Ford Windstar Recall Expanded To 1999-2003 Models

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NHTSA Action Number : EA10007
NHTSA Recall Campaign Number : N/A

Vehicle Make / Model: FORD / WINDSTAR 1999-2003
Model Year(s): 1999-2003

Component(s) : SUSPENSION

Date Investigation Opened : December 20, 2010
Date Investigation Closed : Open

The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has identified 346 complaints to ODI and Ford alleging fracture, cracking and or excessive corrosion of the front subframes in model year (MY) 1999 through 2003 Ford Windstar vehicles. Approximately 97 percent of these complaints (334) involve vehicles that have been operated in Salt Belt states, which make up approximately 60 percent of the subject vehicle sales in the United States. The front subframe, sometimes referred to as the engine cradle, is a structural component of the Windstar vehicles that carries the engine, transaxle, steering rack and certain front suspension components (e.g., lower control arm). For complaints with sufficient information to identify the location of the failure, most describe problems with the rear mounting bracket for the front passenger-side lower control arm with some related to the rear body mount attachment located in the same general area of the subframe (right-rear section near the front passenger wheel). The remainder of the reports allege fracture of the front subframe at other or, most often, unspecified locations. Almost all of the complaints that specified the side of the vehicle indicated that the problem occurred on the right/passenger side (106), with only a few indicating the left/driver side (2) or both sides (3) were affected. Ford and several complainants attributed the right-side failures to the routing of the air-conditioning lines above the front subframe on that side of the vehicle, further noting that condensation has been observed dripping onto the front subframe in the area of the affected components (the A/C drain tube is also located on the right side, near the front subframe). ODI has identified 93 complaints related to lower control arm attachments, including 80 that appear to involve complete separations. All but one of these involved vehicles from Salt Belt states. All three crash incidents appear to be related to lower control arm separations, including one road departure into a road-side sign resulting in a totalled vehicle and a lane departure into another vehicle. Almost half of the ODI complaints related to control arm separation occurred at speeds greater than 20 mph and about a quarter occurred at highway speeds. Three-quarters of these complaints allege experiencing difficulty controlling the vehicle and about 40 percent appear to have resulted in departures from the intended lane of travel. Testing by both Ford and NHTSA have demonstrated that lower control arm separation from the rear attachment bracket results in significant toe out of the affected wheel, which affects the driver's ability to control vehicle direction. According to Ford, moderate braking improved vehicle controllability by reducing the amount of toe out, possibly explaining incidents that did not allege a loss of control. ODI's analysis of complaints related to the rear body mount identified 41 complaints (ODI only). These complaints generally report experiencing progressively worsening noise concerns when turning, accelerating or braking. Although, some of the complaints that appeared to involve a complete separation of the body mount alleged difficulty steering, the effects on vehicle control from this failure mode do not appear to be as great as those resulting from control arm separation. However, ODI is seeking more information regarding two complaints which alleged that body mount failure resulted in disconnection of the steering wheel from the steering rack (one occurred during vehicle service). This investigation has been upgraded to an Engineering Analysis for subject vehicles sold or currently registered in Salt Belt states to further assess the scope, frequency and safety consequences of the alleged defect in these vehicles. ODI will continue to gather information about vehicles outside the Salt Belt as well.

NHTSA Action Number : DP10005
NHTSA Recall Campaign Number : N/A

Vehicle Make / Model: FORD / WINDSTAR
Model Year(s): 2003


Date Investigation Opened : December 15, 2010
Date Investigation Closed : Open

In a letter dated August 26, 2010, Ford Motor Company (Ford) submitted a Defect Information Report to NHTSA regarding a rear axle defect in model year (MY) 1998 through 2003 Ford Windstar vehicles built at the Oakville assembly plant from September 1, 1997 through February 28, 2003 and either sold or currently registered in high corrosion ("Salt Belt") states where the use of salt and other corrosive chemicals may be used to treat snow/ice covered roads (NHTSA Recall No. 10V-385, Fprd Recall 10S13). The following states were included in Ford's recall: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, 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. See PE10-016 for additional information about the ODI investigation that influenced Ford's recall. On November 5, 2010, NHTSA received a Defect Petition from the owner of a MY 2003 Ford Windstar vehicle registered in the state of New York requesting that the scope of Recall 10V-385 be expanded to include additional MY 2003 vehicles experiencing the defect condition. The petitioner initially filed a complaint (VOQ 10345125) with ODI on July 25, 2010, two days after the axle failure. The complaint was subsequently amended and the petition filed after the consumer was denied compensation and repair under the recall. ODI has identified a total of five complaints from owners of MY 2003 Ford Windstar vehicles in Salt Belt states that were built after February 28, 2003, Ford's original cutoff date for 10V-385. On November 30, 2010, Ford submitted a letter supplementing recall 10V-385 (Ford 10S13) to add certain vehicles to the program. Ford's analysis of parts and information from the field showed: 1) that the revised heat treated axle introduced in production on February 28, 2003, may still have the potential for cracks due to corrosion related stress; and 2) that vehicles operated in Utah may be exposed to the same combination of environmental factors that can make them susceptible to cracks from stress related corrosion. Based on this analysis, Ford expanded the scope of 10V-385 to include MY 2003 vehicles built after February 28, 2003 and sold or currently registered in Salt Belt states and MY 1998 through 2003 vehicles sold or currently registered in Utah. Ford estimated that approximately 29,900 vehicles in the expanded scope may currently remain in service. ODI will evaluate the petition for a grant or deny decision.

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