Could you tell me a little details about the power steering whine?
Mine had two major issues before, AC and engine died. The good news are that they were repaired under warranty.
Now, at the fouth year, the power steering (I guess it is power steering issue) made a loud noise after some drive (5 or ten minutes?) I can hear the noise inside out.
Power steering whine is very common and may occur in cars of all makes. Sometimes it can be caused by air in the fluid. With luck the air can be pushed out of the pump and rack by steering very slowly and completely from stop to stop.
It may be a good idea to flush the system and fill with fresh fluid. Be sure to use the correct fluid because some vehicles are using transmission fluid rather than power steering fluid. (I am not sure about the Windstar).
I went to the parts store and read the labels of the various power steering fixes in a can. "Lucas Oil" seemed the most potent. Basically, this additive is of high viscosity and therefore dampens noises.
One thing I do to reduce wear and tear on the steering is this: I only turn the wheel while the vehicle is rolling, I avoid steering while the vehicle is stopped. Also, I don't keep it at full left or full right for more than a second. I steer back by about 2 cm.
My passenger powered sliding door is not closing occasionally. It slides to close, but not lock and slide back out again. Anyone with any experience on this issue?
I had similar trouble. While I don't know exactly what was wrong I was able to cure it this way: Clean the bottom running area from old grease and any dirt. Apply a small amount of silicone grease to the bottom door wheel. Clean the electrical contacts of the door. Make sure all the door seals are seated correctly.---Good luck!
Update: September ‘07
Almost another year has passed. The van has now 85000 miles and performed just fine. Meanwhile it received new spark plugs and wires, oil changes and a transmission flush.
The brake pedal felt soft and the brake light came on once in a while. The rear drums needed to be cleaned and adjusted ($25.00). There is still 25% left on the pads. The brakes feel like new now.
$3.00 per gallon of gas is hurting where it hurts most. After enjoying a rental VW Passat TDI for 50+ mpg, I do wish for a 4 cylinder turbo diesel in a minivan!
I have owned a 1991 Ford Mustang and now a 2003 Windstar, my Husband has also owned a 1994 Ford Ranger and now a 2001 F-150 and all of these vehicles have the power steering 'whine' problem. Especially in colder weather. Our mechanic told us it's a very common issue with Ford, and more often than not there is nothing that needs to be replaced. He suggested that if we really couldn't bear with the noise, putting in an after market pump solves the problem.
Update October ‘08
Another year has passed and the odometer is standing at 106000 miles. The van performed just fine. It did the usual chores of commuting, running errands and soccer trips. In addition it went on long trips from Iowa to North Carolina. The toughest job was a Boy Scout adventure in Wyoming which included steep hills, gravel and “improved dirt” roads. The CD player is skipping again, the lumbar adjustment leaks air, no other problems.
The tires didn’t do so well. The BF Goodrich Traction T/A’s were faulty. They quickly wore the edges while the centers held up well. They lasted 51000 miles even though they carried a 70000 miles warranty. My trusty tire dealer noticed that only this particular size (225/60/R16) made trouble. It must have been a bad production run. I received a warranty adjustment of 26% and replaced them with Michelin Harmony tires. What a difference! Steering response is immediate now. They are to new to say more.
I also had the brake fluid flushed and the oil changed as scheduled. A rattling heat shield was tightened up. The suspension wear is notable but not (yet) a safety concern.
I like to thank everyone who placed constructive comments on this thread!
Update on the Michelin Harmony tires: Meanwhile I have driven them in dry, wet and snowy/ icy conditions. These tires are aptly named. They strike a real nice compromise for grip, steering response, noise levels and comfort.
The tires run quiet but not noise-free. The sound they make is not offensive in any way. Now that the tire noise is less the suspension noises and engine noises come through more.
The under steer is almost gone. These tires give confidence in curves and handle all kinds of weather conditions. Even in snow the van is easy to control at the limit of adhesion.
I recommend these tires. These are the best all season tires I have ever had.
I wanted to thank everyone here for their helpful insights. Shopping for a van and have seen an '03 that has caught my eye, but since Ford hasn't got the minivan rep, I wanted to see what you folks had to say. Thanks again, so much.
Update September ‘09.
The odometer stands at 121000 miles. It’s still a good van, but little things start coming up. Mostly little electrical things:
The interior lights flicker. I resorted to turn off the interior lights at the dimmer wheel. I tried to fix it with WD 40 to no avail. I tried to take out the locks, but I couldn’t wiggle them out of the door. Now I learned that there is a little tab that needs to be lifted to remove the switch. I haven’t had the time to try that.
I replaced the battery (~ $95.00 at O’Reilley’s). Two years ago my favorite shop told me the battery is getting weak. I got my money’s worth out of it.
The CD player spits CD out again.
The info display goes dark at times.
Last winter I had some loping idle episodes. It had to be seriously cold weather and it occurred only during warm up, just as the needle gets to the “C”. I had to put it into neutral at red lights because the van started to buck. The loping idle disappeared once the engine was warmed and also with warmer weather in spring. I suspect that this is a case of deteriorating isolator bolt spacers. It will cost about $100.00 in parts and an afternoon to disassemble the intake manifold plenum and put it all back together.
During the summer, while on vacation, the van made some chirping noises. Since I could not consult my favorite shop I went to a Firestone place. They found a faulty water pump replaced it with a remanufactured one, put on a new serpentine belt and tensioner, changed the oil and charged about $600.00. I guess Corporate America has to eat too.
They also found a code about a lean condition on the left bank. They said it costs a bout $800 to fix. They told me just a week before they replaced a throttle body on a Windstar for $1400.00 fixing the same problem. They also suggested I get the rear brakes done for $500. Thanks, but no thanks!
I also had 3 fluids changed: oil, transmission fluid and filters, and the coolant. Ford put the long term coolant into the vans with rear heat/AC. So this was the first flush of the cooling system. What’s in there now is compatible with the Honda Global Coolant and should be good for 50000 miles. Total: $300.00.
Replaced cabin air filter for $11.00. I only mention it to remind you to check yours too.
I made it a habit to look at the brake pressure switch located towards the fire wall just above and behind the air filter. There were reports of these switches to leak brake fluid and that brake fluid ran down the wires to mess up the ABS module. So far there is no such leak on my van.
Since August, I am using the van much less. The little stuff gets done by my “lovely little runner”, a’98 Mazda Protégé LX with 147000 miles on it.