1998 Ford Windstar GL 3.8 from North America


Weak Front End


This mini-van has been in the shop far too often. It's bad when the customer service folks know your first name as you walk in the shop.

I like the style, head room, leg room etc. However there are several nagging problems which have been repaired (finally) and are back.

The front end seems especially fragile. Tie rod ends, king pins a BROKEN strut mounting (which took 3 visits to "discover") 2 sets of brake rotors (not covered under warranty) 2 sets of tires (60,000 miles) and I'm looking into an unprecedented 3rd set or a trade in.

The front end on these mini's can't hold up to the stresses of the road. My driving is on good roads, interstates etc... nothing out of the ordinary, however as I stated previously, I have had nothing but nagging problems with the front end.

I will give the local Ford dealership credit. They have refunded some costs when they went down the wrong path which ultimately wound up as a cracked strut mount. What about the strut? Not replaced, one would assume that the strut was put at some stress for which it was not designed. Ask Ford, I guess if it is not leaking, it's okay. Whatever.

It's in the shop today as a matter of fact. I REALLY thinking about another vehicle. But a trade in would dent my wallet with residual left over from the previous loan.

Hey, I need a car! I travel, run around town etc... I don't need a problem. This 98 Windstar has given me some problems. BUT it hasn't left me stranded... as I have been proactive in getting it to the shop when the front end starts in with the shimmy.

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

Review Date: 15th August, 2002

1998 Ford Windstar GL 3.8L V6 from North America


Quality leaves a lot to be desired


Check Engine Light on at 50,000 miles.

Front struts replaced at 54,000 miles.

Transmission went out at 60,000 miles.

Intermittently 'Door Ajar' chime stays on.

Front brakes were replaced twice.

Passenger side power window dead.

Power steering leaks.

Speedometer wobbles at over 50 MPH.

Squeaks and rattles in dashboard.

General Comments:

After driving the van for a couple of months the front brakes became noisy, with an incredible grinding sound.

We've had pads replaced twice (the first time still under warranty, but we had to pay anyway since this was a 'normal wear' item...), and at the last repair we were told by the dealer that the front struts and toe rods needed replacement as well. $640...

The Check Engine Light had been coming on and then extinguished again over the last few years. In December of 2001 it lit up during a long road trip and started flashing after another 100 miles. The trouble-code P0301 indicated a misfiring cylinder. The dealer replaced all spark plugs (platinum types, normally good for 100,000 miles!) and the wires.

One week and $460 later the light started flashing again...

This time the dealer replaced and decarbonized the intake manifold and reprogrammed the engine computer.

We were told the manifold had excessive carbon build-up, which blocked some EGR control ports causing the engine to run rough. The computer reprogramming would fix that problem, and downgraded the engine power to about 175, from 200 HP... Now, should I pay $860 for a computer bug fix that most likely caused a too rich fuel mixture and thus the carbon build up?

The van ran fine after that, and for a while we only had the usual quirks like interior lights that stayed on, the door ajar chime that would drive us nuts for miles until it finally quit, the power window that stopped working again and an ABS light that fortunately extinguished after two trips.

Then, at about 60,000 miles I pull up from a stoplight, and all of a sudden there seemed nothing connected to the gas-pedal anymore. The engine was revving freely, but the power never reached the weels.

The person behind me was able to stop before rear-ending the van, and even helped me push my vehicle off the road.

I had the van towed to the dealer, where I was told they would look at the transmission 'tomorrow'. Tomorrow became 6 days later, after I requested firmly that someone please take a look at my car. Their excuse: the two transmission specialists are very busy. (Now there's a good sign...)

I witnessed the chief mechanic disassembling my transmission, and he showed me the problem: the internal shaft driving the variable vane pump was grinding, probably due to a misalignment, and the pump went out.

I can never prove that this misalignment was caused during assembly at the Ford plant, but I have since heard similar stories about this car platform (Taurus/Sable and Windstar share the same transaxle which has many more problems than the rear-wheel drive platforms.)

Bottom line: The maintenance and repair costs for this vehicle by far exceed the pleasure of owning it, and I will never buy a Ford again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 30th July, 2002