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Ford Windstar Cranks Over but Won't Start

by Dwight Malone

The Windstar was a minivan produced by Ford for the 1995 through 2003 model-years. The Windstar came equipped with a number of standard features, including a six-cylinder engine, dual airbags and anti-lock brakes.The Windstar was plagued by a number of mechanical issues, the most serious one being premature failure of the head gasket. Ford extended the warranty for this item to 100,000 miles on most Windstars. While a blown head gasket could be the cause of the vehicle's inability to start, there are some key areas of concern you should check to troubleshoot the problem.

Check to make sure there is fuel in the vehicle. Even if the fuel gauge is not reading empty, you could be getting a faulty reading from the fuel gauge. If there is any question about how much fuel you actually have in the tank, add a gallon of fuel and try to start the vehicle again.

Change the fuel filter to be sure the engine is actually getting fuel. A clogged filter will restrict fuel flow and prevent the vehicle from starting.

Test the fuel pump to see if it has failed. Use a test gauge on the fuel system to check the fuel pressure in the system, which should be between 30 and 45 PSI while cranking the engine or idling. If the pressure is lower than this, the fuel pump is not operating properly and should be replaced.

Remove the spark plugs with a spark plug wrench and inspect the tips for excessive wear or carbon buildup. Spark plugs coated with thick, black carbon residue will not fire properly and can prevent the engine from running smoothly or prevent it from starting altogether. Replace the spark plugs if necessary and attempt to start the vehicle again.

Perform a compression test on one of the cylinders with a compression gauge once all the spark plugs have been removed. The cylinder should have a compression reading ranging from 125 to 160 PSI when the engine is cranked for five seconds. Loss of compression is a sign that the timing belt has failed and will need to be replaced.

Tip

  • Spark plugs will start to wear out after 30,000 miles, so they should be inspected for carbon buildup at this interval and replaced if necessary.

Warning

  • When changing a fuel filter, always disconnect the car's battery to prevent the possibility of an electrical spark igniting any spilled fuel.

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About the Author

Dwight Malone is a journalist who has worked for various Chicago-area newspapers, including the "Chicago Tribune" and "Naperville Sun." He has been a writer, editor and graphic designer since 2000. Malone studied journalism at Eastern Illinois University.

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