Ford Windstar

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Auto Defects > Ford

January 2001

Dear Ford Owner:

Thank you for contacting the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) about your Ford Aerostar or Windstar. CAS has received many complaints from consumers concerning peeling paint, ignition switch fires, stalling and brake, transmission and head gasket failures. Ford should drop "star" from Aerostar and Windstar because neither is a star when it comes to quality.

Brake failure has been a problem in Ford minivans. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 1990, recalled 30,000 1990 Aerostars for poor brake performance. Automatic transmission troubles have been reported on the Aerostar and Windstar with 1989-91 Aerostars recalled because their transmissions slip out of the "Park" position and into gear. Other typical transmission complaints include harsh, delayed, or no shift. The Aerostar's suffer from poor crashworthiness, failing NHTSA's 35 mph crash test. In sharp contrast, the Windstar had the best crash test scores ever for a van when introduced in 1995.

The most common and expensive defect is paint peeling on 1985-92 Aerostars. CAS has received hundreds of complaints on this problem. Ford attempts to cover it up by buying off aggressive consumers under a secret warranty and ignoring consumers who don't complain loudly. CAS petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to force Ford to notify owners about the secret warranty and pay for new paint jobs. CAS also petitioned every state attorney general to force Ford to reimburse owners for paint peel.

Twenty million Ford vehicles made from 1983 through 1995 have defective ignition modules that may cause the vehicle to stall and die on the highway at any time. Failure at highway speeds can cause the driver to lose control or even result in a stalled vehicle being hit by a truck. The 1985-87 Aerostar with a 2.3L engine and the 1986-90 Aerostar with a 3.0L engine are the minivans with the bad ignition module. To make matters worse, the 1985-91 Aerostar has a defective ignition switch which can short and start fires in the dash which can burn up the whole van even while parked with the ignition off. Only the 1988-91 Aerostars were recalled by Ford for this defect. The 3.8L engine has a failure prone head gasket that costs $1,000 to replace and $4,000 if the engine goes. Ford extended the warranty to 7 years or 100,000 miles on 1995 models after CAS complained to Ford Chairman William Clay Ford but has not extended the warranty on later models. Faulty front cover and intake gaskets on this engine cause coolant to mix with oil on 1998-98 Windstars.

You'll find more information on these and other Aerostar and Windstar below and what you can do about them plus a complaint box. Your information will help us build a strong case against Ford as we fight for action on Taurus/Sable defects.

We need you to support the Center for Auto Safety in our fight for consumer rights and against poorly designed and unsafe cars. Your contribution is tax-deductible which entitles you to our quarterly newsletter, Lemon Times. Please submit the membership form along with your contribution and complaint. If you contribute $35 or more, we will send you the current edition of The Ultimate Car Book, by Jack Gillis.


Clarence M. Ditlow
Executive Director

FORD Aerostar Windstar FACT SHEET
(Technical Service Bulletins (TSB's) are listed in brackets below.)

Brakes/Suspension: Front disc brake popping/clunking, 1991-93 Aerostar (93-25-5); Parking brake won't rachet on first application, 1991-93 Aerostar (93-23-25); Rear ABS -adverse characteristics, 1990-93 Aerostar (93-17-9 & 93-15-16); Brakes stick/bind/grab, 1987-92 Aerostar (93-11-7); Rear brake squeal when cold, 1986-92 Aerostar (92-21-9); E4WD driveline pop/tires Chirp/wheel hop, 1990-91 Aerostar (91-16-14); Intermit. brake squeal, 1986-91 Aerostar (90-22-6); Coil spring noise, 1986-90 Aerostar (90-23-11); Park brake fails to release, 1995-98 Windstar (98-5A-28).

Electrical: [Free repair: Speedometer gear replacement, 1995 Windstar (94B47), W/S wiper motor,1986-88 Aerostar (90M72)]; Fuel pump whine/buzz heard in speakers1986-97Aerostar, 1997-99 Windstar (95-11-3, 99-12-9); False door ajar warnings, 1995 Windstar (95-2-9); Erratic fuel gauge operation, 1990-94 Aerostar (95-2-3); Inst. cluster warning lights,1986-91 Aerostar (93-24-10); Dim/blank EATC or inst. display,1986-90 Aerostar (90-23-9,93-23-13); Temp gauge reads high, 1992-93 Aerostar (94-8-16); Inop. heated backlite,1986-94 Aerostar (93-26-1); Digital fuel gauge displays CO error code, 1991-92 Aerostar (93-23-3); Fuel gauge erratic,1989-90 Aerostar (91-13-4); Speedometer reads high speed in low temp., 1990-91 Aerostar (92-12-9); P/door locks grind, inoperative 1995-98 Windstar (98-4-16).

Engine: [Free repair: Bolts attaching pulley to crankshaft break. 6 yr/60,000 warranty,1986-93 Aerostar (M69); Head gasket, 1995 Windstar w/3.8L 7yr/100,000 warranty 00M09)]; Oil leaks, 1993 & Prior Aerostar w/4.0L (94-12-13); A/C & Accessory drive belt chirp/squeal or wear/breakage, 1992-93 Aerostar (94-5-12, 94-10-19, 94-1-10, 93-25-3); Rear crankshaft oil seal/Dipstick tube leaks oil,1987-91 Aerostar (94-3-6); Rough idle/hesitation/poor heater output,1986-94 Aerostar (93-24-8); Intermit. knocking at idle,1986-91 Aerostar (91-9-8); Rear engine oil leak,1986-91 Aerostar (91-7-8); Hesitation/stall at idle,1986-88 Aerostar (90-23-6); EGO Sensors -Silicone Contamination,1986-94 Aerostar (93-23-6); No start - Worn dist./camshaft gear, 1992-93 Aerostar (93-18-5); Fuel line knock, 1990-92 Aerostar (93-5-11); Service engine soon lamp, 1991-93 Aerostar (92-24-3); Fuel pump whine,1989-93 Aerostar w/21 gal. fuel tank (92-25-12); Tank thud/clunk,1986-89 Aerostar (92-14-8); Hard cold starts/hesitation,1986-91 Aerostar (91-25-7); Idle boom under load,1986-89 Aerostar (90-16-12, 90-13-10); "Chirping" 1995-97 Windstar w/3.8L (97-5-16); Hard "hot soak" starts, 1995-97 Windstar w/3.0L (97-24-22); Oil contaminated with coolant, 3.8/4.2L 96-98 (99-20-7)

Paint: Rough texture &/or orange/rust dots, 1985-96 Aerostar, 1995-99 Windstar (92-6-4, 95-6-1). For detailed package on peeling paint on 1985-92 models, go to CAS-Ford Paint..

Steering: P/S rapping/clanging, 1990-94 Aerostar (94-13-11); Air in p/s system, 1990-94 Aerostar (93-26-5); "Rapping/clanging" P/steering cooler 1993-96Aerostar w/4.0L (96-7-19); Loose steering column support brackets,1986-90 Aerostar (90-12-13); P/Steering reduction, FEAD belt slips & squeals or knocks, 1995-98 Windstar (98-9-4)

Transmission: Fwd/Rev engagement concern, AXOD, AXOD-E, AX4S, 1995 Windstar (94-24-7,94-20-9); A/T - Increase in RPM on light throttle 2-3 upshift, 1990-92 Aerostar (93-14-21); Low transaxle fluid level, 1995 Windstar (94-26-7); Shift lever PRNDL position may not match gears, 1992-93 Aerostar (93-5-14); ATF leak under middle or center of van, 1990-91 Aerostar (92-11-14); Fluid in clutch housing,1988-91 Aerostar (91-18-14); Grinding when shifting w/ M50D Mazda R1 & R2,1988-91 Aerostar (91-18-11); Poor retaining ring retention, 1990-91 Aerostar (91-17-11); M50D Hard shift cond.,1988-91 Aerostar (91-10-15); A/T floor shifter binding or misaligned,1986-90 Aerostar (91-11-19); Torque converter replacement guidelines, 1993-97 Aerostar, 1995-97 Windstar (96-26-12): Transfer case leaks, 1993-95 Aerostar (95-10-12); Rear axle whine or howl, 1993-96 Aerostar (96-17-22).

Other: Muffler corrodes, 1990-93 Aerostar (93-14-19); Loose catalyst/muffler heat shields,1986-97 Aerostar, 1995-99 Windstar (94-7-10, 98-20-10);" "Rattle/buzz" at dash panel sides 1993-96 Aerostar (96-2-6); Rear view mirrow detaches 1993-95 Aerostar 94-17-2); Sliding door latch misadjusted 1993-96 Aerostar (96-26-16); A/C compressor failure 1994-97 Aerostar (97-10-5); Blower motor chirp or squeak 1993-98 Aerostar, 1995-97 Windstar (97-6-10, 97-25-5); Whistle from front A/C plenum, 1995-98 Windstar (98-1-25); A/C compressor moan, 1995-97 Windstar (.97-17-11); A/C musty or mildew odor, 1995-98 Aerostar & Windstar (98-2-7, 99-19-5); Instrument panel noises 1995-98 Windstar (98-5-15).

(Copies may be obtained by calling NHTSA's Technical Reference at 202-366-2768.)

Brakes: Master cylinder failure, 30,000 1990 Aerostar (89V-223); Spare tire connector causes brakeline fracture, 9,400 1995 Aerostar (94V-239); Master cylinder fluid warning not visible 790,000 1996-99 Windstar (99V-147).

Electrical/Fires: Tow package relay short, 60,000 1986-88 Aerostar (88V-091); Power seat short, 90,000 1986 Aerostar (88V-145); Alternator output wire short 112,000 1995 Windstar (94V-223); Ignition switch short, 200,000+ 1988-91 Aerostar - (96V-071); Fuel pump wiring harness short 23,200 1994-95 Aerostar (99V-028); Accessory power feed circuit short 757,000 1992-97 Aerosstar (99V-029).

Fuel & Fluid Fires: Fuel tank leaks, 107 1986 Aerostar (86V-123); Spring lock fuel line coupling, 100,000+ 1986-87 Aerostar (87V-139); Fuel leaks, 91,000 1986 Aerostar (90V-121); Transmission fluid leak 10,000+ 1997 Windstar (97V-097); Fuel tank cracks, 140,0001988-90 Aerostar, 93,654 1995 Windstar (98V-190, 99V-309); Fuel line separates, 3,000 2000 Windstar (00V-164).

Seats/Seatbelts: Seat belts may be cut, 118,787 1986-87 Aerostar w/captains chair (89V-226); Seat pivots forward, 1989-90 Aerostar w/captains chair (90V-144); Driver seat not secured 200 1996 Windstar (96V-114);

Other: Structural weld integrity in rear suspension, 38,947 1986 Aerostar (86V-006); Rear liftgate strut fails, 112,000 1987-88 Aerostar (91V-136); Park gear failure, 100,000+ 1990-91 Aerostar , 10,000+ 1996 W, 5,000+ 1996 Windstar (91V-189, 96V-086, 96V-166); Bearing & axle damage 3,421 1995 W-school & transit buses (94V-222); Poor passenger airbag inflation, 1000+ 1995 Windstar (95E-006.002); Tire information mislabeled, 1,200 1995 Aerostar, 5,000+ 1996 Aerostar (95V-037, 96V-161); Driver door latch fails safety standard 5,000+ 1996 Aerostar (96V-070); Rack & pinion steering assembly 300 1998 Windstar (97V-165); Hood panel separates 50,000+ 1995-96 Windstar (97V-180); Transfer case &/or transmission fracture 75,000 1992-97 Aerostar, 11,000 1992 Aerostar (97V-204, 99V-094); W/S & Tailgate window not securely bonded, 1,475 2000 Windstar (00V-020); Headlights too dim, 5,000+ 1996-98 Windstar (00V-168).

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