10th Aug 2009, 09:02

The Ford Windstar dome light and door ajar problems are due to the door switches mounted inside the door. The switches are not hard to take out, but you must take off the door panel. It is one of the most absurd switch systems I have come across. Once you get to them they are $12-$15 to replace. I usually clean them and put them back in. It usually last another 1-2 years before I have to do it again. The biggest problem is finding out which one is sticking.

10th Aug 2009, 17:01

I tried to get the lock and switch out of the driver's door to clean it. I was not able to find a twist or turn to do that. What's the trick?

Also, on my '03 Windstar it looks like the switch cannot be removed from the lock.

10th Aug 2009, 17:23

This is just typical of American products. I owned a Windstar myself and I will never go back to domestics. I used to be the kind of person who believed that domestics were the best you could buy, but ever since I replaced my Windstar with a Honda Civic, my opinion has changed. I thought the constant problems I was having with all my domestics were normal! Honda builds a much better car.

11th Aug 2009, 11:03

"Typical of American products?" "Constant problems?"

I am curious. What American cars have you owned that had constant problems? Please detail what your typical experiences were.

My family's experience has been a 1997 Mercury Sable with 180,000 miles on it that has never needed a repair, gets 29 mpg, and is still on the road as a daily driver; a 2002 Ford Explorer with 107,000 miles that needed one sensor changed and is still on the road getting up to 27 mpg; a 2007 Cadillac DTS with 63,000 miles that needed a tire valve stem replaced and is getting 28 mpg; a 1984 Plymouth Reliant with 220,000 miles that never needed a single repair; a 1989 Chevy Van 20 with 200,000 miles that never had a single problem.

Our worst vehicles were a 1989 Pontiac 6000 GL and 1984 Chevy Cavalier. Those unreliable junkers only made it to 215,000 miles before needing new struts.

That's what has been typical for us.

13th Nov 2009, 17:18

Bought our '96 Windstar with the 3.8 engine about four years ago, with 51,000 miles on it. Had had a new transmission put in at 40,000. Has 115,000 now. Ran great for about 30,000 miles, with just one bad bearing replaced during this time.

Then the head gasket went at 90,000. Had a good local mechanic fix it. Says he sees this problem "constantly" on the Ford 3.8L, and is "surprised" the new transmission hasn't gone out. Has been weirdly unreliable since.

Will sometimes run very rough, engine light will blink, then will stall. If I wait a half hour, it will restart and run okay.

Starting to get signs that the head gasket is going again. Heater smells of antifreeze, lots of water/steam out of tailpipe in mornings, getting sludge in radiator and blow-off tank, losing power, etc.

Sometimes the door locks will lock on and off, over and over, until I turn off engine, let it sit 15 minutes and and restart it. Could be dangerous situation -- I have two young kids.

After long trip, will stall at stop signs, red lights, or when it's been braked to a standstill so I can make a turn. VERY dangerous. Mechanic can't find what's causing this.

Front AC now works only when it wants to. Rear AC began blasting hot air only at about 70,000 miles. I can live without the comfort, but it takes forever to get heat to defrost windshield. If you're on a long trip and need to turn on defrosters for visibility/safety and they don't work, that's dangerous. And ridiculous in a modern car.

Leaks at driver's door so seat and seatbelt get soaked.

Brakes grind and lock up if I make a slow left turn. Mechanic can't find that cause, either. I sometimes have to pull emergency brake, no matter how carefully I'm driving, to avoid rear-ending cars or hitting pedestrians. Ridiculous.

Transmission starting to clunk on shift from first to second and when going from Neutral to Drive.

Tachometer works on and off. Not a big deal, but makes me worry about further electrical problems.

On plus side, seats very comfortable, visibility good, handles well for such a big vehicle, nice tight steering feel, tons of room, decent highway mileage, adequate power. When it runs well, it's great. Feels very safe. But it's a crime for Ford to build, and not stand behind, an engine that it KNOWS will blow head gaskets prematurely. This new one is gonna go again very soon, and the transmission is getting ready to blow next. They've built millions of cars and they can't get headgasket and transmission technology right?

2nd Jan 2010, 20:54

Being that these vans are now 14 years old, I'm sure that Ford is hoping that they will just quietly fade away and the infamous 3.8 will be forgotten. They will breathe a huge sigh of relief when the last head gasket on the last 3.8 liter has blown and been hauled away. They did actually make a couple of good V-6's, like the Vulcan 3.0 and the 4.0 SOHC and 4.0 pushrod. Too bad they shot themselves in the foot with the 3.8 head design.

7th Jan 2010, 16:01

Our 96 Windstar has 236000 miles. Original 3.0 V6 and transmission.

I purchased this vehicle new. Changed transmission fluid at 36000 mile intervals by dropping the pan and had the filter changed. I have replaced one drum brake cylinder and the alternator. The van was struck by another vehicle at 180000 miles, and we opted to not repair the $2700 front end damage. That was 6 years ago.

ABS & check engine lights are on constantly, and rainy days misfire causes the check engine to flash. It has served its mission well, and I rarely put more fuel in the tank than the vehicle is worth.

My daughter is learning to drive in this vehicle at a nearby church parking lot - she will require retraining to drive a better vehicle with a subtle dash display.

24th Dec 2010, 11:21

I have a 96 Windstar for a number of years. Mileage is pushing 150K. It was a $3200 car in 2004, and it is now a $2000 car. What a bargain! Drive six years for $1000 in devaluation. Two of those years, I put $1000 or so in repairs, and plan on $500 this coming year. Nothing is free, but I found preventative maintenance is a must with any vehicle.

The only difference between an import or domestic is who's job are you trying to save? Don't give up on domestics because you get a lemon. There are very expensive lemons in all import lines, and the parts are more expensive. Also, all imports are throw away cars over 100,000 miles, because it costs too much to fix, if you can get parts. Keep in mind, do the service, keep it clear, and drive it safely! That makes any car in America a good car!

25th Dec 2010, 14:13

Watch out for the rear axle on your Windstar. It could snap clean in half at any second!