The Ford Motor Company has issued a voluntary recall on Windstar minivans because of a problem with axels that may crack after exposure to road salt. The issue could result in a crash. Ford says that in a small number of cases axles have fractured on the right or left side, affecting vehicle handling.
The recall involves high mileage vehicles in 21 cold weather states and the District of Columbia, along with Canada. 575,000 vehicles in total are affected by the recall. 462,750 of those are in the United States. Vehicles affected by the recall were built from September 1997 to February 2003. Ford stopped production of the Windstar in 2003.
Windstar owners can be expected to be contacted by Ford soon to bring their Windstar minivans into a local dealership for inspection. The repair involves reinforcing the axel with additional parts. If a particular axel is past the point where a repair would be effective, the axel will be replaced as parts are available. Ford says it will provide rental vehicles for customers until the rear axle of their vehicle has been replaced.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began its investigation into the problem in May. It was looking into reports of broken rear axles on 1999–2003 Windstars. The NHTSA received 234 complaints, including two reports of accidents.
States affected are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The recall is expected to begin no later than September 27, 2010.