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98 ford windstar heater problems

98 fird windstar 3.8 when i start my van in the morning to let it warm up it blows cold air even if its been running for 30 min. but if i drive it blows hot air after about 5 min. of driving just started without warning and i cant really tell the level of antifreeze cause the neck of the radiator is bent in tword the motor. do i go by whats in the overflow?

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Fill the rad to total capacity, also your heater core is most likely "air locked" you nede to loosen the return line from the heater and with heat set to high and engine running, allow fluid to leak from the loose connection until all air bleeds out. since the heater is higher than the water pump it will not force it out on it's own. you could get a mechanic to do this for you but why waste money for a simple fix

Posted on Jan 02, 2014

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Its the blend actuator like wclemnds said no doubt . change this he gave very good instructions .these stick often as the viehicals age specialy if your not one to change antifreeze every yr or 2.

Posted on Apr 03, 2014

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

  • 1 Answer

SOURCE: only have cold air blowing from front heater of van

The clicking noise is the door blend actuator. It is located in the dash panel behind the radio. It is about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

I priced this job at a dealer and it came in for around $300!

This is a really simple repair, a great choice for the do-it-yourselfer.
Here are the steps/procedures for doing this repair yourself in about 30 minutes:

  • Tools to do the job:
    • Ford radio removal tools
    • 5/16 nut-driver
    • Flashlight
    • Small hands or band-aids

  • Remove the radio -

    • Insert the U-shaped 'handles' into the vertical pair of holes on each side of the front of the radio until you feel it hit an indent / click .

    • With both tools inserted, push outward on the top of the tools while pulling the radio out & away from the dash.

    • Disconnect the 2 wire harness connectors & the antenna.

  • (Optional) Remove A/C & Radio control dash panel
  • Removing the A/C & Radio control dash panel gives you additional access to the actuator to help with removal and installation. This is not a difficult option.

  • Loosen and remove two screws revealed just above radio when radio was removed.

  • Loosen and remove two screws inside (one on each side) the drink holder & ash tray drawer.

  • Gently pull the loosened section of the dash panel forward.

  • Do not remove connectors for A/C control panel. You'll need the A/C control panel active to align the driver post of the actuator with the blend door drive hole.

  • You might want a helper to hold the panel off to the right while you work.

  • Reassembly is exactly reverse.


  • Remove / replace the blend door actuator -

    • Looking in through the radio opening, locate the actuator module - a white plastic unit about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

    • Use the nut-driver to remove the three 5/16ths mounting screws.

    • Disconnect the wiring harness located on the side

    • Reverse steps to re-install
    • In order to line up the shaft I had to crank the car and move the temp selector. Note: You do not have to turn on the A/C system for the temp selector to control the actuator, but you must have the actuator control cable re-connected.
  • Reassemble the dash panel.
  • Reinstall the radio (watch that no cables bind during the reinstallation.
  • What the actuator is / does:
  • Inside this unit is a circuit board, motor and small plastic round gears. The gears then rotate the actuator, which in turn opens and closes the damper allowing the air to pass through the heater core.

  • What happens is some of the little teeth break off creating a gap on the gear wheel. This gap prevents the gears from driving the actuator shaft.

  • The unit may be known as a heater damper module by the dealer. Should cost around $60-$75. (One reader acquired the actuator for $34 from O'Reilly.)
  • This unit was purchased from Advanced Auto for $ 45 and the flat rate is .4 hours. I did mine in around thirty minutes with the hardest part being getting the radio out ( it seemed stuck ).

Posted on Dec 28, 2008

  • 1 Answer

SOURCE: Heater blows cold air when idle

Sounds like you may have a partially plugged heater core. You could flush this out separately, from flushing radiator & engine block. Diconnect heater hoses going to your heater core and clamp off, so not to loose coolant from engine. Now hook up separate hose to one side of heater core pipe and flush out with typical garden hose. Repeat procedure on both heater core inlets. Reconnect original heater hoses and test difference. You may have to add an additional litre of antifreeze. If this don't work i suggest changing heater core. Good luck.........Ron.

Posted on Jan 03, 2009

Tech jk
  • 102 Answers

SOURCE: my heater stoped blowing hot air.antifreeze level

If the blower is blowing air just fine, but you cannot control the temperature, you need to listen to air coming from the vents while turning the temperature from hot to cold. If you do n ot hear any change in airflow, then you may a temperature door in the dash broken. this is becoming a common problem on the Equinox and Pontiac Torrent,

Tech JK
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Posted on Oct 15, 2009

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You have an air leak. The heater should be patched for leaks. It is a home project that takes 10 min

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3. stuck thermostat.
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5. HVAC malfunction. system may think you selected cold or is unable to move diverter. maybe a fuse,solenoid or vaccum leak? (hvac controler uses vaccume controled soleniods)
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try changing the thermostat for starters.

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First you have to identify what causes the problem.
To do this you have to:
1) When engine is cold check the level of coolant. If it is low fill it up.
2) Start engine and check if engine reaches regular temperature. If your engine is not heated enough it means your thermostat does not work properly and should be replaced.
3) If engine temperature is normal, then check the temperature of pipes that go to/from heater core. These pipes are located up the fire wall (easier access is from the passenger side). If pipe/pipes are cold (even engine is worm) it means you heater core is plugged and should be flushed. Keep in mind, flushing the whole cooling system is different from flushing heater core.
4) If pipe/pipes are hot/warm, turn off the fan, switch controller to the hot position, wait for 3-4 minutes and turn on the fan. Note if the cold air blows first or warm air blows first but it cools down in 5-10 seconds. If the air blows cold than it is most probably the problem with blend door or blend door actuator.
5) If air blows warm first and then cools down, then while running engine and remaining the transmission in PARKING position, press on the gas pedal until your engine reaches 3,000 RPM. Check if your heater blows warm/hot air. If it does, then your water pump does not work properly and should be replaced. If the air still cold, I would suggest to flush the heater core.

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First you have to identify what causes the problem.
To do this you have to:
1) When engine is cold check the level of coolant. If it is low fill it up.
2) Start engine and check if engine reaches regular temperature. If your engine is not heated enough it means your thermostat does not work properly and should be replaced.
3) If engine temperature is normal, then check the temperature of pipes that go to/from heater core. These pipes are located up the fire wall (easier access is from the passenger side). If pipe/pipes are cold (even engine is warm) it means you heater core is plugged and should be flushed. Keep in mind, flushing the whole cooling system is different from flushing heater core.
4) If pipe/pipes are hot/warm, turn off the fan, switch controller to the hot position, wait for 3-4 minutes and turn on the fan. Note if the cold air blows first or warm air blows first but it cools down in 5-10 seconds. If the air blows cold than it is most probably the problem with blend door or blend door actuator.
5) If air blows warm first and then cools down, then while running engine and remaining the transmission in PARKING position, press on the gas pedal until your engine reaches 3,000 RPM. Check if your heater blows warm/hot air. If it does, then your water pump does not work properly and should be replaced. If the air still cold, I would suggest flushing the heater core.

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oddly enough it sounds like a transmission problem, get a transmission shop to assess the problem, but first try replacing the thermostat. be sure to turn on the heater when adding antifreeze. I have had this problem with my windstar.

Jun 26, 2009 | 1995 Ford Windstar

1 Answer

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Let your engine warm up with the rad. cap off and see if the coolant level drops. and make sure your overflow is full. It blows cold air because there is no water getting to the heater core. And it shows a normal(ish) temp because the water needs to be touching the temp. sensor. I really do think there is air in the system and there is not enough coolant but hard to tell from here. Also as with overheating any time make sure to check your oil and look for any coolant as the head gasket seldomly holds together if the motor overheats.

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I had the same problem and it was the water pump, loosen the belt and check the pump for excessive play.

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If you have a knock or clicking noise behind the radio, it is the blend motor. The blend door is spring loaded and the gears in the blend motor are "stripped". The door is spring loaded so that the door is closed to the heater core. About 2 hours to replace and a lot of bending and stretching. You don't have to remove the dash, but all of the trim, radio, and controls will need to come out.

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