DETROIT – Ford Motor said Friday it is voluntarily recalling 575,000 Windstar minivans produced from September 1997 through February 2003 to replace axles that may crack after exposure to road salt, possibly resulting in a crash.
In a “very small number of cases,” Ford said in a statement, axles have fractured in certain locations on the right or left side and affected vehicle handling.
The recall applies to high-mileage models registered in 21 cold-weather states, the District of Columbia and Canada where road-salt corrosion is more common, Ford said. The automaker said it will soon notify affected owners to bring their vehicles to a local dealer for inspection and necessary repairs.
The repair involves reinforcing the axle with additional parts. If it’s determined the axle can’t be reinforced, Ford said, the axle will be replaced as soon as parts are available. The company will provide rental vehicles for customers until the rear axle of their vehicle has been replaced, it said.
In May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary evaluation into broken rear axles on 1999–2003 Windstars. At the time, the agency said it had received 234 complaints, including two reports of accidents. Production of the Windstar ceased in 2003.
At its website, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the recall involves 462,750 Windstar models in the U.S. The agency said the recall is expected to begin no later than Sept. 27.
States affected by the recall 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.