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Ford Windstar
2001-2003 Ford Windstar Limited
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1994–2003
Assembly Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Predecessor Ford Aerostar
Successor Ford Freestar
Class Minivan
Layout FF layout
Designer Moray Callum

The Ford Windstar is a minivan that was produced and sold by the Ford Motor Company from March 1994 (for the 1995 model year) to 2003. This front-wheel drive minivan would eventually replace Ford's aging rear-wheel drive Aerostar minivan. The two ran concurrently for three model years until the Aerostar's demise in 1997. For the 2004 model year, it was replaced by the Freestar. All Windstars were built in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Unlike most Fords, the Windstar did not have a similar Mercury vehicle "twin", and was completely unrelated to the Mercury Villager (although the Windstar's successor the Ford Freestar did have a twin, the Mercury Monterey).

First generation (1995–1998)Edit

First generation
1st Ford Windstar
Production 1994–1998
Body style(s) 4-door minivan
Platform Ford D186 platform
Engine(s) 3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.8 L Essex V6
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic AXOD
Wheelbase 120.7 in (3066 mm)
Length 201.2 in (5110 mm)
Width 1995–96: 75.4 in (1915 mm)
1997–98: 75.8 in (1925 mm)
Height 1995–96: 68.0 in (1727 mm)
1997–98 Cargo: 68.5 in (1740 mm)
1997–98: 65.6 in (1666 mm)
Curb weight 3,800 lb (1,724 kg)
Related Ford Taurus[1][2][3]
Lincoln Continental
Mercury Sable

The all-new Windstar was released in March 1994, for the 1995 model year. While smaller than its predecessor, its sleek design, front-wheel drive, and better car-like handling made it more competitive with similar offerings from Chrysler and GM. The Windstar had beaten the third-generation Dodge Caravan to the market by over a year, which played a crucial role in Ford taking significant market share in the minivan market.

Though its size was between the smaller front-wheel drive Mercury Villager and the larger rear-wheel drive Ford Aerostar, for its first year, it was priced above both of them. By 1997, however, the Villager's base price had surpassed the Windstar's by several hundred dollars, and top-of-the-line Villager Nautica models went for some $6,000 USD more.

Among standard features were anti-lock brakes, dual airbags, seven-passenger seating, and a 3.8 L V6 engine, borrowed from the Taurus/Sable. This engine produced 155 hp (116 kW) and 220 lb·ft (298 N·m) of torque. For its inaugural year, the Windstar was available in base GL and high-end LX trim, as well as a cargo version called Cargo Van.

Year-by-year changesEdit

  • 1996: A new 3.0 L 150 hp (112 kW) Vulcan V6 became standard on base GL models, while the larger 3.8 L V6's horsepower was upped to 200. The driver's seat gained an available tilt/slide feature for access to the rear from the driver's side. The only exterior change is the addition of a contrasting metal strip inside the side rub stripe (1995 models are solid plastic).
  • 1997: A bare-bones unnamed base model was now available. A CD player became a new option on models.
    Ford Windstar

    1998 Ford Windstar

  • 1998: The Windstar received minor cosmetic changes including a new grille and headlights, and the blue Ford logo on the rear liftgate was moved just above the license plate; it had previously been located in the lower right corner. In compensate for the lack of a driver's side rear sliding door, the driver's door was extended six inches (152 mm), as it was not possible to create a driver's side sliding door with the current bodyshell. Ford, at the time, claimed that a drivers-side sliding door was not noted a key feature needed by focus groups. An ultra-luxury Limited model was new. It included leather seating and faux wood interior trim. Second-generation airbags that deployed with less force were also new for 1998.

Trim levelsEdit

  • Cargo Van • 1995–1998
  • base • 1996–1998
  • GL • 1995–1998
  • LX • 1995–1998
  • 3.0L • 1998
  • Limited • 1998

ProblemsEdit

2008-08-06 Postal delivery van in Durham

1998 United States Postal Service Ford Windstar, showing the larger driver's side door

Throughout its life, the first generation Windstar developed a long list of reliability issues. The 1995 3.8 L V6 Essex engine was susceptible to headgasket failure, as in the Taurus and Mercury Sable; however, the Windstar's problem was exacerbated by an even tighter engine bay and higher loads, the van being 700 pounds heavier. Ford extended the warranty on the headgasket to 100,000 miles on most Windstar models. The 3.0 L V6 Vulcan engine was not susceptible to headgasket failure, being a completely different engine design.

The Windstar was paired with an AX4S transaxle, which was prone to internal failure. The transmission suffered from cracked forward and reverse clutch pistons. These transmission failures were most susceptible with the 3.8L engine, as the transmission could not handle the extra torque and the extra vehicle weight. Windstars with the 3.0L engine could go far past 150k miles with regular maintenance.

In September 2010 Ford recalled 500,000 1998–2003 Windstars over rear axle cracking.[4]

In March 2011 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Ford announced another Ford Windstar recall over corrosion concerns. 425,288 of the model year 1999-2003 Windstar vans originally sold or currently registered in some cold weather states are part of the recall. The problem involves rusting of the subframe. Most of the corrosion occurs on the passenger side of the subframe. If the subframe collapses while driving, the vehicle could potentially lose all steering control and end up in an accident. According to the NHTSA action #PE10026, some Ford Windstar owners had their drive axle detach from the transmission. Ford is offering alternative transportation to owners if their vehicle is unsafe to drive. If the minivan can't be repaired, Ford will repurchase the vehicle. [5]

IIHS Crash Test Results Edit

The 1995-1998 Ford Windstar, which was tested as a 1996 model received a "Good" rating from the IIHS in all marks, in which the driver survives the accident without any injuries.

Second generation (1999–2003)Edit

Second generation
99-00 Ford Windstar LX
Production 1998–2003
Body style(s) 5-door minivan
3-door minivan
Platform Ford V platform
Engine(s) 3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.8 L Essex V6
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic AX4S AX4N
Wheelbase 120.7 in (3066 mm)
Length 200.9 in (5103 mm)
2001–03 Base/LX/SE/SEL/Limited: 201.5 in (5118 mm)
Width 76.6 in (1946 mm)
2001–03 Cargo: 75.2 in (1910 mm)
Height 66.1 in (1679 mm)
Cargo: 68.0 in (1727 mm)
1999–2000 SE/SEL: 65.8 in (1671 mm)

The Windstar was completely redesigned for the 1999 model year, now featuring dual-sliding doors. The 3.0 L and 3.8 L V6 engines were carried over from the previous generation. It was built on its own new V platform, unlike the previous generation that shared the same platform as the Ford Taurus sedans and station wagons. Among new features were front seat-mounted side airbags, dual power-sliding doors, and rear reverse sensors. From lowest to highest, 1999 Windstars were available in Cargo Van, base, LX, SE, and SEL. Dual sliding doors came standard on SE and SEL models, and were optional on the other models. SEs and SELs were equipped with 2nd row captain's chairs and adjustable head restraints , while base and LX models came with a 2-passenger 2nd row bench seat and fixed head restraints.

Year-by-year changesEdit

  • 2000: The Limited model returned as the most luxurious model. A VCR-based rear-seat entertainment system featuring a flip-down LCD screen was a new option on SE, SEL, and Limited models.
    01-03 Ford Windstar Sport

    2001–2003 Ford Windstar SE Sport

  • 2001: Slight cosmetic changes were made to front and rear fascias for '01. LX became the base model, and a new SE Sport model joined the lineup. The smaller 3.0 L was gone, leaving the 3.8 L as the sole engine choice. Models with 2nd row bucket seats now got their own center console. Front-seat side airbags became standard on Limiteds. The chrome grille on the SE and SEL models was redesigned. The steering wheel was updated to a more modern style, with the blue Ford Logo placed in the center.
  • 2002: Dual sliding doors became standard on all models.

The 2002 Windstar was the most dependable Minivan on the market in the JD Powers dependability survey at three years in service in the 2005 survey. The Windstar beat out the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey for these honors. [6]

  • 2003: No major changes were made in anticipation of the redesign for '04.

Trim levelsEdit

  • Cargo Van • 1999–2003
  • base • 1999–2000
  • LX • 1999–2003
  • SE • 1999–2003
  • SE Sport • 2001
  • SEL • 1999–2003
  • Limited • 2000–2003

Crash Test Results Edit

The 1999-2003 Ford Windstar received an "Acceptable" rating by the IIHS for fair structural performance, moderate injuries to the left foot, and fair dummy control. Although most redesigned vehicles outperform their predecessors to cut down insurance costs and possible injuries to the driver, this generation Windstar did not perform as well as its first generation predecessor.

The NHTSA graded the minivan an overall rating of 5 stars in both the frontal and side impact tests.Also ford sent out a letter saying that there were axle problems that would result in the wheel popping off and the axle falling apart.

Yearly American salesEdit

Calendar Year Total American sales
1999[7] 213,844
2000 222,298
2001[8] 179,595
2002[9] 148,875
2003 113,465

Redesign and name changeEdit

For 2004, the Windstar nameplate was discontinued in favor of "Freestar" to go along with Ford's new theme of vehicles starting with the letter "F". Despite a restyled nose, front fascia, revised interior and new engine (3.9 V6 Essex), the new Freestar was built in the same factory as the Windstar and suffered the same problems. The redesign and new name did not help Freestar sales. The Freestar was pulled from the market after the 2007 model year as it was replaced with the new Ford Flex Crossover. The Freestar was not available in all wheel drive.

ReferencesEdit

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