What Are Some Common Ford Windstar High Idle Problems?

by Allen Moore
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The Ford Windstar was introduced in the 1995 model year as Ford Motor Co.’s main minivan. The engine management system is computer controlled, based on input from various sensors. In the event one or more of these sensors malfunctions or reacts to a malfunction in a unit the sensor monitors, the Windstar will fail to perform optimally.

Air Flow

The mass air flow (MAF) sensor resides behind the air filter housing and reads the amount of air entering the engine and reports that data to the power train control module (PCM). The PCM then uses this data to adjust the fuel mixture as it enters the combustion chamber. In the event the MAF malfunctions, the idle can run too high or too low, depending on the nature of the malfunction. The most common cause of MAF failure is dirt contamination caused by a clogged or poor fitting air filter. While it may seem fine to pinch a few pennies by purchasing a cheap air filter, the cheap filters do not seal properly and allow dirt to bypass them and get sucked right into the engine, past the MAF sensor. An oversaturated air filter will simply begin to pass dirt through the filter medium as it exceeds its ability to trap the dirt. In the event this occurs, the MAF will need to be replaced.

Vacuum Leak

A cracked vacuum line or fitting can allow unmetered air (air that does not pass through the MAF) into the combustion chamber, creating an imbalance in the air/fuel mixture. When this occurs, the engine will idle slightly higher with a small vacuum leak or race at a very high idle with a large leak. If a visual inspection of the vacuum lines and fittings fails to locate the culprit, a leak can be detected by spraying carburetor cleaner at the various vacuum lines and fittings in short bursts. If the idle speed changes after a squirt of cleaner hits the area, the problem has been found. Replace the failed vacuum line or fitting immediately.


The throttle cable runs inside a plastic sheath. In certain environments, dirt and grime can get into the sheath and cause the cable to stick to the side of the sheath. Follow the cable to the arm on the side of the fuel system and push the arm to see if it is properly parked. If it moves down, the cable is sticking inside the sheath. The arm itself can also become gummed up with dirt. In the event the cable is sticking inside the sheath, it will need to be replaced. A sticking arm can simply be cleaned with a few short blasts of carburetor cleaner and a rag.

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