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Safety risks tied to older Ohio GM and Ford vans?

As recently reported in the Detroit News, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has started investigations into older General Motors and Ford vans and minivans.

These older vehicles have rusting issues that appear to lead to potential safety problems, including fuel leaks, which could potentially lead to the occurrence of car accidents. The NHTSA states on its website that it has opened some 17,163 preliminary investigations on 2003 Chevrolet Express vans and 63,000 investigations on Mercury Monterey and Ford Freestar minivans.

The investigation pertaining to GM is focused on the company’s Express vans with a left-hand door behind the front door. It appears that the fuel filter pipe may corrode over time and then end up leaking fuel, which is a major concern.

In the investigation pertaining to Ford automobiles, NHTSA investigators state that they have received seven complaints regarding the 2004 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans. The minivans were used in salt-belt states, and the complaints pertained to the rear-wheel wells becoming severely corroded, causing safety issues.

Although the NHTSA has not identified any car accidents or injuries in connection with either investigation, the agency is concerned. In recent years, the agency has conducted investigations regarding rusting issues on a number of older vehicles. These probes did cause automakers to recall vehicles that were being used in the 21 salt-belt states, including Ohio, Michigan and the District of Columbia.

Both Ford and GM’s spokespersons have made statements that they will cooperate with the government’s investigations.

Source: The Detroit News, “Feds investigating 80,000 older Ford, GM vehicles for rust issues” David Shepardson, Dec. 27, 2011