1996 Ford Windstar GL 3.8L V6 from North America


OK till now, but not sure > 100K miles


I have maintained the Windstar with regular maintenance. In my last coolant flush at ~85K miles the service manager said that there was a coolant leak and that the timing cover gasket has to be replaced and possibly the water pump. Total bill $1400 and there were no recalls.

Am I in for more problems in the future? Has Ford acknowledged this problem? Is there any chance of getting any money back by writing / calling Ford? Otherwise the vehicle has performed well.

Please email at rad_ganesh@yahoo.com.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 21st January, 2003

1996 Ford Windstar GL 3.8 from North America


Extremely comfortable driveway ornament


Previous owner replaced engine with rebuilt unit at 80,000 miles due to blown head gasket. He said the dealer would not help him. The engine was rebuilt by an independent shop and has run fine, except for normal maintenance. I had to replace Idler pulley and Tensioner pulley last weekend. The Idler pulley locked up and killed the belt.

The transmission has run shoddy since I bought the van. I bought the van cheap, due to the transmission problems. I did research and found that there is a "drum" in the transmission that has a crack in it. It's a known defect on Fords (especially '95 and '96 Windstars), but usually lasts until at least 85,000 miles, so they don't cover it under warranty. I can accept that, but it will affect my decision to buy another Ford product.

Power Window Motors in doors failed within 2,000 miles of each other. Both were motor failures. The van had about 97,000 miles at the time. That was about a year ago and I'm still driving it with the door panels off and a piece of cable holding the window up, since I've not had time to chase the motors down. No one, but the dealer ever has them in stock, and they want my first born in order to release a window motor to me. One of the rear window motors is now failing, also. I had a 1976 Buick that had NO electrical failures. It was fourteen years old when I finally gave it up (only because vanity made me want a new car, it was still running fine).

There is a brace or bar or something like that which has fallen off the inside of the door. It scared the hell out of me, I thought I'd run over an angry steel cat and somehow it ended up inside my van. When I took off the door panel to fix the window motor, I discovered the metal bar and the failed weld points. (The vehicle has never been wrecked, so it's surely a defect in workmanship.)

I've had intermittent ABS and BRAKE light entertainment opportunities. The ABS light is never on when the van is started, but comes on later, after the van is sure I'm gonna drive for a while. I think the light is a scam and the van is really just lazy. I really think it wants to just sit in the driveway and do nothing. The brakes seem to work fine, so I consider the lights to be a stand-in for year-round Christmas Tree lights.

I wish they'd offered a surround sound in-van DVD theater system on this one. I'd just leave it in the garage, take the engine and transmission out, hook up a power converter, and let the kids use it to watch movies.

General Comments:

Very comfortable ride and handling.

Poor dependability.

Parts availability is a joke.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 7th January, 2003

7th Aug 2003, 20:19

Can I ask, how did you take the door panel off. Because Mine won't.

1st Nov 2007, 20:18

The ABS light is one of your wheel sensors that has gone bad. If it is a steady light then it is not a major problem. Some people have actually taken the sensor out and cleaned and reinstalled and it work. Maybe you should give that a try.

13th Nov 2009, 17:48

Forgot to mention in my posting about the Windstar we bought with 51,000 miles on it...

Windshield wiper switches totally failed at 90,000 miles. Had to pull back stem to use windshield wash-and-wipe function to get wipers to work at all. Very dangerous because we were in the middle of the Adirondack mountains on a rainy day.

Had to take it to a dealer, and it took them three days to get the part and put it on. Cost over $400. Now, greasy goo is leaking from new windshield wiper control stem. I don't care about the grease per se, but what kind of electrical component is supposed to have and be leaking grease?

I accept wear-and-tear problems like brake rotors, CV joints, rusting exhaust parts, gradually worsening oil leaks, etc. Cars take a beating, and all that's to be expected. But head gaskets, transmissions, defrosting, and basic electrical components should not be failing so soon. These are systemic problems -- cynical problems. Where is the quality control? The parts testing? The basic reliability? It's a shame because the vehicle has many good points -- when it works.

14th Nov 2009, 11:20

"Windshield wiper switches totally failed at 90,000 miles. Had to pull back stem to use windshield wash-and-wipe function to get wipers to work at all"

I had the same problem with my Windstar! It was one of many, but it finally helped me rethink who I was buying from. The wipers stopped working right in the middle of a torrential downpour! I traded it in on a Civic the next day and haven't looked back.