1996 Ford Windstar GL don't recall from North America


A money pit to avoid, I feel like I just contracted venereal disease


I returned the van to the used lot where I purchased it for a leak in the transmission. It was under the sixty day, three thousand mile warranty. They then sent it out to a transmission shop, where they supposedly fixed the problem. While driving, especially when engaging from first gear to second, the transmission acted like it didn't want to grab.

Well, ten days and two hundred or so miles after the basic warranty expired, the transmission stopped working while I was on the highway with my family. The engine would rev, but the transmission would not engage, not even in reverse. I checked the fluid level at that time, and it was in the zone. The used car dealer said they would cover the labor, and initially made a verbal comment that another transmission could probably be found for under a thousand. Now I'm looking at anywhere from $1,400.00 to $2,000.00 for a rebuilt. I might as well buy a new one I said to myself.

After reading this board, I now fear that the head gasket will die once the tranny is fixed, and I have no faith that Ford Motor Company will send me a transmission that is problem free. I owe $13,000.00 on it, with financing, and now I just want to pawn it off and take my loss.

I noticed that the tumbler assembly for the lock on the back door is loose and crooked, so I'm just not going to use the physical key in it.

I have had the alarm system come on when I did not intend it to, and it alters the regularity of beeps from time to time. I do not know if this is normal.

General Comments:

The vehicle cannot handle turns on the highway. I did not feel the van was top heavy, it just cannot handle its own inertia.

I feel the wheelbase should be wider.

I wish that the steering wheel was thicker, it causes my wrists to ache on long rides.

The air conditioning is great. In fact, the rear air conditioning is stronger than the front!

I should have replaced the head gasket in my 95 Mazda Protege instead (Ford motor)! It only had 117,000 miles on it. At least it would be paid for by now.

And to think that one of the reasons for purchasing the Wind star was to "buy American". It's too bad that poor folk like me, who cannot afford a Honda, are forced to make do with whatever the corporations decide to feed to the American family.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd August, 2001

2nd Aug 2001, 21:06

Well that's what you get for buying a good old Windstar - they are all lemons my friend! It is a well known fact that Ford cannot build a transmission and yes your head gasket will soon bite the dust! I myself find the Windstar a nice looking vehicle, but I felt obliged to check user reviews first and consequently I ran a mile! I hope you pass the vehicle on to a "newbie!".. Good luck!!!

1996 Ford Windstar LX 3.8 from North America


Nice style, poor drive train


I bought this Windstar on a Friday, by Monday the transmission blew.

Thank god, for the used car warranty, now I'm waiting for the next thing to go wrong.

I wish I had checked this web site before buying a Ford product.

General Comments:

It's a nice van to drive with all the toys.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 1st July, 2001

1996 Ford Windstar GL 3.8 from North America


The biggest piece I have ever owned


Water pump, 80831 miles, $646.08.

Transmission, 81909 miles, $2260.00.

Check engine light (fouled spark plug), 84212 miles, $399.82.

Driver's door power window, 84330 miles, $188.00.

Check engine light (bad sensor), 87349 miles, $269.95.

Blown wheel bearing and hub, 87840 miles, $299.00.

General Comments:

I have never owned a vehicle so poorly made as this Windstar. Although I know that used cars have their quirks, and are subject to wear and tear, I have later learned that the AXOD series of transmissions used in these vehicles have a known failure rate dating back to 1993. When I contacted Ford customer service regarding the transmission failure they denied knowledge of any known failures in these transmissions (the same transmissions that the Taurus had). In a later call to Ford they acknowledged a warranty program for these transmissions, but told me that I didn't qualify. When I asked what the qualifications are they said that they couldn't tell me as that was a confidential Ford document. If quality is Job 1 then denial must be Job 2.

I am planning to sue Ford in small claims court on this transmission. If anyone has successfully done the same or is in the process of doing the same, please email me with your information. I will gladly share with you what I have.


Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 2nd June, 2001

3rd Aug 2001, 13:02

Like you I have had transmission problems. Fortunately, it happened approximately 2000 miles before the warranty expired. Currently, the speedometer head (according to the Ford dealer) is bad and need replacing. The cost for that is $600 - $300 for the part and $300 labor. The water pump is getting noisy and must be replaced shortly. This is a 1996 model with 73000 miles. While repairs and maintenance are normal functions, I think these type are too costly and too soon.

I am disappointed in the level of service from the vehicle and definitely will not purchase another Windstar. As a matter of fact, I am almost sure Ford products are off my list. I have purchased Fords since 1968.