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1998 Ford Windstar Transmission Issue

05-21-2004, 08:16 AM
My father has a 1998 Ford Windstar and has developed a Transmission Issue. Sometimes (steadily getting worse) when he comes to a stop at a light or intersection, and then prepares to accellerate away from the stop the Transmission apparently shifts to neutral?? The RPMs go up but the vehicle doesnt move. He has to put it in park, turn the ignition off and then restart, shift to drive and he goes fine. I have read here, and talked with a mechanic that it is probably electrical vs. mechanical. The Mechanic doesn't specialize in transmissions so didn't want to try and diagnos it. The post I read said that it might be a sensor of some kind.

Has anyone had this problem and gotten a fix? If so, I would like to hear what it is so I can get my Dad's Van running safely again. You can imagine how dangerous it is to be sitting at a green light on a highway and have to turn the car off and restart it quickly.

Any advice is much appreciated.


05-22-2004, 02:35 PM
That *sounds* like it might be a failing "DTR" (Digital Transmission Range) sensor. Relatively easy to replace, but not something you'd want to do because it "might" fix the problem.

The very first thing to do is to check the fluid level when warm. If that checks out ok, does the "OD" light on the shifter flash at all? If so, then it has a stored code that can be "read", and it should point you in the right direction. Even if the light does not flash, there still could be codes. AutoZone will read them for free.

If all else fails, you would need to connect a scan tool and monitor the commands to the transmission while it is misbehaving, and that is a job for a service tech.

06-06-2004, 06:26 PM
I had the same problem with my transmission slipping out of gear at a stop light. Turns out there is TSB regarding this issue which identifies a deficient seal in the transmission allowing oil to blow by causing the transmission to slip out of gear. The TSB specifies a replacement part. I had to take the van to a transmission place, unfortunately. Never had the problem since. It's been over three years. This one's not a recall I'm afraid. Good Luck!

06-08-2004, 03:30 PM
I have a 98 Windstar (app 95,00 miles) and my transmission would not get out of first gear. I had the transmission rebuilt and a week later I had the same problem again. To make a long story short it is now three weeks later and my trans guy has tried to refix the problem numerous times. The problem is that it drives fine for about a 1/2 hour and then it goes. He finally today after having to order parts from out of state handed the car off to an electical specialist who said that I needed to have something changed in the computer.
In addition, I have had the same problem with the door ajar indicator that I have seen on a number of the other forums. I will try the WD40 solution.
I have also had problems with the radio/cigarette lighter. I have had them both fixed once before. My radio/tape player had a problem for a while that it went on but I was not able to change stations. That problem just went away by itself somehow. Now the cigarette lighter stopped working I am not a smoker, but obviously it is a pain not being able to recharge my cell phone while travelling.

06-14-2004, 10:41 AM
Sorry, It has taken so long to check back on replies.

No, he hasn't mentioned anything regarding the "OD" light flashing. His Transmission fluid levels are fine, and he even had has fluid changed to make sure it wasn't that simple. I called my mechanic, who does not normally work on the transmissions. He said it sounded electrical to him, but he was not a transmission expert. He recommended taking it to a transmission shop for diagnostics. The problem is, there is only one real transmission shop in town and getting over to it is difficult.

Now there is a grinding sound apparently that is fairly loud during normal driving. I haven't driven it yet to hear that but it didn't sound to promising from the description. If we can get it looked at by the tranny shop I will let post the diagnosis.

Thanks for the replies!


06-14-2004, 07:51 PM
It sounds like dmwein has a different problem than the one originally mentioned. My van would never not get out of first gear. It only had the problem originally mentioned with slipping out of gear at a stop. If you take it to a shop that access to Ford's database they can pull the TSB's and this problem should show up.

06-21-2004, 10:54 AM
This Windstar never has a problem shifting out first either. It simply (randomly) shifts to neutral when stopped and the shift lever still shows it in drive :eek7:

He still hasn't had a chance to take it to a Transmission shop, because there is only 1 actual specialist shop really in town. It seems to have become less frequent as of late (or at least he isn't complaining about it as much) so I don't think he is too worried right now. I think he wants to use it as an excuse to buy a new one. If so I will buy this one off of him and get it looked at myself. The rest of it is in great shape.

If I find anything out, I will post the diagnosis.


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