GM and Ford Getting Rusty: NHSTA Investigates Older Vans and Minivans

On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it opened investigations on older General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) vans and minivans for rust issues.

According to documents on the NHTSA website, the preliminary investigation is reviewing 17,165 Chevrolet Express vans (2003 model) for fuel leaks and 63,000 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans (2004 models) for severe corrosion in their rear wheel wells.

Both companies are cooperating with the reviews.

The NHTSA has not identified any crashes or injuries in either investigation.

GM Review

The NHTSA is looking at the Express vans’ left-hand door behind the door. The agency believes its fuel filter pipe could corrode and leak fuel. It has already received five complaints from the “salt-belt” states (locations that use road salt during winter months) for rust issues on the Express vans.

With the Express vans that are being investigated, “the fuel filler pipe is farther back than on vans not equipped with a left-side passenger door,” according to the NHTSA. Because of this, the filler pipe goes through the rear wheel well and it then exposes the it to road debris and water spray near the van’s rear tire.

Ford Review

The NHTSA has received seven complaints regarding the 2004 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans from salt-belt states. According to the complainants, the rear wheel wells had become very severely corroded, noting that the anchor mount had been completely detached from the minivans.

The third-row seat is secured to the van with two latches on each side of the seat cushion and by two hinges on the rear face of the seat cushion, said NHTSA.

In response to the investigation, company spokesperson Daniel Pierce said, “Ford will fully cooperate with the government as they review the matter at the start of and throughout this investigation.”

This is not the first time the agency has investigated rust issues. In recent years, it has reviewed many older vehicles as automakers have recalled them for rust in 21 salt-belt states. These have included Michigan and the District of Columbia.

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