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2000 Windstar wiper unsafe for 3.5 year old twins

Well, I’ve already submitted this question to T&R, but I haven’t heard anything yet. Since I’m getting more and more frustrated with this car as time goes on, I thought I’d post it up here too–hoping of course, that I haven’t offended anyone by posting it in two places at once! Here goes:



We’ve got a wiper motor problem in our 2000 Ford Windstar. My wife almost exclusively drives this car and carts around our 3.5 year old twin boys and it’s getting inconvenient and unsafe! Our mechanic has now fixed it four times but we are again back to square one.



The first time he replaced the computer module component and also the wiper motor. The next three times he replaced the wiper motor. Each time we get the motor replaced it works fine for awhile and then eventually dies again. The last time the wipers died our mechanic took it to a Ford dealership and they told him they couldn’t fix it! So my mechanic’s solution is to replace the motor again. I’m still thinking about what to do this time.



Here is the behavior (I think it has behaved slightly differently each time, but no less strangely):

The only position that works correctly is the “regular” speed. The fast speed position does not work at all while the intermittant settings do not work correctly. In any of the intermittant settings the wipers do not perform a complete cycle across the windshield and back. Rather, they go only a portion of the way and then stop. So, from the off position if I place it in the 1st intermittant position the wipers move about one half swipe of the windshield (they go from rest position to almost top of the windshield) and stop. They won’t move again unless I move to the 2nd intermittant position (or directly to regular speed) and

then they’ll go another half swipe and stop. If I move back down to the 1st intermittant position, the wipers do not move at all. But if I increment up to the 3rd position, it’ll do another half swipe.



So in other words, moving from intermittant positions 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4, etc. the wipers go half cycle and stop, but going down from 4 to 3 or 3 to 2, etc. they don’t move at all.



Have you got any suggestions for me or for my mechanic perhaps? I’m really gettting tired of having my wife call me to tell me the wipers don’t work again! Thanks so much! /Joel

Tom and Ray don’t actually post on these forums. If you had posted under the “show” area, that is where people discuss aspects of the show of queries from past episodes.

Sorry, I don’t have an answer for you, but it seems your mechanic is just throwing parts at the situation rather than diagnosing and fixing what is really wrong. I would suggest trying another mechanic.

I wonder if anyone has taken a good look at the linkage.  It can get bent and start binding and that can cause a variety of issues.

I googled ‘ford windstar wiper failure’ and came up with this (at http://www.automallusa.net/1999/ford/windstar/recalls.html):

"Auto Recall Date: AUG 15, 2001

Vehicle Component: VISIBILITY:WINDSHIELD WIPER/WASHER:MOTOR
Estimated Vehicles Affected: 598256
Model Affected
1999 FORD WINDSTAR

1999 Ford Windstar Defect Summary:
VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: MINI VANS. CONTAMINANTS SUCH AS WATER, SALT, AND WINDSHIELD WASHER SOLUTION CAN ENTER THE WIPER MOTOR COVER ASSEMBLY THROUGH PINHOLES ON THE EXTERIOR OF THE COVER THAT ARE USED IN THE MOLDING PROCESS. IN ADDITION, ON CERTAIN OF THE VEHICLES BUILT BETWEEN FEBRUARY AND AUGUST 2000, A SWITCH LOCATED IN THE PLASTIC COVER OF THE WIPER MOTOR GEAR CASE COULD MALFUNCTION AND OVERHEAT. EITHER OF THESE CONDITIONS COULD POTENTIALLY RESULT IN LOSS OF INTERMITTENT WIPER FUNCTION, LOSS OF WIPER PARK FUNCTION, COMPLETE LOSS OF WIPER FUNCTION, SMOKE, OR IGNITION OF THE PLASTIC COVER MATERIAL. CONTAMINANT ENTRY COULD ALSO RESULT IN UNINTENDED WIPER MOTOR OPERATION.

Defect Consequence:
SWITCH MALFUNCTION IS MOST LIKELY TO OCCUR WHEN THE INTERMITTENT SETTING OF THE WIPERS IS BEING USED, OR WHEN SNOW OR ICE OBSTRUCTS THE BLADES FROM RETURNING TO THE “PARKED” POSITION AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WINDSHIELD. LOSS OF VISIBILITY WHILE DRIVING INCREASES THE RISK OF A CRASH.

Remedy:
DEALERS WILL INSTALL A NEW WIPER COVER WITH IMPROVED SEALING AND WATER RESISTANCE. OWNER NOTIFICATION BEGAIN AUGUST 27, 2001. OWNERS WHO TAKE THEIR VEHICLES TO AN AUTHORIZED DEALER ON AN AGREED UPON SERVICE DATE AND DO NOT RECEIVE THE FREE REMEDY WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME SHOULD CONTACT FORD AT 1-866-436-7332.

Estimated Vehicles Affected: 598256

Notes: FORD MOTOR COMPANY 01S25 "

I owned a 2000 Ford Windstar and had the recall performed as suggested in an earlier post. Up to the recall, I had had no problems with the wipers. I sold the car to my son and he has had no problems. I would find a competent Ford dealer who should perform the recall without charge.

First, thanks so much for your responses. It’s comforting to know that there are those of you out there to help! And just to clarify, after the problem reoccurred the 3rd time, I did take it to another mechanic who spent some time with it, but ended up saying that it was going to be too difficult to fix. He said that he would just end up replacing the wiper motor like my regular mechanic. And also, as I mentioned in my original post, my mechanic said that he took it to a Ford Dealer who told him they couldn’t fix it.

And you did get me excited! No dice though. I took the above notice to my local Ford dealer today and they did a search on my vehicle using the VIN. While they did have a recall regarding emissions, they did not have one for the wipers and this problem. The fellow at the dealer pointed out the part in this notice that says: ON CERTAIN OF THE VEHICLES BUILT BETWEEN FEBRUARY AND AUGUST 2000 and basically said that clarifies which vehicles the recall applies to. I didn’t read it that way. My vehicle’s build date, by the way, was 08/12/1999.

So then I searched a little more and found almost the same-- but not exactly–recall notice on the nhtsa website. It specifies model years 1999-2001. You can see it here, but I’ll include it in the body afterwards:

http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/recalls/results.cfm?SearchType=QuickSearch&rcl_ID=01V261000&summary=true

Then the next thing I did was to call Ford at the number specified. After being suckered into updating their records to map VIN numbers with actual human names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. he then told me that there is no recall on my vehicle but that my local dealer would be happy to repair the problem for a cost.

Well, I’ve already paid for it. And paid for it. And paid for it. And when that was done, I paid for it again! I’m absolutely certain that if I pay for it again (at the Ford dealer), it’ll stop working again in about 3-6 weeks.

Is there any fix for this problem? Is there any next step? I don’t know what the economy is doing today, but as for myself, I am in a recession and I can’t really afford another vehicle this week. (My other car, btw is a 1996 Corolla with 200k miles). It is clear to me that I can’t have my wife driving my boys around in this car like this. I can’t stand driving the car when it’s raining outside.

Thanks for any advice! /Joel

Oh, here is a reprint of the article I found (it’s the same thing you found except for a tiny bit.)

Vehicle Make / Model: Model Year(s):
FORD / WINDSTAR 1999-2001

Manufacturer: FORD MOTOR COMPANY Mfr’s Report Date: AUG 08, 2001
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 01V261000 N/A
NHTSA Action Number: N/A

Component: VISIBILITY:WINDSHIELD WIPER/WASHER:MOTOR
Potential Number of Units Affected: 598256
Summary:
VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: MINI VANS. CONTAMINANTS SUCH AS WATER, SALT, AND WINDSHIELD WASHER SOLUTION CAN ENTER THE WIPER MOTOR COVER ASSEMBLY THROUGH PINHOLES ON THE EXTERIOR OF THE COVER THAT ARE USED IN THE MOLDING PROCESS. IN ADDITION, ON CERTAIN OF THE VEHICLES BUILT BETWEEN FEBRUARY AND AUGUST 2000, A SWITCH LOCATED IN THE PLASTIC COVER OF THE WIPER MOTOR GEAR CASE COULD MALFUNCTION AND OVERHEAT. EITHER OF THESE CONDITIONS COULD POTENTIALLY RESULT IN LOSS OF INTERMITTENT WIPER FUNCTION, LOSS OF WIPER PARK FUNCTION, COMPLETE LOSS OF WIPER FUNCTION, SMOKE, OR IGNITION OF THE PLASTIC COVER MATERIAL. CONTAMINANT ENTRY COULD ALSO RESULT IN UNINTENDED WIPER MOTOR OPERATION.
Consequence:
SWITCH MALFUNCTION IS MOST LIKELY TO OCCUR WHEN THE INTERMITTENT SETTING OF THE WIPERS IS BEING USED, OR WHEN SNOW OR ICE OBSTRUCTS THE BLADES FROM RETURNING TO THE “PARKED” POSITION AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WINDSHIELD. LOSS OF VISIBILITY WHILE DRIVING INCREASES THE RISK OF A CRASH.
Remedy:
DEALERS WILL INSTALL A NEW WIPER COVER WITH IMPROVED SEALING AND WATER RESISTANCE. OWNER NOTIFICATION BEGAIN AUGUST 27, 2001. OWNERS WHO TAKE THEIR VEHICLES TO AN AUTHORIZED DEALER ON AN AGREED UPON SERVICE DATE AND DO NOT RECEIVE THE FREE REMEDY WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME SHOULD CONTACT FORD AT 1-866-436-7332.
Notes:
ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION’S AUTO SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236).

Sorry to hear Ford’s not being helpful - sure sounds like it’s the same problem. As a last resort, ask them what it would cost you to have the recall fix applied to your car. This, after calling NHTSA to confirm whether your car’s covered, and calling Ford again to complain…good luck!

When I’ve had problems that I didn’t think the dealer’s solution was really going to fix, I’ve been able to make a deal with them. I get them to promise that what I am about to pay is going to fix the specific problem for a reasonable period of time, or they will make it good at their expense. It was just a verbal, but it worked.
In particular: I knew that when they replaced the pads and rotors that the braking vibration I was having would return again in a thousand miles, because it had the last two times (work done elsewhere). The service manager agreed to it, and I paid for the brake job. A month later, they replaced the pads, rotors, calipers, and master cylinder all at no additional charge. That did fix it.
Maybe you could make a similar deal on replacing your wiper motor assembly one more time?