Ford Motor (F) is recalling more than half a million minivans to repair parts that could corrode and affect vehicle handling.
The action involves about 525,000 Ford Windstar minivans from the 1999 to 2003 model years, sold and registered in cold-weather areas where salt is routinely used to de-ice roadways.
Corrosion from road salt may cause fractures on the front lower control arm rear attaching brackets and body mount attachments at the rear of the front subframe, Ford said in documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and posted at the agency's website.
Ford: Not a Safety Problem
Should the fractures lead to separation of parts, the defect could reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle, possibly leading to a crash, Ford said. About 425,000 of the Windstars are registered in the U.S., with another 100,000 in Canada, Ford said.The automaker said it was initiating the recall even though it felt the problem didn't rise to the level of a safety defect.
In the U.S., the recall involves vehicle sold and registered in the District of Columbia and 22 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The Dearborn, Mich., automaker will begin repairs in March and, at its discretion may buy back some of the affected vehicles. Loaners may also be provided to some owners while repairs are done.
Many of the vehicles being recalled were also included in a previous recall of Windstars in August to repair corroded rear axles in vehicles sold in most of same cold-weather states and Canada. That action was expanded by 37,000 units in November to include those vehicles sold in Utah and Windstars equipped with heat-treated rear axles.
The Windstar model has come under increased government scrutiny following an October crash of a 2001 Windstar in Massachusetts that killed a 28-year-old father of two, The Detroit News reported.
The family received a recall notice from the automaker, postmarked three days after the crash, the newspaper reported. The crash, in part, prompted the NHTSA to issue an urgent warning to Windstar owners to get recalled vehicles repaired.