Pros: Great ride, ***** safety record, rear A/C & heat
Cons: Outside vent controls, gas mileage, power steering, electrical problems, Ford won't stand behind product
At 92,000 miles our Windstar is now leaking antifreeze. The power steering belt that was just replaced in August has been squeeking like crazy when we turn the steering wheel. Still having intermittent lights & alarms coming on/going off randomly. Wish we could afford a new vehicle right now! Never again will it be a Ford product!
At 87,000 miles (2003) our power steering lines leaked. They cannot be replaced without purchasing the whole Rack & Pinion/Power Steering line kit. Cost us $422 at the Ford dealership.
Also, we have been having what appear to be electrical problems...instrument panel lights coming on/going off intermittently. Our ABS light, parking brake light and door ajar lights/alarm constantly come on and go off. Sometimes the interior van light will stay on when the ignition has been turned off. We went through all fuses & relays but could not find a problem. The Ford dealer could not find the problem so they didn't fix it. Very frustrating!
We decided to purchase our '97 Windstar from a Chevy dealership in 1999. We made this decision mostly because we had just had our 2nd child and also own a large breed dog who occasionally will take a ride with us. In short, we wanted a roomier vehicle (not to mention our cars were now 11 and 13 years old). We also didn't want to buy a new vehicle that would depreciate as soon as we drove it off the lot. We bought several consumer books and did our research on minivans to decide which we would like. The Windstar won over all others, mainly for it's safety record but also for it's price.
I have to say that even though my 1987 Nissan Maxima was getting old, I will always miss all the features that had me "spoiled". Boy, how I wish that I didn't have to keep opening the front door to lock/unlock all of the other doors without using the key for each one...what a pain. What feature really burns me up isn't really even an extra "option". It's is the simple fact that you cannot close the outside front vents and keep the fan running without having to turn on the A/C or turn the fan off completely. I can't say how many times I've gotten behind a tractor trailor with smoke and exhaust billowing out it's stack and have had to either turn on the A/C or turn off the heater just so that the smoke didn't get inside the van. Every car I've known from a Ford Escort to an Acura Legend has had a control for outside/inside air vents.
On the plus side, the ride is great...not at all like a "truck", it has cup holders for each row, a sliding rear seat and seats that remove easily for more cargo space. One of the best features of all is the rear A/C and heat vents which help heat up or cool down the large interior faster than just using front vents. It also has stereo controls and a headset jack in the middle row...great for the kids as long as they don't fight over it! It handles very well (does not sway and has a smooth ride), has very good visibility, (you can see the road, not just the hood), and the anti-lock brakes are excellent. I also love the fact that you don't have to "climb" up or duck down to get in.
So far, so good. We haven't had any major problems with our Windstar (though we did purchase an extended bumper-to-bumper warranty from the dealer and that's probably why...just our luck). Only annoying break dust that makes a couple of squeaks when we back out of the driveway.
**UPDATE** After a couple of visits to our mechanic for a noisy belt, the mechanic notified us that this is a common problem on Ford vehicles. He told us there is really nothing we can do. This along with the noisy brakes & vent problems has us considering another make for our next purchase.