Is Ford Aerostar Reliable? (Solved)

Ford Aerostar is a range of popular vans produced by Ford in North America and was on sale from 1986 to 1997. It appealed to the people looking for big haulers, but with comfortable driving and reliable powertrains.

The Aerostar was Ford’s response to Chrysler and Chevy’s minivans and was instantly welcomed by the consumers. It was based on an all-new chassis designed particularly for the Aerostar and debuted various mechanical upgrades to the van industry.

It was the first van featuring V6 engines, manual and auto transmissions, an all-wheel-drive system, and separate coil springs on all 4 wheels. Let’s understand why Ford Aerostar became so popular, its maintenance, its different engines and transmissions, and is Ford Aerostar reliable?

Is Ford Aerostar Reliable?

Ford Aerostar is a very reliable vehicle and was mass-produced in large numbers. The main reason behind its popularity is its robust overall build quality, dependable powertrains, and durability in long-term usage. It was the first van with a V6 cylinder configuration and all-wheel-drive system, with an array of utility features inside. If maintained properly and only expert technicians are allowed to look after it, the Ford Aerostar can run for hundreds of thousands of miles without requiring any rebuilds.

Ford Aerostar’s most likable feature is its robust engines that do not break down quite often.

Over the 11 years of its lifespan, a few model years did suffer from quality and reliability issues, but overall, Ford Aerostar remained highly successful due to its long-term reliability.

A Ford Aerostar would easily serve you past 300,000 miles and more if maintained properly and it doesn’t get into any major accidents.

Also read: What is a Good Mileage for a Used Van? The Facts!

What are the Most Common Problems with the Ford Aerostar?

Overall, the Ford Aerostar proved to be a very reliable hauler for the big families, and people even used it for commercial purposes. Despite its strong record, some issues do appear over time that needs fixing or replacement. The common problems include engine leaks, problematic oxygen sensors, transmission issues, leaky valve cover gasket, and engine problems.

The main cause of these problems is poor build quality and neglect in the maintenance of the car.

1- Engine Leaks

Ford Aerostar is known to suffer from this problem of engine leaks, mainly around the rear crankshaft seal, and engine oil pan gasket. This can be attributed to negligence in maintenance and rough usage over the years. This problem usually occurs around 100,000 miles and is not too costly to fix.

2- Problematic Oxygen Sensor

During repair or servicing, the oxygen sensor wires get crossed. This causes stalled and poor idling, while fuel economy is also badly affected. It can be avoided by carefully performing regular maintenance, and this problem tends to appear after 100,000 miles or so.

3- Transmission Issues

The majority of the Aerostar owners report jerky and slow shifting, especially once the car is driven more than 100,000 miles. The internal corrosion and increased friction among the components is the major problem that can also cause frequent overheating. Changing transmission oil at regular intervals can keep this problem at bay.

4- Leaky Valve Cover Gasket

Some Aerostar models are known to have fragile valve cover gaskets that get damaged and start leaking oil onto the exhaust manifold. Not only does it affect the fuel economy and performance, but can wreak havoc on the pistons and other parts. This problem can be diagnosed earlier and usually occurs after 150,000 miles.

5- Engine Problems

Another common problem with the Ford Aerostar is the faulty engine components that get damaged and fail over time. Most notorious are the throttle body and engine bearings that wear off with time and cause knocking with poor output from the engine. This problem occurs after 150,000 miles and can be avoided easily by regular servicing of the engine.

Cost of Fixing the Common Problems with the Ford Aerostar

1Engine leaks$200-400
2Problematic oxygen sensor$300-500
3Transmission issues$500-800
4Leaky valve cover gasket$200-400
5Engine problems$250-600

Which Ford Aerostar Years are the Best and Worst?

Ford Aerostar was on the market for about 11 years and was overall very successful. Some model years did have frequent reliability issues and should be avoided once looking for a used Aerostar, while others were considerably better.

Best Ford Aerostar Model Years

  1. 1989
  2. 1990
  3. 1991
  4. 1997

Worst Ford Aerostar Model Years

  1. 1996
  2. 1995
  3. 1992
  4. 1994

Also read: Are Fords Good Cars? (and Models to Avoid)

Which Ford Aerostar Engines are the Most and Least Reliable?

Ford Aerostar came equipped with a variety of engines and each with different horsepower and torque figures. While most of these engines are highly durable, a few are known to suffer from mechanical and reliability issues. The best engines in the Ford Aerostar include Lima and Cologne, while the least reliable is Vulcan.

Most Reliable Ford Aerostar Engines

  1. Lima

The 2.3L 4-cylinder engine debuted with the Aerostar and was pretty solid. Very easy and simple to maintain and no fancy or fragile parts that would go wrong. It was upgraded soon and replaced by Cologne.

  1. Cologne

The 2.8L and 4.0L V6 engine was one of the best engines of their time and offered superb performance with undeniable reliability. It was phased out with the car in 1997.

Least Reliable Ford Aerostar Engines

  1. Vulcan

The 3.0 L V6 engine suffered from continuous problems, such as oil leakage, head gasket failure, and throttle body issues.

Also read: Ford Probe vs. Mazda MX6- What’s Better?

Is Ford Aerostar Safe?

By today’s standards, Ford Aerostar is not a safe car. During a recent crash test, conducted by IIHS, it fared poorly and offered negligible protection to the occupants. But given its time of debut and the immaturity of the auto industry back then, it was a reasonable car of its time.

The safety features & equipment in the Ford Aerostar include;

  1. ABS with disc brakes.
  2. 3-point seat belts only for front passengers.
  3. 2 airbags at front.

IIHS safety: Overall Poor

How Much Does Ford Aerostar Cost to Maintain?

These are some of the maintenance costs of a Ford Aerostar;

  1. Oil change: $150
  2. Filters (air, oil, and fuel): $220
  3. Brake oil: $200
  4. Cost of a tire: $180
  5. Gear oil: $200
  6. Labor charges: $300-400

Total: $1,250

Yearly maintenance cost: average $1,250

Yearly Fuel Cost: average $1,800

Insurance Cost: $700

What is a Good Mileage for the Ford Aerostar?

Keeping into consideration its launch time and age, 250,000 – 300,000 miles can be considered a good mileage for Ford Aerostar. It has a very solid frame, reliable engines and transmission, and a very good overall durability. If a car has been maintained properly, owned by one or two people at max, and had been in no major accidents, a 250,000 miles driven Ford Aerostar would be a very good van to own.

Always get the car thoroughly checked before buying and avoid problematic engines.

Also read: 3 Worst Ford Diesel Engines

What Parts Should You Replace and After How Many Miles?

Some parts and lubricants need replacement at regular intervals to ensure optimal functioning of the engine, and overall performance of the vehicle. Remember to stick to the official maintenance schedule to keep the car running in pristine condition;

1Oils and Lubricants3,000 miles
2Air, oil, and fuel filter3,000 miles (15,000 for fuel filter)
3Brake pads20,000 miles
4Tires25,000 miles
5Spark plugs and battery60,000 miles
6Timing belt70,000 miles

Are Ford Aerostar Parts Widely Available?

Ford Aerostar was launched in a limited number of markets and not worldwide. Additionally, it has been out of production for more than 2 decades now, so arranging parts for a Ford Aerostar in some regions can be problematic, while in its country of origin, they are easily available. It is wise to get in touch with your nearest Ford dealership to source spare parts if you cannot find them in your vicinity.

It is recommended that you always use OEM parts, as aftermarket cheap parts can damage the functioning components, further deteriorating the car’s performance.

How to Buy a Reliable Ford Aerostar?

Follow these steps if you want to buy a reliable Ford Aerostar in the used car market;

  1. Get the car inspected by a private inspection team to have a detailed report on its overall condition.
  2. Check the maintenance records, ownership history, and CARFAX report for a detailed overview of its usage and history
  3. Make sure that you check all the systems and parts in detail, such as the engine, suspension, steering, transmission, interior, and the carriage area for any damage to the frame or appearance of rust.
  4. Make sure all the faulty components have been replaced/repaired.
  5. Take a test drive yourself and ask an automotive expert to help you check the car.
  6. It is wise to check the online Ford Aerostar community forums or owner/fan clubs to look for a well-kept car.

Ford Aerostar – Pros & Cons


  1. Overall it is a very reliable car to have.
  2. Cheaper to buy and maintain on regular basis.
  3. Offers immense utility and convenience of usability, for both private and commercial purposes.
  4. Spare parts and insurance are also affordable.


  1. It is not very fuel-efficient and can be costly to run.
  2. Spare parts are not readily available everywhere and are difficult to source.
  3. It is not a safe car, especially according to the latest standards.
  4. A neat and less driven Aerostar is tough to find in the used car market.