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Ford 3.8 head gasket, AXOD transmission failures Windstar Taurus Sable - Ford secret warranty?



  • rgoober2rgoober2 Posts: 1
    Our 95 Windstar blew the headgasket at 65k, Ford covered the repair. Two weeks ago at 80k, the engine blew a rod. We towed it to the dealership in Winchester, MA (Bonnell Ford) where we bought it and had it serviced. The owner of the dealership called us right away. He told us we needed a new engine and that Ford would cover a new engine (he said it was a new factory engine, and would take about 8 weeks). He put us in a rental for free in the interem.

    Like everyone else, our first reaction was never buy another Ford. We thought we would have it fixed and then trade it for a Honda Oddyssey.

    We researched the trade-in value for our Winstar and it was ugly. We estimated under $4,000 from Honda dealers.

    Bonnel Ford offered the following alternative to repair...$6,650 on trade for the car as is, plus $3000 from Ford, plus $1500 more from Ford per a current sales event.

    The total $11,150 towards a new 2000 Windstar got our attention. We were nervous about the negative stigma attached to the Windstar, however, a net of $7000 more in trade-in value, if we bought Ford again, was hard to pass up.

    As a compromise we chose to lease the new 2000 Windstar for 2 years with 15,000 miles per year. The two year lease keeps us under full warranty for the term of the lease. We just were delivered a new SE loaded, TV in back and all, for $69 a month (we applied the full $11,150 to the term of the lease).

    In less than two weeks we are in a new Windstar, thanks to a reputable and decent dealership in Massachusetts and the desire of Ford to step up and do something about these problem vehicles. We have our fingers crossed that we don't have any more problems.
  • montclairmontclair Posts: 1
    My engine went at 102,000 miles. The dealer where I had the car serviced (not where I bought) quoted ~$3500 to replace. I spoke with the owner of the dealership (Dick Matthews, Matthews Ford, Paoli, PA) and he reviewed my service records. He recognized that I serviced the van regularly and he went to bat for me. Two weeks after the engine failure I was back in my van with a new engine. The only cost to me was for towing. Ford and Dick Matthews made good on their products.
  • bsgareybsgarey Posts: 1
    My 91 3.8L Tbird Blew Head Gasket on Thanksgiving of 98. I replaced the gasket myself only costing $150 dollars and a days work. The interesting thing was where the gasket blew was a 1/4 inch mark in the head gasket like a chisel gouge or whatever. Blew at 91 thousand. Now have 132 thousand and no more problems. Did not put for gaskets back in.
  • d by djmichel

    01-Aug-00 at 11:18 PM (ET)

    I also have a 95 ford mustang and had a head gasket failure
    while in San Diego from Phoenix. My vehicle started overheating
    and I took it into a radiator shop where they changed the
    thermostat, pressure checked the radiator, checked for visable
    leaks in the water pump, timing cover etc. After this the water
    level continued to drop so I took the vehicle to a San Diego ford
    dealer who found that the head gaskets were bad. They also told
    me that I need a new radiator, thermostat, and water pump and
    timing chain gaskets, all of which I had just had checked, and did
    not tell them this piece of info. Of course the service writer said
    the cause of my trouble was a bad radiator etc, but they would go
    ahead and charge ford for the head gasket repair if I would have
    the other items repaired. Amazing, a real shake down by a ford
    dealership, who would guess. I told them to fix the head gaskets and I would take
    care of the remained on my return to Phoenix, I still hadn't told
    the service writer that I had already checked the cooling system
    and it checked ok. The service writer than told me if the heads
    went out again that ford would not stand behind them if the other
    work was not done. The heads were changed, it took almost a
    week during which I had to rent a vehicle. When I picked up the
    vhicle I told the service manager and writer about having the
    vehicle cooling system checked prior to bringing in the vehicle for
    the head gasket. Of course the story changes that they were just suggesting the repairs as a preventative measure. Incredible. I then went directly to a radiator shop and had
    the systems checked again. Since having this work performed the
    vehicle just has not run the same, milage is down, the vehicle
    stalls, starts hard, and has poor power. I took the vehicle back
    and was told there is no problem. The check engine light came
    on and I am taking it back to the dealer. I showed the head work
    to a mechanic friend and he was amazed that the mechanic beat
    on all the corners of both heads for unknown reasons. I showed this
    to the dealership and got a shoulder shug. So the bottom line is
    while ford paid to change the gaskets, I now have a totally new
    set of problems. Anyone else have a similar horror story? I would suppose my next step is to contact ford and let them know about the dealer and problems following replacement to the head gaskets.
  • We actually got our Ford Dealership to make us a pretty decent offer. My husband called the dealer to let them know that we were bringing in the van because the transmission was bad. Service Mgr said they would have to diagnose the problem, my husband told them he already knew what it was and asked him if he was aware of the good-will program offered by Ford. He wanted to know where my husband had heard of that. When my husband told the service mgr he had researched it on the internet, he admitted that he knew about it. From the time we called and when we showed up at the dealership he had an offer. The dealership let us by the 6yr/60,000 mile extended warranty that was available when the van was originally purchased. This would cover our transmission diagnoses (which we all know wasn't really needed) and the repairs. They also provide a service loaner which is a lot better then the situation we had with our blown head-gasket but I won't even go there! Anyway, we're paying $495 for the warranty to get the work done and then we will be selling the van before the warranties expire. We still have a year and a half on the engine and it only has 3,000 miles on it. Anybody want to buy a van!!!! New engine, New transmission, New breaks, New alernator, New radio, New horns, New Blower Fan and only 56,000 miles. Like new, Make me an offer!!!! :o)
  • ricca3ricca3 Posts: 1
    I have a 97 Windstar with 42770 miles. I brought it in for a NY state inspection, and was told that it was running on only 5 cylinders.
    How can this be I asked, as the check engine light never came on and I did not notice a loss of power.
    The explanation was that their diagnosing machines were unable to interface with my cars processor, so we have no answer. To find out will cost me 250 to 300 dollars in addition to the 1300 to 2000 to fix the head gasket, as there is coolent in the number 3 cylinder.
    As far as contacting Ford, all I have been able to do is get the 800 number and the response is always the same. I can not get someone to tell me who the Ford rep is in my area, or how to contact them.
    I am seriously considering small claims court, since my processor is not working, this problem may have started when my car was under warrenty. Has anyone had any sucess at this, if so who did you take to court and for how much?
  • I would suggest you look at the web site. They have a lot of helpful information. My husband did a lot of research in regards to what was up with Ford and utilized that information in order to get a response from the service manager. The Customer Care Center that you called is a contracted service. They are not actually Ford employees and they sound like they are reading a script when you try to get help from them. Very frustrating. Good luck!
  • Yes it does exist. I just got a new engine in my '95 T-bird with 66,000 miles. I had to pay $500 or so as a "deductible" and the dealership and Ford paid the rest. There was supposed to be a 12mo/12,000 mile warranty, but the paperwork says valid through Nov. or 75,000 miles. Watch out for it. They'll try to sneak it past you. They'll also probably try to deny that this program exists, BUT IT DOES! Be assertive and deal only with management, not service writers!
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    Just curious, but was your 95 T-bird a Super Coupe? I was in small claims court today for my 1993 Tbird. The judge wanted to take a bit longer to review my information, so he'll render his decision by mail next week.

    The reason I ask was that the Ford rep who was in court claimed that the 1994 and 1995 extended warranty on Thunderbirds only applied to the Super Coupes, not the "LX" models.

    I still think I've got a pretty good chance of recovering on this claim, as the judge was asking several questions to the Ford rep about just how different the super coupe engine was from the standard 3.8. Specifically, if two engines were sitting in a garage, one from a super coupe and one from a regular 3.8 (or from a Taurus or Sable), then would it be easy to identify which engine was which, or would a parts list be necessary. The rep told him that the parts list would be needed, because aside from the supercharger, the difference is very difficult to detect.

    Also, as we left the courtroom, the Ford rep was very candid and told me that he'd be willing to bet I'll win.

    I'll post "the verdict" as soon as I hear.
  • euseus Posts: 1
    Correction to above posting. Total price including finance charge is $15,462. We're paying $212 in interest over 3 years.
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    The ford rep said that the extended warranty on T-Birds and Cougars was for the "supercharged" engines only. Trouble is, I checked Edmunds used car prices and the Cougar doesn't have any Supercharged engines...just the trusty 3.8 or V8 option. Sure hope my case isn't decided on that statement...
  • frankm4frankm4 Posts: 2
    I just spent the better part of a Sunday afternoon reading through 464 posts. My sincere thanks to pjyoung and many others for all of their time in knowledge on the HG and tranny problems. I am better off and wiser for their work.

    I am the orig owner of a '95 Windstar. Tranny is just acting up. No HG problems to date (95K miles), though my coolant res is dry. :-(
  • I have a 1998 Windstar GL with the 3.8 engine. We replaced the transmission under extended warranty at 51000 miles. With all I hear with the head gaskets, does this apply to the 98's or was that problem resolved? Will they offer the warranty on it up to 7 years/100000 miles also? Will they continue the buyback, or should we do that before the extended warranty expires at 75000 miles ( only about 6 months away at this rate)
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    The head gaskets appear to have been corrected by 1998, judging from the NHTSA database. The warranty extension for head gaskets, and the "buyback" program is for 1994 and 1995 models only.

    Transmissions are another story. As of right now, there are some consumer groups who are looking into transmission failures, but there is no extended warranty for transmissions, nor is their a "buy back" for transmission problems for any year.
  • lweisslweiss Posts: 342
    The certificate for our Windstar was issued in April and did expire on 10/1- maybe it only has a 6 month life after being issued.

    Anyway, we used the $4K certificate and and the current $2K rebate, after selling our 95 Windstar LX, on a new Windstar SE, loaded with leather, lots of new and upgraded features- total with everything (tax, etc.) was $24,313, net was $17,113. Very nice van, very accomodating dealer. No problems with our new van (thus far !!!), not even a rattle.
  • pat455pat455 Posts: 603
    Go check out this topic, here is a link:

    Ask's Online Service Advisor.

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • dfilleydfilley Posts: 1
    Anyone have information on a Windstar 1996 GL model. We are considering purchasing one and heard that Ford fixed most problems found with the 3.8 engine in the 94 & 95 models. Any info would be appreciated
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    If possible, check the door panel for the build date. Ford appears to have finally gotten the problem resolved in 1997 & 1998 models, but a quick check at the NHTSA site shows 52 complaints for 1996 models...that's way more than they should have. If the vehicle you're looking at was an early 1996, it MAY still have the head gasket problem. Check out and search the "Customer Complaints" database to get an idea of potential problem areas with the 1996. Be sure to specify "Ford Truck" in the "Make" field.
  • joe217joe217 Posts: 1
    I have a 95 Windstar LX. The exhaust sensor went out last year at about 80,000 miles. No other problems at the time. When Ford changed the warranty on head gasket coverage to 100,000 miles, I was already at 104,000. After reading about head gasket problems in Edmunds, I checked the coolant reservoir-empty! I immediately had it checked at the Ford dealership and they said the head gasket was fine.
    After 6 months of occasionally adding coolant, the engine began missing when first started. I just had it checked again today and now they say the head gasket is out and needs to be replaced.
    Any suggestions on getting Ford to cover a portion or all of the repair?
  • njdaddynjdaddy Posts: 3
    Update on my post from a couple of weeks ago. All was fine until the next road trip - now the 95 is at a dealer 100+ miles from home waiting behind all the firestone tire problems - into the shop on friday - hopefully looked at by Monday - no promises, of course. My wife was with the three kids - these problems always happen at the worst times - and had to rent a car to get home. She wasn't sure if it was engine or trans, but it was running rough and bucking a bit.

    We already had the motor replaced 6 mos ago and just had seals and gaskets replaced on trans. Still less than 60k on the beast - if it's the hg problem - I'm going to try for the buyout & trade-in - I'm not going to take another trans service - time for them to pony up and replace it. fed up & fuming - needed to vent - i'll re-post next week with latest response from the masters of denial at Ford.
  • haulthault Columbus OhioPosts: 126
    The misteriously disappearing coolant and check engine/O2 sensor are the first signs of headgasket problem. Ford's standard dealer check does not detect the problem. Request reimbursment based on the previous history. Tell them you have seen the same problems on the internet and FORD took responcibility for their problems.
  • hankb2hankb2 Posts: 1
    In addition to the head gasket problem which we just discovered, we have also had a lot of electrical / computer problems with our 95 Windstar. The first thing we noticed was that the driver's side window would not always operate. Then the speedometer went a little wonky (which is very strange) and now the engine light is coming on for no apparent reason. Through all of this, the dealer has been unable to figure-out what is wrong. But he hasn't had any trouble billing me to try to find-out! I would be interested in finding-out if anybody else has had any of these problems.
  • Our driver side window would come down when we were driving down the road. The service person said that that was impossible... until they drove it. The ABS light came on when we drove it off the lot with 17,000 miles on it. All of those sensors have been replaced and the light still kept coming on. The light was disconnected by service people. The engine light came on and we had to replace the oxygen sensor. The speedometer went wonky for us also and still has a strange buzz even though it has been replaced. At 60,000 miles we can tell by the odor that we have a head gasket problem. We have had it worked on and they can't find a leak. It is so frustrating. What next? Please not the transmission.
  • jc88jc88 Posts: 6
    I too had problems with the head gasket on my 93 Taurus. I had to start adding anti-freeze about 90k (about a pint every 2k). I changed the radiator because of an end cap leak at 108k and that's when I really noticed problems. The heater didn't want to work. I changed all the hoses, the termastat and flushed the system and it still didn't work very well. Then I noticed at 138k the radiator overflow was overflowing and when the engine cooled down it wasn't sucking the fluid back into the radiator. I then filled the radiator up and filled the overflow to the proper level and started the engine. I then observed the everflow container. It was blowing bubbles (exhaust into the coolant system). I then parked the car and started searching for a new car. I used to be a Ford man, but I setted on a Chrysler Town and Country. Drove my Taurus to the dealer and traded it. Ford has had too many problems with this 3.8L. They should fix them all regardless of years or miles.
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    I wonder when Ford is going to wake-up and start building a decent automobile. To add to the horror stories on the Windstar, let me start out by saying that when we bought our 98 (presently 28,000 miles and about 3 months left on the 3 yr warranty), we were concerned with safety for the 3 kids. The new Honda Odyssey (a preferred van) was not yet out or just coming out. After having the van for a few days, we noticed that the transmission was clunking coming out of 1st gear when going slow. Sometimes it hit so hard that it would jerk you in the seat. The dealer said this was a common problem on the NEW '98 Windstars. Solution: transmission rebuild. After doing that, the painted bumper and the molding around the grill were marred and scratched. Solution: touch-up paint by the dealer--NOT good enough. Complained on FORDs hotline--Solution re-painted the front bumper and trim area. Finally that looked okay. But now the transmission clunks slightly when downshifting from 2nd to 1st when slowing down. Sometimes it clunks from 1st to 2nd when accelerating hard after you leave off on the gas (i.e., if you don't maintain acceration into 2nd). This happens for example when you get moving out of an intersection with traffic coming but need to leave off on the gas after you get moving. Also, when highway driving in alot of stop-and-go traffic, and after the van is well-heated up, the transmission has a loose feeling. It is sort like slack in the driveline--akin to what I used to feel in old V8 rear-wheel drives with 90,000 miles and bad U-joints in the rear. Has anyone noticed these effects, and are these an alarm signal? Finally, there are plenty of other problems, like the power driver seat. Ford had put in a sliding seat to compensate for the single sliding door. A cable that allowed the seat to go back broke. Replaced that. The vinyl on the side of the driver seat cracked--replaced that. The seat frame itself sounded like it had a broken weld--cracking noises over bumps-replaced the seat frame and cushion. Now the seat frame is loose on the tracks--Ford service says this is normal. In the winter time, the power back windows operate only part of the time and the power lock operates only part of the time on the sliding door. Ford says they can not fix these problems because, they never happen on our scheduled repair visit. If anyone has had similar effects from the transmission, I would like to know. Thanks.
  • No, my '95 T-Bird is not a super coupe.
  • pjyoungpjyoung Posts: 885
    I didn't think it would be. I still haven't gotten a judgement on my small claims case yet...the judge is out of town on business for a couple of weeks. Hopefully I'll hear something after Labor day.
  • frankm4frankm4 Posts: 2
    Does anyone know if Ford fixed the tranny problem?

    My 95 Windstar went to the dealer on yesterday (8/15). All I learned was that there has been no warranty extension on the tranny. But, the service department feels the piston is crack and there may be a seal problem. I think they also determined the head gasket is leaking. Whatever they found, it was enough that they are asking Ford about buying back my van.

    But, I don't want another Ford if Ford hasn't figured out the tranny problem and fixed it in later model years. Anyone heard?
  • bjocbjoc Posts: 1
    Hi Everybody!
    I'm owner of a Ford Thunderbird 3.8 V6 LX (modell year: 1989) in Hungary. What I need is an Owner's Guide. If somebody can help me, please!
  • wolf57wolf57 Posts: 1
    I bought a used 95 Windstar with the 3.8 six. We had the head gasket repaired at Ford's expense about 3 months after purchase. However the damage had apparently been done. The engine started banging crossing the Kangamangus H'way in New Hamsphire last summer. We limped back down and the local Ford dealer fixed it up for $450.00 and advised that I get rid of the vehicle before the next 20K miles. The engine was always noisy to the point that I hated driving it but it kept going. We went to trade it in on a Honda CRV in early August '00 and a former Ford guy at the Honda dealer told us the engine was shot and the best he could do was about $3,000 short of the wholesale value. We walked out. I logged onto Edmunds the next day and found this forum and learned about the buy back from Ford. Good Bros Ford in Randolph, MA was straight up with us. Dave Good looked at the van, cleared it for the buyback and with the $3,000 offer from Ford with a $1,500 rebate on Explorers we picked up the new Explorer today. I ran the Explorer on and read some complaints about the tranny and bought the 100K powertrain warranty. A week ago Sunday, I was planning on a $3,000 loss and thanks to Edmunds, Ford and Good Bros. Ford, We're getting ready to go on vacation in a brand new full size SUV at the cost of a Honda CRV. I take my hat off to Ford and am especially thankful to and Good Bros. Ford in Randolph, MA.
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