Should I Junk the Windstar?

I have a 1998 Ford Winstar with approx 179,000 miles. I am experiencing driving problems like the following…

1. Occasionally cuts off when I am stopped at a stop light, or if I try to take off too fast.

2. When waiting in stand still traffic for a long period of time, the van will idle like it is going to shut off, and if shakes like there is a person on each side of the van pushing it back and forth. If I idle it in ‘park’, it idles fine.

3. At times, while driving it will get stuck in 10mph, and I have to keep my foot on the gas until it finally kicks in and speeds up.

I just took it to a transmission shop, and the following engine codes came up:

Speed Sensor

Catalayic Converter ( I know I spelled that wrong)

Oxygen Sensor

System Lean

I just tuned the van up about a month ago, but that didn’t help. I am wondering if all the above mentioned need to be repaired for the driving problems I have explained, or if there is one immediate repair that would fix the problem. I just don’t know where to start on that list, and if the repairs are even worth doing on a vehicle with this many miles and 10 years old.


I don’t think you should junk the car. The shop has to test and see why the codes are there. It seems like the engine is not getting enough fuel (system lean). The speed sensor, if bad would also cause some trouble. You might be better off starting with a regular shop than transmission shop.

Agree that you should first find out what is really wrong. After taht you can decide; if you are in for a major repair, I would be hesitant to go ahead with it in view of the mileage and age of the vehicle.

Those are the systems the check engine light codes are referring to as having problems. A repair shop could do a competent scan of the sensors. After looking at the data, they would know the next step to take. Without that type of data, there are just too many “could be’s”.

Posting the actual codes given might help. You take the problems in order.
The speed sensor could explain the speedomter glitch and I would hold off on the converter for a bit.

System lean and a rough idle could point to nothing more than a vacuum leak.
Who did the tune-up (bad word nowadays)?
The Idle Air valve could also be acting up, which is not a rare thing to happen. It’s also not too major.

It’s about impossible to get real specific here given there’s not much information to work with.
You might try posting the actual codes, but the only major thing I see there is the converter, IF the converter is faulty.

All the symptoms are fixable and it won’t break you to fix just those problems, but more problems are coming. The mileage is way too high for a Windstar to ever be reliable again so save the repair money for a newer vehicle. You would start by changing the oxygen sensor if you were to keep the thing but I would not advise you to.