2001 Ford Windstar LX 3.8 Liter V6 from North America

Summary:

Great family vehicle for the price

Faults:

1. Repeated heater failure due to poor design of blend door actuator. Now fixed correctly.

2. Coolant sensor at 74,000 miles. Not expensive, but annoyingly difficult to get at to change.

3. Power window motor at 59,000 miles. I really wish Ford would stop using pop-rivets to put their window regulators and motors in place.

4. Other than the above the only expenses I've had are scheduled maintenance items such as brakes, battery, tune-up, etc...

General Comments:

Other than a few minor issues the van has been dependable.

Very comfortable van for a family.

Cleans easily.

Plenty of features for the price these are available for used.

Acceleration and handling was second only to the Nissan Quest -- I tested all the major brand's minivans before buying this one.

Returns about 25mpg on the highway.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th March, 2009

21st Dec 2009, 01:08

I have a 2000 Windstar with a 3.8 Liter V-6. It has good low end torque and gets about 21 miles a gallon highway. Mine has dual-zone heater/AC. Right now it has 162,000 miles on it with a little rust under the drivers side sliding door. Otherwise the body is in VG condition; just a lot of highway miles as my past jobs required I travel from city to city where I work for 6-12 months. A close inspection shows no rust elsewhere and this is an inexpensive repair.

It has the typical (4) four problems reported by other owners:

1. Bad Speed Control Switch - It is on the master cylinder, and when it fails brake fluid leaks out. The fluid is very caustic and flammable. In my case it began with the cruise control no longer working. Then I had to add brake fluid every 2 months. I did some research, and right before I was going to replace it, it caught fire. Fortunately, I caught it before any damage was done. I bought the part for $27, and it took 30 minutes to replace. Ford finally sent me a recall notice, but I had already replaced it.

2. Drivers Side Power Window Regulator - This began with having to bang the drivers side window to get the motor to lower the window. Later it froze up. I bought a new regulator and replaced it in about 1 hour. I needed to adjust it a few times because the window was misaligned.

3. Heater Blend Door Actuator - You hear this loud clicking sound when you attempt to adjust the front heater temperature. Also you will find you can no longer set the temperature; fortunately I have a dual-zone climate control. I find if I slowly move the temperature slider it will work, but with plastic gears in the actuator I am going to replace it next week. Owners say it takes about 1 hour to replace.

4. Check Engine Light - Owners report this is a bad intake manifold gasket and the fault codes are always the same. I often use my hand held computer to clear the Check Engine Light and the problem comes back after about 2000 miles. Also, my 3.8 L V-6 needs premium fuel or else it pings; I do not know why.

5. Side Sliding Door Rollers - I am unaware of other Windstar owners having this problem. These rollers begin to seize and over time opening and closing the side sliding doors result in a "flat spot" on the roller. It will damage the finish on channel they slide along. I will replace them next week and expect it to take about 1 hour.

Automatic Transmissions - I bought this van with 75,000 miles on it and at 97,000 miles the transmission had to be rebuilt. Since Ford Transmissions are reliable an examination of the failed parts was in order. I lost the ability to engage the transmission into reverse, and could not start the van moving when in 1st gear. I knew it was the "shared 1st-gear/reverse" clutch pack shared in this automatic transmission. I also has a bad solenoid which locked up the overdrive unit placing excess stress on the inner workings of the transmission.

Upon disassembly the technician and I (I'm an engineer) examined the various parts. This includes fluid, filter, clutch packs, bands, sun/planetary gears, torque converter and valve body assembly. Only the 1st gear/reverse clutch pack was found to be damaged.

The clutch pack, which is a set of alternating stacked clutches and pressure plates, had sustained extreme thermal damage. Clutch and pressure plates were severely warped and while parts of the metal surfaces developed a bluish color indicating excess heat. Meanwhile other surfaces of these same clutches were healthy. This was a progressive failure; over time extreme heat generated by clutch slippage resulted in increased warping the clutches and pressure pads. The warpage finally got so bad the hydraulic pressure could not effectively engage the clutches and pressure pads. Additional slipping and a lock up of the overdrive unit generated excess heat, which compromised the integrity of the the steel, and finally caused the clutch to fail.

It is worth noting with most automatics this begins as "a slip" on "automatic downshift" to 1st gear. So take care of your transmission.

21st Dec 2009, 13:42

I got my blend door actuator from O'Reilly's for about $35 with lifetime warranty. You can also get it from Ford with a 90 day warranty for only $65.

Thanks for the detailed comments.

10th Dec 2010, 20:45

I have a 2000 Ford Windstar LX, and my side sliding door rollers are beginning to fail (now December 2010). The doors are getting hard to slide open. It appears there are three locations with rollers. I gave up searching the Internet for an explanation on how to replace these rollers myself (do you remove all 3 at once and remove the door, or do one at a time and keep the door in place). The dealer wants $300 to fix each door. The part is probably $20.

Otherwise, I love my Windstar (only 65,000 miles) and do still have issues with the check engine light, and replaced my blend actuator a few years ago. We all seem to report the same issues.

13th Dec 2010, 09:42

If you haven't tried yet, clean the bottom runner of all grime and old grease. Then put some silicone grease on the outside of the roller. Maybe that's all it takes to fix your problem.

Good luck!

2001 Ford Windstar LX 3.6 from North America

Summary:

It was worth it

Faults:

Rear cylinders stuck.

Replaced rear drums.

Shocks are bad.

Check engine light came on, but went off after we took off a battery lead.

Had to replace tires and get alloy rims.

General Comments:

Runs great.

Good fuel economy; over 250 miles a tank city driving, and over 350 on the highway.

Strong engine responsive engine.

Factory headlamps are dim.

Great body condition.

If you buy one used, replace the spark plugs and wires, fuel filter, do a radiator flush and fill. It will make such a difference.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th June, 2008