$$ connected to the fix!

    ICWA & 98Windtarg: This may be your first indication of the power steering pump going bad, which will contaminate the rest of the rack system, maybe not. We had to have ours changed completely @37k and the dealer said sorry it's "out of warranty", that was a $900 repair out of pocket expense. We had the same noise/feeling you describe occur early on while in warranty but dealer said "unable to duplicate customer complaint, found all normal" I reminded them of this but all they did was drop $200 off cost of repair.
    We have 59k now & just purchased a extended warranty plan that covers everything till we dump this p.o.s. FORD !

    Ray T.
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