'98 Ford Windstar Electrical Problem after Frost Plug Replacement?

I had a frost plug replaced in my 1998 Ford Windstar last Wednesday afternoon. It was the frost plugs between the engine and the transmission thus they had to take out the transmission to replace them (2). Thursday as I was driving my radio stopped working, then the ABS and airbag lights came on and the car started beeping and simultaneously the car started to run roughly and have almost no power, then it completely died. The windows wouldn’t even go up and it wouldn’t turn over (it would not even click). I called the repair shop who said, “It’s nothing we did!” and told me it sounded like it needed a battery. I had my friend put a battery in it. After that it did exactly the same thing last night and I was stuck in the middle of an intersection last night at 9p and had to have it towed. What in the heck happened to my van??? I have never had a problem with it prior. I am a veterinarian, not a mechanic. Help me please!

I suspect that when they hoocked the transmission cable back up, the neutral safety switch is now out of adjustment causing all these glitches.

Picture of the switch

My father said the same thing! Do you think I should go back to the original repair shop who replaced the frost plugs or run from that repair shop? When I talked to the mechanic on the phone Thursday night he said it was ‘nothing I did’ and recommended the battery.

Some more info would help. Is everything electrically dead?
With the key on, are the dashboard lights on (alt. oil, CEL, etc.)
What about lighting, cabin fan, wipers, etc.?
Does the starter make a solenoid “click” sound when the key is turned?

Just one little thing. It won’t waste the entire day. Look for a hanging ground wire from engine or transmission to the frame or body. These things get left unconnected often. Usually the problems aren’t so severe.

After revisiting this, and THEN remembering what was stated in the original post, my guess might be either that a battery ground cable was not securely fastened (I think this connects to an engine/trans bolt?) or that a fusible link was incorrectly routed/not secured. Vibration could have chaffed it through and blown the link when bare wire met bare metal. Neither is serious if this is the problem; just a real aggravation caused by carelessness.

Each time the oil light, abs light, picture of the airbag light, and “check engine light” came on when I turned the key on, the cabin lights were very very dim then went out and the windows would not work. The four way flasher did work. At first there was a click sound when I tried to restart it then no click sound. There was also a smell of unburned fuel.

I will try to do that. I had the car towed to the parking lot of a repair shop last night. I was driven home.

Thank you! I will print this out and bring it with me tomorrow. I’m going to ask them to drive it for a couple of days after they fix it as this has really been no fun at all and having it happen a third time probably won’t be either.

To clarify: first the radio dies (then I panic), then the ABS light and the picture of the airbag light come on, then the loud beeping starts and the car starts to run roughly. Then the car has no power and the smell of fuel in the cabin. Then it dies and when I turn the key to start it it will click and all the dash lights come on, the cabin light is dim, then the cabin lights die, the windows won’t work, but the dash lights will still come on even if I turn the key. Eventually the click when I try to turn it on also stops. Then I call a tow truck and shed a few tears.

Well, the mechanic said it’s the altinator and he’s putting in a new one. I’ve never had a problem with it not starting prior but at this point I haven’t had a car in 10 days and I told him to go ahead.

If that were the case, the alternator/charging light would have been glowing brightly for a while before everything went bonkers.

I think your mechanic may be correct about the alternator. That is what I thought it may be after reading your original post.

The alternator light never came on once! He said it was “putting out” 11 somethings. I don’t know the units and it should be 13.

So far it’s running and I’ve had it back since last Thursday.

Good deal. I think replacing the alternator was the right thing to do so you should have no more problems with that at least. Thanks for the feedback.