I was stunned when I saw all the bad luck people have been having with this vehicle. Ours was very good while we had it (Don't have it anymore - Please see 'general comments below' - really you should!!)
One power steering hose rusted out - Cost $100 to buy new one (No labor - I do the work). It took me about 2 days and I had to remove several components to do this - Thank GOD I don't pay for labor!!! We live in Buffalo, so maybe that's part of why it rusted, but it looks like the AC condensate drain emptied right on top of it which probably accelerated the problem.
Passenger window rail guide broke - Bad spot welding - Costs 20$ US to buy one from Ford dealer, but I fixed the welds myself for free. I've never taken apart and easier door to work on! Nice design there.
Driver window also came off rail about 6 months ago, but not for same reason. The window was able to go high enough to pop out of rail - I never got around to fixing it, but I think I could have.
Front driver bearing started making noise, but I fixed before it failed. Cost $40 for bearing (aftermarket), $40 to have it pressed out, and $50 for the ABS sensor I destroyed getting the knuckle off! (Oops)
Once on a long-trip a shift-sensor on the transmission failed and caused it to not be able to shift out of 1st gear. In about 2 hours a dealer had it diagnosed and fixed - cost about $250. I think if I wasn't away from home I would have probably been able to zero in on it at home and fix cheap (looks like that part was easy to replace).
Ford dealer did a recall once (front springs get a shield because if they break the tire gets slashed). Mechanic didn't put the nuts on tight enough and the sway bar linkage (which shares the stud) came loose - It was so loud I thought the front wheel had come off!! After some dialog, they replaced that linkage for free.
I'm a pretty good home mechanic and I think maybe somebody who isn't might not have been quite so happy with it - certainly paying some bozo $50 an hour might add up quick.
My wife crashed this van on Jan 7, '03. She got hit by a Dodge Caravan going around 55-60 MPH. My 6-year old daughter and she BOTH walked away with only bruises from the seatbelts!!! Both airbags deployed. This car has the best crash-test ratings of ANY American-made Minivan (to my knowledge) - and it was hit broadside (which the crash-test people don't rate vehicles on). We are looking for a replacement right now and we will absolutely ONLY buy a WINDSTAR!! Even if I had to pay for a $2000 transmission, I still have my little girl - You should think about that before you buy a Honda.
One thing I noticed about the other reviews is all the bad ones had the 3.8L engine - ours was a 3.0L. I think I might lean toward the 3.0L for the replacement for this reason. I thought it had PLENTY of power even with a full load of passengers and cargo - who the hell needs to do 0-60 in 5 seconds in a MINIVAN (gimme a break!!) Sounds like the 3.8 might be a little too powerful for the tranny (or they put a different, less reliable tranny in 'em - I don't know).
Other thing of note was most bad reviews were for the 95/96 when the Windstar was new, and for the 1999 when it was redesigned. I'll stay away from these years also.
It was a very comfortable vehicle for long trips and VERY roomy for cargo. Interior held up to rough children quite well (we've got 4).
We live where they pour lots of salt on the roads in winter, and even with 80,000 miles it had essentially no rust - that's really an amazing thing - Ford must be using MUCH better steel than they did in my 78 Zephyr (That melted from all the rust!)
By the way, for all you who complained about blown head gaskets, if you don't replace your coolant at least every other year, head gaskets blow. (Happens in ANY car with an iron block and aluminum head)
Like I said - we're buying another one. Period.