Pros: It is very roomy, large cargo area. Powerful enough.
Cons: Gas mileage is low, unfortunately. Constant mechanical and electrical problems. Bad quality overall.
I bought my Ford Windstar GL '97 in 2001. It had 52,000 miles and seemed to be in perfect condition when I picked it up from the dealership.
A List of Problems
Power Steering started to fail within two weeks. That was about $250 to fix, and I was hoping that was the only problem this car had. I was wrong. Very wrong.
Ford had Spring Recall (Suspension and Steering area). A local Ford dealership notified me about it, which was nice of them, and did all the job for free, as the law requires. Suspension went to hell since then - see below.
An air conditioner died at 59,000 miles. It would blow hot air instead of cold. I am not sure exactly what went wrong, but according to invoice, a PCM-System was failing. It cost $480 to replace (including labor).
Guess what? 50 miles later AC died again. Evidently PCM-System had nothing to do with that. The problem turned out to be an intermitten and hard to diagnose. The problem was in Pressure Cycling Switch (a $14.70 item). While a mechanic tried to diagnose the problem, some other parts were involved in trial and error process. Altogether it cost me 166.67 to fix.
An Alternator and a Battery died at 74,000 miles. At the same time mechanic found that a Poly V-Belt (I am copying from the invoice, don't ask me what it is) needs to be replaced - we actually noticed a noise on certain speeds, and especially on the start. Cost $494.
Ever since the Spring Recall done by a Ford dealership, our Suspension wouldn't work right. Every time we hit a bump (even a little one) on the road, the right front side of the car would make a noise like it is hitting something in the axle area real hard. With the time a squeaking noise showed up when turning left. At first we ignored it, as it was working fine, but eventually noises became louder and I checked with the Ford dealership who did the Spring Recall service. At first, they fixed the Suspension. Cost $570. 5 miles later (service was done at 74,500 miles) both types of noises re-appeared again. Frustrated and nearly mad I took it back to the dealership. A day later the problem was fixed - Front Wheel Break Assembly and a Front Knuckle Assembly. Cost $325, but they have done it for free. I was stil responsible for $570. The problem with the noise when hitting a little dip or a bump on the road started to re-appear a couple thousand miles later, but I just quit on investing into this junk and therefore didn't bother to fix it. An idea of paying $325 every couple months sounds a bit stupid to me.
82,000 miles. Left power window died, radiator began leaking antifreeze, and Check Engine light went on. A mechanic estimated $150 for a new power window motor and a labor. Motor itself is only about $60-80, but it is a hassle to remove the old one and put a new one. A majority of cost is labor here. The worst was with the radiator. It turned out that actually the engine was leaking the oil too. Estimate to fix the radiator leak was $800. The problem with the engine was something called Gasket. Apparently, a Gasket failure is a common problem with all Windstars, and a mechanic was suprised it hasn't failed yet, given that I have 82,000 miles on the odometer. A whooping price tag on this job is $3,500. Not sure if it includes labor or not. Oh yeah, the rear brakes were due - $600. Front ones too - $300.
At this point I realized that the cost of repairs was more than the car was worth. Mechanic who was doing almsot all jobs on this car is a good guy and he is known for his honesty around here. He recommended to simply get rid of it isntead of fixing. He reset the computer in the car so it wouldn't show Check Engine sign on the dash panel and I took it to the dealership and traded for another car (not Ford).
Bottom line: If you absolutely have to buy a Windstar, make sure you are only leasing it for the duration of the warranty. As soona s this car is out of warranty, you are simply gambling and chances are you will lose. And do not buy it just because it has a 5-star government safety rating. Believe me, even a 3-star rating (almost all cars) is very safe. This is the biggest Ford's sales pitch, but it is wortless.