WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. says it is recalling 575,000 older model Windstar vans in the United States and Canada because of the possibility that the rear axles can corrode and potentially break.
The recall covers vehicles in the model years 1998 to 2003 sold in states where the heavy use of road salt can cause more corrosion. That includes Canada, New England, the Mid-Atlantic states and the Great Lakes region.
Ford Motor Co. says it plans to start notifying owners beginning Sept. 27. The company says axles have broken in a small number of vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began an investigation in May after receiving 234 Windstar driver complaints of rear axle problems, which included two crashes. One driver reported the axle snapped in half after hitting a pothole, which caused the tires to blow and the vehicle to strike a guardrail. No injuries were linked to the problem.
NHTSA said the axle's design, which forms an inverted "U'', may cause an excess of salty road slurry to collect on the axle. The safety regulator reported that 96 percent of all complaints were from the "Salt Belt" states where salt is used heavily to prevent freezing roadways during winter months.
Ford said in documents filed Thursday with NHTSA told of its Sept. 27 notification plans. It said repairs will be made at no cost to owners.