2000 Windstar several things at once

My husband drives a 2000 Ford Windstar. The other night, on the way to work, he noticed :

--the ABS light had come on. When noticing the light, he also noticed that

--the speedometer/odometer had also stopped working, though the other gauges were still fine (these are all needle variety; don?t know if any Windstars have digital ones, but his doesn?t anyway). Later he came to the realization that

--the heater had also stopped heating (We?re in northern Wisconsin) but the fan still blows. Last discovery was that

--the rear window defroster was also out.

My husband is a non-car guy (I?m the only one in the family who even knows how to change air filters and oil) but his take on this apparent multiple electronic failure was that ?maybe the brain box had a stroke?, and I, while being a little more car-savvy than he, can?t come up with any better take on it.

He took it in to the local small-town Ford dealership–stellar-reputationed for honesty and friendly hometown service, though in our personal experience anyway, not always the most brilliant diagnosticians–who tried to diagnose it electronically with no luck.

They offered that the next best thing they could do would be to start tearing it apart and seeing if they could find the problem with manual investigation, with a caveat that even at that, it would depend on how deep they would have to dig, and for how long, how much it would wind up costing and no guarantee they?d even find it. It seems to me that they should be able to figure what fuse or wire or whatever goes to all those things, but what do I know.

Our family income has taken one of those economic hits that are going around, so we can?t really afford that kind of open-ended money-pit proposition and definitely not a new car. Anyone have an idea on what this might be so we have a shot to get heat in the car before winter without playing ?random dig-fest? on it?

I found some other posts about Windstars that suggest it could be the front electronic module or instrument cluster. Does either of these sound more likely?

The problem isn’t major unless it is. Your dealer can’t find it so you have to try some other place. There are a list of connections and grounds to check as well as fuses. Ground the engine to the fender with jumper cables and see what happens.

You can add a recall for the cruise control to your list too.

Ford announced it a couple of days ago. Windstars built from 1995 to 2003.

Do you have a wiring diagram for this car ? Do these things share a fuse, fusible link or relay or have anything in common except the ignition switch ? Do they all come off or the same terminal off of the back of the ignition switch. If the answer is no to all of these questions then my best guess would be a cracked circuit board in the dash.

ABS light may come since speedometer is not working. The two can be related in the fact that ABS uses the VSS(vehicle speed sensor) as part of its inputs. Usually a check engine light is accompanied too by the failure of VSS.

These problems do not seem overcomplicated just rookie techs involved.

I am a Frod mechanic, the first two are definately your vehicle speed sensor, as for the others, start checking fuses:)

Actually, on my car (Lincoln) there is no single VSS sensor. Instead the ABS module averages the four wheel speed sensor outputs together to provide a VSS signal to the rest of the car. A fault with the ABS module will trigger a check engine light and prevent the speedometer from working. Maybe this Windstar is similar?