Ford Windstar Axle Defect

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nationwide

By May 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had received over 200 complaints from Ford Windstar owners citing rear axles that snapped, often with little to no warning. Ford, however, resisted the recall and stood by their product, stating that the Windstar was a front wheel drive vehicle and that rear axle breakage would not be a safety issue. That, unfortunately, was not the case and it would take a tragic loss of life before Ford issue the much needed recall of their rear axle.

The national consumer class action attorneys at Golomb Legal are currently litigating class action lawsuits on behalf of those who bought or leased a 1998 to 2003 model year Ford Windstar in California. These popular minivans have a rear-axle defect that can make the axles prone to fractures, which may in turn affect vehicle handling and increase the risk for collision and severe injuries. If you purchased or leased a 1998 to 2003 Ford Windstar in the state of California, please call our skilled class action lawyers at 215.278.4449 for your free case evaluation.

Ford Windstar Recall

Amid growing complaints from consumers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in early 2010 began investigating potential flaws in the rear axles of Ford Windstars that were manufactured between 1997 and 2003.

Evidence indicates that the rear axles on these minivans are susceptible to premature cracking and fracturing due to inherent metal fatigue that can occur in certain places on the axles under normal driving conditions. The axles on the affected Windstars are unsealed, hollow cylinders that allow water and other corrosive agents to accumulate internally, rusting the axles from the inside out and making them vulnerable to failure during operation.

Upon investigation, it was determined that 55% of the rear axles fractured completely and over 25% of the fractures occurred at speeds of 40 mph or faster. At least one case reported that the axle snapped in half, causing an accident as the van plowed into a guardrail.

In August 2010, Ford issued a voluntary recall of hundreds of thousands of 1998 to 2003 Ford Windstars due to the rear axle defect. In the United States, Ford only extended the Windstar recall to 21 so-called "Salt Belt" states and the District of Columbia, areas in which the company said road-salt corrosion is more common. In November 2010, that recall was expanded to include the State of Utah. The recall is still not enough.

In January 2011, a second corrosion-related recall was issued for the Salt-Belt states that involved a failure of Ford Windstar’s front lower control arm. The failure of this front control arm could also result in the loss of steering.

When the Rear Axle Fails

When the rear axle breaks or fails suddenly, the Windstar (even though it is a front wheel drive vehicle) can begin to sway from side-to-side or suddenly begin to spin. Some drivers reported hearing a sudden loud pop or high clanking when their rear axle broke. At high speeds, this loss of sudden control can be disarming and can cause serious and even fatal accidents.

By 2011, the number of complaints against Ford had already grown to 891 with 8 crashes, 3 injuries, and 1 fatality cited. Even in 2014, accidents are still occurring due to Ford rear axle failure, especially in states where recalls were not offered.

Ford Windstar Class Action

Windstar owners in California and more than 20 other states were excluded from the recall fix, despite Ford's acknowledgement that the rear axle failures were primarily the result of metal fatigue and merely accelerated by corrosion.

This metal fatigue defect is present on 1998 to 2003 Windstars in every state, not just the Salt Belt states in which Ford conducted its selective recall. The Salt Belt spans from the Northeast through the upper-Midwest and is generally considered to include Maine, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota and Washington D.C.

In January 2014, a federal judge in California ruled that two plaintiffs could proceed against the Ford Motor Company with consumer fraud and warranty claims stemming from the Windstar rear axle defects. The accomplished consumer rights lawyers at Golomb Legal litigated this case on behalf of the plaintiffs, who seek to represent a class of Windstar owners who leased or purchased a 1998 to 2003 model year Windstar in California.