Ford Windstar Van Oil pan blew off when I went to start


Asked by Sep 28, 2008 at 03:44 PM about the Ford Windstar

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I turn the key and  BANG!  Big explosion noise in the FRONT end. NOT A BACKFIRE.  all myoil leaked out. Now there is a big tear in my oil pan. Has anybody ever heard of such a thing?? Could ether or octane poured into the tank or crankcase have caused this explosion???

  I am wondering whether to replace the pan and try to start it or not. Mechanic wants $400.00 just to do that and if the engine is screwed, I don't want to waste 400 bucks doing repairs for nothing.  Any good backyard mechanics have any ideas??  I can turn it over, almost starts but obviously no compression with the hole in it. I don't hear any clanging or anything busted either.  I spent 8 grand on this as it was in mint shape back in 2004. I'd like to keep it.  

Open to suggestions.
                                       Thanks,          ST

14 Answers


1) "I can turn it over, almost starts but obviously no compression with the hole in it" Oil pan has nothing to do with compression! 2) Never try to start an engine without oil 3) It sounds like you shot a piston through the pan, look up the hole and tell me if all rods and pistons are in place. 4) What car are we dealing with here

2 people found this helpful.

By what car I mean we need the year/engine

1 people found this helpful.

Hi Adam and thanks for the reply, Number one, the pan is not right off the block. There is a hole about the size of a loonie in it and it is near the top of the pan, not on the bottom. That's why I didn't think the piston punched a hole in it. The hole would be in the bottom of the pan if that happened I figured. By the way, I am not retarded when it comes to cars. I've been working on stuff for years. I know you didn't say that either. I was rebuilding bikes, in my kitchen when I was 16 years old -- just so you know I'm not a dunce. I really appreciate you writing back. See the thing is, right now, I am disabled, I am having a hip replacement tomorrow. I hired a guy to go underneath and take a picture and show mw what happened. The hole is in the ass end of the pan. If you took a big, big punch about an inch in diameter and poked a hole where the "Y" connection is, that's where it is. I know you are probably saying I'm retarded or something but, I am not. I disconnected the main wire so it can't fire, there is still some oil in it as well. I just turned it over a second so I could hear if there was any loud clanging or banging - like a busted rod or anything. Heard nothing bad. Oh, it's a 3.8 Ford Windstar. Only has about 90 k on it too. I always change oil every 3000 miles and sooner if I do a lot of city driving. Just took my Mom out west to BC and all over Alberta for a 5 week tour. I've heard about rusty oil pans on these. Also, I have some neighbour that hates my guts and he has attacked another person's car, and my brothers. Slit tires, knocked his motorcycle over and damaged it and his truck. I was thinking maybe someone put ether or octane, something explosive that could have caused the thin pan to open up???? I know, I'm grasping at straws. But, I did have some prick put sugar into my gas tank in 1993. The insurance company wrote the vehicle off and I am still pissed off. It was a 1975 shorty GMC van. Three on the tree, little 250 ci. engine that went like hell. Those little straight six motors were good for 250,000 mile easy. I had her done up with cedar tongue and groove ceiling and sides, nice stereo etc. I just moved back here from Calgary and some asshole did that. I am in Stratford Ontario right now. I was offered $4000.00 for it back then. Just found out that sugar in the tank does fuck all to your engine too. The insurance company wrote it off, I got $900.00 for it. Sugar won't dissolve in gas. Check out "MythBusters" tv show and website. All you do is empty your tank and replace the filters. Look, thanks a ton for helping. I know you need more info to diagnose this. I wish I could pull the pan myself but I'm screwed up physically. So, I am going to have to pay and get it done, put out $400.00 to put a new pan on and see if it starts. I want to avoid that. I just can't see how a moving part could come out sideways, out towards the rear end, shoots toward the Y connection. Doesn't make sense. Again, thanks. Sorry for the huge letter. I have been disabled for 2 years and am really fucked without my wheels. I do appreciate your reply. Steve


Damn sorry to hear about your hip.... and the van... and the neighbor This is an odd one... The engineer in me says bust to the idea of an explosive... The fluid in the pan would have spread the load relatively uniformly and you would have seen stress cracks (if anything) on the pan... It almost has to have been something solid moving very fast to punch a hole like that... With absolutely no knocking... I'm fairly slim on ideas... Was there any shrapnel on the ground that you could email me a picture of... There has to have been something flying in there, I just can't figure out what it would be... most things that punch a hole that size are either the rod(which would be apparent) or valve train components, most of which are topside... though this is a pushrod if I'm not mistaken (Is my memory right :-\) (I'm typing to myself trying to think of what it could be... this has all gone through your head I'm sure) So if nothing was on the ground it would be small piece that is fairly elastic... Hardened steel?(bounced back into the pan somewhere)... Fast (part of rotating assembly)... I've got a theory but it's a slim chance in hell...but what hasn't happened at some point some where.... Alright the theory (Slim chance so don't laugh) One of your pistons would have had to have seized at or near the top of the exhaust stroke, when the next cylinder fired it sheared the rod cap off and the journal shot it at that particular point on your pan, gravity would have pulled what remained of the rod away from interference with the crank allowing you to crank it without knocking while what was left of the rod cap should be sitting in your pan... (It fits the symptoms, but like i said it's almost a null chance... If that was the case though you'll have one cylinder kicking no compression) So there's a snowball I'm tossing it into hell... Let's see if the bugger makes it Good luck mate hopefully this helps and doesn't confuse the situation more... Keep us updated PS Anyone else feel free to take a stab at this one.


Hi Adam, Thanks for the very knowledgeable answers. I got home from the hospital Friday and am just able to sit at my PC now. God am I sore. Anyways, you know what you're talking about. The thing is, your slim theory sounds pretty close. I didn't see anything come out of the pan though, looked everywhere. Another thing. My mechanic told me a few months ago that the pan was rusty and getting thin. It wasn't leaking though. That's why I thought if there was a bad weak spot it might have blew open. I know it sounds ridiculous but, once when I was a kid, had an old 1965 Buick Wildcat - 401 4bbl. and it didn't want to start in the cold. Being young and stupid, I put a shot of ether right into the carb. I didn't know that the other guy had put some in also. Turned the key and it blew both sides of the exhaust manifold off! (Cracked it severely) That's one reason I thought about something in the tank or crank. At least you understand my situation. Right now, off work, little money coming in so I don't want to spend 4 or 5 hundred to tow it, replace the pan to see what happens. The sad thing is I don't want to scrap it either. Bought this in 2004, it was used by a minister at a church to run errands and pick up a few church goers only on Sundays. No smoking, not a mark on it and only had about 50,000 miles on it. Still has under 100k on it. The interior is brand new. I took out the rear bench and 2 captain/buckets to make room so I could take my Mom on a trip to BC and across the west that year. They're still in storage. I've got about 7 grand tied up in her. The van sat for 17 months also. I was in the hospital from Aug. 2006 to May 2007, then couldn't walk for awhile. So, this van has hardly been used by me. If I had a garage, I'd look for an engine and do a transplant myself but that's not possible. If I could prove it was tampered with, I could get the insurance to cover costs or write it off but I don't see how to prove it either. As far as I'm concerned, this thing was running perfectly. The engine never should have blew like that. I've worked on cars since being a kid, lawnmowers, bikes. Never heard anything like this and it stinks. Bastards in my apt bldg. the super hates me because I don't take any shit. I have heard from 2 other reliable ppl. that they have sabotaged/vandalized other cars in the past. I'm not a nut case grasping for straws. I'm going to think some more, don't want to do anything rash, and will keep you informed. If I can find somebody HONEST to look at it and try to start it for around 300$, I will risk it. Could be a piece of something in the pan. Too bad I couldn't just patch the pan with something, put oil in and start it up. Then if it ran and sounded OK, I would replace it properly. Just the position of the hole in it is driving me nuts. I can't visualize anything going in that direction - compared to the angle of the cylinders and stroke, etc. I've looked through all pics of the engine in my manual. Even if I had a ton of money and could afford to buy a new car, I'd still want to look into this to see what happened. Listen, thank you very much for your ideas. You gave this some real thought and I appreciate you taking the time to help. If you ever have any concrete or masonry problems around your place, give me a shout. I've done that type of work all my life. Thanks again, Steve T


Well I'm sorry about your trouble m8... If I weren't a 1000+ miles away I'd take a look at it. I've never done it but I know you can get an oil sample tested for contaminants.. If it was sabotaged it should show something. Something to look into since I believe it's fairly cheap. They send you a test tube, you fill it with oil and send it back... Then they send you test results... I'll send a message to a guy I know who's done it and see if he can give me a web address or phone number. Good luck...


Thanks again. I thought about that too. It might convince the insurance ppl. and help a lot. I've heard of moth balls screwing an engine, ether, octane could do it. Who knows what can be done to wreck a car. Makes you wonder. MY mirrors were broken while I was in the hospital as well. I am moving soon and I really didn't need this. I'm going to get to the bottom of it some day and I'll let you know what I find out. Have to go. Nurse is here to change bandages. Thanks a million Adam. Take care, Steve

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He said staveley is who he uses, and I think I found 'em on the web... HE did note that you have to take the sample from mid stream... ie let it drain 1-2 seconds before filling the sample container to avoid contamination from around the plug.... hopefully that will help... I'd recommend contacting them and asking if their spectrograph will be able to determine anything in your situation or if the test is capable of picking up those kind of contaminants since they are hydrocarbon based? I dunno enough about organic chemistry to say, so I'd ask them...


I admit I did not read the full content of all the writing above but I had a similar problem back in early 70's. Had a lot of gas in pan and it ignited... of course...BANG. It also blew near the block/pan bolts and not at the bottom! Could that have been your cause.

1 people found this helpful.

hey steve did u fixed ur mini van, if yes let me know how cause iam in the same situation right now

i bought a 1998 ford windstar gl about 4 days ago and pass inspection in MD and was good then on the same day of inspection it started knocking, and i show it some of the Mechs and all are saying that the engine throwed a rod through the oil pan, just wanted to is it fixable or to get rid of it, by the way iam a student and i dont have enough money to fix it, but i can spend about $300 on it if it can be fix, can any one out there help me what do with it.


Can you see a hole in the oil pan? If it did go through it then it is doubtful that you will be able to buy the parts to fix it for $300. If it is just a rod knock and the rod is still attached to the crankshaft, you might be able to buy the parts to fix that for $300. Good luck.

2 people found this helpful.

thank you for ur reply oldtimer37 yes i can see a hole it abt an inch diameter hole in the oil pan looks like something came out it,just near the bolt at the Y connection.


Sounds (and looks) expensive! I am afraid your engine is gone. I don't recall seeing the year of your Windstar but you may be cheaper to buy a used engine if the van is worth the investment. Just remember, you had a used engine before this one blew. I don't know where you are or what used engines cost for one but I think with your limited budget you will be better off to sell your van for what you can get and add that money to your $300 and try to get anything that runs. Not what you wanted to hear, I'm sure. sorry.

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