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Ford Windstar Problems



  • Where the hell did Billy get THAT name anyway??? Oh, it will probably sell anyway, at least to Hertz & Budget, but geeesh..... I wouldn't buy it just because of the name! Aerostar, a name I liked, a van I couldn't wait to get rid of.....Windstar, much less desirable IMHO, and now Freestar????? I'm funny that way, some names of cars just repel me. This would be one. Lumina was one too.
  • Ford knows their 3.8 liter engine is almost guaranteed to blow a head gasket yet they continue to build the 3.8 liter. Transmissions in the windstar are a travesty. I made the mistake of buying a 98 windstar and I'm writing this to advised any potential Windstar customers to avoid this vehicle at any cost. It's well worth a few thousand bucks more to buy a sienna. I will never buy any Ford product again. I'm ready to send my 98 Windstar with 31000 miles on it to the junk yard.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Don't get me wrong here but so far I gather that you have had one problem (vibrations) with your Windstar and now it's the hugest piece of crap built? It sounds to me like the technicians are to fault here. It also seems to me like someone goofed up with the tie rods (seeing as how the vibration came about after their installation). How come you had to have those replaced? Was it because of vibrations and that was the diagnosis? As far as I know the 3.8L V6 had many things that made it prone to failure in the 1995 model Windstar. The first being of its head bolt design. The second being its type of cooling system. Closed loop as opposed to open loop. Then to make matters worse when the head gasket would blow, causing the engine to overheat, the transmition would fail as well due to over heating. A truly crapy design indeed. However for 1996 this problem was remedied with new heads (which also increased 50HP) and a revised cooling system. I know some people have continued to have gasket failures, but they are far fewer than the 1995 models. Now if you have only had vibrations with your 1998 Windstar then be glad that was it. It is fixable. I would have the techs look at the tie rods again. Have them check all ball joints as well. Something else they may want to do is road force balance the tires. I don't know exactly how this works but it is very precise. If you can take the Windstar to another dealer then even try that. In contrast if you bought a used Sienna then you could very well be in that discussion room ranting about how your engine pooped out because of engine sludge build up. To Toyotas credit, I really have to hand it to them for replacing them free of charge in most cases. A noble move. None the less I would rather have a drivable vehicle with vibes than one that is in the shop getting a new engine. These are just what ifs though. Vibrations can be very frustrating I know, but at least the positive is that you have a place to start from. That being when your new tie rods were installed. I think that this may be your biggest clue. The best of luck to you!
  • The ford technicians told me there was nothing wrong with the van and they indicated that I should feel lucky that it steers as well as it does. The service manager stated that I should drive an escape then I wouldn't worry about the vibration and thank my lucky stars that I can get from point a to point b. The technicicans checked and rechecked everything in the front end. One indicated it may be a transmission problem or possible the half shafts. Both of which are expensive items to fix and both of which may not be the problem. I have ruled out a tire or rim problem. I put on new brakes, rotors and calipers to eliminate the possibility of a sticking caliper or warped disc. I guess I expect more out of a 20000 dollar vehicle. I had to replace the tie rod ends because they rarely last more than 25000 miles because there's no grease fittings. Yes I do feel lucky that I'm not walking. I could throw hundred dollar bills at the vehicle and still not correct the problem but, I guess I'll have to wait for the transmission to go. I'm starting to think the problem is related to the transmission or drive shaft since the technicians have eliminated any common cause for the condition. My last toyota lasted 13 years and it's still going strong. This van is 4 1\2 years old and I'm told there's nothing wrong with it even though the vibration will give you a headache. Any reasonable person can tell there's something wrong except the sevice manager who states it's typical on windstars. He expected me to believe the van used to roll down the road in a smooth fashion because I was one of the lucky ones who got a perfectly balanced set of tires and the only way I could return the van to that condition is to find the right set of tires. Toyota here I come
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    I guess you have a good reason for going to Toyota then. Especially if that means that the dealer is better. From the sound of things your dealer is HORRIBLE! If a dealer will cooperate with you in fixing the problem then the problem itself isn't that bad, because you have a dealer that is working with you and not against you. Is this vibration like a high or low buzz? Or is it like a fast bumpy feeling? I have had many different kinds of vibrations, so maybe I can help. You seem pretty frustrated, and with good reason, but have you considered trying another dealer? That might help. Anyway I suppose it could always be alot worse haha. Good luck.

    FYI-The tie rods are sealed like you said, but this is because they don't need lubercation. I have known some to fail prematurely however. I have never had to replace any myself though.
  • In the good old days front end parts had grease serks on them which allowed you to grease them which greatly extended their lives. Nowadays Ford and other companies sell the sealed parts so they will wear out in three or four years. This greatly increases business for their service departments and is detrimental to our wallets. The parts are made to make it through the warranty period. Mine lasted 40 months and we started hearing a rubber grinding sound when we turned the wheel. The shimmy (vibration) started after we replaced the tie rod ends. It feels like there's a bent rim and shakes the whole van. The backseats even vibrate at high speed. The mechanics claim the problem has nothing to do with the tie rod ends claiming the new ones are good. The vibration is constantly felt in the wheel also. At times you can see it shake. Note: My toyota had sealed front end parts also but 75000 miles and 13 years later they're still working. The vehicle runs and rides as well as the day we got it.
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    Good point on the other board. I keep an eye on them also and the Honda board says the same thing as most (including this one) of them say. Everyone keeps beating up the 3.8 but that is ancient history. It has been fixed. I have a 2000 SEL I bought in Jan and have not had a gasket go that had to do with the emission system which was fixed. My 95 went 135K till totaled and my 99SE was traded for the 2000. No problems, just a great deal.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    By any chance, did you have a 95-Winstar-that-went-135K-miles-with-no-transmission-problems-unt- il-it-was-totaled-by-red-light-runner? Huh? Did you? I'm not sure, because you only post that statement every eight posts. Maybe you should repeat yourself every two or three posts just to make sure NONE of us forgets! Geez, talk about stuffing the ballot box.
  • tmanttmant Posts: 70
    OK, it was some of you people that remind me of my 2000 Crapstar SE. I had the squeaky noise in the front end during turns. It was my tie rods. Had them replaced and no more squeaky, and also no vibrations.

    My engine light went on and I had a leak in the lower intake manifold (and for some reason head gasket because I think it was replaced). So I think the engine isn't all that great in terms of reliability.

    My transmission? It broke too. Count me as one of the statistics with engine and transmission problems.

    Oh yeah, most of the problems appeard around 60k, so I guess you could say I have been more fortunate than others. I won't buy another one of these or a Freestar. Im anxious to get a Hyundai Elantra GT, though!?
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    yep, but I do not know if the person I am posting to knows that. Face it, it is a rare situation to go that long and not have the transmission go out. Sorry it bothers you.
  • mted23mted23 Posts: 16
    My 2000 Windstar SE with passenger power door is starting to give me problems. When I power the door closed the dash light will stay on even though the door is closed all the way. Then when I put it in gear and begin to drive the power door locks contine to try to lock even though the locks are locked. It tries to lock about 5 times and then stops and the light goes out. I cleaned the contacts on the door. Any other suggestions?
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    <yep, but I do not know if the person I am posting to knows that. Face it, it is a rare situation to go that long and not have the transmission go out. Sorry it bothers you. >

    Right, it IS a rare situation. So why do you repost the fact every page? Why does each person you are "posting to" have to know that? How does that help anyone? You're either bragging about your good luck, or trying to skew people's opinion by making it appear that there are more good early Windstars than there really were. I guess, in contrast, I could post every other day about my friend's 96 Windstar that suffered 3.8 engine, transmission, and numerous electrical failures by 70K miles, but that wouldn't be helpful as much as it would be, let's say, "irritating."
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    Ease up--if you do not like my posts just ignore them. No damage to you.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Wijoco states-(In quotes)

    "Right, it IS a rare situation."

    Great so thats out of the bag.

    "So why do you repost the fact every page?"

    Why not? Doesn't bother anyone else it seems?

    "Why does each person you are "posting to" have to know that?"

    Why shouldn't they know that?

    "How does that help anyone?"

    How does it not?

    "You're either bragging about your good luck, or trying to skew people's opinion by making it appear that there are more good early Windstars than there really were."

    I hardly think 5greyhounds is "bragging." I think he is merely stating his satisfaction with his Windstar. Thats great! It's nice to hear some positive comments about their satisfaction with their vehicle. Just because someone doesn't agree with you Wijoco, doesn't mean you have to bash them off of this message board.

    "I guess, in contrast, I could post every other day about my friend's 96 Windstar that suffered 3.8 engine, transmission, and numerous electrical failures by 70K miles, but that wouldn't be helpful as much as it would be, let's say, "irritating."

    I think an occasional post about "your friends" Windstar may help some people. Does your friend still have the vehicle? If so, updates are useful.

    IMHO-Wijoco I think that the negativity of your posts towards other posters might be more "irritating" than the posts you claim as irritating.

    Wijoco-I am not insinuating anything about you, heck I don't even know you except from what I see here on these boards. All I see is someone who is very upset about their (their friends?)Windstar and their poor treatment from Ford. There is nothing that I can say or that you would want to hear that can change your mind about the Windstar, and that isn't my point I guess. However, I can sympathize with those problems. I have had lemon vehicles come and go. The only thing I can do is try another brand, and hope for the best. The best to you! Peace.
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    jrc346, thanks for the note. It is funny how your perspective changes with time. I do not want anyone to think I did not have my fair share of problems with the 95. I did but as long as it was covered by the extended warranty and I had another van to drive it was not a problem. Maybe part of it was my dealer bent over backwards to help me. However, it was the strangest thing, just as the extended warranty ran out at till it was hit only one thing went wrong with it. At 100k the ground wire strap corroded through and the van would not start. Other than that it just kept on going so the last 65K was how you want your vehicle to be: pull the maintance and it just keeps going.
    Enough of this, time to move on the 2004. I would venture to say there are going to be some fire sales at Ford when the 2004 comes out. I remember when the first version of the SHO was at the end of it's run. Ford put a 10k rebate on the manual transmission versions. One of my neighbors got one for a song and still has it. I doubt Ford goes to 10K but I look for 5k or some kind of rebate and loyalty coupon.
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    and I could post about mine which had 100,000 miles without engine or transmission problems at all.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337

    I completely agree on dealer experiences being key to the satisfaction of vehicle ownership. That is a major reason I have Fords myself. My dealer on a number of occasions has bent over backwards to help me out with this or that problem over the past 25 years.
    On another note I think what you said about your Windstar holding up well after the warranty can be very true. My good friend has a 1999 GMC Yukon that was complete trash when he hit about 70,000 Miles. I mean all kinds of things went wrong (It was not in warranty). However, he was patient and got the things repaired. Now he is at about 120,000-125,000K and hasn't had any problems for about 45,000 miles now. It's just hard to know where to draw the line and scrap a car when it comes to repairs at higher mileage. Are you thinking of getting a 2004 Freestar or a good deal on a 2003 Windstar? Personally I think they did a fine job with the Freestar. It's nice that they will also have two engines, the 3.9L V6 and the 4.2L V6. All I can hope is that they execute it well when it comes out. That way it will be a sure winner. Have a good one.
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    You are right, you never know when to draw the line. I might wait on the Freestar. I am retiring next year and want to see what the finances are. The third seat is a major issue for us since we never use it. The seat is in the garage covered by a tarp. It would be nice not to have to store it. Actually, I had hoped the windows would go down ala the MPV. With Ford owning part of Mazda I would have thought that would be the next step. This way the dogs could stick there heads out the window.
    Actually the perfect configuration would be: third seat fold away, roll down windows and a rear window like the 4runner. Just have to see. The 2000 has only 27k on it and with the extended warranty there are three years and 73K to go. As we both know resale is the pits on these so it will be a no trade if I get one. You take care.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    <It's nice that they will also have two engines, the 3.9L V6 and the 4.2L V6. All I can hope is that they execute it well when it comes out.>

    Is this the same 4.2 that has been featured as the base engine in the F-series since 96? According to the corp press release for the Windstar 4.2, the engine is either "new" or "newly available," depending on what point in the article you read the phrase. I'm guessing it's the same with a few modifications to shoehorn it in the minivan, and if it is, it's nothing to be excited about. That 4.2 is a drawn-up 3.8 that hasn't had a good track record in the F-series. It's had a lot of the same gasket retention problems as the old 3.8, according to a few people I know who have owned them and a pal who works in the parts business. (Different motor, but ask him about the 5.4 in his 98 Expedition. Uggh. Good thing he manages a parts store.)
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    What happened to your pal's Expedition with the 5.4L. I have a 1999 with the same engine. I know that in 1999 it is common for head gasket oil leaks because of a machining problem at the Canadian (Windsor) engine plant. However, I have been fortunate enough to not have a problem...yet. I just keep my fingers crossed. If you would share your friends story though, I would be interested. Just in case there is something that I should look out for:-)
    Do you think that the 3.9L V6 is just a bigger 3.8? I wish more details about these engines would be available.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    'Zactly! Failed right front (front driver's pointofview) HG. Started with oil seepage, then major coolant explosion/implosion on a cold December morning ("head gasket weather"). He did the job himself, replacing all motor gaskets. Mileage was around 80,000. Ford service tech he talked to said that was not uncommon, and he had done way too many HG jobs on that motor himself. My pal replaced his original HGs with the Multi-Layered-Steel factory updates (which the originals were not). The cost of all (head, intake, etc) gaskets and bolts was sickening-I think he said around $400. Of course, no aftermarket companies are making them yet, so he got his from the dealership. What I can't remember, though, was whether or not the MLS gasket was a standard update that Ford began replacing the older gaskets with in production models, or something he upgraded to voluntarily. I wonder what year Ford went to MLS gaskets on all their aluminum-on-iron engines. I see from the Edmund's article that the 3.8 went MLS in '97.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    That's very interesting. I am very close to 80,000 miles. I have heard that Ford is fixing these gaskets free of charge (that's just what I heard, so I don't know if its 100% true). I can only hope, as that is somewhat reassuring just in case my motor does start to have this problem. Which side does it leak on? The Passenger side bank or the drivers side bank? I wonder if my 1999 5.4 has MLS gaskets? Looks like I have some research to do. Oh well keeps me busy. Thanks again for the response!
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    For a depressing look at Ford's minivan future:

    It depresses me, at least. I know Ford doesn't have much money for product development right now, but, geez, the best they can do is boring out a 15-year old engine and passing it off as two "new" engines? The 3.9's outputs are the same as the 3.8! What really bewilders me is why Ford goes through the trouble of producing two separate engines, with the "significant" difference being a 10% increase in peak torque @ a difference of 100 RPM. At usable RPM range the torque gain won't even be noticeable. Look at Ford's specs on the Freestar and look at those of the Odyssey: it's scary how fast they are losing ground. Why in the world doen't Ford develop the wonderful Duratec to fit a number of different platforms? The Sienna gets by just fine with a similar all-aluminum DOHC 3.0 V6. It seems almost like Ford did the 4.2 just to put it in the commercials: "Class-leading available torque" or something.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Kind of funny...How the 3.9L will have probably around 200HP and so will the 4.2L. The reason I was curious about these engines, is mainly because I was hoping that they were not these existing engines and instead were some new SOHC/DOHC engines. The only reason that I don't care a whole lot for them is because they are crude sounding. They defiantly have good power, but just don't sound as buttery smooth as many OHC engines do. Oh well maybe with enough sound deadening material we wont notice. To bad we couldn't have used the Mazda modified 3.0L Duratec. A great motor with 225HP.
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    As to DOHC/SOHC vs OHV I will take the OHV. Sound funny I know but the one big problem with the OHCs is the builders always use belts, not chains and you are looking at $400 to $600 every 3 or 4 years just to keep the engine running. If they used chains (as in my Suzuki XL-7) then the OHC would be a good bet. Yes, OHVs are not as smooth but this is a van, not a Lexus. A friend of mine just bought a Chrysler LXi with the big 6 (which is a OHV I believe) in it and it is much soother than the Ford. Face it, Ford is behind the power curve (could not resist the pun) in the engine department. However, till I drive one it is all conjecture. The proof is in the final product and we will just have to see.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Fair enough friend. I'll save my judgments until after I drive one:-) You are correct when you say that OHV engines can be smooth, but the rough engine seems to be one of the Windstars demerits when I read comparison tests, thats all. I guess poor ol' Ford had to save money somewhere. I am sure that the 3.9L and 4.2L will be fine. I just hope that Ford will take care of the 4.2L problems (I have heard of these as well), and I think if Ford really wants to repair its image, it will. I also hope that the transmition will be strong enough to handle all of the extra torque from the 4.2L. Maybe the Freestar will get the new 6-Speed Auto in 2006?
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    Morning jrc436, a 6 speed would be nice but they need to get to the 5 speed first. ( I have not read where the transmission is other than an updated version of the existing 4 speed) Actually, the 4 speed does fine for me. We just made a 310 mile run to pick up some greyhounds for adoption and we did it in 5 hours driving time and I got a 21.5 MPG (according to the computer) and that was with some long runs at 75. Other than going over the mountains it never shifted. I do look forward to the new one but if there are some really good fire sales a 2003 may be the way to go. I would keep the 2000 but then I would have two back seats in the garage. I would have to sell my XL-7 which I really like so I may just wait for a year, will just have to see. I will have to look at the new Nissan also. We have a 90 maxima that has been nothing but good so that is an option to think about along with the MPV. The M:MPV is the right size if we keep the 2000. We do not need two large vans. I have driven several MPVs with the 200HP V6 and they were very nice.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    I agree that 4-speed trannies do their work well. You are also right that the new Freestar will be getting an updated version of its current 4-speed. The reason I mentioned the 6-speed, is because GM and Ford are working together on building a 6 speed auto transmition for their vehicles. I don't know what applications this is for though. I think Ford will be using it in its new line of sedans. I was hoping that it would make its way into the Freestar as well, when the new transmition comes out in 2006. 4-Speeds do their work well, but it would be nice for the Freestar to have an edge over the competition. Additional speeds does have some nice advantages. Better pickup with a smaller engine, better passing power, and better gas mileage. My wife's Explorer with the 5-speed auto, has been a very good performer and has helped us get an average of 18.5 miles to the gallon (city and highway). So I guess, while the 4-speed auto does work well, it would be smart for Ford to catch up with the foreign automakers and their minivans 5-speeds. Just my personal opinion :-)

    The MPV IMO is a very nice and competent van. It has power (finally with the 3.0LV6), 4 slide down windows, and a back seat that folds into the floor. The Quest on the other hand, strikes me as a bit odd. I would like to see one in person though before I say much more on that.
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    I have just seen the adds. I like the idea of the split and fold rear seats but the center stack with the gear shift location would take some getting used to. What would really be neat (yes, some of us older guys still use the word "neat") would be center captain chairs that folded. I thought I had heard that someone had figured that out. As with most things, will just have to wait and see. Have a good one.
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