Still runs & looks great - 2nd. update on 5-3-2017
written on 10-13-2015
SEL 4dr Minivan (4.2L 6cyl 4A)
The van was purchased in 2011 at 94K miles, & now has 189K on it. It spent its first year as a rental unit in Hawaii, then as a private vehicle in the Twin Cities. There is still no body rust, & all features & functions work as they should. It's still squeak & rattle free, & has a tight, solid feel overall. Wind noise is a bit below average. Engine, transmission, & exhaust appear to be original, unopened, & are working well & not leaking. It has the quietest and smoothest shifting automatic transmission I have ever owned, and the engine burns no oil. Service and Repairs so far (189K): Routine oil & filter changes with Mobil-1 5W-20 every 6K miles. New right front wheel bearing at 145K. Pads & rotors (normal wear & tear) @ 155,000 - DIY. Spark plugs, coil pack, & wires at 96K, DIY, as a preventive measure. Problem w/water in PCM connector causing misfiring & error codes - DIY - cleaned & sealed connector. New rear shocks at 155K - easy to DIY on this van. New headlight bulbs twice - DIY; no tools needed except possibly a car key. New serpentine belt - 100K. I have a complete ATF flush/change every 15-20K as PM - this has paid off in the form of NO transmission problems on 2 other minivans (98 Windstar & 95 Plymouth Voyager) that were notorious for transmission problems. It easily tows a small utility trailer, & also tow a 1900 lb. boat plus trailer, which is the max I would tow with it, & then I keep it in 3rd. gear in hills, with the A/C off. Pros: Good crisp handling (for a mini-van), snappy performer w/good passing power, 6-disc CD player, cornering lights (SEL & Limited only), good heating & A/C, rear seat folds into floor, nice styling, comfortable front seats, good sound system. Cons: Blind spot to driver's left rear, so-so mileage - 18-20 local, 21-24 highway, road noise (varies with pavement surface & type of tire; as a fleet vehicle it may not have had as much sound deadening material added when built (fleet delete?), only one switch to operate both rear vent windows, middle seats are heavy & hard to take out or put back in, & middle & rear seats are too low - okay for children & short people, uncomfortable for tall people. IMO, with the Windstar, Ford started with a great basic design that attracted many customers at first, & might have taken a larger share of the minivan segment. But by cutting corners, letting customer care slide, & making ill-advised mechanical changes which resulted in serious problems in a previously bulletproof engine design, Ford failed to attract & maintain a loyal customer base. Considering that they haven't made Windstar, Freestar, or Mercury Monterey minivans since 2007, there are still quite a few of them on the road, & I know people who like them & will hate to part with them when they finally wear out. However, early in the program and occasionally thereafter, there was a need for in-the-field debugging, & by failing to quickly address the weaknesses, Ford caused the line to die prematurely, IMO. However, we really like ours, have had excellent service from it so far, and hope to get about 300K miles out of it, depending on how badly it rusts and future parts availability. Update - Not much new to report at 189,000 miles. No repairs or service beyond regular maintenance. New tires & a wheel alignment 15,000 miles ago. Update - 193,000 miles - Replaced both headlamp housings due to yellowing. ALSO, our first major repair. It's at an independent shop for replacement of the engine front cover, seals, & gaskets. This part encloses the timing sprockets & chain, & also houses the water pump & passages & oil filter adapter. It is being replaced because of a serious oil leak in the lower front area of the engine. We expect the cost to exceed $2000. It started as a tiny leak, that didn't even leave spots under the van, but when large oil spots appeared on the garage floor, I took it in. The reasons for the high cost are 1.) To access the cover, the entire drive train must be lowered from the body, meaning about 5 hours each just for those R&I operations. 2.) Since the cover has never been removed in about 11 years, the bolts attaching it to the engine block are rusted in place. The cover will have to be cut off, the bolts replaced, the oil pan removed to clean out any debris, the new cover installed, & then everything put back together. If it weren't for the fact that all the mechanicals are solid & working well & the body is still solid & rust-free, we would probably just trade it in. But since this van still looks & runs great, & we would pay much more for a comparable vehicle, I will pay for this repair, & probably as much as another $2000-3000 over another 2-3 years before we consider retiring it. I'm still hoping for 300K.
The 2006 Freestar is the best vehicle I've owned. It was my first "real" car purchase (my first one that cost over $4k) at a time that I had young kids and Scouts to haul frequently. It was a program car with about 28k miles on it when I bought it. I got the Ford Certified warranty with it, which I later used to repair a bad wheel bearing. Other than the wheel bearing, I've had NO problems with this car. I've only replaced tires, brakes and plugs & wires (as prevention at 75k miles). Unfortunately, with only 92k miles on it, I'm faced with having to let it go. It's begun to get some rust on the inside bottoms of the doors, which will soon come through to the front. (We live in North Dakota, and deal with salt and other melting solvents on the roads). The bigger concern, though, is that the driver's side wheel well is rusting out, which has loosened the panel that holds the ring that the third-row seat clips to inside. The ring moves, and I'm certain that if I had anyone in the back row in an accident, the seat could pull loose, flipping them backwards and creating head and neck injuries or worse. I'd hoped to keep the van for a few more years, and we may still -- but we'll have to use it as a 4-seat vehicle, instead of 7. And if we pass it down to our teenagers, we may remove the third row to eliminate the temptation of cramming friends in the unsafe third row. I've loved having the extra space that the third row has allowed by folding flat, and how the second row bucket seats tip forward for extra cargo room. And I especially loved having that space without paying the extra $10k for Stow-n-Go in a Caravan. Mine had the leather seats -- and the driver's seat has worn quite a bit over the years. Overall, it's been a great vehicle with nearly no problems. Just wish the body had held out longer. UPDATE: Shortly after posting my review, I found out there was a recall on my van -- just not on MY van. I wasn't in a state included in the recall for the rusting wheel well -- but I live 1 mile from the border of a state that was included. I called Ford and they agreed to have it checked out by the local dealer and within a few hours, Ford had agreed to replace the wheel well and it was in great shape again. Safe to use the third row seat again! There is still a bit of rust forming, but I'm in N.D., with a lot of snow and salt on the roads, so it's understandable. I now have about 98,000 miles on the van and it's still running great, so I hope to get several more years out of it.
The Ford Freestar is a good product. The only thing is the rear seat is low to floor. This is so the seat when folded can go into rear cargo space in floor. Ok for kids. Not so comfy for adults on long trips. The interior is great. Very comfy captains chairs in 2nd row...overall very nice van.
My 2006 Freestart has 120,000 miles on it and I just picked my car up from the shop. I had to get my transmission rebuilt. The mechanic said that it was my torque converter fell apart with lots of metal pieces in my pump and inner workings! Seems like a constant problem!
Had 2006 Sport for about a year and 25k, no problem so far. Drawn to it by the price (for the same level, 6-disc CD, reverse sensing system, alloy wheels DVD, etc), I would have spent $10k more on Japanese models. Overall, a great vehicle for the price.