How Do I Check a Trouble Code on a Ford Windstar?

by K.K. Lowell

Since the early '90s cars have been able to display diagnostic trouble codes to help drivers determine what might be going wrong with them. These codes reveal running-condition problems, emissions-related problems and some transmission and brake problems as well. Reading these codes has been quite easy since the introduction of the OBD II (On Board Diagnostics version two) standard, introduced in the mid-'90s.

Tools Required

An engine diagnostics scanner or code reader is needed to read the codes stored in a car's computer. Once extremely expensive, scanners are now quite affordable and can be purchased at any auto supply store and most large department stores. These scanners and readers connect to the OBD II connector, usually located under the dash. On the Ford Windstar the OBD II connector is located under the dash in the area above the driver's right foot, and is covered by a protective cover. The cover should be easily seen in the bottom edge of the dashboard trim. This connector is about 1 1/2 inches long and is somewhat D-shaped. The scanner cable will fit only one way, making a proper connection easy.

Instructions are supplied with each scanner, and usually consist of simple directions to plug the scanner into the OBD II connector and turn the ignition key to the ON position. The scanner then reads the codes, which takes only seconds, and displays a number. The number is the DTC (diagnostic trouble code). Looking the DTC up in the book supplied with the scanner, or on the Web, will tell you the area the problem is in. It will not be specific enough to tell you what part has actually failed. You'll need to do further diagnostics for that.

Alternative Method

Most auto supply stores, like AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts, will scan your car for you and tell you the code and what it means. Most will do this free of charge in the hope that you will buy replacement parts from them.

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