Ford Motor Company has announced a voluntary safety recall on 2010-2011 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan models. The vehicles being recalled are all equipped with 17 inch steel wheels.
The automobiles were built between April 1, 2009 through April 30, 2009. A second round was manufactured between December 1, 2009 and November 13, 2010. 128,616 Ford Fusion and Milan sedans are affected by the recall.
The wheel studs on these cars may fracture, which drivers will feel as a vibration in the steering wheel. Wheel studs are threaded posts onto which a car’s wheels are attached with lug nuts. If left unaddressed and the wheel should fall off, the driver could lose control of the vehicle and crash.
Yes, you read that correctly – the defect can result in the car losing a wheel. At least four separate incidents have been documented.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a formal defect investigation in January 2011 after receiving a number of consumer complaints. In July, the NHTSA upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis. The NHTSA received 29 complaints and 128 warranty claims related to broken wheel studs.
Ford, for its part, had informed the NHTSA that its internal investigation identified two root causes for the problem: the cars have a defect in the stamping of the wheel mounting pads; or a defect related to the machining of the wheel mounting face. Both situations may cause bending fatigue of the wheel studs.
Ford is currently scheduled to begin notifying owners of the cars in question on or about January 24, 2012. Dealers will inspect the rear brake disc surface for flatness, and replace them as necessary. All of the wheel lug nuts will be replaced as well, on all four wheels.
Owners can contact Ford’s Customer Relationship Center toll free at 1-866-436-7332. Ford’s internal recall number is 11S23. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s vehicle safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236.