Ford Motor Co. has added 27,000 Windstar minivans from Virginia to a larger recall because the rear axles can crack and fail.
The vans are now part of an August 2010 recall of more than 600,000 Windstars in the U.S. in Canada from the 1998 through 2003 model years.
Ford said at the time that the vans were sold in states where salt is used to clear the roads. Over time, the salt can cause the axles to rust, crack and even break, causing a driver to lose control.
Virginia wasn't included in the original recall. But Ford says a recent analysis shows that vans there can have similar problems. There were 11 reports of axle cracks from Virginia between October 2011 and March of 2012.
No crashes are injuries have been reported from the problem in Virginia, Ford spokesman Daniel Pierce said. The expanded recall covers Windstars either sold or registered in Virginia. Ford will either replace the axles or install brackets to reinforce them.
Ford will mail letters to Virginia van owners starting the week of June 18.
The 2010 recall covered minivans in 23 states that were built at Ford's Oakville, Ontario, plant from Sept. 1, 1997 through July 3, 2003.
Only 60 percent of the vans in the original recall have been brought in for repairs, Pierce said. Of the remainder, some have been scrapped and others were not fixed, he said. "Ultimately it is up to the customer to take the car to get repaired," he said, adding that Ford sends out multiple notices and still will make the repairs if someone brings in a van.
Driving an unrepaired van could cause a crash. Eight crashes and three injuries have been linked to the original recall, Pierce said.
Ford said no deaths have occurred because of the problem. But a Massachusetts man was killed in a 2010 crash involving a Windstar with a fractured axle. Pierce said the axle could have broken when the van went over a 12-inch curb.
"A completely fractured rear axle may lead to a loss of vehicle control. There may be little or no warning to the operator before a cracked rear axle completely fractures," Ford said in documents posted Wednesday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website.
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