2003 ford windstar power steering failure


Why would the power steering on my Windstar stop working after only 34,000 miles? There are no leaks and the fluid flows in the reservoir. Steering works fine with speed, but not when moving slow.


I would check the fan belt(serpentine belt?). It may be slipping.


It seems the pump is not developing enough pressure at low speed. Other than the belt slipping , which would cause quite a noise, it is possible the pump itself is defective (vanes worn out) or there is a blockage in the fluid circuit. The rack, the part that is tied to the wheels could also have a restriction in it. You need to go to a shop that specializes in chassis, steering and brake work, not the Ford dealer or Midas. I had this problem years ago with a Ford Granada, and needed a rebuilt power steering unit. The rebuilt was less than half the cost of the new Ford unit.


The belt’s not slipping. Thank you.


Thank you for your reply. Whatever went bad, it was sudden. I parked the van at BK no problem - came out 15 minutes later, no PS. Do PS pumps or racks go bad with only 34000 miles? and what would cause a blockage? How do I troubleshoot this? (Is there a speed sensor that allows the PS system to operate only at low RPM’s that could have failed?)


Taurus, Windstar, and Aerostar PS pumps seem to fail a LOT. Do you have the classic Ford PS pump whine in low-speed turning? I’m willing to bet it’s the pump.


There was no whine or warning.


Generally, the mechanic you bring it to will change the pump without troubleshooting anything because the pump is the most likely thing to go wrong. If you do your own work, you can skip the mechanic part. If you are wrong; your wrong will cost a lot less than the non-troubleshooting mechanic’s wrong. Stop worrying and get it in gear.


Thank you. I finally talked to a good mech. He agrees that its the pump. It makes sense to me. He says Ford should have been recallng them for many years. He’s going to do the work. I’ve driven dozens of old cars (and some new ones) since 1960 and never had a bad PS Pump. Only some leaky hoses. Henry got me!!! (:frowning:


Thank you but I’m getting too old to get it in gear.


Odds are that your Windstar works similiar to my 95 Taurus.

A quick look at the factory wiring diagrams for my Taurus shows that the VAPS module (variable assist power steering control module) controls the VAPS stepper motor.

The VAPS stepper motor “Controls a hydraulic valve that determines the amount of hydraulic assist available to the driver.” More assist at parking speed, less assist at driving speed.

On the Taurus the VAPS control module is behind the dash

The stepper motor is under the hood near the steering gear box.

Like I said this is how it works on the Taurus, but your Windstar probably works the same

Ask your mechanic about it.


These variable boost PS units tend to default to full assist when there is a fault.


Thanks Beads, thats good info to know. I guess -as mentioned- that leaves the pump as the most likely culprit.

Strange it would die at only 34K, traded my 95 Taurus at 150K & never had a problem with the pump.

My 87 Ranger still has the factory pump at 230K.

Go figure.


Thank you all for your replies. I had the PS pump replaced. That was the culprit. Now I can steer again. I hope my new pump lasts longer.
Now I’m starting to hear clicking noises from my AC compressor when its engaged. Hmmmmm!!!