95 Windstar head gasket


Old 05-12-02, 02:29 PM
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Question 95 Windstar head gasket

I just bought a 95 Windstar with 121K miles on Monday. On Saturday with less than 100 miles driven, the check engine light came on and tons of white smoke came pouring out of the exhaust. Luckily,I was only a few blocks from home. This sounds like the dreaded head gasket, which is conveniently excluded from the dealer's warranty.
Is it possible that the dealer could cover up a head gasket problem long enough (a couple days and a few miles) to have me test drive it and take it home? I specifically mentioned head gaskets being a problem and he said he had never heard about that with Fords (right!) I asked if the warranty covered this and he said (more than once) that it covered "all internally lubricated parts" I know I should have read the fine print but was I taken??
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Old 05-12-02, 02:48 PM
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get thee to a Ford dealer...

Depending on the year and mileage, FoMoCo is well aware of headgasket issues with the Windstar. Depending on the year and mileage of the vehicle, you may get a free or reduced cost repair.(at least up here, in the great white north) Whether or not this is extended to 2nd or 3rd owners of affected vehicles is the big question. My advice- fix it and get rid of it. We've taken Windstars in on trade at the dealership that I work at that have had their head gasket replaced and the bottom end has grenaded soon after. Good luck!
Old 05-12-02, 02:53 PM
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depending where you live...

Up here in Ontario, you'd be going after your selling dealer for repair if you only drove it 100 miles before trouble started.
Old 05-12-02, 03:29 PM
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Thanks Otter for the reply.

But do you know if there was something the dealer could have done to cover up an existing problem? If it isn't possible, it seems like a remarkable coincedence.
Old 05-12-02, 03:39 PM
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It would likely have to be taken down for that to be determined. If there's goo in the cooling system (Bar's Leak, Stop Leak, etc), then yes, it was a cover up.

However, the 3.8 is a notorious gasket blower and not worth a wooden nickel in my book. Otter is right, Ford will eat some repairs, so a quick call to Ford's headquarters might be a worthwhile effort.

I do agree about the fix and pitch approach.
Old 05-12-02, 03:56 PM
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Will a mechanic be able to prove that something was used? Can I use that info for leverage on the dealer? It's Sunday and I can't call him until tomorrow and I want all the info I can use.
Old 05-12-02, 04:09 PM
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it depends...

If you're dealing with Sleazy Joe's Used Car Emporium, good luck and see him in small claims court. If your dealing with a Franchised Ford Dealer (or any Franchised Big Three dealer with a "certified" used vehicle program), bear in mind that if they are reputable, there's an image to protect and they're more likely to play ball.

re: my Windstar example...we ate that one. We hate them so much, we'd rather lose a deal than have a Windstar sitting on our used car lot.

Proving that the vehicle was/ wasn't bandaided isn't the tough part, it's proving WHO placed the band-aid in the first place.
Old 05-13-02, 03:54 AM
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First thing to do is to call the selling dealer and try to work it out with him/her.

If that fails, call Ford for some help. They might still eat the repair knowing this has been a problematic thing for them. They can also tell you from the VIN # if they have done the gasket in the past before or not.

If that fails, call the local Better Business Bureau and tell them about your quandary. At the same time, do a carfax.com report for 15 bucks on the vehicle. If it turns up salvaged or materially damaged, you will likely have recourse if the dealership didn't tell you that and sold it to you in good faith that there was nothing wrong with it.

We are talking about a 3.8 motor, right? You don't mention that in any of your posts.
Old 05-13-02, 03:39 PM
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Sorry, this is the 3.8L engine. Since my last post I spoke to the original owner. He bought it new and traded it in to a Chrysler dealer. It went through 2 or 3 other dealers before mine. My dealer can alwaqysw deny he did anything. I called them today (its a used car lot, no affiliation) and they said let's find out what is the matter before we do anything. The warranty is supplied by a company called CARS. the warranty people say that the head gasket is covered only for a coolant leak, not an oil leak and that my mechanic will determine this. Also, I have to pay for towing, diagnostic teardown and then, if it is covered, I pay first then get reimbursed.
White smoke billowing out of the exhaust clouding the neighborhood is a coolant leak, right? I don't know why it matters to the warranty company.
Tomorrow I start calling repair guys to get ballpark figures for repair. ( I live in Eastern PA)
Old 05-13-02, 03:42 PM
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forgot to mention

I forgot to mention that the previous owner never had a problem with the engine only the speddo (twice). He got the recall notice but never wanted to lose the car and work days to get it fixed (that's what he said). Would that help me with Ford or go against me?
Old 05-13-02, 03:47 PM
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re: warranty

That's reasonably good news. Yes, billowing clouds of white smoke point to a head gasket. Check with the warranty company to see if they impose a $ limit on repairs. Most non-manfacturer supported warranties will. Count your lucky stars that there's a warranty, though. Something is better than nothing.

The last place you may want to check is your State consumer protection laws. Where I live, the vehicle would be going back to where you bought it for repairs or cancellation of contract. No such thing as an as-is sale as the used car dealership has the responsibility to sell a product that the owner will get a reasonable amount of enjoyment out of.

Good luck and let us know how things turn out!
Old 05-13-02, 03:50 PM
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re: speedo

If mileage is unknown to to speedo/odo issues, your case with Ford will be tougher.

Joe_F.....any federal law regarding mileage disclosure?
Old 05-13-02, 07:32 PM
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The speedometer change is fully documented. There is a sticker on driver's door jamb attesting to old mileage, it's listed on VIN documents, I even have the actual receipt from the shop that did the work with the mileage stated on the work order. I am not worried about the actual mileage, it is 121K miles. I plan on calling ford tomorrow and see what they say. I understand from other postings that try, try again is the order of the day.
Old 05-13-02, 08:14 PM
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The law is taken care of if there is a sticker in the door jamb which shows disclosure on the mileage and the speedo being changed. You're ok there.

Yes, white smoke is a coolant leak/head gasket. See what the warranty company will give before getting on the blower to Ford. See what pans out. Fight for a free repair, even after reimbursement.

I would fix it and pitch the Windstar. They are notorious (as are all 3.8's) as being problematic in this regard. Better out there for the same money.
Old 05-13-02, 11:08 PM
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Good luck trying to get Ford to pay for your head gasket problem. They eventually extended the warranty on th '95 3.8Ls, but the extension expired at 100k miles.

Here's a copy of the dealer letter:

February, 2000

Owner Notification Program 00M09 - 3.8L Engine Head Gaskets - Additional Coverage on Affected Vehicles to 7 Years or 100,000 Miles, Whichever Occurs First, From The Original Warranty Start Date -OR- Through October 1, 2000 or Coverage is Automatically Transferred to Subsequent Owners.


All 1994 model year Continental vehicles equipped with the 3.8L engine and built at the Wixom assembly plant from December 8, 1992 through November 18, 1994.

All 1994 and 1995 model year Taurus and Sable vehicles equipped with the 3.8L engine and built at the Atlanta Assembly plant from April 28, 1993 through June 7, 1995.

All 1994 and 1995 model year Taurus and Sable vehicles equipped with the 3.8L engine and built at the Chicago Assembly plant from August 27, 1993 through June 26, 1995.

All 1995 model year Windstars equipped with the 3.8L engine and built at the Oakville Assembly plant from December 15, 1993 through August 11, 1995.

The announcement of Owner Notification Program 00M09 supersedes Owner Notification Program 98M01, which was announced May, 1998.




As stated above


Premature failure of the head gasket(s) may occur. This condition may result in engine coolant leakage, which if not detected, can cause engine overheating. In extreme cases, this condition may result in engine failure. To prevent engine failure, customers should bring their vehicle in for service under this program, if the following symptoms exist:

Persistent and worsening overheating engine conditions

Heavy white smoke from the tailpipe

Flashing "Low Coolant" sensor light, even after coolant is refilled

Black discoloration of coolant in the overflow bottle

Owners of affected vehicles are notified that additional coverage for this specific condition is being provided. Coverage is provided for 7 years or 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first, from the vehicle's original warranty start date. Coverage is automatically transferred to subsequent owners.

Vehicles which have exceeded 7 years from the original warranty start date will be eligible for this program for a grace period through October 1, 2000, or to 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first.

Ford Motor Company will provide the additional warranty coverage for the use of Ford parts and Ford authorized remanufactured parts, or repairs performed by a Ford dealer, related to this condition.


For vehicles exhibiting the symptoms described above, dealers are directed to replace failed head gaskets with a re-designed gasket, change the engine oil and oil filter and perform a cooling system flush.

Recent field audits performed by Powertrain Engineering indicate evidence that technicians are not following service procedures contained within program bulletins. Due to the customer implications associated with Owner Notification Program 00M09, technicians are strongly encouraged to follow the service guidelines, as provided on Attachment III. Technicians should pay particular attention to the cooling system flush procedure and to the section related to cylinder head and cylinder block gasket surface preparation and cleaning.

NOTE: All repairs identified as related damage MUST be completed and submitted for payment within the Owner Notification Program time limit. Claims for repairs performed beyond the time limit will not be accepted for payment by ACES II.

If a repair was completed within the program limits and the dealer believes a related damage condition was present, but not detected at that time, the dealer must contact the Warranty Action Team (WAT) at 1-800-423-8851 for consideration of a manual pay exception. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Owners who paid for repairs made before the date of the Owner Letter may be eligible for a refund for two years from the date of this program or, for a limited time, a special marketing program to be announced by Ford and Lincoln Mercury Divisions, to assist owners with the purchase of a new Ford or Lincoln Mercury vehicle.

Refer to the Ford or Lincoln Mercury GFB for additional information regarding administration, conditions, terms and limitations of the special marketing program, or contact your Regional Customer Service Manager (CSM).

Owners may be eligible for a refund after the date of the Owner Letter, only if an emergency repair was made away from the servicing dealer.


Attachment I

Administrative Information

Attachment II

Labor Allowances
Parts Ordering Information

Attachment III

Technical Information


Claims Information 1-800-423-8851

Other Recall Questions 1-800-325-5621

Copyright ALLDATA LLC 2002 .
Old 05-20-02, 07:41 PM
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The warranty company has agreed to pay for most of the work. We decided to have our own mechanics work on it because I just can't trust their guy. The warranty company drags its feet on everything (they didn't want to pay for new head bolts!) but my mechanic is fightiing for me. He pointed out Ford's TSB on the gasket. It's worth the $350-400 extra to get it fixed right.

Thanks for all the help and advice.
Old 05-21-02, 05:58 PM
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good to hear that

you ended up with a reasonably happy ending.

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