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Ford Windstar Problems



  • Sounds like you have a pretty good Windstar. To answer your question - it depends on what the transmission issue is. New transmission runs up to $2500-$3000 in bigger cities. Part replacements (mine was the crappy aluminum transmission piston) runs $1200 five years ago when I had it replaced at 57k. As I noted in an earlier post, 3 of the 9 cars on the local transmission repair shop lot were Windstars - not a good sign! For $1200 I would fix it at 65k. Had your car had over 100k or more - I would certainly recommend the scrap yard as the repair would exceed its trade value.

    Ford will be of 0 value in helping you cover costs of tranny repair at 65k. Maybe their attitude has changed in the last 5 years, but I wouldn't bank on it. If you have no extended warranty - look for zip to 10% off at best.

    I got a '95 to 100k with relatively little pain, as compared to most of the posts around here at Edmunds/Ford/Windstar with just a head gasket, a tranny, a few tie rods, a few speedometers, a few broken door locks, a broken rear wiper. The truely expensive stuff started just after 100k with a water pump, fuel injectors, thermostat, ball joint, etc.

    May want to buy stock in a repair shop.
  • I have a 1998 Ford Windstar and Im having a lot of problems with this van. The only main problem Im concerned about is the van ONLY stalls when I apply the brake when coming to a stop. I can put the vehicle in neutral or park and it starts right back up with no problem. Also it idles very rough. I have taken it to the Ford dealer and the problems keep on persisting. Any replies are greatly appreciated.
  • c33c33 Posts: 1
    Help - my 2003 SE has a wiring harness (?) in the overhead console at the edge of the windshield.
    This is not wiring going to light at back of console.
    The overhead console can be dropped down by removing one screw and pulling down to remove console from clamps - easy to do. The wiring harness (?) does not look like factory installed. If you have a 03 SE please drop your
    overhead console and check for wiring at /near windshield - this may be a tracking device.

    03 SE owners - thanks for your help.

  • peterzpeterz Posts: 1
    I notice that the loud clunk at a traffic light, followed by a transmission that goes only in reverse seems to be a widespread problem. Does anyone know what actually goes out on the tranny when this happens? It happened to me last Saturday.

  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Oh boy, that sure sounds like the good old forward piston failing. What year Windstar? 95-96 failed due to an aluminum piston that cracked. And some later year models failed due to the new bonded rubber seal on the redesigned steel piston that separated. In other words, Ford magically found a way to re-engineer the same failure. Either way it's big $$$.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    I can't guess what may be wrong without seeing some test data, so my only suggestion would be to take it to a shop that specializes in auto A/C repair. They'll most likely find the problem whereas a general mechanic may be stumped.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    At that mileage, you can pretty much forget $ assistance. My suggestion would be to first determine the cost of replacing the failed part. If it's less than half the cost of a full trans replacement, then it may be sensible considering the relatively low mileage on the other parts in your transmission. If you go for a full rebuild, consider the costs of an independent shop versus a Ford factory rebuilt at a dealer. If they're fairly close, go with the dealer transmission as it will carry a 3/36 warranty and you'll probably get as good or better warranty service from the selling dealer than an indie.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    What was done at the dealer? I ask because there were a number of "programs" (Ford's term for reimbursed non-warranty non-recall repairs) on the valve cover/PCV systems on late-90s Windstars> Symptopms were similar to what you're describing. Basically Ford screwed up the entire valve cover design on those 3.8s and caused all sorts of driveability problems like high idle/stalling/low idle/pinging/loss of power.
    If you feel the dealer is making an honest effort, give them a few chances to fix it. If not, express your dissatisfaction and go to another dealer.
  • Well I took it to my trusted mechanic and the transmission is shot. It will cost 2500 to 3000 for a re manufactured transmission to replace it, good thing is that the reman tranny carries a 3/36,000 mile warranty. That is my course of action. I am disappointed that this part failed, I will consider other auto manufacturers when replacing this vehicle. Thanks for your input.
  • jtk152jtk152 Posts: 139
    tug- out of curiosity, did you ever have the automatic transmission fluid changed out in your windstar prior to the transaxle failure? The AX4N (2001+) & AX4S transaxles seem to fail early unless you do regular ATF changeouts on them- like every 25K miles. The large/heavy windstar puts a HUGE load on these transaxles & overheats the ATF. The ATF in my 2001 LX looked & smelled BAD @ 34K miles. Sorry to hear yours bombed so early. You will find this same situation is true with any domestic minivan. Gotta keep the ATF clean & fresh!! Make sure to use ONLY Mercon 5 in newer fords (1999+)
  • reading this made me make a list:
    35k, tranny shot, rebuilt by Ford. :)
    67k starter and torque converter problems. Replaced starter, new seal on torque converter.
    88K beginning of serious coolant leak. We all know what that probably means....

    No support from FORD or dealer. Even tried to trade it in on another Ford, but the trade in value SUCKED! Ford dealers know they are a problem car. Got a much higher trade in quote from a Toyota dealer.

    My wife has an Explorer, NO Problems and it's older. Why won't Ford built a decent mini van?
    Now, is it time for a Nissan, Toyota to Honda?
    Yes, that's my real question, I have enough stress in my life without worrying about about a "family hauler" breaking down.
  • I had the fluid changed at 40,000 miles, I was told it was also changed prior to my buying with 13,000 miles on it. It was a dealer demo vehicle. I did not change it again after that. My fault. I learned from that and will get it changed regularly after that. Thanks for your input joel.
  • The power sliding door won't close completely automatically. I have to manually push the door in to completely close it. A Ford dealer technician suggested that I clean the contacts. Have done so, but the problem remains. Any leads on how a similar problem has been resolved?
  • drtdrt Posts: 2
    Stalling is occurring while driving at regular speeds. Have had it at the dealer 2x now but van will not re-create issue while there. No codes are coming up. Stalling is becoming more frequent. Can anybody give me a hint at the possible problem(s)????
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Does it stall under power or when you lift off the throttle?
  • drtdrt Posts: 2
    Both. It is now stalling under power, off the throttle, in turns and at idle. The dealer has had their computer hooked up but it doesnt catch anything as it stalls. They seem to be waiting for the computer to tell them what is wrong instead of looking for the problem.
  • There is a TSB from Ford on stalling while in turns. Since your's is at highway speed, I don't know if this is applicable. The 2 times I have had it fixed involved a computer reprogram, not very expensive. Or replacement of the TPS (throttle positioning sensor). I believe that was the name. It sits on top of the engine a little to right of center as you face the engine. It is sort of barrel shaped about an inch and a half in diameter and maybe 3 inches long. Has a hose or two coming out of it. Maybe someone else can confirm the name. It is a common problem and dealer should be aware of it. I can dig up the paperwork if you can't confirm that it is the TPS. It solved my stalling problem.

    Good Luck
  • I have a 96 WS 3.8L engine with 80k miles on it. I regularly change the oil at 3k miles but, regretfully, have been less attentive to other tune up and replacement parts. Anyway, last week the "Check Engine Light" came on.Checked the gas cap first and it was tightly screwed on. My air filter was changed within the last 6 months. Went to a Ford Dealer and he ran the diagnostic codes and said that the engine is starved for fuel. He rercommended I get a new set of ignition wires, a new set of spark plugs and reprogramming the ECU. I decided I couldn't afford the $600+ tune up at that time as I was on vacation.

    He did a "chemical" clean of my fuel injectors and replaced the (I'm embarrassed to say) original fuel filter. He also cleared the code so that the "Check Engine" light no longer lit up. After driving 900 miles I find that this light has come on again.

    Is it time to get that tune up? What ignition wires and platinum plugs would you recommend? I can't afford to trade the WS in and besides the trade in value would be too low.
    By the way, the best mileage I got on my trip, averaging 60-65 mph was 28 mpg. There is definitely a loss of power in the car going uphill.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    At 80K it's due for servicing, but before you do anything else go to any AutoZone and have them retrieve the stored trouble codes (no charge). Post the code #'s and we'll go from there.
  • My advice is do some research and find a good, honest local mechanic. Stay away from the dealers except for warranty work. You'll cut your repair bills by up to 50% and avoid some work that was never needed in the first place. Develop a maintenance schedule from the owners manual making some common sense adjustments to the mileage intervals in the manual. These two things will save you money and ensure less unexpected repair bills.

  • After shoping the imports, I am considering keeping my 96 Windstar. Already have the transmission replaced. I regularly change all fluids and use synthetic oil. Check engine light comes on regularly on the hiway. 88,000 miles, what can/should I expect? I need to budget for the future. There's a screaming deal on a 2003 Windstar at a local car rental company. Would it be better to keep what I know or hope for an updated and improved model? Is a 2003 any better than my '96?

  • Thanksfor the tip. I'll check with Autozone tomorrow. Actually meant to go there last week but was too busy.
  • I have a '96 Ford Winstar too and had Check Engine light on before, other than the problem listed on this board, oxygen sensor might got out. As for my case, I did nothing and the light came off after I had a long trip on high way, I think the high-speed driving cleaned up the oxygen sensor where might have carbon deposited on. So far I have not got major problem yet and knock the wood. Hope this helps.
  • You told me so! I posted previously about my 96 Windstar (3.8L V6) for an overheating/fluctuating temperature gauge. The van has been running rough when started (misfiring) and my coolant has been leaking somewhere with no signs of leakage. I brought it in to my mechanic and he did a pressure test overnight. When he came in this morning, any pressure reading was almost nil. There's no signs of any external leaks. I did the 100K tune up at 88K last September (I have 93K now)and he showed me the spark plug in the #1 piston and it was garbage at this point. The diagnostic code is showing that the #1 cylinder is misfiring. He's going to try a sealant to see if that will help but he said the head gasket (as a minimum) will need replacing and he recommended I bring it to a dealer or another local specialist for the repair (he's too busy to be able to do it now). His believes the cost will be somewhere around $1,500 depending on what's found when it's opened up....

    Trash it now? Can't really afford it but may not have much choice.

    It's not a good thing when the first words uttered by your mechanic are "how attached are you to your van?".
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    "It's not a good thing when the first words uttered by your mechanic are "how attached are you to your van?". "

    You're not the first Windstar owner to hear that. I wouldn't put $1500 into that motor with those miles (you need head, intake and timing cover gaskets installed). Your two best options are a factory rebuilt motor installed at a Ford dealer which will run you $2500-$3000 but will include a 3/36,000 warranty. The other would be dumping it for whatever you can get and take the cash + repair savings and put it towards the payment for a new van. Keep in mind if you keep the van you'll be looking at transmission, suspension and electrical wor withing the next 100,00 miles. It will still be cheaper than new car payments, but how much trouble and downtime are you willing to put up with?
  • I have a 98 Ford Windstar van. I have spent over $7000, over the last 7 months, for an new engine AND transmission. Tranny and engine failures for these rolling piles of crap are well documented. Of course, Ford couldn't care less about it. Having only 58K total miles on this vehicle only makes it worse. I guess i better establish a special fund entitled "Ford Windstar Repair", since I have 10 months to go before it's paid for. The company I work for has 2 of these vans (a 97 and a 01) as company vehicles. Both have had to have tranny replacements. The engines? So far, so good..... But, they are in the process of being replaced. Can't have our employees driving around in junk, ya know? My advice, DON'T BUY A FORD WINDSTAR! INSTEAD, BUY SOMETHING JAPANESE.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Out of curiosity, what failed in the engine+trans?
  • Hey yall, we have a 95 Windfart, oop, Windstar. Went to start it today and it started to idle very rough and there was a strong gas smell in the van.

    I tried to restart it several time with the same results. Rough idling or even stalling and a strong gas smell. Lifting the hood it sounds likes it missing. Plus the check engine light is illuminated and it is flashing, which I've never seen before. Any ideas? Thanks in advance.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Try an autoparts store like AutoZone - often they'll read the CEL codes for free.

    I'm betting it's an o2 sensor myself although my experience with them is that they cause the CEL to shine steadily.

    Try asking in Got a Quick, Technical Question? too.

    Steve, Host
  • When the check engine light is flashing it means that the engine is misfiring. If the engine keeps misfiring, the light keeps flashing. If the engine stops misfiring, the check engine light will remain on but it won't flash. If it is misfiring badly enough it will throw enough unburnt gasoline into the catalytic converter to cause the cat converter to eventually fail. Yours sounds like its misfiring badly which could be caused by a dozen different problems ranging from bad plugs/wires to bad injectors to a compression problem (have you had your compulsory head gasket repair yet?) to an intake manifold problem (that's my problem -- its about $1k worth of engine work to deal with). If you're lucky, maybe your computer (ECM) just needs to be reprogrammed. THis is a possible if it just started all of a sudden.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    I always forget about this discussion too:

    "Check Engine" light

    Steve, Host
  • senssens Posts: 1
    98 Windstar 3.0L. Transmission stays stuck in 2nd gear when hot. After 5 more miles stays stuck in 1st gear. After it cools overnight its fine again untill it get hot after about 20 miles. No computer codes result. When are temperature is below 50F it drives normal. Any ideas?
  • The Sensor on the transmission is very heat sensitive and can ccause this when defective its right next to the exhaust manifold (another one of Ford's better ideas)
     i believe its called the transmission range sensor
     Is your Cruise control not working as well
    its a ten miuite job to replace about $70 for part , check the Haynes manual for instructions
  • dfiredfire Posts: 2
    I have a 1998 windstar with a 3.8
    My check engine light is on and the codes P1152 and P0174 come up on the meter.
    I found the 1152 is the Fuel Air Meter and
    the 0174 is the Sys Adaptive Fuel too Lean (Bank 2)
    I would like to know what and where these sensors are and if I can replace them myself.
  • I have just replaced the head gasket on my 1995 windstar,and after a test run it is still heating up.The coolant is flowing back it to my over flow.Any suggestions?
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Check your PVC system. Be aware that Ford screwed up the valve cover design on your era Windstar and caused pinging, lean codes, rich codes, oil-soaked vacuum hoses, on and on. More than likely something besides a sensor has failed.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Water pump, cracked head, incorrect gaskets, coolant blockage, failed thermostat, Ford Windstar, could be anything.
  • dfiredfire Posts: 2
    Thanks, I'll check that out, Can you explain what "Bank 1 and Bank Two" are? and i cant find anything on "System adaptive fuel" Any info would be appreciated.
  • Agree about the dealers. I am amazed if I ever get out of the dealership with less than a $500 bill. My Windstar was a disaster.
  • I bought my wife a new 95 Windstar with the 3.8L engine. The transmission needed to be rebuilt around 30 or 40K and was done under warranty. When the transmission went out at 66K I thought I was stuck because the warranty for the drivetrain is to 60K. The dealer told me Ford was going to pay all the costs then I realized these vans have transmission problems. I just rebuild the transmission for the 3rd time at 145K miles. Meanwhile, my Ford Explorer has 152K miles and I have never had a major problem with it.
  • Reading your post is so therapeutic for me. I have had the engine rebuilt twice and the transmission rebuilt 3 times during the 145K miles I have owned my 95 Windstar. The door close sensors, the rattles, etc, too. I read all these posts and feel much better. We are shopping for an Odysessy.
  • prontopronto Posts: 1
    99 windstar have the same problem. Wife is making me crazy about it. Somebody help!
  • diggerdigger Posts: 3
    My 95 Windstar is now approaching 185k. Still has the original engine and transmission. Yes there are a number of rattles, the passenger side power window won't move, and it is slowly leaking coolant. Yes I had the head gasket replaced at 60k. Plus my wife almost totaled the car less then a year after we bought it. I'll let you know when I hit 200k.
  • Just bought a 2001 Windstar 3 months ago. Time to change the oil for the first time for me in this thing. Howvever, I was unable to get the drain plug out and ended up stripping it. Do you know of anything I can use to get this job done.
  • selooseloo Posts: 606
    2000 SEL 75K miles

    The cruise control has stopped working.

    The fuse in okay, other systems that are using that fuse are still working.

    Any thoughts?
  • After reading all the postings related to windstars I think I maybe better off getting rid of my 98 3.8 liter windstar. But first, I do have a question concerning a repair estimate I was given. My windstar "check engine light" came on and when I took it to the shop they informed me that codes p0171 "bank one 02 sensor", p0174 "Bank two o2 sensor" and P1127 "Rear 02 sensor" were all stored in the computer. The shop suggested the following repairs....replace all 4 O2 sensors, plugs, wires, fuel filter, and T.B.I. service....all for the small some of $1,447 plus tax. this reasonable? Q2..My husband is pretty good at fixing things..but I'm a almost afraid to let him work on this something that should be fixed by a certified technician? My van runs fine right now...should I even worry about it until I start to have problems? I read some of the other postings and these codes seem to be a common theme...Any advice would be greatly appreciated..rebecca
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Q1: No, that's ridiculous. I wpouldn't pay half that price for those services mentioned
    Q2: If you're husband doesn't have experience with modern cars and about $500 worth of diagnostic equipment, no.

    You need to run from that shop and never return. Not only are they overcharging you, they clearly have no idea what they're doing. Those codes on a Windstar are almost never the fault of the O2 sensors. Below is a bit from MotorAge summing up basically the problems you're most likely looking at. My advice is to take it to a good local Ford dealer for this problem, you most likely need a lot of small parts on top that engine replaced.

    "Ford: 1999-2003 Windstar with 3.8L engine
    MIL illumination with DTC P0171/ P0174 indicates a lean running condition. There are several possible reasons for the codes. Problems with the intake manifold gaskets and/or with the vacuum line to the fuel pressure regulator can cause a vacuum leaks and improper fuel pressure. Oil leaking from the old-style left side valve cover can contribute to both problems. The bulletin lists several possible fixes for these problems, along with PCM calibrations, part numbers and an illustration for identifying the valve cover.
    Bulletin 03-16-1"
  • I thought so. I didn't let them do any work on the car. I'll check with a local ford dealer. It maybe time to trade. Thanks for your help..rebecca
  • We have a '99 LX with 46K. Decided to take a weekend trip to DC (we live in Richmond, VA). Van is fine on the highway, but as soon as we made it into the city and slowed down, engine starts smoking and the smell of burnt tranny fluid fills the air. We are on the side of the road, in DC, (in not the greatest of neighborhoods) with two kids in the car. Fortunately a National Park Service officer stopped and called a tow for us. We are stranded 90 miles from home, on a weekend, no less, when hardly any repair shops are open.

    Next morning, the AAMCO (only place we could find)guy tells us 2250 for rebuilt tranny.

    We decided to bite the bullet and fix the thing. UGH! I hate Ford. I guess it was too much to ask to have our family hauler's tranny last more than 46K. Needless to say, we are ditching this thing and buying a Toyota Highlander ASAP!
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Don't blame you. $2250 isn't a bad price for that transmission rebuilt.
    I like your name, by the way..."Neeeeiiigh! Snort!"
This discussion has been closed.