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Crazy Instuments on 2002 Windstar

Ok, I have a problem with my wife’s Ford Windstar that no one has been able to figure out so far. Ever since we bought it, (used), the instrument panel will just go crazy at random intervals. Parked in the driveway, driving down the road, with no pattern or reason that we have been able to determine. We have replaced the alternator/voltage regulator twice, had all of the vacum lines replaced (on the theory that bad lines were frying the regulator) and it is still happening. After replacing the regulator, the problem SEEMED to go away for a time, then a month or two later it comes right back again. But not even the Ford people we have talked to so far have ever heard of this problem. And it has been durn near impossible to replicate it for the techs. We had to leave it with the maintenance guys for several days before it finally showed itself to them. In any case, does anyone have any idea what may be causing this? My father says he thinks it might be transmission related, but he is not quite sure why he thinks that. (One of those back of the mind things.) Any help will be greatly appreciated.


we need more detail on “Crazy Instruments”. What exactly happens?

May be just an electrical problem?

It acts like an electrical problem, and that is my first thought or possibly a computer problem. That’s why we replaced the voltage regulator. But if it is electrical, no one can figure out exactly WHAT might be causing the electrical problem. “Crazy Instruments” means all of the needles will peg out (to both ends), or “float” or just waver back and forth. It will do this anywhere from a few seconds, to a few minutes, and on occasion even for an hour or two. Then the instruments will go back to normal for a time (again anywhere from seconds to hours), and rinse & repeat. No pattern to any of it that anyone can determine. It all seems to be randomly triggered, for random lengths of time. Does this help?

by instruments you mean exactly what? please be specific. We can’t see the car from here.

ALL of the instruments on the dash. Speedo, thermo, battery charge, odometer, everything. The odometer is digital and when the rest of the needles wig out, it will go on and off at the same time the needles are freakin out.

Sure sounds electrical and specific to the dash, specially if you have no symptoms elsewhere. Maybe the ground for the dash electronics?

You are correct, very strange.

Ford has a TSB out about this problem. On some vehicles the dash displays can act erratic if there’s a problem with the PRNDL (prindle) switch. The PRNDL switch is what tells the computer what gear the vehicle is in.


Thanks! I’ll check with Ford and ask them about that then.

I have the same problem in my wifes Crapstar. My dealer put in 4 clusters and the problem is still there but the only thing that happens now is a jumpy speedo needle. I think your dealer is either lame or lying, they heard of it. Ever since the Windstar came into being and until it and its clone the Freestar go away, they all are junk. Good looking but junk!!!

Do you happen to know a reference numbrer or something for the TSB? I have been looking online for it so I can show it to the techs when I take it in, but I can’t seem to find it. I want to be able to show it to them when they come back again and say “we have never heard of this”.

When I run into stuff like this, I check whatever ground wires I can find. It doesn’t always help but it’s one thing most people can do if they try.

This is definitely an electrical problem. As mentioned, checking the ground and power connections tied to these areas is a good thing to do. Especially while the trouble is occurring.

I don’t know if the regulator you mentioned, and was replaced, was for the alternator or for the dash instruments. If it wasn’t for the instruments then I would check that out. I also don’t know if the systems you mentioned are controlled by control module but if so then that is the place to check out. One other area is the ignition switch or relay that supplies power to those things.