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1996 Ford Windstar GL 3.8L V6 wasn't starting. Not battery/alt or ignition. It finally started in neutral, but not in park. Then I couldn't get it started again. From what I've read, it's probably the Neutral Safety Switch (Transmission Range Sensor).

Two things: One, I find that the connector is corroded severely or seems like it - there's buildup all over it. Two, when I pulled the air filter housing, it had what appeared to be oil or some lubricant in it. We have been smelling gas fumes in the cabin for a while. Ford replaced the PCV valve (is that correct?). Could they have not put it in correctly or did it fail?

So, I was wondering if I'd be able to replace the module in this situation by itself or would I also have to get a new wiring harness? If anyone has any input it would be a tremendous help. Thanks!
 

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Hey there Pan_theonjuno,

The PCV is rather easy to replace and rarely is it installed the wrong way. When Ford replaced your PCV valve did they also replace the air filter? Did they replace the PCV valve because it was blocked - Oil in the air filter can be caused by a plugged up PCV system. Did you smell the fumes before the PCV valve was replaced or after? Also, have you checked your oil level?

I had a '98 Windstar that ate MLP's like they were gumdrops... :lol: As far as I can recall, I have not personally, seen the wiring harness connector replaced. However, that being said, I am most certain that there is a more knowledgeable member that can offer further or better insight on that issue.

I would think that "IF" the corrosion has not directly affected the interior pinned connectors that it would not necessarily need to be replaced. Perhaps a good cleaning is all that is required of it.

As for the Transmission Range Sensor itself, just a thought, as it may very well need replacing, have you tried adjusting or aligning it. I understand a "Special Alignment Tool" is required to do so. However, thanks to Poppy and Phantom, I remembered this link for aligning without said tool, I trust it will work on a Windstar. Perhaps you may want to try that first, before having to replace it, just a thought.

Ford Bronco And F-150 Links - Manual Lever Position/Transmission Range (MLP/TR) Sensor

I am attaching the instructions on how to replace and adjust the Transmission Range Sensor on a 1996 Windstar for your reference.

I hope this helps.

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2. Raise and support the vehicle safely.
  3. Disconnect the sensor electrical harness.
  4. Remove the nut retaining the manual control lever to the shaft. Remove the manual control lever.
  5. Remove the two retaining bolts. Remove the transaxle range switch.

To install:

  1. Install the transaxle range switch and loosely tighten the retaining bolts.
  2. Adjust the sensor slots using a Transaxle Range Sensor Alignment Tool (T92P-70010-AH), or equivalent.
  3. Tighten the transaxle range sensor retaining bolts to 80–106 inch lbs. (9–12 Nm).
  4. Connect the sensor electrical harness.
  5. Install the manual control lever and tighten the retaining nut to 12–16 ft. lbs. (16–22 Nm).
  6. Lower the vehicle.
  7. Connect the negative battery cable.
ADJUSTMENT


  1. Remove the nut securing the manual control lever to the transmission range sensor.
  2. Turn the manual control lever to the Neutral position.
  3. Loosen the two sensor retaining bolts.
  4. Adjust the sensor slots using a Transaxle Range Sensor Alignment Tool (T92P-70010-AH), or equivalent.
  5. Tighten the transaxle range sensor retaining bolts to 80–106 inch lbs. (9–12 Nm).
  6. Install the manual control lever and tighten the retaining nut to 12–16 ft. lbs. (16–22 Nm).
 

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MissInformation thank you so much for the guide! This is very helpful! You must change your air filter if it has an oil. I suggest you buy K&N air filter. It will add you also better mileage.

Pan_theonjuno-1996 Ford Windstar GL 3.8L V6 wasn't starting. Not battery/alt or ignition. It finally started in neutral, but not in park. Then I couldn't get it started again. From what I've read, it's probably the Neutral Safety Switch (Transmission Range Sensor).
 

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Thoughts: What the PCV (possitive crankcase ventilation) ventilates from the crankcase is "piston blowby", that is the fuel and air mixture that gets by the piston rings on the compression stroke. So you will smell gas fumes if the PCV becomes dislodged as these gas fumes are ventilating under the hood. Also note that a K&N air filter is coated with oil in order to help trap dirt before it gets into the engine (that what filters do). If you use to much oil you can foul the MAF sensor and cause "issues". It is a good practice to clean the MAF sensor every tiime you clean and re-oil the K&N, and do not over do the oil on the filter.
 
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