1989 Ford Aerostar XLT Wagon (standard length) 3.0L V6, 4-speed automatic
If you get a good one, you'll swear by it; if you get a bad one, you'll swear AT it!
Body (terminal rust problem) 1992-on.
Power mirrors have failed (2001).
Digital dash got screwed up by the dealer (1990...fixed).
Sliding door trim panel was damaged when the dealer forgot to put most of the screws back in after fixing the latch (1990-1996).
Sliding door latch (1990).
HVAC... the A/C stopped working and the blower is dead (2001).
Various mystery leaks (coolant, oil, ATF).
Automatic-dimming mirror (not sure when it stopped working).
Horn (broke 1996).
Power windows (left, 2001...right, 1997).
The Aerostar I have is to my knowledge, basically fully loaded for an XLT.
The only things it does not have are rear air, the folding rear seats, and quad seats.
I might add that this Aerostar was not driven from December 1997 until January 2001.
I love the 3.0L engine. So far, it is pretty reliable. It gets me an average of 15.5 mpg (I'm not the greatest driver either). However, I have heard that the 4.0L that came out in 1990 is much more powerful... keep that in mind if you get the longer version and/or if you tow much.
My biggest gripe about the Aerostar is that Ford did not design it to withstand rust very well. Although it solved that problem by about 1993, 1986-89 models are rustbuckets. The doorsills are GONE on mine. However, the floorpan is still intact and in good shape. I think it's primarily the outer body you have to worry about.
On mine, the transmission has worked just fine. Although the shifter does get stiff in cold weather or after it has been washed, the transmission does not self-destruct like the Chrysler transaxles do at 50,000 miles.
Although it is not terribly fast (especially compared to a Windstar), it's OK in traffic. The sloped nose makes for great forward visibility. In a parking lot, it is kind of awkward to park due to the very long wheelbase, but the front overhang is very short. The rear overhang depends on whether you have the standard length or the more popular extended model.
I have found the seats to be fairly comfortable. One thing I don't like is that the seatbacks have no headrests and the back is too low. They wear pretty well. I think quad seats are a good option to have though. My Aerostar has the premium sound system with a 7-band equalizer on it. There is one thing Ford goofed up on big time... the cup holders are in the 3rd seat armrest (XLT/EB only!) and they barely hold pop cans. The digital dash was designed very well... although they changed it for 1992 to an odd design. I prefer the floor shifter over the column one.
One thing I've learned in the time my family has had this car... as soon as the warranty expires, do not go to the Ford dealer. Not only is the work not done properly, it is more $$$ (I'm 19... so I'm not rich).
The Aerostar is a good vehicle because it combines the toughness of a truck-based van with the carlike aspects of a true minivan.
If you really want to cross-shop, the Aerostar XLT is most similar to the Chevy Astro/GMC Safari (which are vastly inferior...still!), the big Chrysler minis (smaller inside, tow less, and the infamous transaxle problems). Also, the Volkswagen Vanagon Carat or the EuroVan GL might also be an alternative (but they are extremely hard to find and are much slower too). Basically, Ford created a vehicle that excels without being too flashy. I miss it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 15th September, 2001
10th Sep 2009, 13:59
You can buy Aerostar at tow auctions, normally between 250 and 400 dollars. You just have to go to them every weekend and see what they've got. Find out what tow yard the Police impound cars to, and the chances of you finding one is pretty good. Cause remember the government hates old cars, cause they don't make much money on them.
I bought one last week for 350. As soon as I get another chance, I am going to buy another one.
All I know is that Autolight makes darn good parts and Kragin sells better parts than Auto Zone; at least I think so.
One problem with the battery tray and wiring going around the battery on the left fender, is battery acid getting on the wiring harness. The cheapest solution I've found is to cut up a rubber floor mat to fit into the battery tray. Make sure you cut a place for the drainage hole on the battery tray. Then place your battery back. After you have done that, place a wet rag over the battery. This is extremely important. After you have done this, pour baking soda mostly between the fender and battery to protect the wiring harass from battery acid. With the wet rag still in place, spray the baking soda with soap and warm water. Once it hardens, which normally takes about 20 -30 minutes, carefully remove the rag without getting any baking soda in the battery. Because it will neutralize the battery acid, making it harder to charge for the alternator. Now the purpose of the rubber floor mat is to keep the battery from further rusting. Preferably use the floor mat with channels so it keeps the bottom of the battery suspended off the tray so that any water can evaporate out of there.
You may have to re-adjust your battery holder on the front of the van by loosening the two 10 millimeter bolts, and moving it closer to the battery so that you can bolt the battery holder back in place; this is pretty easy.