Recalled Ford Windstars Mount-Up On Dealer Lots as Owners Get the Shaft

Recalled Ford Windstars Mount-Up On Dealer Lots as Owners Get the Shaft

The Windstar is proving to be a small nightmare for the folks at Ford and for anyone who happens to own one. First NHTSA was investigating the minivan for possible rear axle failure, then an official recall was issued. Then Ford announced it would go so far as to buy back the cars, while offering to cover the cost of a rental car for those who opted to get the axle fixed.

While that sounds like a reasonable solution, it hasn’t been and is costing Ford, its dealers and Windstar owners plenty of money. A recent article by Automotive News outlined how many dealers are now having to find space for dozens of Windstars on their back lots as a fix for the problem may take several months. Owners are reluctant to take the buyout at Kelly Blue Book value, as the older minivans are worth more to the owners than they are on a retail lot.

According to several reports Ford is offering to cover $38 dollars a day to cover rental costs, which could put Ford out by as much as $2,000 per car. And with the recall notice being issued for 575,000 vehicles, the total could be in the millions.

The cost to owners is varied. A long list of replies to past articles on this topic on AutoGuide include complaints about unequal service from dealers. Some respondents mentioned having to pay the tax on their rental car price, while others had to pay for specific insurance on the rental vehicle. Several replies include complaints that their dealer wasn’t able to get them into a reasonably sized vehicle, while others had to pay extra to get into anything larger than a Fusion.

And as bad as this situation seems it’s likely to get worse for owners as NHTSA is currently investigating a rusting front subframe issue with the vans, and as owners continue to return their vehicles for recall service for the axle issue, numerous complaints have begun to pile up about the subframe, indicating a recall isn’t far off.

  • Ron M

    We took our 2001 Windstar in last week to find out that it would have to be kept until next March when the replacement axle is available. We have 4 children and our other vehicle is a pick-up. The local Ford service manager sent us to the local Enterprise rent-a-car where we were informed that they do not have any more vans to rent to Windstar owners like us. The Enterprise employee, while very helpful and informative, was not at all optimistic that we would ever be able to get a replacement rental van from him. We could have driven off with a 5 passenger sedan provided we (not FORD) were willing to pay the approximately $88.00 a month in rental taxes and either accept the additional insurance waive costs or provide evidence that our Windstar insurance covers the rental car. Unfortunately, we had only liability insurance coverage on our Windstar due to the overall poor, rusted out condition of the vehicle, and found out that it will cost us an additional $100.00+ to add full coverage on that policy so we can satisfy the needs of Enterprise. Like most, our family is strapped for cash and are not in a position to absorb any additional monthly expenses, especially since we are not even going to end up with the use of a vehicle that suits the needs of our family. The Ford service manager indicated that as far as he can tell, Ford is not looking to buy back 2001-03 models. Therefore, we are left with little or no options and will apparently have to rent the 5 person sedan and suck up the additional monthly costs while we wait until next March for Ford to repair their mistake. If we could afford an additional monthly costs, we would have gotten rid of this Windstar last year. It is hard to belive this is how Ford is treating its customers. We definately feel like we have been shafted by Ford. We will NEVER purchase another Ford again!

  • Liz Hollingshead

    I too had my windstar pulled off the road at the very worst possible time in my life. Enterprise provided me with a decent vehicle and informed me that I could not take it out of the province. I wonder why? I am not a criminal. If anyone is a criminal- it is Ford. My daughter and grandchildren live in Quebec and this is not exeptable. My husband and I both lost our jobs during the recession and are currently pursueing second careers. We have no money! We were consoling ourselves with the fact that at least the vehicle was paid for. We live in the country and must have reliable transportation. We are also looking after a 90 year old mother. I absolutely want my Windstar to be repaired. A buy back is out of the question. I can no longer afford a monthly car payment. It is going to be a struggle to buy my 6 grandchildren christmas gifts.

  • Ron M

    For those dealing with this same type of issue, I thought it would appropriate if I provided an update on my situation. This evening went to pick up the rental car from Enterprise. Still no van but the Enterprise employee indicated that he would find us a van in the next day or two too replace the Nissan Sentra they gave us tonight. Stopped by the Ford Dealer to retreive some personal items from the Windstar and the Service Dept. employee confirmed that just today they received word from Ford that Ford would be paying for the rental vehicle AND ALL Taxes. He also indicated that they have been given strict requirements from Corporate Ford to keep the tires inflated, start and run the cars on regular intervals, and move the approximately 40 Windstars they are currently storing in their back lot over the entire winter. This seems like a much more fair arrangement than what I was originally told by both Ford and Enterprise.

  • Barb Burns

    Just took in my 03 Windstar, today,to the local Ford dealer: they found a crack in the axle and my van was seize. The van is our famiily vehicle. We have to have a replacement. To start off, this is my second Windstar and I DO like my van (We have purchased more than four Ford vehicles). I understand that manufacturing errors can be made and I appreciate that Ford is stepping up to the plate with their recall program. I am not put out that they want to make the cars safe. I am not put out that I will need a rental vehicle. What I DON’T UNDERSTAND is why we have to pay EXTRA, for their mistake, to get a rental van. For us, it is six dollars a day extra (and yes we need a van not a sudan), which is just over $200.00 a month. On top of this, after 30 days, we have to pay fifteen dollars a day extra ( not sure of taxes yet) , for insurance, because most insurance policies only cover a 30 day “insurance rider”. This equates to $420.00 per month. If we do not have a new axle in 30 days, which I know will NOT HAPPEN, we will be paying $620.00 a month for a rental van. This is NOT what Ford says is an inconvenience, THIS IS A MONTHLY CAR PAYMENT!!!!!!!!!! And this could take many months to get sorted out. Like most families we don’t have that kind of extra money to put out. If you are like us we need the money for food, morgage, heat, and gas. Ford should relize the burden they are placing on the families that own these vehicles. If Ford is a company of integrity they should be rightly covering the total cost. (Ontario)

  • William

    If they buy back one they should buy them all back! The only thing that changed on these vehicals (98-03) was the interior and exterior. As far whats under the hood and under the vans that make the vehicals runs are still the same.

    My 2003 windstar’s rear axle snapped two months ago. It cost us 1498.00 to repair, in addition, our mechanic insisted that the defect was causing wear to our tires so he insisted we replaced. Two months later on 10/15 our vehical was inspected and another crack was detected in less then two months and to top it off Ford will not pay for the cost of the tires.

    Also, my recall letter stated ” repurchase” the vehicle not Blue Book value.

    Ford should do right by it’s loyal customers and give them what they want to compensate for riding around in vehicals that could be potential “death traps”.

  • 2003 Windstar owner

    With the history of recalls on the Windstar, you would think Ford would just offer to buy back any model year at a fair amount. I think blue book value plus 25% or maybe even 40% on top of it would be fair. We’re not all asking Ford to hand us brand new cars, in fact, I believe most of us would replace our Windstars with another used minivan or larger model vehicle. Ford is apparently not allowing for “counter-offers” but I really think they need to negotiate a fair price for these vans to get as many off the road as possible. Every day I see at least two or three of them driving around and chances are, they have not been inspected for this recall!

  • Clint

    Fell victim to this as well. Brought my O1 in on Monday for a oil change and was told I could NOT have it back unless I signed a waver saying ford was not responsible for their mistake. I said no. Told them I HAD to have a van and was told I get to pay for it. I settled on waiting HALF a day for Enterprise to get a HHR that I could probably use in a pinch (except when I need 6 seats)…

    Waited at the dealership for 4 hours and enterprise shows up with a rear wheel drive Dodge sedan. I run a business and haul 1000 pounds a day many times during the day. I need a VAN. Enterprise said best we can do is a Toyota Prius.. At least it’s a hatch back and to call ford because they should set me up with a van. I take the Toyota (gutless wonder BTW) and call ford.

    Was promised a call by 5PM today from the windstar department. 5:01 I call to find out why they have not called. Office closed.

    If they don’t get me in a van soon I am going to be suing for lost business and the money lost for it or I might just go buy another van and sue them for the cost of it. I can NOT believe they are sticking people who bought vans because we NEED them with compact s%#t boxes. Ya, it gets 50 MPG but what good is that when you need to make 10 trips to get the job done the van would do in 1?

  • Gina

    I have a 2003 Windstar with 99K miles. I brought it in last week for the inspection and was told it failed. Unlike some of these other posts, I received an SUV at the $38.00/day rate, fully paid for by Ford, and researched my insurance which covers it for 30 days. I was told by Enterprise that Ford would cover the additional insurance needed at their expense. So I’m not sure what’s up with the inconsistencies here. My vehicle is paid off, so I’m torn as to whether or not I actually want a buy-back offer. As of today I haven’t received one. The biggest hassle I have had so far is being accosted by the Ford salespeople every time I pull into the lot!!

  • Theresa

    One comment I would make is before we accept the kelly blue book value on the car someone needs to figure out how to get the value back in August. I know for a fact the value of my van was about a $1000 more a month ago prior to the vehicle being undrivable. the funny part is that the resale value has maybe only decreased by about $200. I also feel that if Ford is willing to spend the money to rent a car, pay insurance, pay the taxes on the rental, pay someone to turn the vans on, and pay to replace the axle why are they not willing to help Windstar owners out. If they took the money they are already spending on the Windstar and offered it as an incentive to purchase a used Ford vehicle they would have a lot of happier Ford owners. Right now if you read anything on the internet there are a lot of very unhappy Ford owners. I for one am waiting for the return of my Windstar and when it does come time to purchase a vehicle it definitely will not be a Ford they have show me they do not care for their customers. Bottom line is profits as you can see when you go to the Ford website they boost about their 3rd quarter profits but no where does it say how poorly they are treating Windstar owners or that they have recalled Windstars at all.

  • Deanna Banks

    Took my 2003 to the dealer today and yes axle is cracked. I explained extensively that I have 5 children 3 in car seats and 2 not. I bought a van for this reason. The dealership personnel are polarized by now. I can not believe that the enterprise staff brought me a ford focus to put 5 children in NO CAR SEATS in this car.
    Wow! Really Ford. Safety is the concern. What am I to do with this car. Something has got to be done about this issue. I have a call into Ford will see what I am told and come back and comment on the discussion. I will not pay out of pocket for a bigger vehicle.

  • Dave

    Turned down the buy-back offer of $2,800 for my 2000 Windstar. Ford needs to understand that the van cannot be replaced for $2,800 with anything remotely comparable to the Windstar which until this recall has been an outstanding van for our family. Our rental is a Dodge minivan and I admit, we’re getting to like it. Ford is going to lose customers over the handling of this recall.

  • Steve

    I can’t wait to get rid of mine for $2800. Bought new for $26 K 10 yrs. later biggest POS I’ve owned, and I work in the auto trade!
    Check engine light on – needs “another” intake gasket job, (last was under a TSB when fairly new) doors are all rusting out, rocker panel on one side already rusting out, vehicle keeps going through stabilizer bar bushings, I’m done with Fords just buy me out from this POS and move on !

  • T

    Read the following article which outlines many resolutions to some of the complaints here. For example, your insurance only covers 30 days, but, go back to enterprise every 30 days and they will rewrite your contract, thus keeping your insurance coverage active. By rewriting contract, it keeps it a rental as opposed to a short term lease.

  • Bob

    2 days before I received the recall notice my axle broke. Luckly it was while backing out of the driveway. This is my service van for my business. I must have a van with a ladder rack in order to make money. Problem is, Ford has NO vans available for loaner. I was put on a waiting list for the one and only van they have and presently it’s being used by another Windstar victim. I’ve been in contact off and on with the “Windstar Escalation Team” in Michigan. They like to talk a lot and make phone calls to the dealer but nothing has been done. After a full week of losing money I had to rent my own van and at fifty bucks a day. I’ve been writing some big checks to the rental company and this is taking all of my cash that I could use to save and purchase another van and be out of this mess. But no, no dice. So far I’m breaking even with all this expense but Ford better reimburse me 100% or we will be going to court. I had the engine rebuilt 1 year ago and the trans rtebuilt a little over 2 years ago. This Windstar worked perfectly fine for my job and I was planning on another 5 years before replacement. Ford Motor Company – PAY ME OFF SO THAT WE CAN BE DONE!

  • Doug M

    Saw notice of recall in early sept just short 1 inch notice in paper..was planning a trip to Vancouver 1 Oct so took 2001 van to ford to check it out..they did and said was good to go no problems found..did our trip 9300 kms came home next week first week nov got notice of recall in mail took van in and almost immediately they toldme it was being problem with enterprise for rental but is a scary thought of this being a problem when doing extended trip over the b adlands and mountains..luckly no problems and ford refuses to do a buy back on the 2001..only 133000kms on so wouldnt buy back no matter the for thought last ford for me am very worried about ever driving it again..

  • Chris in Ohio

    I have a 99 Windstar van, and after reading this stuff, I am not sure what to do. I have not read a post yet that says someone has had their van returned after passing inspection, so that leads me to believe that Ford is determined to take all these vans off the road, whether the axle is cracked or not.

    I have 3 kids, so I would rather drive my old van than a new compact car. But now, I know I cannot take it to a Ford dealer even for an oil change.

    Let me ask you all, knowing what you know now, what would you do if you still have your van?

  • Terry in Ontario

    2003 Windstar : Ford will not buy back, Why not? Who is going to buy it from me once it is fixed. With all the bad publicity the Windstar is getting I will never be able to unload this van. Ford needs to step up and buy back all Windstars if the owner is willing. I have to drive a rental until its fixed. It will cost Ford thousands of dollars for this.
    Please take it off my hands so I don’t have to worry about.

  • Rob in Ontario

    I brought in my 2000 windstar to my local dealer for service back in october and was told the rear axel was cracked.So I was put into a rental sedan, and informed it would be the first quarter of 2011 before it could be fix. So I waited until about the end November and was informed that Ford changed their minds and would buyback my van for $2,760.00. So I jumped at it,signed over the ownership ,returned the rental and thought it would take maybe 2 weeks for my cheque from Ford to show up. Now I am still waiting for my money with no help from Ford or the dealership at all! I am ready to snap FORD has really me and my family down.

  • Art

    I brought my 2001 Windstar to a local dealer in Warwick, NY. Indeed the rear axle was cracked. I explained to the service personel why I needed a minivan, which evidently satisfied the dealer. Enterprise has a rental office located in the dealership. The gentleman in charge appologized that a mini van was not on the premises but one was on the way for my use. He explained to me that I needed to come to the office to re-rent the vehicle every thirty days. Also, Ford was to pay the entire cost of the rental.

    I have just started my third month with a 2010 mini van that I can use in any state from New York to Florida.

    Between the staff at Leo Kaytes Ford and the Enterprise rental agent I have been made completely whole. I can’t ask for any more than this.

  • josephine inzano

    I brought my 02 windstar to smith cairns for a gas problem. They found the cracked axle kept the car and got me into a minivan from entetprise. They could not have been any nicer I really have no problems with them. They have been courteous and professional all the way through. I only wish they would buy it back I don’t want the van back its sitting on the lot since september I don’t know what condition the van will be in once I get it back. I inquired about buyback but they are not buying back 2002. Unbelievable

  • Ann

    On August 14, 2010, my family of 5 left for vacation in our 2001 Windstar and made it approximately 2 miles onto the highway before our axle split. We were very fortunate that my husband was able to get control of the car, barely. It was the most scariest driving experience ever. We had the car towed to our driveway and we all jumped into a small Ford Ranger and said we would deal with it after vacation. A few days after getting home, I got a call from my sister-in-law saying she saw on the morning news that the Windstars were having problems with the rear axle. We have since got a rental from Ford, but were in no position at that time to get a new vehicle. Just hanging around waiting on what will happen next. I know a person who is working on the case where a man died because of his rear axle. I thank God our situation wasn’t any worse than it was.

  • Robert

    I just had our 1999 winstar inthe dealer and paid $950.00 to fix the unrelated problem and they had the vehicle since october 30 2010 we got it back on january 28th 2011 and in less that a week its doing the same thing we had to have it the dealer for repair. After reading all this good news about the windstar and fords really fair way in which they are handling this I just wonder if the public was FORDS BAILOUT ???

  • Liz

    My van has been sitting in a Ford dealership since September 8, 2010. They offered me $2000 as a “bail-out” or whatever they are calling it. NOT happening Ford! I still owe over $5000. Can’t wait to get my van back in ONE piece! I really hate this Dodge mini-car they crammed us in… terrible for a family with 2 little ones in car-seats.

  • Caer

    I’m putting my post on several “Make a comment” I want as many people as possible to know how Ford treats it’s customers. So sorry if you read this already.

    I HAD a 2003 van with 68,000 miles. Only owner. I did the maintenance required. Was garage kept for the 1st 3 1/2 years. The 1st week of Novemeber the dealer took it and said they would get the part in Jan 2011. They paid for the rental. This week they condemed my van due to the 2nd recall. My buy out is $9,000.00. The catch – the dealer pressured me to sign the papers right away. Once I did, I did NOT get a check. 5-7 days, longer if a week-end was involed, but I had to turn in my rental on Friday no matter what I did. Dealer said it was Corp’s rules. When I called Corp they said it was dealer’s rules. When I asked about the other people from the 1st recall waiting 3 months+ for their checks the reply was yes there were delays for the 1st recall buy out. That could happen again. I asked to please keep my rental until I get my check. They said no. It would cost them too much money. But now it is Friday and I have no car to drive to work or get my kids to school. I also have no idea when I will get my check. NEVER A FORD AGAIN!!! I get the van is unsafe. I get this whole thing was a very bad mistake. What I don’t get is how I had to give Ford a check to leave with my van in March of 2003, but now that they are buying it back they don’t have to give me my check until they get around to it. They papers said they had a fixed time frame for me to keep the rental. What about a fixed time frame to give me my money. Anyone have any ideas???

  • Arajauna

    My van is worth more to me than it is to ford,obviously! However, if not for the subframe problem, I could have driven it for another 100,000 miles. Even though it is a 2000(top of the line model)it was still in excellent condition,and I never had any problems with it. I feel cheated. I don’t want another car pymt. and the buy-back amount is not going to replace it!

  • Nadine – Wisconsin

    Our Ford Windstar is a 2001, with a 100,000 miles. Maintained every 3000 miles. Have taken it in to the dealer a few times because of the engine light has been on for 4 years and they said they don’t know why, they reset it and it comes back on after we pick it up. We received a recall notice for the rear axle in October, took it in and they said nothing was wrong with the real axle, no cracks or rust. While the vehicle was there we had 2 new front tires put on, since winter was coming and needed 2 front tires. It only took a 1/2 day at the dealer. The next day we drove the vehicle and something wasn’t right with the front end, it was making a loud clunking noise. So I called the Dealership and I told them this and that it never did this till the day after they installed the front tires, so they said to bring it in and they will look at it. Next day took it in and they informed us the the front end Sway Bars, bushing, ball joints, etc was all rusted and cracked and is separating from the Subframe. They said it was safe to drive and it would cost all of money to get it fix, we don’t have any money to get it fixed, so we just kept driving it everyday, with that load noise, because remember the Dealership Service Department said it was SAFE to drive. Now this was in October. Ok, now at the end of February I received a phone call (message) from the Dealership saying that the parts were in for our van. I am thinking what parts, so I didn’t even call him back, because we were not expecting any parts or work done, since we told them we had no money to get it fixed. Well a few days later I received another recall notice in the mail, we decided that we are not going to call or take it in that they are messing with the van, so they can break something else, thought it was a scam just to get you in there and say nothing is wrong with the recall problem, but something else is wrong. so I waited a few day and thought I am going to call them to find out what the parts were that come in for our van. The service guy said it was the recall parts for the rear axle, I said that you told us nothing was wrong with it, he said that Ford is making them replace the axle even though the axle was fine, he asked if we could bring it in and it would take a half day only. I then told him that I just received another recall for the front end and he said that they will look at that as well. So one March 8th we took the van in at 8am and then they finally called us around 2:30pm saying that they are keeping it and that the front end is so bad that it is totally separated from the subframe and that is very unsafe and can not be driven off the lot. So they kept it and gave us a rental car until it gets fixed. We have a big family and they had no loaners or rental vehicles on their lot, so they got one from Enterprise. We had no choice of picking one out, they automatically gave us a KIA, bottom of the line 4 cyl tin box. Drives like shit, can’t even drive it in the snow, right after we got it, it snowed a day later and tried to drive it, but had turn around and come back home, only made it a block. So lost a day of pay because there is no traction and it is not heavy enough to handle the snow , like I said it is a tin box. Can feel every single bump in the road and all the noise from outside.
    No one has been in contact with is from the Dealership, I have a carseat and things in the van that we need to get. We might not ever see the van again or at least for along time, since it took from October to March. So who knows when or if it will get fixed. They didn’t offer a buy back and I would not except it if it is only $2,000. It would have to be allot, because I just in January re-finance it, because we needed money, so I owe $3,500 on it and then I would be under and have to pay the bank the remaining balance and then what about another van. We have no money to go buy another vehicle or even a car payment. So I think Ford should give me another vehicle that is equal to my van. 100,000 miles and in good shape with no problems. Not no piece of shit, I want my van, it is in very good condition and we paid allot of money for it back in 02. It was very well taken care of. I am not happy with this at all and I will not be buying another Ford. My oldest son has a 97 Ford Windstar and he just had to get all this fixed and had to pay for it, because 97 were not in the recall. I am just very upset that they said it was safe to drive and no problems, then 5 months later they said it is very bad and not drivable. It was probably unsafe when they first looked at it, but didn’t want to deal with it and sent us on our way. I have a car payment, full coverage insurance on the van and NO van. Really upset with Ford, they should be paying this, it is a big inconvenience.Also, no summer is coming up and no Van to use to hull stuff, going camping or anything with the family. Total of 8 members in this family, 2 babies and twins on the way. Sure hope we have it back before summer. This is just unbelievable and unacceptable.

  • Ken

    While driving my 2001 Windstaron the freeway, my rear axle snapped – I was going like 70 mph. Luckily I was able to avoid crashing, flipping, or getting killed !!! Tow truck said he never seen it this bad, they are tow windstars everyday in metro Detroit. Took it to local dealer, took all of about 15 minutes til I ws told that they were putting me in a rental. Asked service manager about how long it would take, and he gave me the “FORD” speach… we are expecting parts this weekend. Yeah right ! They sent me to enterprise and they were very open with me, they should me the back lot of the dealership – there are about 70 windstars sitting there. Enterprise hooked me up with a 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan with like 4,000 miles on it. “Expect to be in for awhile” they said. The guy who just turned it in was a windstar owner who had it for 4 1/2 months. I have no problem driving a NEW van around with ford paying for it, since i can’t afford a new car/van myself right now. Apparently ford is paying upwards of 1,200 a month for windstar owners in rentals… Hey FORD – take your time in fixing my van and Thank You for paying for me to drive a NEW DODGE !!!