really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 7
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,518 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

1998 Ford Windstar engine problems

engine problem

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1998 Ford Windstar Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #34

Jul 062011


  • 126,131 miles


The contact owns a 1998 Ford Windstar. The contact stated that after having repairs performed on the vehicle under NHTSA campaign id number: 10V385000 (suspension:rear:axle:non-powered axle assembly), the vehicle would start jerking violently from the rear to the front when driving at speeds above 60 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed that the ball joints, bushing, intake gaskets, spark plugs, and lower controls arms needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance since the recall repairs were already performed. The vehicle was repaired at the contact's expense. The failure mileage was 126,131 and the current mileage was 127,000.

- Nicholasville , KY, USA

problem #33

Aug 152011


  • 195,000 miles
The contact owns a 1998 Ford Windstar. The contact smelled a burning odor while driving approximately 40 mph. The contact stopped the vehicle and inspected under the hood. The contact noticed a flame coming from the alternator. The contact used water to extinguish the flame. The fire department also reported to the scene. The contact replaced the alternator. The approximate failure mileage was 195,000.

- Gresham, WI, USA

problem #32

Oct 312011


  • miles
The contact owns a 1998 Ford Windstar. The contact was driving 35 mph and attempted to engage the brakes but the pedal was depressed into the floorboard abnormally with the illumination of the check engine warning light. The contact also mentioned that once he turned on the heater, the vehicle stalled. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic who diagnosed that the mass airflow sensor was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure and the vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was unknown and the current mileage was 200,816.

- Oak Park, MI, USA

problem #31

Jul 032010


  • 137,773 miles


On July 3, 2010, I was driving my 1998 Ford Windstar van with my family. While waiting for a traffic signal to change, we observed smoke coming from under the van. I immediately pulled into a parking lot and turned off the engine. The smoke continued to get worse until flames appeared from under the hood. The fire department was summoned but the van was eventually destroyed by fire before the fire department could put out the fire. Prior to this event, the van was running smoothly. The temperature gauges were normal and there was no indication of any malfunction.

- Merced, CA, USA

problem #30

Oct 032009


  • 100,130 miles
1998 Ford Windstar, 3.8 engine. I have problems it started stalling when I stopped at a light or stop, suddenly the car stopped. Also when it was in the parking. Mechanic made the tune-up but still doing so, now it is doing a white cloud of steam, if I accel, it comes worst, should I wait for a recall or it's a normal problem?

- Highland Park, IL, USA

problem #29

Jun 132009


  • 140,000 miles
On June 13th, 2009, my 1998 Ford Windstar van caught fire from under the hood causing a total loss of the vehicle and damage to the house. I have since learned that there is a recall of this particular make and model relating to electrical fires under the hood. I want Ford to pay for the damage and the loss of my vehicle. About 5500 hundred dollars.

- Brandenburg, KY, USA

problem #28

Apr 302000


  • miles


Our 1998 Ford Windstar van erupted in fire while off and parked in drive way. It had not been driven that day. The fire began in the dash on the driver side and spread so quickly that the van was a total loss.

- Elgin, IL, USA

problem #27

Aug 042008


  • 138,000 miles
My wife attempted to start 1998 Ford Windstar when smoke began to issue from beneath the hood. She immediately removoved herself and dog whereupon the engine caught fire and subsequently exploded. The fire department was called to extinguish the flames but everything fowrward of the firewall was melted down. The windshield had exploded and the interior suffered smoke damage. Everything in front of the firewall was an entire loss. This report is filed after learning that NHTSA is involved in investigation of more than 130 other reports of a similar nature. We wish to learn if there is any recourse or class action suit available to us.

- Lubbock, TX, USA

problem #26

Apr 162008

Windstar 6-cyl

  • 133,549 miles
I own an 1998 Windstar 3 liter engine. On April 16,2008 I parked my car (nose down hill) during a rain storm. Later that evening I notice the running lights were on and would not turn off. I then unhooked the battery. The next morning I jump started the car and drove it briefly to recharge the battery and noticed a smell of hot or burning wires. I looked under the hood and noticed pooling water in the engine compartment. After the engine dried completely the smell went away. While no fire resulted I was extremely concerned. I read the story concerning your investigation of the Windstar and thought it relevant.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #25

Jan 102008

Windstar 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 220,000 miles
Two weeks ago our 1998 Ford Windstar minivan, with 220,000 miles on it, caught fire under the hood while parked, and was totally destroyed. We had been carefully following the maintenance schedule from Ford Motor Company. During the week before the fire, we had problems with the interior lights not always turning off when we exited the van.

- Sylva, NC, USA

problem #24

Oct 122007


  • miles


No problems with the Windstar before the incident. The vehicle was parked and unattended when the owner was alerted by other residents that it was on fire. The smoke was white in color and coming from the front left area of the engine compartment. At the time the fire department arrived, the fire had made its way through the fire wall into the passenger compartment. The investigator determined the fire appeared to have started in the front left corner of the engine compartment evident by the heavier burning in that area there is a V-pattern noted on the back side of the radiator pointing to the center of the engine. The fire appeared to have breached the fire wall at the area where the main wiring harness and steering columns come through into the passenger compartment. Cause was ruled undetermined.

- Iowa City, IA, USA

problem #23

Nov 202006

Windstar 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
Camshaft position sensor failed and was replace 3 times. Again it is shot. This causes the van to stall and have extremely high idle. Causes to stall usually while stopped, sometimes hesitates upon acceleration. Also: Had to pull ABS fuse due to pedal not depressing. Works excellent without ABS. Also:transmission doesn't upshift when accelerating at high speeds/RPM's. have to let off gas and repress for van to shift to next gear.

- Silver Bay, MN, USA

problem #22

Dec 042005

Windstar 6-cyl

  • 74,000 miles
My heat wouldn't come on sometimes, then the hot light came on. Had it in the shop 2 times, everytime said it was fine, only changing out temp gauge. Dec 2005 3rd time took it in, same problem only oil light would also flicker at low idle pulling into parking spot. Took it back in and told them they had to find out what was wrong, it had been going on too long. Told then heavy residue on oil cap, could see dark marks around exhaust pipe. Loosing radiator fluid slowly. I am no mechanic but all I researched showed head gasket. To make story brief, they told me same day all was ok, computer read fine. I told them I was not satisfied and to keep testing. Took 3 days, then they call me to say the problem was that the head gasket had failed. Of course my extended warranty had ended 2 weeks before. They claimed I had been driving it with no oil and tried to get me to buy a new engine! I had been checking the oil myself, never ran low. Oil pan thick with gunk. I had it in for all reg maint, why would it have gotten that bad? $3200 later I had new head gasket water pump, oil pump, and various seals and hoses. Picket it up, following day had it back for not wanting to start, rough idle. Another $175 later I got it back. Unhappy to know this has been an on going issue and my 98 Windstar, fell in the age/miles time frame for the issue. Knowing that one van had this issue they should have know from all my descriptions what the problem was. If found 2 weeks earlier it would have been covered under warranty. Oil light still flickers now and then when pulling into parking spot. I will never but a Ford product again. Company was unwilling to work with me, give me any breaks.

- Painesville, OH, USA

problem #21

Jan 032007

Windstar 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I just found out that my head gasket is blown on my 1998 Ford Windstar. I read up on this and saw that this has been an ongoing problem with Ford and they haven't done anything to correct this problem nor do they offer you a solution to fix this problem at their expense.

- Keniwlroth, NJ, USA

problem #20

Jan 042006

Windstar 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,300 miles
Found lot of white smoke from the exhaust. Left at repair shop. Repair shop called and mentioned that it is head gasket damage. The repair shop also mentioned that he has seen lot of similar problem with 3.8 L Ford Windstar gl minivans. Not sure what to do since it might cost about $2,000 to fix.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #19

Oct 192005

Windstar 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,276 miles
Vehicle loss coolant gradually over the last couple of years. I never saw any leaks under the vehicle. On several occasions the car was abruptly pulled off the road because we thought it had caught on fire, but we could not determine the cause of the burning smell, we also had brought it to a mechanic on several occasions to evaluate but he could not determine the culprit. The vehicle overheated on oct19th and sprayed coolant and steam which was the first time there was a physical indication that there truly was a problem. The vehicle is presently in the shop at my expense to repair the head gasket, intake manifold and timing chain cover gasket.

- Sugar Land, TX, USA

problem #18

Nov 302004

Windstar 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
Took van in to have routine oil change and coolant replaced. Repair shop said the head gaskets were gone. Called Ford customer service they said sorry but no help was available. Had vehicle towed to dealer. Bill to repair estimated at 1400 usd. Van has been maintained and given good service. Don't think head gaskets should leak at 76000 miles.

- Sheffield Lake, OH, USA

problem #17

Apr 172004

Windstar 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,600 miles
At approximately 57,600 miles my 1998 Ford Windstar developed an antifreeze leak. I took the vehicle to my local garage and it was diagnosed as a leak at the timing cover gasket. I had this repaired at a cost of $1453. Two weeks later, as I was driving to a baseball game, my car began to stall. It was hard to start, and the oil light was flickering when the car was running and there was a loud rattle coming from the engine. There was no warning before this happened, the temperature gauge was normal, no rattling sounds from the engine, etc. I had the car towed back to my local garage. My mechanic diagnosed the rattling noise as coming from the lower bearings, the engine bearings were failing at 57,800 miles!!!! I called my local Ford dealer where I had bought the Windstar and asked them if there were any open programs on the engine, since when the timing cover gasket had failed, I had searched the internet to see if this was a common failure( it was). The Ford dealer was no help, I then called Ford customer service and they were no help. I then wrote a letter to william clay Ford and he had a blaine yung call me on 5/8/2004. Mr. Yung was also no help, quoting that the warranty was 3 yrs./36,000 miles. Meanwhile I had to have the car repaired at a cost of $4200, new remanufactured engine, tune-up, etc. I believe that the defect on the timing cover gasket which caused the original antifreeze leak, leaked antifreeze into the crankshaft and caused the engine failure. This car has been well maintained and should have gotten me at least to 120,000 miles before I need to replace an engine. I have owned many other cars and have gotten at 150,000 miles out of them before I had to do any major repairs (engine or transmission). I feel Ford should back their products and own up to this defect.

- Lansdale, PA, USA

problem #16

Aug 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
When we purchased the van, we also bought a diamondkote warranty, for 499.99$ and told at the time of purchase that is was a good warranty.we then found out that we should not have been sold the warranty and plaza Ford Lincoln will not honor it, we can't even get a refund, so we spoke to someone at diamondkote and this person told us that we should not have been sold the warranty and have been trying to get a refund ever since, either from plaza Ford Lincoln or diamondkote. I had intentions of suing Ford Motor Company two years ago when my husband took my two daughters to halifax, because my 8 year old had cancer at the time, she had a appointment at the I.w.K hospital and it was by the grace of god that thay were not killed when the front suspention spring broke in which case my husband lost steering. I spoke to a lawyer who sadly told, because there was no death or injury there was nothing he could do, well my 8 year old who is now cancer free was so scared, she still gets very scared to get in a vehicle. I could go on but for now this is just the begining. I am going to pursue the matter of the diamondkote warranty further, and possibly more.we have had alot of vehicals before but never a Ford with as much trouble as this has been.

- Sydney, UN, USA

problem #15

Oct 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,956 miles
On October 1, 2003 the transmission failed at 23,956 miles. It neutralizes at 10 mph or higher. Contact with the dealership stated it was out of warranty and I could bring it in for repair. They would not cooperate with providing me the name and means of contacting the zone rep. Repair cost at $1800 with transmission shop.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

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