Ford Aerostar Owners: Meet the Members

ClairesClaires Chicago areaMember Posts: 1,222
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  • mongoxmongox Member Posts: 4
    (re-post of my message in Aerostar elec forum, mod can remove that one)

    I'm visiting forum because considering buying a used 4WD Aerostar but thought my experience with previous Aerostar might be of interest to those asking about reliability and such.

    I purchased a 1990 XL 3.0 Aerostar in June of 1990 and have retained it since. It now sits, forlorn and dead, after giving great service for 16 years and 230,000 miles.

    Clearly, over this time span and mileage the van has been thru a lot! Overall, I was very very satisfied with it. When you decide to keep a vechicle for this long, a certain amount of service and repair is part of the deal. Consider that even though I refinanced my van's orginal 3 yr note to 4 1/2 years (to get down payment for house long since gone) that I haven't had to make a payment on it for over 11 years. This pays for a bit of maintanence.

    The fall after purchase, I received some offers from out-of-state dealers for an extended warranty - this was/is? a program by Ford to help low-volume dealers. I increased my warranty to 5 yrs?/100K by spending $700. This paid off when my van hit 97,000 and I had to have very major work done on the transmission. The van was shifting sluggishly at first and over-shifting on hills in cruise control. My dealer first did pulling and replacing, twice, and the problems ceased. Not long after this, on a trip to New Mexico for skiing, I had noticed that when fully loaded (4 adults with significant luggage in back and on top) that again I was getting poor performance while on cruise and too much down-shifting. When I returned, I went again to dealer and even though van now had 102K on it, they considered it a continuation of the warranty and fully replaced the transmission.

    The tune-up I had done this trip was first one. I also had same friend replace the shocks or struts, whatever, with heavy-duty ones which lasted life of the van. I never had ANY front end work done on the van and despite curbs and being hit broadside (see later) it ran straight and true for its life.

    At about 140K I failed to notice the temp guage was totally in the red and ran the engine dry. The problem came from a broken heater hose which drained the coolant. I had my friend above pull the engine and he replaced some rings and the main gasket and I was back on the road. (Great to have a friend like this - cost me I believe about $360) However, this was my fault, not the van's.

    Around 170K my van was hit broadside when I avoided a freeway accident! Sounds funny, eh? I noticed a complete stopage up ahead on freeway - love the view from the Aerostar, love a mini-van that drives like a truck rather than a car - and pulled quickly onto the shoulder and on about 20 ft into the large grass verge. I knew the car behind wasn't watching well and was driven by kids so didn't want to be read-ended. Indeed, the kids behind me hit the car formerly in front of me, then veered into middle lane and sideswiped a brand-new car... then careened off the freeway, incredibly finding my van out in the grass and hitting me right on the sliding door.

    My insurance paid under Uninsured Motorist - paid off completely. I chose to keep the van and didn't have it repaired. The frame post behind passenger seat was bent, the frame line under doors was bent. However, the passenger door still operated despite damage and the side door could be carefully opened and forcefully closed. So... it was now very ugly. I hadn't upgraded the AC to the new system so the small opening at top of side door didn't bother me nor did the small amt of rain which dripped in - it drained right out again anyway!

    Well, the next 60K saw the van last but become a bit ragged. Since it had no resale value, I didn't keep up the maint. as I should, allowing the front end to become very loose - worn tie rods and bushings. A fair bit of noise and loose steering was evident but since I didn't drive it a lot, I let it go.

    The final day came when returning from the lake, after serving me again by carrying an immense load of stuff on the trip up. I accelerated to about 75 to pass on the freeway and lost all power - the trans seal broke sending all the fluid out. I was able to get off the freeway and into a Denny's to await my tow.

    I consider the Aerostar to be the perfect minivan. My experience consisted of dependable performance and low maint. cost. The transmission on the 89-91 models seems to have been poorly chosen, one mechanic told me it was too small, designed for a 4 cyl engine rather than a 3.0 V6. Outside of that, I found no problems with it. Design is great - the rear wheel drive making it a much better towing machine than other minivans.

    I once pulled a old Ford F-150, fully loaded with furniture, with my van also loaded, from Phoenix to San Antonio - 1000 miles. Wasn't a fun trip, especially New Mexico where the round-top roads let the truck steer me - but the van did as well as could be expected. I didn't have the towing package, but added a trans cooler before trying it.

    So, I'm stuck on Aerostars. Would be happy with any low-milage model but am intrigued by the 4WD I found locally. I'll post my experiences with it if I make the jump. Hope all have enjoyed my story!
  • flgrampsflgramps Member Posts: 1
    Bought 1996 3 DR XLT 6 cyl. used in 1997 with 33,000 miles. Took out 100,000 ext. warranty based on previous cars' performances. Never used warranty. Besides religiously changing oil every 3000 miles and general maintenance there have been no major repairs. Had first complete tune up at 180,000 miles. Replaced original a/c compressor last year. I have had some problems with the power steering rebuilt motors not holding up as factory built no longer exist. That's about it. A tie rod here, a starter there, lots of tires. Stuff like that.
    Here is my problem. Car has 183,000 miles and looks ratty on the inside. The headliner has cracked and split into many little lines because of the Florida sun beating down on the roof. The plastic molded door panels on the driver and passenger side have deteriorated. The drivers seat is showing wear. There is some damage on the exterior right fender from a run in with a tree trunk- more than a scratch. Car looks shabby to drive clients around in if required.
    Test drove a new 2007 Dodge caravan SXT 4 cyl today. Really did not have much pep. Is this my imagination or does this car get up and go if you need to merge onto the interstate for example? I am not a fast driver or a hot rod, and I drove a VW van for many years and that was a 4 cyl. Is the Caravan about the same as a VW for power?
    What about the Dodge 4 cyl engine lasting over 100,000 miles without a rebuild vs. their 6 cyl?
    Also is it my imagination or is my Aerostar luxurious as compared to the upholstery fabric, cushioning, and general interior of the Caravan? It really seemed bare bones even though the Aerostar was never considered luxurious for its time.
    Since there is nothing mechanically wrong with my Aerostar should I just replace the headliner, get a seat from the local junk yard where there are a lot to pick from, have the fender fixed and pop for a paint job? And then drive it until the engine or transmission quits?
    Does anyone have a recommendation as to a replacement van that is comparable on all fronts to the Aerostar?
    I might add the Caravan is a real deal price wise $15,999 out the door.
  • Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
    Welcome to CarSpace Forums!

    You might want to read and/or post your question in this discussion.

    Minivan Shopping

    Good luck! :)
  • pure1pure1 Member Posts: 4
    I have a :blush: 1994 Aerostar Extended XLT W/3.0 engine :shades: are there any off the shelf parts to get more H/P from then engine? Like intake manifolds or headers for this van. I have heard of of performance Chips. Also my vehicle has the two bench seats, does anyone know if the two captains chairs like in the Eddie Bauer will fit where the first bench seat is in mine using the same mounting holes in the floor?
  • thebigmamutothebigmamuto Member Posts: 2
    hi i have a ford aerostar 1993 eddie bauer and i need the two captain seats do you know were i can bought them??

  • tcj3tcj3 Member Posts: 1
    I was just given a 1995 ford Aerostar XLT van with Electronic four wheel drive and A/C.

    How do I tell which engine size it has?
  • etm0023etm0023 Member Posts: 1
    I believe the E4WD Aerostars only came in 4.0L
  • jose_mjose_m Member Posts: 4
    I purchased a "shorty" XL 3 litre Aerostar back in 1986 when they first came out, brand new! it lasted until 1999 when I traded it for a used 1992 shorty XL 3 litre which lasted until March this year. I only sold it because a total moron mechanic damaged the otherwise perfect rocker panels by raising the van incorrectly instead of raising it by its jacking points. what a moron!

    I started looking for an Extended 4 litre XLT that didn't have damaged rocker panels, I travelled all over the state looking for one and all of them had (you guessed it) damaged rocker panels, or they were Northern vehicles rusted out, or were trashed. (Ford did not anticipate this problem of moronic mechanics who don't have any respect for customer's vehicles).

    a week ago I found a 1997 (the last year Aerostars were made), XLT 4 litre Extended with intact paint, body, and NO damaged rocker panels. YEE HAW! However, the interior is not perfect (I'm very picky), so I am restoring it to perfection, buying used parts in perfect condition to get it in like-new condition inside. My Third Aerostar ! Yes I'm very happy thank you.

    I also looked at every other minivan you can imagine by GM and every one was a total dissapointment, so I set my sights on another Aerostar. Take for example, the Chevy Venture, Oldsmobile Silhouette, and Pontiac Montana, all from GM, (the same vehicle with different trim levels and branding); those are terribly unreliable and deffective vehicles straight from the factory. They burn head gaskets, intake gaskets, and their transmissions break. (go ahead and do your own research, I sure did).

    Ford is one big moron too, for discontinuing the Aerostar and replacing it with the terribly unreliable Windstar and Freestar minivans. Nobody wants them, car dealers don't want them, I sure don't want them. Clearly, all the money that Ford has does not buy them any intelligence. Instead of refining the Aerostar, making it even better, they chicken out of the Aerostar and end up producing a piece of garbage like the Windstar and Freestar. Sure, GM is also a moron for producing garbage like the Venture, Silhouette, and Montana. The Astro is the General Motors exception, but it is so ugly, I passed on it. Chrysler is simply, unreliable, so I didn't even consider any Chrysler minivan. (to be fair, Chrysler is making some very interesting body styles, but the beautiful bodies are one thing, it's what is inside that counts, and Chrysler's record is one of unreliability and almost zero longevity).

    I'm sticking with the Aerostar, it is one simple vehicle, it does what it is supposed to do, and when it breaks down, I fix it. (all cars break down, they are mechanical). Better an old, simple vehicle than a new one full of gizmos and twenty thousand digital unreliable sensors, no way Jose, Not interesado, thank you no thank you. I'll stick with ANALOG, digital sucks.

    Nice to meet you all! Enjoy your Aerostars and if they break down, fix them, or somebody else will !!
  • jose_mjose_m Member Posts: 4
    the 3.0 litre is powerful by itself, (200 hp), needs nothing, but the Aerostar was not designed to be a racer! You might install a K & N Air filter, it will let more air into the engine and give you a sense of more horsepower.

    The captain chairs might fit but I haven't tried it.
  • ddbelle1ddbelle1 Member Posts: 2
    I am looking at at 1989 Ford Aerostar XLT...I can't get a book price because it is a year too has 153000 and is looks to be in pretty good condition...the asking price is $750 obo.... I really only have $500 in my pocket.....suggestions/advice???????? Going to look at it Sunday. I have had a minivan before and really on need it for going around town and occasionally making a 20mi round trip to drop my step grandson off.

    Thank you :confuse:
  • jose_mjose_m Member Posts: 4
    edited October 2012
    1989 is old. 23 years old. My suggestion is to inspect it IN PERSON and take it for a drive, ask questions like "what does not work?", look at the dash, are any WARNING lights ON? (Check Engine Light, ABS light, etc.). Listen for any rattles, muffler blown sounds, high-pitched whinning from the rear (meaning a bad transmission or rear axle); Test the Brakes, does it brake fine? Does it steer fine? Look at the TEMPERATURE gauge, is the engine running at NORMAL TEMP? (needle should be between the R and the M). Are the tires decent? if the tires are good for 6 or more months you got your money's worth.

    $500.00 is a fair price to pay for a 1989 assuming it runs ok, has no major issues to repair, is not a junker or rusted through, is mostly clean and in good shape inside, and the transmission shifts fine.

    If the a/c does not work, (no cold air), then that is an issue that you can't complain about for $500.00. Concentrate on testing the HEATER, you will need it in the coming weeks.

    If you drive it and it is 90% good, FIRST ask Seller if he has CLEAR TITLE IN HIS/HER NAME, if yes, offer $500.00 cash; If seller refuses, walk away. It is not worth more than $500.

    If seller tells you the TITLE is in someone else's name, or if he/she has NO CLEAR TITLE, WALK AWAY, do not get yourself involved in TITLE PROBLEMS. You must obtain from the Seller, and have Clear Title, to register any vehicle in your name. No Title? Don't Buy. If you buy any vehicle without getting a TITLE, you could get involved in a serious LEGAL problem. What if someone is trying to sell you a vehicle that does not belong to them? Scams happen! If seller tells you he/she will "send you the Title in 30 days", say "Thank you but I can't do that". WALK AWAY.

    when buying any used car, always verify Seller's ID, ask for his/her Driver's License and compare it to the name on the TITLE of the vehicle.

    Let's say he shows you CLEAR TITLE, and his/her Driver's License matches the name on the title: Now look at the vehicle's VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the Title, and go to the lower front of the windshield, driver's side, and compare the number on the rivetted plate to the number on the Title, do they match?

    In what State are you located? Newer Aerostar are selling for reasonable prices all around the country.

    Good luck! let us know what happens.
  • jose_mjose_m Member Posts: 4
    "CLEAR TITLE" means that there are no LIENS on the vehicle or the TITLE.

    look at the Title, and look at the section where it says: "REGISTERED LIEN HOLDER", or "LIEN":

    Does it show any Dealer's name? any person's name? if yes, then someone has a LIEN on that vehicle, meaning that the owner of the vehicle owes money on the vehicle. NOT GOOD. You could end up owing money. If there is a LIEN on the Title, you need to verify the lien has been satisfied, otherwise you could be responsible for any money owed on the vehicle.
  • ddbelle1ddbelle1 Member Posts: 2
    Thank you for your response.

    I am in Oregon. I have done my research. We are going to look at the car on Sunday....

    He took the car in partial trade for a boat he sold. He has the title and has been driving it back and forth to work.

    There is really not a lot available through private parties at the $500 mark...people want WAY too much for CRAP....or have their vehicles priced at retail...not realistic.....they are NOT willing to negotiate.

    I need a car, but it needs to run.....
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    For soe reason Vancouver BC is a better place to buy an Aerostar...
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