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  #1  
Old 07-02-2010, 04:52 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Winston Salem NC
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Smile The wife's Windstar tach, speedo, etc acting wierd...

Hello everyone. My wife's 99 Windstar is doing something I have never seen before on any vehicle. When she starts it up, and sometimes driving down the road, the speedo, tach, fuel guage and temp needles start bouncing back and forth like crazy. The abs light comes on and sometimes the OD light flashes. The vehicle runs and idles just fine. I was wondering if a computer reflashing would help this matter or is it something else, being it runs just fine? I appreciate any replies and thank you in advance...
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  #2  
Old 06-16-2011, 10:58 PM
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I have the same issue with my 99 windstar except on my it is just the guages that go crazy. mine doesn't do it when I start it up it just does it sometimes when I am driving down the road. my van also drives fine when this happens. one day on my van the tach gage actually got stuck and broke off. also when I turn the van off the tach does not go to zero and stay, it will go to zero and then bounce back up to around 1000 rpm. don't know why but it is just crazy when it does it.
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  #3  
Old 06-19-2011, 05:59 PM
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Location: Colorado, near Denver
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This is one of these cases I love with electrical. You may wish to start with a code scan, but that will most likely be inconclusive. You might check for too much a/c waveform from the alternator by electrically disconnecting it (all the wires) and drive it a bit to see if that has any impact. After that, you might check all conections and especially grounds. There are about a million things to check, so start with something global.
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  #4  
Old 06-20-2011, 08:26 AM
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check all wiring connections and put a dab of dielectric grease on each one after cleaning
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  #5  
Old 06-20-2011, 10:12 AM
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thanks for the info. will have to try all the sugestions.
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  #6  
Old 10-03-2011, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmrick56 View Post
Hello everyone. My wife's 99 Windstar is doing something I have never seen before on any vehicle. When she starts it up, and sometimes driving down the road, the speedo, tach, fuel guage and temp needles start bouncing back and forth like crazy. The abs light comes on and sometimes the OD light flashes. The vehicle runs and idles just fine. I was wondering if a computer reflashing would help this matter or is it something else, being it runs just fine? I appreciate any replies and thank you in advance...
It looks like I had the same problem. It started with intermittent bouncing needles on the instrument cluster. One of the recommendations I got was to check the battery. I had to cleaned some corrosion on battery terminals but otherwise the battery seem to be fine. Maybe it improved little bit for a while but we still got gauges bouncing and going off once a while.
Then one day tachometer needle turned all the way around the maximum and stayed down there. Once we got home we could not shift into Park because that needle was blocking the gear lever indicator. Without shifting into Park position you can’t remove the key from the ignition. My wife with a strong hand forced the lever half way to the park bending and breaking the needle. You can imagine..

Options:
1) Take the car to the dealer and they would replace the cluster. I got a quote $900 for new cluster +300 work +2 weeks wait time to order the part.
That would work except that car is 12 years old and Windstar sat this age are currently sold at that price or scrapped. Starting to put such expensive repairs into this car may just be not worth. But the van was otherwise working fine so we did not want to toss it either just because of stupid needle.
2) Get a used instrument cluster from scrap yard. I was able to find one for $100 but based on some information (can someone confirm this?) I would still have to re-program it otherwise mileage would be wrong and security would not let car started. I have got and the ODBII cable and some software but I did not investigate if it is able to pull data from old cluster and load it to the new one. I assume I would still have to take it to the dealer to have it done. It may be cheaper but not guaranteed it would work.
3) Try to fix it. If nothing I was thinking at least glue something on the dashboard so the RPM needle does not go over into gear shift indicator if the bouncing happen again. I know it’s ugly but the van is not going into any beauty contest. We are just hoping to get a bit more of its last years. I did some more research and found a post from Sholm:

“I have a 99 Windstar that had the exact same problem. After pulling the instrument cluster many times, I finally figured it out. I pulled the instrument cluster and started looking closely at the PCB boards in it. If you remove the back white cover on the cluster (5 or 6 T15 screws), you will see 2 printed circuit boards. One is full size, the other is a smaller "piggyback" board. If you pull the smaller ribbon cable off the piggyback board, you can lay it over to the side, leaving the larger ribbon cable connected. I looked at the back side of the surface mount connector that the small ribbon cable had been connected to, and saw 5 or 6 bad throughhole solder connections. I used to work in a PCB manufacturing facility, and knew what to look for. If you look very closely, the solder connection should be shiny and smooth. Any cracks will cause intermittent connection. I used my soldering iron to reflow the solder connections (I did the back of both connectors), and no more problems. I went from gauges bouncing ever minute or so, to no problem whatsoever. It looks as though this connector, which is at the edge of the PCB, hadn't been reflowed properly during manufacture. If you're not handy with soldering on a PC board, find someone who is. In my case, this was a fix.”

I took out my instrument cluster (there are instructions and even videos on youtube hw to do it). Removed back cover disconnected two smaller ribbon connectors, left the big one connected and flipped the piggyback board over to the side. First the boards looked fine. I took magnifying glass and indeed one of the pins from the small ribbon connector seem to be cold connected. There are bunch of chips soldered on the boards. Pins in the middle seem to be soldered well while those at the ends not so well. But these should be fine. It was the pin from the ribbon cable connector that seem to cause the problem. I re-soldered it and put everything back together. I still glued something on the dashboard to stop the needle below the THEFT light so I do not have to take everything apart again in case the needle decides to bounce over again.
So far the fix form Sholm worked beautifully. In my case the RPM needle is already somewhat damaged. It was bent, the tip is broken and the needle does not return to 0 when engine is off. It may be showing a bit higher RPM too not sure. If I have fixed the circuit earlier I could probably avoid this. But it no longer bounces like creasy nor other needles. All other gauges stopped bouncing and just work normally. Haven’t driven the car that much to say it is 100% gone but before the fix all gauges were off almost all the time and now they seem to be all good. Thanks!

PS: I guess I can get a needle and maybe a step motor replaced from another used cluster. Does anyone know how to do it or why RPM needle does not return to 0?
Thanks again.
PS2: My wife is upset like always when I fix something. Whenever something breaks she see it as an opportunity to buy new. Now is disapointed

Last edited by Imro74; 10-05-2011 at 11:18 AM.
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  #7  
Old 12-29-2011, 11:56 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2011
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Default Cluster Fixed!!!!! 2002 Windstar Tach

I just want to thank all that posted with the solution of the bad solder joints. It cut down my troubleshooting time tremendously. Wife just called yesterday about all gauges wigging out and the tach stuck and hit the PRNDL.

Before I did the fix, I fired up the old Intel QX3 USB microscope to take a sample picture of just one of the cracked joints. This is a picture of one connection from the wider ribbon cable connector designated as J4 on the board.

If you have never soldered on a circuit board before, please seek help. I have been soldering for close to 40 years. This board is very easy to damage with too much solder heat.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg WindstarClusterJ4.jpg (53.8 KB, 144 views)

Last edited by flatfours; 12-29-2011 at 11:58 AM. Reason: spelling
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  #8  
Old 12-29-2011, 12:22 PM
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To all you guys that offered the correct fix, A well earned "Thank You".
This should save a lot of people some hard earned cash and time.
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  #9  
Old 12-29-2011, 09:13 PM
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Colorado, near Denver
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Many, Many cluster problems always stem from something like this. I've seen this many times before, it seemed like Taurus's were really bad too. However, since the Windbag is a streched Taurus, it shouldn't surprize me...
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  #10  
Old 08-17-2012, 03:06 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imro74 View Post
It looks like I had the same problem. It started with intermittent bouncing needles on the instrument cluster. One of the recommendations I got was to check the battery. I had to cleaned some corrosion on battery terminals but otherwise the battery seem to be fine. Maybe it improved little bit for a while but we still got gauges bouncing and going off once a while.
Then one day tachometer needle turned all the way around the maximum and stayed down there. Once we got home we could not shift into Park because that needle was blocking the gear lever indicator. Without shifting into Park position you canít remove the key from the ignition. My wife with a strong hand forced the lever half way to the park bending and breaking the needle. You can imagine..

3) Try to fix it. If nothing I was thinking at least glue something on the dashboard so the RPM needle does not go over into gear shift indicator if the bouncing happen again. I know itís ugly but the van is not going into any beauty contest. We are just hoping to get a bit more of its last years. I did some more research and found a post from Sholm:

ďI have a 99 Windstar that had the exact same problem. After pulling the instrument cluster many times, I finally figured it out. I pulled the instrument cluster and started looking closely at the PCB boards in it. If you remove the back white cover on the cluster (5 or 6 T15 screws), you will see 2 printed circuit boards. One is full size, the other is a smaller "piggyback" board. If you pull the smaller ribbon cable off the piggyback board, you can lay it over to the side, leaving the larger ribbon cable connected. I looked at the back side of the surface mount connector that the small ribbon cable had been connected to, and saw 5 or 6 bad throughhole solder connections. I used to work in a PCB manufacturing facility, and knew what to look for. If you look very closely, the solder connection should be shiny and smooth. Any cracks will cause intermittent connection. I used my soldering iron to reflow the solder connections (I did the back of both connectors), and no more problems. I went from gauges bouncing ever minute or so, to no problem whatsoever. It looks as though this connector, which is at the edge of the PCB, hadn't been reflowed properly during manufacture. If you're not handy with soldering on a PC board, find someone who is. In my case, this was a fix.Ē

I took out my instrument cluster (there are instructions and even videos on youtube hw to do it). Removed back cover disconnected two smaller ribbon connectors, left the big one connected and flipped the piggyback board over to the side. First the boards looked fine. I took magnifying glass and indeed one of the pins from the small ribbon connector seem to be cold connected. There are bunch of chips soldered on the boards. Pins in the middle seem to be soldered well while those at the ends not so well. But these should be fine. It was the pin from the ribbon cable connector that seem to cause the problem. I re-soldered it and put everything back together. I still glued something on the dashboard to stop the needle below the THEFT light so I do not have to take everything apart again in case the needle decides to bounce over again.
So far the fix form Sholm worked beautifully. In my case the RPM needle is already somewhat damaged. It was bent, the tip is broken and the needle does not return to 0 when engine is off. It may be showing a bit higher RPM too not sure. If I have fixed the circuit earlier I could probably avoid this. But it no longer bounces like creasy nor other needles. All other gauges stopped bouncing and just work normally. Havenít driven the car that much to say it is 100% gone but before the fix all gauges were off almost all the time and now they seem to be all good. Thanks!
This is exactly the same problem I had on the wifes 2000 Windstar. 4 pins on the J4 connecter had the solder broken. Resoldered them all and it works beautifully now. Thanks everyone for the advice and the info.
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Old 08-17-2012, 03:06 PM
 
 
 
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2000, 98, aerostar, back, contour, crazy, ford, gauge, jumps, needle, runs, speedo, speedometer, tach, tachometer, windstar, windstars

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