The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expanding its probe of Ford Windstar minivans to a second component after determining that salt belt complaints indicate a loss of vehicle control stemming from corrosion. The new investigation covers 1999-2003 model year Windstars.
Last Tuesday, the NHTSA said that for its latest investigation that opened on July 20, it is examining front subframe corrosion on the right side that has resulted to 87 complaints and three crashes. The preliminary evaluation will cover up to 900,000 vehicles.
According to one complaint about his 2000 Windstar LX van, the vehicle had been moving at a slow speed in a parking lot when there was a loud bang and the vehicle couldn't be steered anymore.
One wheel in the front was straight while the other front wheel was turned at a 45-degree angle. A Ford spokeswoman said that the carmaker is cooperating with the probe, which could later result in a recall.
Last May, NHTSA had opened an investigation of the same pool of Ford Windstars after getting 234 complaints of rear axles fracturing. At the time, the NHTSA said that a majority of the axle complaints were the result of salt belt states, probably due to the rear axle beam collecting road salt slurry and corroding until it breaks.