Today, Ford announced a recall on over 500,000 Windstar Minivans due to rust accumulation that could cause the rear axles to fracture. The recall is for 1998–2003 models from twenty-one cold-weather states in the U.S. and Canada.
The issue was first picked up on in May 2010 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started a preliminary evaluation of broken rear axles after receiving over 200 complaints. Accidents had also been reported, but no serious injuries. The number of complaints has now reached close to 1,000.
The evaluation found that the issue was worse in areas where road salt was used. The inverted “U” channel design of the axles leads to road salt slurry accumulation, which causes enough corrosion to weaken the part until it breaks.
Windstar owners are being asked to bring their vehicles into Ford or Lincoln-Mercury dealerships for inspection beginning in late September. Ford will add axle reinforcement brackets at no charge and will reimburse customers who have already paid for the repair. If the part isn’t available right away, Ford will offer alternative transportation until it is.
For more information, contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332.