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Ford Windstar Problems



  • jpc13jpc13 Posts: 1
    I have a Windstar SEL 2000 and noticed severe pinging around 65,000. Pinging was not the only problem that popped up at the same time. My mileage averaged between 20-22 dropped to 18-19. I read the articles posted and asked my service person what they thought. They tried new plugs, and some other things. I tried different octane without much success. We then discussed the Ford TSB# 8233 and they went ahead and performed the change. Also, they cleaned / soaked the heads to remove carbon build up. At this point (about 1 month, 3000 plus miles later) I have not had any pinging and my gas mileage went from 18-19 back to 22-23. I made one trip since the change where I did 25 mpg. At this point I would say it seems to have fixed it.
  • Can anyone help me diagnose a stalling problem I have with my Windstar. It will periodically stall when making right hand turns. I have heard of others having this problem, but cannot remember if there is a cure.
  • rugmankcrugmankc Posts: 133
    There is a TSB on this and the dealer should know about it. Good Luck.
  • I realized I had an alignment problem within a few days after I drove my new 02 Windstar home. Don't ask me how I didn't notice it on the test drive. It was bad to the left. Took it right back to the dealer and they said they did an alignment on it. Took it home - same thing. Very noticeable pull to the left. It was about this time I also noticed the trans 'slipping' from 1st to 2nd. Thought I was going nuts. Only when accelerating from a stop then letting off the gas slightly then accelerating again it would slip and almost clunk into 2nd. Dealer said they checked it and found nothing. They also said the checked all my tires and did 'another' alignment. Well I drove it home again and after several thousand miles on it I couldn't take it any more. It was still pulling to left and the trans still felt like it was slipping. Not all the time but just under certain circumstances. Well I brought it back to the dealer and took the service manager for a ride to show him the problems. I can create the slippage in the trans as explained above and the pulling to the left was obvious. So they had the van for almost a week and they had to remove front cowl and remove welded camber caster settings & reset left rear camber and toe. Their explanation' for the trans was that it is computer controlled and I'm fooling the computer when I let up on the gas after just starting to accelerate. Obviously these guys don't know stop and go driving. So I pick up my van and drive it home and feels like they finally got the alignment right (after 10K miles - should I ask for new tires?) but when I turned into my driveway the right front strut is now knocking. So I take it back AGAIN and this time make them give me another Windstar to drive while they have my van so I can check the 'computer controlled' trans to see if it is the same on another Windstar. Well I've had it for 2 days and it's like night and day. The loner doesn't drive at all like mine. I'm gonna call them in the morning and tell them they can keep mine until the trans problem is FIXED. I'm just about at the limit for our state Lemon Law also.
    Wow what a hassle after having a great experience with a 96 Villager with 96k until it got wacked by deer - no problems and they cancelled this vehicle?
  • I've been thinking about a German
    I'm not sure if I accidentally deleted this, so, if I did, here it is again: My '96, with the 3.8, has had its check engine light diagnosed by AutoZone to be a fault in one of the banks of the catalytic converter, or something to that effect. I've been told an option is to replace the entire catalytic converter, but I'm not sure if that's my SOLE option. As doling out many, many Washingtons isn't on my "Things I wanna do to make me a happier man" list, is there a simpler way to remedy this problem? Thanks in advance. Luke:)
  • You didn't happen to mention in your post what the mileage on your vehicle was. This happens to be important because the EPA mandates a warranty on all vehicles in the US since 1995 on specific emissions related components. If your car is a 1995 or newer model (you said your Windstar was a '96) and has fewer than 80,000 miles you qualify. The replacement of the catalytic converter, the labor to replace it (including ALL associated costs), and the diagnosis of the problem are covered completely. See the sites below for more information regarding this warranty.

    Good luck to you.

  • I believe I qualify for no warranty coverage with 170,000 miles on my van, but even so, I should be glad it's lasted this long, huh? More advice is always appreciated, as was the previous post. Thanks, Luke:)
  • jotbbjotbb Posts: 1
    I have a '98 Windstar that I bought about two years ago; it had about 35k miles then, and is now up to 80k. Luckily (by the tone of these posts), I haven't experienced anything out of the ordinary. As a matter of fact, it's been a pretty damn good vehicle so far. My only complaint is how harsh the tranny is - the van shudders when shifting up or down at lower speeds, and has done so since I bought it. At first, I thought there was a serious tranny problem, but after taking it to the dealer, I was told it was normal. Well, I got burned on a '94 Plymouth Voyager tranny three years ago, so I was paranoid. But again, after two years and 45k miles, the tranny has held up, as rough as it is.

    Now, I just got a 2003 Windstar LX as a company car last week (in addition to my '98, although I'll likely get rid of it soon). I've only driven it a couple hundred miles, but guess what: the tranny feels the same! It shudders at low speeds just like the '98, although it's a pretty smooth ride once you get going on the highway (although I agree the engine is noisy).

    My question: Is the '03 tranny the same as the '98, and are others complaining as well?
  • mjngamjnga Posts: 1
    Same problems as the prior posts reporting this - Engine pinging very bad. Dealer has worked on van 2 different times and problem goes away for a little while only to return. My Ford Dealer stated to use the cheap gas and not the high octane gas ( Carbon Problem ) - he also mentioned that gasoline distributors from the northern states use a additive do to the cold that gives these fords fits, and sometimes this gas gets delivered to the southern states where I live in the spring in turn causing my problem? Bottom line I was told there is nothing they can do that will keep this from happening again and this is just a characteristic of the motor and will not hurt the motor.
    At this time my van still has the problem and the warranty has run out. (58000 miles) I have all my paper work reporting the problem to the dealer in the past. Can anyone tell me exactly what I need to do or say to Ford to get this problem taken care of. Do I go through the dealer or to Ford Customer Care? Thanks for your help. MJ
  • I saw a 97 at a used lot. Only 90,000km (55,000 mi) They are only asking $8,500.00 Can. ( approx $4500.00 US) It has the 3.0 and not many options but would work well for me and my family ( wife, 2 kids and dog size of horse). The question is do I avoid it like the plague or not. Most of the complaints seem to be about the 3.8, trany on this one seems to shift smoothly, no power door, no ping ( but its winter here now). Don't see many postings about the 97's but I don't know if thats because they are all dead now. lol Anyways any feedback I can get would be much appreciated as my wife is already in love with it and if we don't buy it I better have a good reason why.

  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    The 97 model year had an extremely short run, only about 4 months or so. It was replaced by a very early 98 Windstar.

    Ford had been losing business due to the lack of a driver's side sliding door. Although the addition would require a major structural redesign, they were able to compensate (so they hoped) by rushing the 98 model year into production, It had a wider driver's door, called the "King Door" The idea was that the wider door, coupled with a drivers seat that could slide forward, would enable you to use the door for access to the rear, similar to a 2 door sedan/coupe.

    The 97's are supposed to have been the more reliable of the Windstars. By then, changes were made to the transmission to make it more reliable. The 3.0L engine didn't have the cylinder head gasket problems that the 3.8L engine had either. You can still look forward to electrical problems, not serious, but a royal pita.

    I had a 96 Windstar that gave me very good service for about 100,000 miles. It was still going strong when I sold it.
  • I noticed the the 97's don't get mentioned much but didn't realize it was a short model run. Are they actually more reliable or is it just that there are less of them to break? Just to make all of you feel a bit better Here is a Caravan story. My Stepfather's 2000 had the transmission and engine go at the same time. This was his 3rd transmission in this vehicle. Thought you would like to see that its not just the Fords.
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    They seem to have incorporated all of the improvements that Ford had made and were basically the same vehicle as prior years so there weren't too many assembly bugs. The major transmission problem at that time was with a forward clutch piston which had originally been made of aluminum and was prone to fracture and fail. For 1996, the piston was replaced by a stainless steel one which cut down drastically on failures. The cooling and head gaskets on the 1996-97 3.8L engines were also revised, cutting down on gasket failures. I had a late-build 1996 and it proved to be a very reliable vehicle, right up to the time that I sold it.

    If I remember correctly, the Consumer Reports Frequency of Repair records also showed that year to be more reliable than those preceding or following.
  • This van was by far the Worst vehicle I've ever owned . Since we bought it it was taken back 26 times. If I didn't have the extended warranty I would have been bankrupt.I had the tranny fixed 3 times and once relpaced. The door ajar alarm was taken in for bad sensors, switches about 7 times. I talked to both the dealer and Ford reps and they basically said Too Bad! We'll since Ford doesn't stand behind their products I just purchased a japanese made van. Ford has lost another customer!!!
  • mted23mted23 Posts: 16
    My wife and I are the new owners of a 2000 Windstar SE. We purchased the vehicle at a Chicago area Carmax. I read through most of the posts here regarding the Windstar. We felt that for the price and safety of the Windstar we could not go wrong. The van has 30,000 miles on it and after researching the VIN went ahead and purchased. We did purchase an extentded warranty to give us peace of mind. We have only had the van for a few days but the initial impression is good. BTW, Carmax was very easy to deal with.
  • I posted a while about a tire shaking problem. At highway speeds while turning, the tires would shimmy even though I held the steering wheel still. It also pulled to the left. I brought it in to a Tires Plus and they diagnosed the problem as a "tight tire bead". I've never heard of this, but I needed new tires anyway, so I purchased new ones. Has anyone ever heard of a "tight tire bead"? They said it's the way the tired was manufactured. The steel bead was wrapped to tight. It's one of those explanations where I'm not sure if it's bull or the truth.
  • but they may be right, I'm not sure. I do know that when I took my Windstar into Tires Plus for a tire balance and rotation, the brake rotors warped about a week later. Coincidence? Could be. With 31,000 on the van and the fact that Ford rotors are pretty flimsy maybe not. All I know is that the brakes worked fine until I had TP rotate and balance the tires.... I never had a problem with TP before.
  • tmanttmant Posts: 70
    Well, my transmission fluid has started to leak! Seems like its coming from somewhere on the driver's side drive shaft. I've added one of those transmission no leak bottles and it has not helped. The leak is relatively small right now, but now my driveway is no longer oil-free! :(

    I will be taking it in to the dealer in the very short future. Unfortunately I don't have the extended warranty.

    Also, my steering/suspension seems to squeak very loudly on left turns. Seems like around the transmission leak.

    Finally, my windshield wiper fluid indicator goes on everytime I use the fluid. I overfilled it when I didn't realize it was still full! I can live with that though.
  • :bank 1 stuck open, and same with bank two stuck open. codes P1537 and P1538 check engine light codes. This is the 3.8liter engine. Dealer wants $500 to replace one (there are two but they say its usually only one causing both codes to show). $300 for the part, $200 for labor. The van is idling a bit rough and will occasionally stall when coming to a stop. Runs fine on the highway. Anyone else out there having this problem? Any info on it?
  • I have a 1999 Winstar with 55K, and I really like the way it performs. I have not had much in the way of mechanical problems, other than some front end parts...a little surprised at this...tie rods are getting squeeky and I had an idler arm or something like that replaced under warrenty. Big problem is the gas consumption around town. I do not have a heavy foot, and there is usually no big load, other than maybe a passenger or two. I have been tracking this, and I am getting at best 12 miles per gallon around town. I am now saving gas receipts at the suggestion of the dealer, as they suggested this is not normal. It has been like this since I bought the van two years ago with 16K on it. Has anyone else experienced this sort of problem? This is way below what the ratings suggest I should be getting. Not nearly as bad on the highway. How can I fix it?
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    My 2000 Windstar LX gets rotten mileage also. Several reprograms of the computer and changes of electronic modules have helped it slightly. I get about 14-15 around town and not much better on the highway. My 4WD Chevy Tahoe gets better mileage.
  • sudsysudsy Posts: 1
    I purchased a 2003 windstar SEL 3 weeks ago, have 600 miles on it. As I was driving it home I sensed a LOT of noise in the car. Every time I stepped on the accelerator it "sounded" like a rush of air coming in but without the breeze. I traded a 98 limited with 85,000 miles on it and feel they got the better deal. I notified the salesman of this noise and he said maybe something needed to "tighten up", uhuh. When idling and stepping on the gas and letting off you can hear the air intake opening and closing. My biggest question is, should there be insulation on the firewall as there is NONE. The road noise is also very annoying to say the least, so between the two annoyances, a normal level of conversation in the car is nil. The SEL, from my understanding is just a step down from the Limited and the extra price was cosmetic, am I wrong about this? HELP!!!
  • This 2000 sel I've owned for just about a year and this last week was the first time I've driven in the snow and first time in a vehicle with trac cont. When the front tires spin apparently the traction control is linked to anti-lock brakes that they feel can some how help to correct the spin. Raised in Wis and driving in snow my whole life I don't need the help. The question I have for anyone out there with this van does this feature sound like some kind of rhythmic grind. Like something is terribly wrong, the ironic thing is when I hear this god awful noise my foot comes off the gas and the tires gain traction anyway. The dealer says this is normal due to the unfortunate placement of the unit right under the drivers feet. Though due to my chronic mistrust of car dealers especially Ford I'm reaching out to you. This is my first Windstar so for comparisons I drove a 2003 and trac cont was silent in comparison.
    Is this sound consistent with this year and model or should I press the issue with the dealer. 6 months left on warranty.
  • I am an unhappy Ford owner. At 44,000 miles and 2.5 years old, my brake rotors had to be replaced because they were to thin. The paint is peeling off my roof rack rails. The power steering rack and pump is leaking that will cost $2000 to replace. Since it is past the warranty period, Ford is unwilling to shoulder any responsibility. I am going to get rid of it as soon as I can. Ford is using inferior materials to save weight and it shows up later on. If you buy a Ford, you should opt for the extended warranty. I recommend a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey.
  • lareslares Posts: 4
    There is a vacuum valve on the left side of the engine: Part number CK-2259 is just to the rear of the alternator (it is easy to see). I don't know what this is called actually but it is controlled by a small vacuum hose on the top, has an electrical connection on the side and a linkage to what appears to be the rear head. It is held on by 2 screws. When the idle drops down, this valve is activated and pulls on the linkage thus preventing the engine from stalling. It took me all of 15 minutes to get it off and $200 from the dealer for a replacement part!! (bunch of thieves - no return or warranty unless their technician would do the work and they want 2-3 work hours) To test the valve with the engine off, disconnect the vacuum hose on the top, push the linkage in and put your finger on the opening for the vacuum hose to create a seal. The linkage should stay in. If it comes out you need a new valve.
  • the lower intake manifold is one piece. Our '96 had the same problem, and it was replaced twice under warranty (had an extended warranty). This seems to be a common problem, not only with the 3.8 enigne, but also with the 3.0 24 valve motor that's common with the Taurus, Sable, and others. It's a poor design and most of the time it's caused by carbon buildup that keeps the butterfly valves from closing fully. On our Windstar, the IMRC seals failed (o-rings on the shafts) which should be a $.20 part, but due to Ford's ingenious engineering, the whole lower intake needs to be replaced. I have a small writeup about it on my site under the 'Ford 3.8 headgasket failures' section at See if the dealer can kick in the part for free and you pay the labor.
  • We own a 2000 Windstar. When it reached the 20M mile mark we have had nothing but trouble. On one particular day the car just would not start. I called roadside assistance and after a few days in the shop the car was returned to me only for the same thing to happen again....and then 3 times over. Ford claims this is all due to minor mechanical problems. However my 5 year old waiting for mom to pick him up at school in 30 degree weather will not understand this..nor does mom want to make him wait due to a car that won't start...... yet we still pay close to $600 a month for!!!!! Finally a new starter was put into the car but I still need to jimmy the steering wheel at times to get it to start. If this isn't enough the rear passenger door sudenly came ajar on me while driving on the highway with my youngest child susseptable to this danger sitting in the back seat. No answer on this yet. I'm very disturbed, wooried for safety and wondering if anyone else has experienced similar problems?
  • Am looking at buying a used van for my wife as our lease is up in Jan. Have been considering a 2000 Windstar lx/sel as the used prices seem to have dropped through the floor on these vehicles. Apparently there are a lot coming off lease. I am starting to get concerned about the reliability in relation to transmissions/water pumps etc. I hate spending upwards of 1500.00 for an extended warranty but am thinking that might be almost a necessity with this vehicle. Any advice would be appreciated.
  • uicfeuicfe Posts: 1
    '99 Windstar LX is a piece of junk. First, the passenger window wouldn't open all the way down - fixed under warranty. Then, the fuel pump died at 40K miles - $500. Front brake rotors too thin - $400. Rear speakers come on/off with every bump. Now, at 57K the transmission is shifting roughly from 1st to 2nd and the O/D light flashes - about $2000, rebuilt.

    And to think I bought this thing to safely carry my family around. I've had Honda cars all my life and never had problems. I gave Ford a chance with the minivan, thinking they've learned their lesson regarding quality and because Honda dealers got too arrogant for my taste when we were looking at the Oddysey. I will never give Ford another chance.

  • We have a 2001 LX, and have been reasonably happy with it, although we only have 10k miles so far. We have two minor problems which I wanted to see if anyone else had them as well. While waiting for a red light, with the foot on the brake and the van in drive, we get a surging of the engine that you can feel through the steering wheel, and see the tach jump up 250 to 500 rpms. Doens't happen in Park, only in drive. My other niggling problem is a crunching suspension that "crunches" or clicks into place when starting out, but doesn't happen again until the car has been parked for a while and I start out again. Dealer says they couldn't replicate it, but it is happening with more frequency now. Will take it in in a month or so, but wanted to see if anyone else had similar problems. Thanks!
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