The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into 80,000 Ford and General Motors vans and minivans for rust problems. The investigation began after the NHTSA received complaints about a fuel leak affecting 17,165 Chevrolet Express vans and severe corrosion in the rear wheel wells of 63,000 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans. While examining these vehicles for the original complaint it became evident rust was a pressing issue.
According to the NHTSA, the fuel filler pipe on 2003 Chevrolet Express vans may corrode and leak. Five complaints from “salt-belt” states have also reported rust problems with the Express van. Chevrolet’s full-size utility van with left-side passenger doors are currently being investigated by the NHTSA as the fuel filler pipe is farther back in vans that don’t have a door. Vans configured with a left-side passenger door have the fuel filler pipe routed over the rear wheel well, exposing the pipe to debris and water spray.
Ford is also a subject of this investigation as the NHTSA received seven complaints pertaining to selected 2004 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey models. The reported vans are also from “salt-belt” states, which use road salt to combat winter weather for up to five months out of the year. The original complaint dealt with rear wheel wells that eroded over time, causing the third-row seat mounts to become completely detached from the van. The stowable third-row seating is held to the van by two latches on each side of the seat cushion along with the help from two other latches behind the seat cushion.
While no accidents have been reported because of this issue, the NHTSA continues to investigate vehicles slowly being consumed by rust. Recently automakers have called back vehicles from 21 “salt-belt” states including Michigan and the District of Columbia to correct the issue. Both Ford and GM are fully cooperating with the NHTSA’s investigation.
Source: Detroit News, NHTSA