Question about 1996 Ford Windstar

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Ford windstar OBD II code P1537/38, P0171 and P0420

My 1996 Ford Windstar V6 3.8L was having several problems this winter. Antifreeze leak, Heaters don't work. Replaced Water pump and flushed Heater core. Later on Transmission slipping. Replaced 2 sensors. The mechanic checked the codes and they are P0171, P0420, P1537 and P1538.
If possible how can I fix these problems myself?
Where are these components/parts located?

Thank you.

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  • martyinparis Apr 07, 2009

    same problem, i have run down lots of "gremlins" on my 96 windstar. Just as i think i have them solved, the 1538 and the 0171 keep popping up. very annoying as i have spent hundreds of dollars on parts and sensors at this point.
    I figured a vacuum leak was the culprit, but cannot find a vacuum leak anywhere on the vehicle, I have bought expensive injector cleaners, and replaced almost every sensor on the vehicle that is related to engine running or exhaust, emissions, etc. The actuators for the IMRC on my 3.8L 232 CID engine are located just behind the alternator above the water pump. The bushings that are designed to hold the actuator arms in place on the butterflys of the IMRC are cheap plastic pieces that you can buy from advance auto parts if they order them, they are manufactured by dorman most likely when you ask the auto parts counter person for the bushings, they will not know what youre talking about. I found the part numbers on Even though i replaced my bushings, i still get the 1538 code and the 0171. I have read that you can remove the plenum and clean the butterflys about once a year with a good cleaner like starting fluid, but this is extremely tedious and no guarantee of a fix, i am trying expensive fuel additives right now in hopes of freeing up the gunk that built from previous owners lack of attention. I hope this helps.



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It could all be related.P1537/38 are the intake manifold runner controls are stuck open.They are controlled by vacuum solenoids.The P0171 is bank one of the engine is running lean,usually caused by a vacuum leak, P0420 is catalytic converter efficiency code. The computer monitors the switch rate of the front 02 sensors and compares it to the switch rate of the rear 02 sensors to tell if catalytic converter is doing its job. Now if the front 02 is not switching properly then this will cause this test to fail and set this code.
Look on bottom section of the intake manifold at the back of engine(where tranny bolts up) you should see the vacuum motors there on the intake,these are the control motors for the intake manifold runners.Make sure the vacuum lines are hooked up and lines are not leaking. Also you will see a lever from it to intake make sure they move and are not binding.

Posted on Mar 11, 2009


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