From what I have found, it seems there are a number of other
customers who are experiencing the same sentiments, but there
are no class-action suits launched, as yet.
The Technical Service Bulletins for the '98 Ford Windstar are
listed at AllData.com, and I don't see any about the transmission,
Bulletins for 1998 Ford Truck Windstar V6-183 3.0L VIN U SFI:
Bulletins for 1998 Ford Truck Windstar V6-232 3.8L VIN 4 SFI:
The only recall I found for the '98 Windstar was on the
SafetyAlerts.com site, and did not involve the transmission:
"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
has published a recall affecting 1997-1998 Ford Windstar,
manufactured between August 1996 - July 1998."
"On certain minivans...the front coil springs could fracture
as a result of corrosion. Depending on the location of the
fracture, a broken spring could move past the spring seat
and contact a front tire. Some tires have deflated due to
contact with a broken spring."
Read the whole story here:
There is, however, a long thread on CarTrackers.com,
containing posts from many disgruntled owners of '98
Windstars whose transmissions have failed prematurely,
and some of them would love to file a joint complaint:
"Our 98 Windstar has an inherent and infrequent transmission
defect. The transmission seems to stutter and act as if it
can't make up it's mind (a computer chip) whether or not it
wants to move. The engine is going, but the transmission
seems to lag or slip or stutter. We have had the van into
several Ford service shops and demanded they either repair
or replace the transmission....no luck.~/~.I am filing a
formal complaint against Ford with my local BBB, and then
the Consumer Protection Agency, and the Center for Auto
Safety. Join me?"
"My 1998 windstar 3.8L with 16,000 miles has had transmission
problems from when it was new.
The whole van would jolt/jump (intermittently) with a big
clunking sound while shifting from 1st to 2nd (like a bad
manual shift) and also when shifting between reverse and
drive. Sometimes the van would jump so much while I was
slowing backing out of a parking space that I was concerned
about bumping into cars parked next to me."
"I have had the same experience with my 98 Windstar transmission
and with two separate dealers(no apparent problem). One dealer
offered the explnation that the first bump (from 1st to 2nd)
is due to the transmission pressurizing. However, the
1st-to-2nd shifting (substantial delay, then pops with a
significant bump) problem is persistent. I am close to 36,000
"Our 98 Windstar has had the rotors turned twice, new brakes,
two new struts, a $2,000 overhaul on the transmission, the
Ford dealership is currently ordering new rack and pinion
steering parts for the monster. One of the side windows
leaks when it rains, it bottoms out in overdrive, it jumps
when you pull out from a start, it won't stay lined up,
wore out the first set of tires at 15,000 miles, the
serpentine belt wore out at 30,000 miles, it pulls to
the left when you brake, the rear wiper blows fuses left
and right, its an accident waiting to happen."
"I think I have a fix for the 1-2 shift clunk. I think
there is a TSB out for the fix but I'll have to find
the TSB number. Here's the fix: FILL YOUR TRANNY FLUID
JUST SLIGHTLY ABOVE THE FULL LEVEL MARK. Apparently,
you get air in your system if you are turning or
accelerating and you get a big bang."
"Isn't there anyone starting a Class Action Lawsuit
against Ford based on the similarity in problems
"98 windstar transmission 83,000 miles. tranny just ate
itself. $3000 to make all problems go away according to
Ford. All the clunking and hard shifting problems occured.
I'll be taking it somewhere else for repairs. Any recourse
"My husband & I just experienced this very same problem!!
We were out driving and while we were driving down a steep
hill our '98 Windstar began clunking & then threw itself
out of 4th gear into 1st gear! We pulled over & while
trying to drive on flat road the van would NOT shift & the
RPM's were running above 3rpms while doing 25 mph!
Eventually after driving 15mph heading back home the
van was able to shift itself again. We drove it straight
to the dealership (thank goodness they were open on a Sat)
& the dealership gave us a loaner until they could fix it.
The dealership had 2 techs drive our van (77 miles) & the
van had NO problem shifting!
2 days later the Windstar decided not to shift anymore &
we drove it back to the dealership. By now we were both
mad! I told them to run a sensor on it (which I tried to
have them do on Monday but the service mgr refused saying
the engine is fine! $156 later for labor charges!) Well
the service mgr listened to me this time, found the
"MANUAL LEVER" computer chip to be "broken". The dealership
replaced the chip & knocking on wood the van is shifting
So if your Windstar starts to have shifting problems make
sure you have the garage or dealership check the manual
We also had a friend who experienced the same problem on
his '98 Windstar & the garage told him that he would need
a whole new engine! He went to another dealership who
checked the Manual lever first and to make this long story
shorter that's how we knew it was the manual lever switch..."
"I also own a 1998 windstar. My overdrive swich is blinking
and tran will not go into 4 gear. dealer said I need a new
tran without testing swichs I WILL NEVER BUY A FORD AGAIN
I HAVE NEVER SEEN A COMPANY RUN AWAY FROM ITS PRODUCT LIKE
FORD HAS DONE...SHAME ON THEM...SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT FORD"
Believe it or not, there's many more on the page:
You can also find related info and support on the
FORD WINDSTAR MINIVAN OWNERS BOARD at Minivan Magazine:
Sorry I couldn't bring you better news.
Please do not rate this answer until you are satisfied that
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Searches done, via Google:
recalls "1998 Ford Windstar"
TSB "98 Ford Windstar"
"service bulletin" "98 Ford Windstar"