If you’re one of the Ford Windstar car owners affected by the deterioration of the subframe, think twice before spending in excess of $1,000 for a brand new one.
In case you haven’t heard, there appears to be a growing problem with the Ford Windstar model years 1999 through 2003 with rusting subframes. This problem is widespread in both the United States and Canada. For more information on the problem, read the article Ford Windstar Rusting Subframe: An Increasingly Unsafe Condition
Repairing the Windstar Subframe
Because the sub frame is an integral part of the Windstar, this is not an optional repair. Not replacing the subframe may lead to deadly results. Unfortunately, Ford is dragging its feet in response to the NHTSA investigation of the problem. You can read Ford’s response to the NHTSA query in the letter written by James P. Vondale of Fords Director in the Automotive Safety Office, Environmental & Safety Engineering.
In essence, Ford doesn’t see the rusting sub frame as a problem. As of this writing, the investigation is still open and there may be hope of a recall, but if not, as an owner of a defective Windstar, you have to protect your interests and keep your family safe.
Purchasing a Windstar Sub Frame
There are two options when it comes to repairing the Windstar subframe problem. You can purchase a brand new sub frame to install in your 7 to 11 year old to Windstar the tune of over $1,000, or you can search for a used sub frame that has not been affected by the rusting issue. The cost of a used sub frame is anywhere from $100 to $150, plus shipping which may cost another $100.
How to Locate a Quality Used Windstar Sub Frame
Locating a sub frame takes tenacity and diligence. Your mechanic might be able to secure a used subframe for you. For his troubles, the cost of the part would come in around $450, give or take. That cost involves the mechanic’s time in locating the part, purchasing the part and paying for shipping. You can use the very same tactics your mechanic uses to find the part without having to pay your mechanic’s rate for locating the part.
Start by looking in areas unaffected by the sub frame rust. As indicated in the article mentioned above, the corrosion occurs as a result of the Windstar being driven in salt belt areas (areas with harsh winter conditions made drivable by salting the roads). The repeated exposure to the salt eats into the weakest part of the subframe. Therefore, you must begin your search in areas not affected by snow such as Florida, California, Arizona and so on.
Call Junk/Salvage Yards for Windstar Subframes
Fortunately, most junk yards are automated and they keep an accurate track of their inventory. Search internet to locate junk/salvage yards in the preferred areas and start calling around. If you don’t have the time or inclination to call around, there is an online service called JunkYardDog.com that will do the search for you. Insert the basic information and the part needed and they will query US and Canadian salvage yards.
After the query is sent, expect to receive several emails in response to the query. At that point it’s up to you to do your due diligence. Request digital pictures of the part to ensure there is no rust or corrosion. After you receive the pictures, email them to your mechanic to get the thumbs up or thumbs down.
Seal the Deal and Purchase the Part
Once your mechanic gives you the go ahead, order the sub frame and have it delivered. Installing the subframe may take anywhere from 4 to 5 hours (check with your mechanic for verification). You stand to realize a substantial savings on the entire repair if you purchase the part yourself. Just remember to keep all of your receipts. If the NHTSA does rule that the subframe should be recalled, keep your receipts so that Ford can reimburse you for your expenditures.