Ford recall expands as victim's family speaks out

December 15, 2010 11:48:37 AM PST
Ford Motor Co. hasn't done enough to tell owners about its recall of Windstar minivans, according to the family of a Massachusetts man who was killed when his rear axle cracked in half, sending the vehicle careening into a building.

Sean Bowman's family members told The Associated Press on Wednesday that they received a safety recall notice from Ford in October, one week after the fatal accident.

Ford announced in August that it was recalling 575,000 older-model Windstars over concerns the rear axles can corrode and break, but the recall wasn't widely publicized.

After an inquiry about Bowman's case from the AP, Ford said Wednesday that it was expanding its recall and cooperating with government investigators. It declined to comment on Bowman's case.

The automaker said Wednesday that it was adding 37,000 minivans to the initial recall. The addition brings the total number of Windstars covered to 612,000 in the U.S. and Canada.

The original recall included vans sold in the 1998 to 2003 model years in 21 U.S. states and Canada where heavy road salt can cause the axles to rust. The corrosion can lead to cracks that can cause the axles to break.

The recall expansion includes 2003 model-year vans with heat-treated axles. It also includes vans registered in Utah, where road salt is used in some areas.

Ford had been checking state motor vehicle registration databases to find Windstar owners in the affected states.

It began notifying owners of the additional 37,000 vans about the recall on Dec. 6.

Ford said that as of September, the latest figures it has available, there were seven accidents with three injuries, none serious. Ford says it was aware of 950 complaints at that time.

The company said Windstar owners with questions should contact their local dealers or call Ford at 1-866-436-7332.