Owners of high-mileage Ford Windstars that are operated in the “Salt-Belt” may find themselves facing a rather expensive repair.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has been receiving an increasing number of complaints regarding the popular minivan. It appears that high-mileage Windstars model years 1999 through 2003 show a high rate of subframe corrosion.
The subframe, located at the front underside of the Windstar, is supposed to help keep the engine and other integral parts of the Windstar in place and stable. If it were to become compromised and break, the results could be deadly.
What Causes Ford Windstar Subframe Rust
The factors that lead to the subframe rust include high-mileage (in excess of 100,000 odometer miles) and winter driving conditions. The use of salt on the roads to improve winter driving conditions is the very same element that speeds the corrosion of the sub frame.
According to the national Highway safety administration, of the 87 complaints received prior to July of 2010, 85 of them were from drivers in the salt belt. Because of the large number of complaints effective July 20 in 2010 day NHTSA has launched an investigation to the problem (NHTSA Action Number: PE10026).
Ford Windstar Subframe Corrosion Hazards
The Ford Windstar rusting sub frame clearly poses a safety hazard. According to NHTSA’s Ford Windstar Action Number PE10026,
“…several complainants indicated detachment of the drive axle (half shaft) from the transmission, which may occur when a lower control arm mount separates and causes the wheel to pull free from the drive axle.” The action further states that “Several complaints indicated there were no warnings prior to any of the aforementioned failures.”
This is clearly a dangerous condition that must be addressed.
What Do Ford Windstar Owners Do?
If you have a high-mileage Windstar of the model years affected with the rusting subframe issue, take your vehicle to a mechanic, have it put on a lift and inspect the subframe. The area of the sub frame most affected by the corrosion is located on the passenger side where it attaches to the lower control arm.
If you find that your car is affected, file a complaint with the NHTSA. Visit their site and complete the complaint form. You’ll need to have your vehicle make, model and VIN. Provide the NHTSA with a description of the problem.
Ford’s Response to the Subframe Corrosion
So far there is no official word from Ford regarding the Windstar’s rusting sub frame problem. Hopefully, as Windstar owners make their voices heard by reporting the problem through the NHTSA, it will be moved from an “Action” to a “Recall.”
Only time will tell how the NHTSA investigation proceeds and whether or not Ford will be forced to recall and repair this growing problem. If this issue becomes a recall, Ford is responsible for fixing the problem. If it does not, look to spend in excess of $1,000 to purchase a new subframe and at least 4 to 5 hours of billable mechanic time to install it. This is by no means an inexpensive fix.