Last post on Apr 26, 2013 at 6:05 PM
You are in the Ford Windstar
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Ford Windstar, Ford Windstar Cargo, Van
#269 of 334 Re: ford windstar electrical problems [frazzled5]
Oct 18, 2011 (3:48 pm)
We just purchased our 2002 Windstar last fall too! and have replaced the alternator 3 times in 18,000 miles. All but one of the recall fixes had been done when we bought it, then the last was done. Other than eating alternators, it's a great ride but sadly, though it's been only 1K miles since alternator replacement #3, it appears the downward spiral leading to alternator death has begun again, since warning lights have started turning on and off randomly during driving.
Here's how the breakdown goes every time: for several weeks the warning lights get intermittently wonky (brake, seat belt and ABS warning lights come on and off randomly), next there will be incidents of gauges swinging wildly, A/C turning off, electric doors/windows failing, and then soon afterwards the engine (in the middle of driving just fine) starts to sputter, then dies, with the alternator dead and battery drained. After each alternator replacement, my regular mechanic then 2 different dealer mechanics said they checked every electrical wire circuit, connection, etc., and found nothing wrong - just sent us on our way with an "all fixed."
I know many would have dumped this van already, but we can't afford to replace it and need a way to transport elderly parents and pets who don't fit into our little Kia sedan. At this point, though, even with 11K miles left on the dealer's repair warranty, it's a safety issue to have elderly and pets on board if/when it breaks down again.
For now I'm driving with a battery/alternator tester plugged in at all times, hoping at least I'll KNOW when the alternator fries and can get to a safe place before the engine dies. The tester shines green (good) at first, then changes to green and yellow (low) after a few minutes of driving. It may be unrelated, but there is sometimes bad radio interference for awhile after the AC fan is turned on, and lately the AC takes about 10 minutes to blow cold air.
Does anyone have any suggestions for fixes we can try before we get rid of this van? I don't even feel right selling it, because I'm sure that's what the previous owners did, passing their misery on to us when we bought it. I don't want to do that to someone else.
Thanks in advance!
#270 of 334 Re: ford windstar electrical problems [aerostarfan]
Oct 19, 2011 (5:48 am)
Well, I understand your misery. Our van is paid off, but we can't afford a new vehicle with 3 boys, 1 car payment and mortgage. This van is how my wife gets the kids to school and child care. Sometimes she takes their cousins to school.
As of now, the van is running great. Like you said, it rides and handles well. My wife loves it other than the electrical issues.
We just got a new alternator installed.
I only have a few suggestions:
1. Make sure the wire going from the battery to the fuse box goes under the air filter box. This was the beginning of my misery. This caused the short which drained my first battery and killed the alternator. They recharged the battery and put in a new alternator, but the battery did not last long.
2. Along with the new alternator, get a new battery.
3. Replace the Rear Electronic Module.
4. Replace the wiring harness if you notice any part of it that may seem burned. This is a short and will drain your battery and kill your alternator. Remember to put mechanics grease on all electric terminals.
5. Check the timing and any other routine maintenance items (again, I'm not a mechanic).
Every couple of days I am checking the battery because this seems to be where my problems stem from. If your Windstar is fully loaded like mine, then there are many things that can drain the battery. I hope this helps and you can do many of these things on your own. My wiring harness was from the Ford dealer and cost me $120, I put it on myself in about 30 minutes. I put a new starter on before that, but only to find that the battery was dead (mechanic told me it was the starter). This started the downward spiral of the alternator. The battery was dead because the wiring harness was bent at the fuse box instead of coming out straight and going under the air filter box.
Sorry for the rambling.
#271 of 334 02 Windstar SEL
Nov 07, 2011 (7:08 pm)
I have a 2002 Windstar SEL, the driver's side power sliding door and the rear heater both stopped working shortly after I bought it in 2008. Sometimes if we hit a bump or go through a car wash they will both start working again all the sudden. In winter time the air bag light comes on. Sometimes a warning comes on to check charging system and the lights will dim so I turn the van off and restart it and it works again. Lately its draining overnight and at first I thought it was because the passenger power sliding door wasnt closing all the way but even when we make sure its closed it will still drain overnight. Is this all one problem or multiple problems? Dont really have the money to pay 400 in diagnostic work which is what the ford dealer told me it would cost just to find out whats wrong.
#272 of 334 Re: 02 Windstar SEL [yohan27]
Nov 07, 2011 (9:45 pm)
I don't know where you are from, but here, Auto Zone and Oreilly's both do free diagnostics. Any good mechanic would check your battery for dead cells and see if your alternator is working for a minimum charge or even free if you ask. If it is the alternator, try to get it at Oreilly's with the life-time warranty. Also, check the REM or rear electronic module. This seems to be a problem as well. Go over the wiring harness very closely looking for any signs of arching. This was the start of all my problems. 2 alternators, 2 batteries, diode (or whatever), and a starter later and I am hoping I finally got to the bottom of it. Good luck and keep us posted.
#273 of 334 Re: 02 Windstar SEL [notamechanic7]
Nov 08, 2011 (3:22 am)
I should have said, I had the battery and alternator both checked and they said both were functioning perfectly, dont know about REM ill have to check that out.
#274 of 334 Re: 02 Windstar SEL [yohan27]
Nov 15, 2011 (7:24 am)
We had the same problem with the battery draining overnight. We've replaced the battery and the alternator but it was still doing it. We've had the ABS module and wiring harness looked at because the ABS and brake lights kept coming on. Everything checked out fine.
Our local mechanic has resolved this issue for us by installing a battery kill switch, like they use to use on hot rods. Our mechanic did not disturb the original battery cables, he ran separate cables off of the battery for the kill switch. When you are ready to park the van for the night, shut everything off (lights, radio, heater), turn the van off and then turn the kill switch key. The next morning, turn the kill switch key on and the van fires right up. We have been testing this for a week now and have not had any problems with it.
No more headaches of having to constantly jump start it. It may be a work around for the real issue but it was a lot cheaper than continually replacing batteries and alternators.
If you need more information on it let us know and we will see if our mechanic would talk to your mechanic but can't promise anything.
Nov 18, 2011 (9:08 am)
I also had some electrical problems with my 2004 Windstar. Something was draining the battery over night. I sent it in to the local mechanic, and after two weeks, he tells us what he found. For one thing, there is a computer set under the steering wheel that he reset and caused my locks, AC, and windows to begin working, as some of the windows had stopped. But the computer behind the instrument gauge, as my gauges would crazily spin, even after I turned the engine off, held the fuse that drained my battery. He says that there is a device in the van that runs 90 min after the van is turned off and enters into sleep mode, so he kept having to wait until that shut off before testing. He said there is a fuse, very tiny, that was draining the battery. When he removed it, EVERYTHING (except for one thing) worked normally. They tested over and over, test drove it, checked the battery for a few days, and nothing went wrong. This fuse...they could NOT find any specification in the manual or internet or anywhere that explains exactly what the fuse was for, but he said that without the fuse, the only thing that did not work was the chime that came on when you leave your headlights on and the engine is off. So we agreed to just leave the fuse out and see how it goes over the months. I get my van back today. But he said that if I want the fuse replaced that I would need a new instrument cluster...which would be very expensive he says. My dad, who is a bit savvy with working on his own vehicles but lives 800 miles away says that seems suspicious and to check with Ford parts and see if they can replace the fuse without buying a new cluster. So I'm doing some searches about this. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
#276 of 334 Re: Questions [lwong82d]
Nov 18, 2011 (4:58 pm)
Just to correct myself, my van is a 2003, and it was fuse 16 in the fuse box under the dashboard. But now I know what else not having it there does not work...the gauge lights.
And my AC is not working...just blowing air, and my locks will lock everything except the driver side as it will lock and then pop up. I have to lock it manually. And one of my rear side windows still won't open. So I will have to call the mechanic on Monday and see where that goes. Otherwise, it's running good now.
#277 of 334 Re: 02 Windstar SEL [frazzled5]
Nov 26, 2011 (7:48 pm)
frazzed5, by using the kill switch, your vehicle's PCM Keep Alive Memory (KAM) is being erased every time the power supply to the vehicle is cut off. When the ignition key is turned off, the vehicle's computers still require voltage to keep their memory alive. The drain on the battery is minimal. The PCM's OBDII monitors will have to be reset or test complete every time you do this. Any DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) stored will also be erased. DTCs are very helpful in diagnosing performance problems your vehicle may develope. You also lose freeze frame information that shows the precise data that the PCM was receiving when the malfuction occurred. Your mechanic is sacrificing much of value to fix your electrical problem. You may want to ask him about this.
#278 of 334 Windstar 2002 major electric issue
Dec 07, 2011 (7:53 am)
Seems I'm not the only one with this hobby : OWNING A WINDSTAR!!! What happens is this light on dash is always on, shape of a lightbulb with a ! ... and ABS, Brake light, and engine light come on randomly. Front wipers only work if I click them to the last two speeds (fast and berserk!) Headlights on ''ON'' position, left has high beam while right beam is simply on, and if I push the beam lever forward (always High beam) the left one will turn off while the right one goes high, as if they're one position away one from the other. Power locks also have a problem (driver door won't lock and none work if keys are not in ignition)..
The other day, all warning lights came on and stayed on after starting the van but the rest of dash stayed off and all gauges stayed down (RPM, Speed, Gas, Temperature...) front beams werent working but the 'daylights' were on.
Can someone help me with where to look, if you've had or worked on similar problems ?!
Thank you so much and good luck with yours!