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In the shop for 3 MONTHS! 1999 Ford windstar

I think I’ve found the worst mechanic ever…
On July 18 my 1999 Ford Windstar van was towed and diagnosed with a blown head gasket. I FINALLY got it back on Sept 4th and was told it was idling a little rough, but it was probably due to water that got in the catalytic converter and would work itself out. The next day we drove it about an hour away it was idling VERY rough and started to stall every time we came to a stop or tried to slowly pull into a parking spot. The following Monday September 8th it wouldn’t start and the shop came and towed it back in. It’s still there and they are saying they aren’t sure what’s wrong with it, but are assuring me the problem is unrelated to their repairs. Every time I call they continue to say they are working on it. Where do I go from here?!?!

After 3 months you could actually accuse them of THEFT. I did that to a tailor overseas who had my favorite sports jacket for 4 months. He had agreed to put in a new liner for a certain amount and probably found he underestimated and just did nothing. I threatened to bring in the police and he quickly fixed it at the previously agreed price.

I would collect my vehicle & take it elsewhere. I don’t understand why my “remedy” as a customer is to have the same place that failed to properly repair something the first time take another crack at it. That’s not a suitable remedy. We had a similar issue with a laptop (they failed to repair it and they broke another piece). They offered to do a follow up repair, but no way was I letting those hacks touch my laptop again! If another shop can verify that the first one did something wrong you can use that to seek a refund; or just cut your losses on the money, post a review on Yelp, file a complaint with the BBB, and pay someone to really fix the problem. Good luck!

Did you go to this guy?

They may have gotten the timing off when they put it back together. They maybe did not torque the head bolts properly or a bunch of other things. Check Mechanic Files above for another shop. They will have to check the other shops work and straighten it out. Then present the bill and what the second shop find to the first shop If the first shop does not pay, take them to small claims court.

Both of the engines that could be in your Windstar are push rod V6s. One problem with push rod engines is that if the head is milled (which it probably was) and a valve job done (possibly at this mileage), it is possible for a push rod(s) to now be too long. This will hold one or more valves partially open causing a miss. This can be fixed by using an adjustable push rod or grinding the valve tip too compensate for the reseat grinding. So do a compression test and see if the numbers are within specifications and consistant i.e. all within 20 pounds.

The other problem with milling the heads on a V engine is that the intake manifold has to have metal removed from the faces to make the intake and head runners match. If not you might get a vacuum leak or at least loss of flow due to the step. Do a vacuum gauge check of the intake to verify the absence of a leak.

Usually a sharp machine shop corrects these things but it is up to the assembling mechanic to verify that all the parts fit correctly. But I have seen a supposedly professional engine rebuilding shop mess up badly.

I don’t know what’s wrong, could be any of a host of things. But it seems you are dissatisfied with the shop. So take it somewhere else. The best way to find a good shop is to ask friends, co-workers, fellow church goers, anybody you have a personal relationship with, ask them which shop they use. From among the recommended shops, pick one that specializes in Fords, or at least Ford, GM, etc, i.e. American cars. And tell this shop who it was that recommended them to you. Here’s a link to some more info on this topic.

I am not siding with the shop but…

Windstars are one of the biggest pieces of junk on the road.
I own one so I am in the know,

My feeling is that a compression test should be run and should have been run if that was not done originally.

Any engine mechanical problem needs to be sorted out right now because otherwise that vehicle could loiter around forever and have a delivery truck’s worth of parts thrown at it.

As to what the problem, or plural, is I can’t say as there simply is not enough info to hazard a guess.
However, it is possible that the existing problem has nothing to do with any head gasket repair but they should not leave you hanging for months. Figuring out why it won’t start should not take more than an hour or so at best to at least get a handle on it.

I don’t think I buy the theory that the rough running after the head gasket was replaced was due to water in the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter heats up quickly and would vaporize any water in the converter in a few seconds.
My son owned a 1999 Windstar and I owned a 2000 Windstar that I sold to him. On both Windstars, we had an intake manifold gasket problems. However, in each case, a good mechanic successfully repaired the Windstars. The Windstar has been around long enough that a good mechanic should be able to figure out your problem.

I am in agreement that it is time to take this vehicle to a competent shop for accurate diagnosis and skilled repair. In other words, cut your losses and have it towed away from this charlatan’s shop.

What I disagree with is…“file a complaint with the BBB”.
While that might make the OP feel better for a few moments, it will have absolutely no effect in terms of getting a refund or other beneficial action.

For reasons that I will never be able to figure out, a sizeable portion of the population is under the misconception that the BBB is a governmental agency with regulatory and punitive power. In reality, it is essentially a “club” that businesses can pay to join in order to exude an aura of goodness.

If you file a complaint against a company that is a member of the BBB, that “old boy’s club” will send a letter to the member business requesting that they satisfy the customer. No, not ordering or compelling the business to do anything. Merely a request. Failure to satisfy the customer’s complaint results in…no action from the BBB.

On the other hand, if you file a complaint against a non-member business, the only thing that is done is to place your complaint on file. Perhaps other potential customers will see a negative comment on the BBB website, but the BBB will not even communicate with the offending non-member business.

The most extreme action that the BBB can take is to refuse to accept the annual dues from a member business with a lot of complaints on file, but they hesitate to do this, simply because those dues are the life-blood of the BBB’s business model.

Trust me…filing a complaint with the BBB is essentially a waste of time and effort, and that is why Smart Money magazine’s investigative report about the BBB stated, “Few consumers have ever been helped by this organization”.

I agree that the BBB is a total waste and means nothing to the consumer. Check the Mechanics Files link above and get recommendations from friends and relatives for an honest, competent, mechanic.