Ford Motor Company has issued a recall for Ford Fusions and Mercury Milans from the 2010 and 2011 model years. Some of those vehicles may have been built with faulty wheel studs, which could crack under the right circumstances, leading to a potential crash.
According to a bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the problem is restricted to vehicles manufactured between April 1 and April 30, 2009, as well as those built from December 1, 2009 through November 13, 2010. It's also limited to vehicles equipped with 17-inch steel wheels. In all, some 128,616 cars are affected.
Though the agency doesn't go into detail about the root problem, the recall's focus appears to be the studs holding the rear wheels in place. The NHTSA warns that in the affected vehicles, "multiple stud fractures could occur at the wheel location, and the operator may experience vehicle vibration and/or wheel separation, increasing the risk of a crash." To date, the NHTSA has received 29 complaints about the problem, and there have been four potential instances of wheel separation.
Ford will begin notifying owners about the recall around January 24, 2012. At that time, owners can take their vehicles to a dealership for an inspection of the rear wheels and a replacement of all four sets of lug nuts.
If you have questions in the meantime, we encourage you to contact your local Ford dealer, or ring the automaker directly at 866-436-7332. Alternately, you can contact the NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and reference recall campaign #11V574000.