Many drivers purchase minivans for one reason: Their family's safety.
Ford's Windstar was one of the most popular minivans in America, top rated for safety, earlier this decade.
But thousands of those vans are now on the recall list because of a corrosion issue so severe, the wheels can break off as you're driving down the highway.
And now, delays in getting new parts are taking thousands of Windstars off the road for weeks, as dealers have to wait to make the fix.
Looks Great Up Top
Body shop owner Larry Brafford of Brafford's Auto Body in Cincinnati's Price Hill neighborhood showed me one 1999 Windstar that looked great at first glance.
But underneath the rear axle is broken, snapped in two.
Larry said "right under there you can see it. The axle beam goes from wheel to wheel, and it's split in the middle from corrosion."
David Cicci of Price Hill said his father in law was backing the van out of the family's driveway when everyone heard a clunk. They looked and found the rear wheel bent and loose, the van undriveable.
David Cicci said "we're real happy it happened in our driveway. If it happens to anyone else I hope it's in their driveway and not at speed."
Ford Issues Recall
After more than 200 complaints of breaking axles, and at least two crashes, Ford is now recalling half a million Windstars, model years 1998 to 2003.
The recall is only in 21 "salt belt" states, but used Windstars can show up in any state. For that reason, Larry Brafford suggests all Windstar owner should have a mechanic inspect their axles for corrosion.
Larry Brafford said "that should never happen, ever, to any car. Cause if youre on the expressway driving and that thing cracks, you're in big trouble."
Ford believes the problem primarily affects windstars from in heavily salted areas, like northern Ohio, Michigan, and New England. But many of those vans have been traded in and resold in other states -- even as far south as Florida -- which is why mechanics say every Windstar should be checked.
Unfortunately, Ford now has to remanufacture and then ship the axles, which is taking several months.
So owners with axles determinted to be dangerously rusted are now being urged to park their vans until the axle can be replaced. Some say their dealer "impounded" their van for safety reasons.
One Alexandria, Ky woman told us her van may not be fixed for 3 months, according to her dealer.
The good news: Ford says it is giving owners of "grounded" Windstars free loaner cars until the new axles arrive.
As always, don't waste your money.
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