Maryland Auto Safety News: Ford Recalls Half-million Minivans for Possible Dangerous Rear Axle Problem

Residents of Maryland and other cold-weather states may find that they have a problem with that aging Ford minivan in the driveway. According to news reports, Ford Motor Company has issued a statement naming the Ford Windstar in a recall involving more than one-half million vehicles across several model years.

As a Baltimore auto accident attorney and Washington, D.C., injury lawyer, I understand the potential for injury resulting from a defective equipment problem in a motor vehicle or heavy commercial truck. Critical components found in such important vehicle systems such as the steering and suspension must operate correctly if a vehicle is to remain safe.

Whether a design error, incorrect material specification or maintenance issue, safety problems can lead to highway accidents, which may or may not involve injury or death to the occupants. According to the recent news reports, up to 575,000 Windstar minivans in the cold weather states could have a problem with their rear axle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had started its own investigation earlier this year and found that certain areas of the Windstar’s rear axle apparently can collect road slush, which can then lead to rusting of the component.

Based on reports, prior to its investigation, the NHTSA had received more than 200 complaints of rear axle fractures, plus two cases of minor accidents reportedly caused by the problem. Since beginning its study, the number of complaints has risen to just under 1,000.

Specifically, the Ford recall affects those Windstars made between 1998 and 2003. The action involves 463,000 vehicles in the U.S., including Maryland. The rest are being recalled in Canada. According to news reports, vehicle owners will be asked to bring their minivan to a Ford or Lincoln-Mercury dealership, where an inspection of the axle can be carried out. If any cracking is detected, the owner will reportedly be provided with a repair, or offered an alternative vehicle until parts are available.

Ford Recalls 575,000 Windstars,, August 30, 2010

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