FORD recalls three-quarters of a million Windstars as fire risks
Thursday, September 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Ford Motor Co. is recalling 777,742 Windstar minivans because they have faulty parts that could catch fire.
All the 1999 and 2000 models being recalled have a wiper motor that can collect moisture and overheat. About 525,164 have a second wiring problem in the air conditioner.
Ten Windstar owners told Ford that the wiper motor problem started fires, and 63 others said their wiper motor gear cover melted. Ford said no accidents or injuries were reported.
The company also said no injuries or fires have been reported from the air conditioner problem, which Ford engineers discovered during a review of the system. The medium-low blower speed setting bypasses the thermal limiter in the blower speed resistor and could become hot, smoke and potentially catch fire.
The two recalls are the latest in a string of problems with the Windstar line.
Ford has now recalled the 2000 Windstar seven times. Other problems were with the window glass, fuel line, seat belt buckles, instrument panel and throttle. Three other problems have been identified with the 1999 model, including the instrument panel, overhead console and brakes.
The 2001 model has been recalled six times, the 1998 10 times, the 1996 seven times and both the 1997 and 1995 have been recalled five times.
Many of the recalls do not cover all vehicles built in that model year but a smaller group built at a particular plant or with specific components.
``We constantly monitor the performance of our vehicles, and when we see an issue we take quick action,'' said Ford spokesman Mike Vaughn. ``And that's certainly the case with these vehicles.''
Sales of the Windstar are running 29 percent below last year's, but Ford and industry analysts say that is because minivans are not selling as the economy slows and foreign competition enters the market. Industrywide, minivan sales are down 19 percent.
``Windstar has been dropping for a while now,'' said Chris Cedergren Nextrend, an investment analysis service. ``I don't think it has anything to do with the recalls. I think it's because that segment of the market isn't doing that well.''
All the models in the latest recalls were built at the Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant.
The automaker sent letters last week to owners whose minivans are covered by the recalls. Ford dealers will install new wiper motor covers with improved water resistance and a wire in the air conditioner that will ensure that the medium low blower speed setting will be protected by the thermal limiter.