Ford Windstar Recall
Like many people in the US I saw the segment on the nightly news about this recall and the man it killed.
I'm a die hard Ford fan so this disheartens me. I've always owned Fords and have found them to be quite reliable not to mention safe as I have survived two major accidents in them, walking away.
Unfortunately, the segment didn't give much information as to the underlying issue that could be causing this malady so I did a little research.
The rear axle breaks due to corrosion from salt. This can be deadly as it was for the man that died. Most of the stories I've read the people were fortunate and were not injured.
This is a big problem for Ford and an unfortunate one coming at a time of uncertainty in a still failing economy and at a time when Ford had managed to garner attention and sales following the debacle of Toyota recalls. It appears it's now Ford's turn.
The recalls are for the salt belt states of 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,Wisconsin, District of Columbia and Canada affecting a total of 575,000 vehicles in all. It covers model years from 1998 to 2003. Owners are expecting to wait a few months to see their vans repaired. Others are waiting for reimbursements from Ford for already repaired vehicles prior to the recall. Ford is supplying rentals for those people waiting for the axle to be repaired.
Unfortunately, many people are having to take small compacts which are not ideal for families and the reason most people owned these vans was due to it's larger size and ability to transport more people comfortably. This is the downside and an expensive undertaking for Ford but one that must be taken if Ford wants to maintain any kind of owner loyalty.
There are many out there asking the question, "Why hasn't Ford done more to prevent this?"
Before I get to my opinions as to the possible whys I did some research into this rust issue. It made the nightly news afterall mostly because someone died. Had someone not have died it probably wouldn't have which is unfortunate.
I wondered if any other auto makers have experienced the same problems so I did a little searching and found that Toyota Tacoma and Tundra pickups have rust issues concerning the frames which Toyota is in some cases having to replace the entire frame of the truck. This is a large undertaking and like Ford Toyota is covering rental costs until repair. It affects 440,000 trucks, model years 2000 to 2003, in the same northern states with Virginia added.
Toyota Sienna has had recalls of some 600,000 minivans due to the rusting of the spare tire carrier which in some cases can come apart causing a safety hazard. It affects model years 1998 to 2006. It appears that 2007 to 2010 are also affected but there is no date as to when fixes will be issued for those.
Honda and Isuzu have also issued recalls for their Passports, Rodeos and Axioms due to corrosion of the rear suspension brackets which can lead to detachment from the frame potentially causing a crash. The vehicle and model years affected are the Honda Passport model years 1998 to 2002, Isuzu Axiom model year 2002 and Isuzu Rodeo models years 1998 to 2002. The recall is for the same northern states as Toyota and Ford.
Hyundai has recalled 175,765 of it's Sonata's XG300 and XG350 model years 1999 to 2004 due to excessive corrosion of the front sub frame in the same salt laden states. If unnoticed the lower control arm may separate from it's mount. Another recall affects up to 170,610 Elantra and Tiburon's model years 2001 to 2003 due to excessive corrosion which can cause a failed lower control arm. Yet another recall affects up to 85,036 Santa Fe models. This recall centers around the possible internal corrosion of the rear trailing arms in the vehicle's suspension again in the salt states.
Volvo has recalled over 80,000 of it's cars namely the S40 and V50 model years 2004 to 2006 due to fears of corrosion and corrosion and problems with the electronic fuel pump module which controls fuel to the engine. Volvo is owned by Ford.
Lexus has a fuel system corrosion recall.
So the Ford Windstar isn't the only one that has had corrosion recalls that affect safety. And there are probably many more with rust issues such as these that recalls have never been issued. As a matter of fact my 2002 Ford Taurus suffered a coil spring break which can be brought on by corrosion. There is no recall for this and as far as I know there has never been an injury because in the majority of cases the coil spring breaks before the car even gets going usually as one is backing out of his/her driveway which was the case for me. As soon as I put it into gear and began to back up the spring broke not putting me into harm's way. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for some of the Windstar scenarios.
The GM trucks have had brake line corrosion problems but no recalls for it.
Vehicles have been getting rust proof coating added to them for years and many people believe Ford and other manufacturers haven't went far enough to protect the vehicles. To some degree this is true however no manufacturer can completely protect Mother Nature. When mother nature reigns supreme and shows her fury the salt trucks must come barrelling out in full force laying salt to the roads. Unfortunately, the salt that helps protect against auto accidents has a very negative affect on automobiles and anything made of metal. Salt is extremely corrosive and there is no 100 percent way to guard against it. Salt helps when it snows and in turn it corrodes our automobiles if we live in one of the states where salt laying is an every winter affair.
Are there any alternatives to using salt which is very corrosive? Probably not and if there are it more than likely would be just as harmful to metal.
What alot of people don't realize about rustproofing is that it must be reapplied every year. Let even one year go by without having it serviced to make sure the coating hasn't rubbed off can leave an owner with rust the next year. So I would imagine the process would be very similar to that of rustproofing you get in a body shop or other place that offers this service.
The truth is most people don't want another thing they have to maintain on their vehicle costing yet more money, money that many don't have in today's sagging economy. And those that do have it more than likely would forget about it at some point when life got hectic. People have alot of stuff going on in their life with family, jobs and all the things we get inundated with on a daily basis that fill our lives with more stress than it should to always remember what needs to be done to a vehicle. However, it would be nice if they could come up with a solution that would fix these problems or at least slow them down. It is a shame that someone had to die to really get this problem noticed by not only Ford but other manufacturers as well and as more and more older vehicles are on our roads the problem and the manufacturer that it affects could definitely increase.
We are beyond the time when people traded in their vehicles every couple of years or so. The economy and the credit industry has changed all that as not many people can pay cash every couple of years so people are holding onto their vehicles longer than ever and many people are buying older vehicles to begin with which increases the probability that a rust problem could occur especially in these salt laden areas.
There is no quick fix and there is most definitely not a way to stop it but a few things you can do to try to keep yourself and family safe is to inspect your vehicle every year and also have it inspected by a reputable mechanic for rust and especially in places that could be hazardous. For a thorough inspection this will cost you. How much I don't know. I suggest inspecting it yourself too so just in case your mechanic overlooks something. Be very specific about what you ask to be inspected and what you inspect yourself paying special attention to the wheel wells for rust. If you can rack it, even better as you can take the tires off and inspect more thoroughly. Again pay special attention to the suspension and axles as if these break there can be deadly consequences. Pay attention to the brake lines for rusting too.
Ask the mechanic how long he intends to spend on the vehicle and ask him for a detailed outline of the things he looks at. Most importantly make sure he fully understands exactly what it is you want and your concerns for safety. Of course first and foremost is to find a mechanic you trust.
Pay attention to how the vehicle runs. In many of the posts I read online people experienced swaying and clunking with the Windstar vans and they noticed they were running a little off kilter. If you experience something that doesn't feel quite right stop the vehicle immediately(it doesn't matter what kind it is) and check it out or have it checked. Do not continue to drive a vehicle you are unsure of. Nothing is more important than your life or the lives of your children. Remember your children(small children) can't say they think you should stop so you have to think for them too as they may not be old enough to voice their opinion on the matter and might not understand the gravity of the situation if they can.
Living in Michigan for awhile I know how hard that task can be. I say Michigan because the mechanics there tend to treat people as if they have no brains and understand absolutely nothing about their automobile which simply isn't the case and they treated women in some cases as if they were the lowest life form when it come to cars. This was my experience anyway.
One time when I had a bad cam sensor which they had a hard time figuring out the problem and I had taken to several other mechanics, well one of these mechanics actually had the audacity to tell me to let my husband or boyfriend bring the car in. And advised I not bring it back until it was squealing loud enough to be heard a couple of blocks away. As you can well imagine this made me livid because I knew something was wrong with my car and I wanted it fixed. I finally found someone I liked and trusted and stuck with them. Sometimes this can be a daunting task but it can be accomplished with a little effort.
One last thing to note, vehicles often give warnings that something is wrong. It can be subtle but you are in tune to your vehicle you can catch it so it's important to gauge on a daily basis how your vehicle is running and if you notice it isn't running as well as it once did or something doesn't feel right pay attention to these subtle warning signs. It could save your life or at the very least save you a headache down the road. Sometimes vehicles don't warn but when they do consider yourself very lucky.
If anyone has anything to add and has suggestions for automobile safety I would love to hear it.