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Locating Windstar VSS - Replacing Windstar VSS

06-19-2009, 08:58 AM
My experience in on a '99 Windstar SE 3.8L with AX4S transmission. I believe info is valid for all V6 engines through the various model years. If you've determined via fault code or other diagnostics that you need to replace the VSS (Vehicle Speed Sensor) - then your in for a real treat.

LOCATING THE WINDSTAR VSS - Let me begin by saying that you will never be able to lay an eyeball on this component until it is off the vehicle and in your hand. If you have patience - you may be able to sneak a look with a mechanics mirror - but I was unable to view the VSS this way as well. But here are two methods for determing the VSS location. Method 1 - from beneath the vehicle locate where the Y-Pipe and rear exhaust manifold meet. The VSS is 1" to the left and 3" behind the aforementioned connection. Your sightlines are completely obstructed by the subframe, Y-Pipe, and transmission case. Method 2 - Remove the right front tire and locate the right motor mount. The VSS is located directly 16" behind the motor mount toward the centerline of the vehicle. Again your sight line is obstructed by the motor mount.

INSTALLING THE WINDSTAR VSS - All resource materials that I consulted described a method where you access the VSS from beneath the vehicle by removing the Y-Pipe.I didn't like this method for two reasons: I don't like flopping around on my back while working beneath a vehicle, and I don't like messing with rusted exhaust hardware if I can avoid it. Having said that - if I had access to an overhead lift - I would have gone to the Y-Pipe removal method. Having no lift I was left looking for options and think I found a reasonable one which requires removing the right motor mount. Here's how it goes.
1- Remove the exterior cowl from between the windshield and hood.
2- Remove the fresh air intake from the firewall (where the fresh air filter lives). It is held on by two 13mm nuts and one 10mm screw.
3- Remove right front tire and support vehicle frame securely with jack stands.
4- Locate the right front motor mount and use a penetrating oil (I used PB Blaster) to loosen the top and bottom nuts on the motor mount.
5- Remove the two 18mm nuts. You will need a deep socket. Access the top nut through the engine compartment about where you removed the fresh air collector. Also - you will need about 18" of socket extension to do this.
6- Get your floor jack under the transmission pan - place a wide board between the floor jack and transmission pan to distribute the load. Raise the engine/transaxle assembly until the stud on the bottom and top of the motor mount clear the mounting frames - and remove the motor mount.
7- Lower the engine/transaxle assembly about 4". Keep pressure on the jack - don't let it bottom out. Now if you look into the area vacated by the motor mount - you'll get your 1st view of the VSS. Well - not actually - you'll see the pressed metal heatshield that covers the VSS.
8- The heatshield/VSS is held on by an 8mm screw that is waaay too long for the application. Remove the screw and pull the VSS from the case bore.
9- Thread the VSS below the the transaxle case. I found it easier to locate and disconnect the electrical connection from beneath the vehicle.
10- Assembly is reverse.

A couple of notes. You may want to clean the area around the VSS location before removing it from the case. Sand and road dirt accumulate on the flat area - and you don't want any of that falling into the case. You will only be able to access the VSS with your left hand through the motor mount hole. So for you righties - make sure you have good manual dexterity and finger strength in your left hand - you'll need it. Also - once your arm is in the hole - you lose your sightline - so you need to be comfortable working by feel alone.

That's about it - the job was pretty straightforward and the only real pain was removing that 8mm screw.

Good Luck-

06-19-2009, 09:05 AM
Good write-up. I agree, that VSS sensor is a pain ... I had about convinced myself it really wasn't there, and then I felt it.

I wish I could sit in on some of the design sessions for vehicles. For instance: Why have a VSS? Couldn't you obtain essentially the same information from the front ABS sensors?

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