The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has now officially launched an investigation into snapping rear axles on Ford Windstar models dating from 1999-2003. In total NHTSA has 234 complaints about broken rear axles, with two noted accidents but no injuries. Of the complaints, 56 involve vehicles where one of the rear axles snapped at speeds in excess of 40 mph.
According to NHTSA, the problem seems worse in Northern states where salt is used on the roads in winder.
As the Windstar is a front-drive vehicle, snapping a rear axle isn’t critical as it could be – which is the position taken by Ford, with a spokesman telling the New York Times last week that the vehicle operator remains in control of the car at all times. This seems contrary to NHTSA’s safety comment that the, “fracture of a rear suspension axle could result in loss of vehicle control.”
Ford has said it will cooperate with NHTSA’s investigation.
If a recall is issued, it could affect up to 900,000 Windstar vehicles sold between 1999-2003.
UPDATE: The Ford Windstar is now under investigation by NHTSA for rusting subframe issues. Click here to read the story.