I also agree with your comments on the A4LD.
Ours just died a few months ago. It has served us reliably throughout the years. We have towed lots of trailers from Florida to Georgia each summer with it. Mostly utility trailers. This fall I plan on attempting to rebuild it and if it is successful I will write some tips.
I bought an 89 Aerostar in Dec. 2000 with 215,000 km on it. Last summer the main seal on the transmission went. After expensive repair drove home (1,000 miles) and had it partly rebuilt. Even after repair had ongoing problems. Two weeks ago it stopped dead. One clutch was destroyed, the other cracked and the oil pump was cracked too! $1500 Cdn to repair it! I'm scrapping it. Will never buy another Ford!
My wife and I were quite pleased when we bought our 89 XL, it looked good and it had all the room we could ask for. Unfortunately, after 6 short months the transmission started to slip and inevitably died. Trying to find a used transmission has proved expensive and difficult to say the least. It seems every other van with compatible transmissions has suffered the same fate as our own. We are dissappointed and doubtful of ever owning another Ford vehicle.
We purchased a used 89
Aerostar XL 4 years ago. We have been putting money into it for faulty switches to operate the front windows, brake pads more often than I wouldfind normal and now the transmission is slipping. We just put new tires on, brake pads, rotors, etc. all the way around and new brake lines. Hard to think about the cost of a new transmission. Air Conditioning has never worked and it doesn't heat up well in the winter months. Lots of rust around the bottom. I love all of the room it provides, but doubt I would purchase another vehicle of this type.
I bought my Aerostar new, in 1987. It had the A4LD with the complex valve body, which kept sticking and causing all sorts of problems while it was still under warranty. Two years later, when it was just out of warranty, it completely quit. I paid just under $2000 to have it rebuilt by Ford. Fortunately, at that time they had a lifetime program in place which covered parts and labor for the next six years. I had it in the shop almost every year. Finally, one of the Ford service technicians call me and said "I have some bad news. Ford has decided that they will no longer pay for your transmission repairs. They are going to give you your money back". That wasn't too bad, I just purchased a new transmission. I thought "Well, that's the end of that old lemon". Well it wasn't. I had it in the shop two more times and then I replaced it with a newer style with the solenoid controlled overdrive. This one ran cooler and served me well for two years (longest running) then just quit all together with no warning, no funny sounds or anything. It just sits there like its not even connected to anything. The only things that still work on it is Park, the reverse light switch and the starter switch. So now I'm wondering what to do. The Aerostar is not even worth $1000. Is a class action suit in order?
Ford Aerostars from 1986 to 1991 have very poor transmissions.
Try looking for a 92 to a 96 Aerostar as the transmissions have quite a few improvements and almost rarly brake down.
Plus the interior looks better in the 92.
Ford Aerostars ARE good vans.
Go to www.ford-trucks.com and register, and you can get a lot of help from various people who own Aerostars.
Also, you might want to consider a transmission cooler. It will make the transmission last longer and less prone to self destruct.
Sympathize with the A4LD transmission problems! However my 96 Aerostar has 300,000 kms on it & has not missed a beat, does not slip & has done some pretty serious towing over fairly reasonable distances; 500 kms continuous highway driving, also fully loaded 8 people in van!
Mine has the electronic OD though & I change out of OD if traveling speed is not conducive to holding 4th gear.
The engine also is really very reliable & in-fact has had no breakdowns whatsoever apart from a dodgy starter motor & a failed alternator bearing. Neither of these problems left me stranded though.
If Ford still made the 96 version, I'd definitely buy another!!!