really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
111,750 miles
Total Complaints:
20 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (11 reports)
  2. not sure (4 reports)
  3. bomb it (2 reports)
  4. a new tranny &engine work & electrical govenor (1 reports)
  5. rebuilt transmission (1 reports)
  6. replaced torque converter and pump shaft (1 reports)
1998 Ford Windstar transmission problems

transmission problem

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1998 Ford Windstar Owner Comments

problem #20

Jul 152000

Windstar GL 3.8L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles


Transmission died RIGHT IN FRONT of Disney World - cost $2000 to fix. Put a real damper on vacation. Ford did help with repair some - they had already acknowledged that the AX4OD was a junk transmission after I showed them the broken parts. The car was never right after that - it leaked fluid and shifted terribly. I got rid of it a couple of years later and got our first Japanese car ever - a Toyota Sienna. I seem to see a lot of Windstars at Pull-a-part (a junkyard) but very few of them are still on the road.

- Bill P., Woodstock, GA, US

problem #19

Dec 152013

Windstar GL 3.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

Transmission went out with no warning at all. Came to a stop sign, then would not go forward. No warning or sounds. Had reverse, that was OK. So thinking that it was low on tranny/oil, I backed into a gas station, put in tranny/oil, but it did nothing. Had it towed home.

Called around for est. to fix, most say about $2400 with a 90 day guarantee. Not sure if replacing the transmission will fix the problem OR have another breakdown later. Is this transmission only good for so long??

I see a number of others with transmission issues.

Wished I saw this web site before buying the car.

The car is in very good condition, but now this.

Hope this will help others.

- doulos378, St Nazianz, WI, US

problem #18

Dec 272012

Windstar LX 3.8L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 207,000 miles

1998 Ford Windstar has 207,000 odometer miles. Started the car without issue on a cooler winter day, but when the gear shift was moved into either Reverse, Drive, First or Second, only the engine ran and no energy was being transferred to the front wheels. After allowing the engine to warm up, I first checked the trans fluid - good red color, no burnt smell, and at the proper level.

Next question was to see if the problem lives in the electronics of the transmission or the transmission itself. Removed and replaced the Transmission Range Sensor (behind air cleaner and sits on top of the transmission - also called a part / neutral switch by some), no change in the problem. Moving along, one trans mechanic suggested that the transmission filter may have become dislodged. Another remove and review found the filter clean and intact.

Another source suggested to start the car and check the transmission pump. With the car running, the hose was pulled and there was only a trickle of fluid - hence no transmission pump fluid was under pressure. So, the issue either lives in the transmission pump itself, or perhaps in the drive chain inside the transmission. I will need to wait two days more until the replacement transmission (with 100k miles) arrives. Unlike others in this forum that reported very similar issues (currently without details of resolution) that occurred either on the highway, at intersection, or in a shopping mall parking lot, mine occurred at home. Prior to this occurrence, there were NO warning signs, slippage, or hesitation when shifting automatically within the gears. Will advise once more details are discovered.

- Preferred U., Detroit, MI, US

problem #17

Jul 262011

Windstar EX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,322 miles


We have been very lucky - it seems - with our '98 Windstar with 118000km (74000 miles) on it. o major issues that were not covered by a recall. The transmission started slipping a couple of years ago, and we lost the whole thing last week. $1900 to replace the transmission - the vehicle is only worth $1500, at best. Our problem is, do we sink 2 grand into the van or buy a different vehicle? With the age of the van, and the millage starting to get high, is the $2000 just the beginning? What problems can we expect next?

- jgibbear, Ottawa, ON, Canada

problem #16

Jan 202011

Windstar LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

Engine runs great but after almost 13 years, the vehicle decided to stay in park forever even though the gear shifter moved through the gears evenly. Transmission started slipping a bit in the last few months before it went completely out.

- dr3wv4n3, Harmony, NC, US

problem #15

Sep 162010

Windstar 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,702 miles

I took my daughter to the mall on a wet day. Suddenly when exiting the parking garage it was like we were slipping on wet pavement. Didn't really think much of it because this vehicle does not have great road adherence. But then a few kilometers down the road it did it again but this was on a dry patch when I accelerated after a traffic light. Got it home and parked it. The next day my husband took the kids somewhere and he reported that he had a horrible time getting it home, it was bucking and shuddering all the way home. So the next morning when I took it to the store I expected that it was going to act up but it was fine but on the ride home it was acting up. So I talked to a friend of ours who was a mechanic and he said just keep an eye on it. This went on for a couple of weeks and then suddenly it started shuddering at every light, every automatic shift through gears, terrible going from first to second. Then suddenly I went from highway speed with zero problems (stays in fourth) and then drove 2 blocks and when I tried to pull in the driveway it wouldn't go anywhere. I put it into second and was able to move in but when I pulled out I had to turn off the vehicle to get it to move from reverse to forward.

Took it to a Transmission Shop and he took it for a test drive. He said he could hearit collapsing inside when he was driving and that unless I wanted to spend 2700.00 for the fix just take it home, and only make short trips and always have cab fair to get home.

I have found that as long as the vehicle is cold there are few problems but as soon as the rad starts to warm up (which warms the transmission fluid) then it starts to buck and shudder again. When you go through the gears 1st to 2nd really thunk and clatter but 3rd seems fine. Highway is great if you could find someone to pick you up when you are forced to slow down.

- Cindy B., Edmonton, AB, Canada

problem #14

Jun 112009

Windstar 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,702 miles


Same happened to me but I was lucky, after a short trip just to the next town I was stopping at the front of my garage, and when I wanted to put the van into the garage the transmission was gone. It was a very expensive repair taking long time because here in Austria we have to order the parts from the US.

- Nandor S., Neulengbach, Lower Austria, Austria

problem #13

Jun 132007

Windstar ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,000 miles

My wife was driving the car then all of a sudden no power whatsoever. I haven't been able to fix it and I am unemployed now and Ford is flush with cash! What a rip off! I wish I could fix it myself, Ford won't and repair shops are sky high. Free enterprise my ass!!!!

- bluetravellor, Newberry, FL, US

problem #12

Aug 152008

Windstar HD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

I am the orginal owner of this windstar I can't believe a new car off the lot and I didn't even get 100 thousand miles this is an awful shame , I was taken to the cleaners and with taxes and interest this car cost me almost 30,000 the price of my dream car a mercedes ml I wish someone would have alert the public that transmission on all suv and windstar (larger car have transmission problems (all ford larger car have this problemI still have this car in my driveway not fix because before my mom went to heaven this is the car I used to take to visit her doctor.

- Linda H., New Haven, CT, US

problem #11

Jul 042007

Windstar GL 3.8L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,909 miles

transmission failed at only 115,000 miles! expensive! wouldn't go over 40 mph.

- Zack L., Nashua, NH, US

problem #10

Aug 112009

Windstar GL 3.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles


Previously had the car checked the weeks before by a mechanic for any codes / issues and it came back fine. Within in a week started hearing a "clunk" under the car when stopping and cornering and thought it might be shocks. Another week later started seeing Transmission fluid in the garage, my heart dropped. Within 2 days, sitting at the stop light in my subdivision, the transmission literally "dropped". Spilled fluid all over the ground. So @ 107,000 the transmission "fell out" of the car. Never hit the ground but it disconnected from the drive train. I have never in my life, with owning over a dozen vehicles even HEARD of such a thing. If you hear a clunk DON'T drive it anymore get it immediately to a mechanic (My 1st Mistake) and if you see transmission fluid (or any fluids) on the ground (My 2nd mistake) get it to a mechanic. It isn't unusual for me to get 200,000 miles on a car before letting it go, but every American made car I have had has been a pure nightmare. My Mazda5 ( Japanese made) has been the best car I have ever had. I leave the state several times a month and it is the only one I know of I can trust. Back to the windstar, the car in total is only worth $2500 so do I even attempt to get it fixed? I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, car just sitting in my driveway.

- Vesey W., Lithonia, GA, US

problem #9

May 172009

Windstar GL 3.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 206,000 miles

I read alot of complaints about windstars just failing on the side of the road with no warning what so ever, I had the exact same thing happen.

Driving back from PA (live in NY) and went to accelerate and nothing, no noise, no warning, NO FORWARD GEARS OR REVERSE!!!

I am a mechanic so I pulled the transmission and torque converter and low and behold the splines in the torque converter were completly stripped out.

These said splines drive the fluid pump for the transmission and without a pump, you have no pressure and without pressure you have no transmission engagement.

All of you who had the transmission replaced at a cost of 2G's got RIPPED OFF!!!!!!

The torque converter is a $150 part and the pump shaft is a $30 part, 5-6 hours of labor MAX!!

I did this in my driveway with a jack and some basic tools in like 4 hours to remove and 4 hours to replace, and about 40 mins to replace the pump shaft in the transmission.

FORD knows about this problem and it is caused by crappy steel that the splines are made from. But at the same time you all got ripped off by whatever shop you all brought your vans to.

- dieselhilux, Medford, NY, US

problem #8

Jun 272009

Windstar GL 3.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,206 miles

F** FORD! i got this van for free and it even wasn't worth it. my parents gave it to me after they got new cars and didn't need to haul kids around anymore cause we're all grown up. so since day one i got it a new the transmission had loose seals and low pressure cause the clutch would slip when accelerating and would take sometime for the car to kick in and i would need to floor the pedal to merge on the highway. as well as sudden hard shifting cause 50% of the time i accelerate the tires to squeak. i thought about 6 months till i get a real car so this s** box will last for about that long. but she didn't even make it more then one month. one day my friend asks me a favor if i can drive his band equipment to his show and i was happy to do him a favor. loading up the van i notice tranny fluid on his drive and yup the ford was dripping. seeing as the show must go on i figure the 20km to the show and back will be fine but after that shes dead. half way to the show the gears wont engage leaving us in the middle of the road with speeding cars around us honking and a revving engine thats spitting tranny fluid and smoke everywhere. TRANSMISSION FAILED. before this it was showing symptoms like hard shifting and over heating clutch. the tow truck came and got the van to the show on time but how embarrassing is it to get to a gig with your van on a tow truck? after the show and a quick look at the engine i figure if i take the side streets and keep it in second she can make it home by periodically putting in some tranny fluid. FOUR HOURS LATER AND FIVE LITERS OF TRANSMISSION FLUID LATER I GOT HOME. a ride that normally would take less the 20minutes. i was driving on the highway with the heat meter past red. second gear. 60kph. smoke everywhere. tranny fluid everywhere and hitting about 5000rpm just to accelerate worse then the old ford model-t.

i got it home and spat on it. uses hunk of garbage. 2000$ for a tranny? NO WAY! id rather buy a honda just as old that would still last five years. ford is garbage and sell yours the minute you see tranny failure even at the slightess. i drive them at work and everyone hates the tranny on the 2005 f250 aswell. if i ever met someone who was proud to own a ford i would hysterically in there face. as the say goes Found On Road Dead

- evanw, Montreal, QUE, Canada

problem #7

Mar 112009

Windstar Northwoods

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

after only 86,000 miles the tranny goes, I could still drive it but sometimes it would not act up but when it did the tranny would roar like really loud and the speedometer would quit working and drop to zero. Still don't know what is wrong with it but doesn't really matter now because now I have a blown head gasket or a cracked head. I bought this van new in 1998 and I guess they are only good for 86,000 miles a real expensive

piece of disposable vans. I WILL NEVER OWN ANOTHER! ! ! ! ! ! !

- sisemore, Roseburg, OR, US

problem #6

Jan 042009

Windstar 3.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,455 miles

Like most of the people below I too have had many problems. From the inside lights staying on, the door open indicator light staying on, the service engine light going on and off & being told it was due to the gas tank cover, to todays event. Today I pulled up to a stop sign and when I went to accelerate it felt like I was trying to go through a concrete wall there was so much resistance. Then it just clunked to a stop and wouldn't engage in drive, reverse, or any gear, just sat and reved up. Same story as most below. I thought this car was a blessing, I loved it ....at first. I am a single mother of 4 children and I was counting on this to be a safe and reliable vehicle for my children. After reading all of these stories I keep wondering why we as consumers havnt made ford answer these problems or do a recall. Something needs to be done.

- claurins, Beaverton, OR, US

problem #5

Apr 082005

Windstar GL V6 3.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,500 miles

The thing just seized! Of course it had just come off of warranty!!! The transmission practically fell out of the car!

- Jane B., Santa Cruz, CA, US

problem #4

Jul 202006

(reported on)


  • 50,000 miles

Left stranded when transmission would not shift out of reverse. Had to be towed and have transmission rebuilt. Pretty pathetic for only having 50K miles!

- sslundy, Harleysville, PA, US

problem #3

Sep 172006

(reported on)

Windstar LE

  • 89,000 miles

first when we turn left, no windshield wipers, then the right passenger window stopped going up or down. Everytime car wuld run, I would feel extreme heat coming from under the car if I was standing outside it. Very hot. It has gone through 3 batteries... totally drained them. We ended up keeping a spare battery in car just in case. Then, the grand finale was a month ago when we were driving. I stopped at a stop sign in town. Proceeded to go through it and the car made a noise like I was revving it and then I had to drive and shift to 2nd and couldn't go more than 25-30 mph. Sometimes it would go as high as 35, but no much. You also have to keep your foot on the gas to keep it going.

- globell45, Plymouth, PA, US

problem #2

Apr 272007

(reported on)

Windstar Northwoods 3.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I bought a 1998 Ford Windstar (Northwoods) mid January 2007. Within 3 weeks of ownership the transmission went out. I had it rebuilt which cost $950 + $80 towing expenses. From what I understand my trans job was cheap compared to a lot of other transmission places. Two weeks later, what I thought was the transmission slipping again, turned out to be the speed sensor needed replacing. The repairs were $125 + $80 towing expenses. About 4 weeks later the axles on the front wheels went bad. That cost $250 + $80 towing expenses. It was during this repair my mechanic said the bearings were going. If I got that done it was going to be about $250 for each wheel. Before buying this vehicle I did a carfax, had a mechanic do a quick look through, and even talked to the previous owner. I did everything right before buying this car. But it all comes down to this...

1998 Ford Windstars SUCK! The transmission owner suggested I get rid of the van because due to recent history the Windstar was going to suck the life right out of me and my bank balance.

- akins, Zion, IL, US

problem #1

Aug 032007

(reported on)

Windstar GL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

no prior warning of any trans problem. Leaving for Fla. from Pa. and Had dealer service and inspect trans as a precaution, 3 days before leaving for Fla... 1000 miles to Fla. no problem. After 3 days in Fla. and another 30 miles , trans slipped as i made a right turn. Next day called an orlando dealer who told me to drive it in to check it out. Drove 2 miles and no forward or reverse gears. Called and towed to dealer. Told me it looks like an explosion. Even took out speedometer cable etc. Total over $2800.00. Orlando dealer says " off the record" I should talk to the dealer who just serviced it before leaving for vacation, not a normal trans failure..... TS from York dealer !!!

- Rick E., Wrightsville, PA, US

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