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Ford Windstar Speedometer Problems

Q. Hello, Thank you for taking my question. We have a 1998 Ford Windstar with 78,000 miles. We have the 3.8 liter V-6, ABS, power everything and electronic overdrive transmission. Recently the speedometer began to go dead intermittently. When this happens the engine does not change its operation just a dead speedometer.

Ford Windstar Speedometer Problems

However, it seems that the engine and transmission are not communicating with each other with the speedometer dead. The transmission shifts high up in the rev range, I can get by this by using the shift lever. Once I shift by hand the problems dies down, but the shifting is not as smooth as it is when the speedometer works.

Once the speedometer decides to come back on line the shifting smooths out and all is well. I took the car to the dealer, they told me the transmission was shot and asked for $3,000.00 to replace it. I said no and took the car to my independent mechanic. He serviced the transmission and found no problems.

However, he could not get the speedometer to go dead for him and was getting no error codes, so he was unable to diagnose the problem. Any help that you could provide would be appreciated. I know my way around and engine mechanically, but the electronic controls and engine management system I have no experience with. If my problem is a sensor, board, whatever, I can replace it but can't diagnose it.


A. Without seeing it, I would have to say the most likely problem is with the Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS). The VSS signal transmits vehicle speed to the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) which uses the signal to control engine and transmission operating conditions. It also sends a signal to the speedometer to display vehicle speed.

Ford Windstar Speedometer Problems

The Vehicle Speed Sensor is located on transaxle, at the rear of the engine. I would check the harness connector to be sure it is clean and connected tightly.

Also check the wiring for cuts and chaffing. Since it is fairly inexpensive, only about $42.00 from Ford, you may want to consider replacing it, at least to eliminate it as a possibility.

When the PCM no longer receives the VSS signal, it puts the transmission into a default mode to prevent transmission damage, hence the hard, high shift points.

Additional Information provided courtesy of ALLDATA

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