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1999 ford windstar making knocking noise top of engine

My ford windstar was making a clacking knocking sound when I had to accelerate for an incline. ( I live in the mountains) Last night on my way home from work it was clacking more often. It has also within the last couple weeks randomly acted like it was not going to start almost like it wasn’t getting any gas. The not starting is almost an everytime occurance and today it started clacking any time moving and this evening it started clacking as soon as you start it. What is going on? I found this on you tube and it sounds almost identical to how my van now sounds at start up.
youtube.com/watch?v=5BGJF982_bo&feature=player_detailpage

How many miles does this '99 have on it?
What engine?
Did you check the oi level?
How’s the maintenance been?

Your clacking could be from a cylinder not firing due to an ignition system problem or a failed fuel injector, a bad lifter, even a bad timing chain. Or it could be a failed lifter, or even a busted rocker arm.

But start with the basics. Pull the sparkplugs and take a look-see. If one doesn;t look right, that might point to a particular cylinder to investgate. If they all look normal, that may suggest another source of the sound,

changed the spark plugs, wires, and the thing that replaced a distributer cap. Checked oil it was low but not bad. antifreeze was really low and topped it off, but no change.
The mileage is probably close to 250,000. Fried wiring (ford says not part of recall) has dash lights not working. was thinking changing the oil and maybe bad fuel injector but have already thrown money at this and can’t afford to keep throwing money if it’s a bigger problem.
spark plugs not problem engine is 3.8. got lax on oil change this year due to layoffs at my work.

The noise in that video sounds like a rod bearing to me. That’s usually the death knell for an engine.
The knocking symptom can vary based on different factors with some being horribly loud like the one in that video and others may be more subdued.

Based on the quarter million miles and lax on oil changes as you describe it then it’s at least possible the noise in your car’s engine could be a bearing rap.
This will usually be present at idle at all times but in some cases may be difficult to hear.

I agree, from what the OP says, the oil maintenance may have been lacking and it sounds to me more like a major crankcase bearing problem. I think there are oil additives which will quiet (somewhat) bearing and rod knocks. The OP could try that, and if it works, you’ll at least have an idea what is causing the sound. Or you could just turn up the radio and live with it until it won’t run any more. You do have 250K on the motor.

Engine experts here on the CarTalk Web site: Is it possible to replace the crankshaft and piston bearings, and even the pistons and rings perhaps, by removing the oil pan and working from under the car? If it was only one bearing making the problem, that might be a way toward a fix without doing a complete rebuild or engine replacement.

Sounds like a rod knock or a lifter knock…if today’s oils are so good which I see a lot of comments on this site, from other posters ,why can’t these so made upgraded oils protect older engines ???..the ones with solid lifters or ones without a non roller cam where there are greater pressures against the cam and lifters ??

They took out all the ZDDP from them…5w-20 oils…sewing machine oils just to bring up the MPG
for CAFE standards The car manufactures don’t care. as long as it makes you through the warranty period. Not trying to start a feud here just my opinion Then you get the excuses that they are making engines tighter…I have been reading this tighter engine bull crap for the last 10 years when the vicosity of the oils have been getting lower and lower…How tight can you make bearing clearances before the engine won’t run where you have metal against metal ?

I wonder if you have preignition going on? Could be your knock sensor is no longer working. I’d try a couple of tanks of the highest octane gas you can find to rule it out.

In answer to the question about a bearing change without an engine rebuild. Yes, this can be done but involves a couple of things.
One would not replace a single bearing because if one is gone the others are not far behind and the entire rod/main bearing set should be changed.
Two (doing it properly) means that someone should have a micrometer and the ability to use it. The rod and main journals should all be miked for taper, out of round, etc. Usually the limit is about .0005 and that ain’t much.

One can replace the bearings on an out of round crankshaft with smooth journals but longevity may not be anywhere near what it should be. In other words, it’s a crutch for the short term.
Replacing one noisy bearing is a procedure that has certainly been done before but it’s not something I would recommend or do myself.

I might add that it’s actually possible to install a new crank kit into an automatic transmission vehicle without pulling the engine if one is so inclined although it does require some unusual steps. (Torque converter bolt removal, slide the trans back a few inches, oil pan off, timing components removed, rod/main caps, removed and the crank is dropped out the bottom with the harmonic balancer and flexplate in place.) Kind of a hassle, but just sayin’… :slight_smile:

“if today’s oils are so good which I see a lot of comments on this site, from other posters ,why can’t these so made upgraded oils protect older engines”

Well, the original poster seems to have let his engine run low on oil and coolant, and no oil is going to protect against that. Plus a 1999 is hardly an “older engine”, and the engines put in these vans have various problems including with head gaskets. So 250K on it is probably pretty good. It’s my understanding that ZDDP poisons catalytic converters, which is why it is no longer present in oils. There are still a few racing oils that have ZDDP, but they cannot be used in a vehicle with a catalytic converter. There are also additives containing ZDDP that you can put in your oil, but ditto.

Howie, today’s oils can and do protect older engines. In the '60s, a car with 100,000 miles was ready for a tradein. Today it’s probably due for its first sparkplug change.

Regarding “tighter engines”, it is true. By focusing on process variation rather than dimensions “meeting the tolerances”, engines have become “tighter” in the sense that the lower variations mean the parts fit far more consistantly and properly. That means less slop. This is not the same as making an engine “tighter” by designing a smaller hole for the same piston, it means that there’ll be fewer pistons that will be loose, and those that are won’t be AS loose. For many years I was very deeply involved in this transition in philosophy in the manufacturingg industry, and it really does make a far better engine.

I think your comment about manufacturers using “sewing machine oils” has a lot of truth to it. Buit the bottom line is that modern engines run twice as long as the old engines.

so there is oil in the coolant but not coolant in the oil. started louder noises and overheating. Tried flushing gunk out with seafoam local mechanic suggested as quick fix. Used throttle cleaner. Nothing came out the exhaust, but the knocking got better just before it got worse. No more bad starts and wanting to die. Is this a head gasket? Could the louder noises in the engine mean things are tearing up? I am just trying to figure out if I should take it to a mechanic or scrap it. I am not spending an arm and a leg for a vehicle that won’t recoup the expense.

A 14 year old Windstar with a 1/4 million miles on what was probably the worst V6 ever built.
You stated that the engine has developed a knock and their is oil in the coolant system.

Do your self a favor get rid of the vehicle.

Another reason for getting rid of this Windstar is a safety factor. If your Windstar is from a state where salt is used on the roads in the wintertime, these Windstars suffered from rear axle failure. The fix was either to use an epoxy to affix plates to the rear axle or for Ford to buy the vehicle. If your vehicle has not had the recall performed, you might investigate to see if Ford will buy it from you as part of the recall program. My son had a 2000 Ford Windstar. Ford did the fix for the rear axle, but he would have been happier if Ford had decided to buy his vehicle.

At 250,000 miles, you may be near the end of the life of the transmission, ball joints, etc. I think it is time to abandon ship.

We have a 2004 windstar that made almost as bad of a noise. my mechanic friend and I knew it wasn’t in the lower half of the engine, but we had one heck of a time pinpointing the source of the noise. It only made the noise on startup and would sometimes last a few minutes…other times only a few seconds. I even left at his place overnight and went back the next morning, so he could have his ear under the hood as I started it. He would hear it, but never had enough time to locate the problem part. It never made the noise after the first warm up.
He had heard it and knew there was a problem…not my imagination, so he called a friend in a Ford service department. That guy couldn’t recall any problem with this noise, and we had already replaced the Tensioner, idler and belt…thinking it was from the front of the engine.
When I tried to diagnose it…as soon as the engine started and I leaned in to listen…the noise would be gone. But the wife said that some days it would last for a few minutes.
His friend called him back a few days later and he had been at some meeting with mechanics from other service centers and asked about it. Only one guy had the problem before and it was the shaft that is inside the distributor housing and operates the sensor that you said that you replaced. I’m not sure if that is the crankshaft position sensor or knock sensor. He said that because of a design flaw not enough oil would get to the top of that shaft and the shaft would wear to the point that it got sloppy and would knock…slapping back and forth.
We replaced that shaft and we have not had the problem again and that was at least 6 months ago. You have to be sure you get the new shaft in the right position, so the outside of the distributor has to be marked where the old one was and the new one back in seated in the right timing position.
So if you are not that familiar, you may want to take it to a mechanic who knows how to do it.
I think the part was less than $50.

Oil in the coolant pretty much confirms a bad head gasket. You might have the coolant tested for the presence of combustion gases as well. Unless the rest of the van is in outstanding condition, I think it’s time to look for a replacement. If you don’t mind being stranded at some point, there’s probably no reason not to drive it until it dies.