Government investigating rust issues on older GM vans, Ford minivans

(December 28, 2011) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in documents posted on its website Tuesday that it has opened investigations into rust issues on older vans and minivans built by General Motors and Ford.

Preliminary investigations are underway into 17,165 model year 2003 Chevrolet Express vans over fuel leaks and into 63,000 model year 2004 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans over severe corrosion in rear wheel wells.

NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation has received seven complaints about severe corrosion in the rear wheel well on Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans, which were in use in salt-belt states. In a few of those cases the rust has compromised anchor mounts holding down the third row of seats, causing the mounts to become detached.

The GM probe is focused on Express vans with a left-hand door behind the door. The fuel filter pipe might corrode and leak fuel, the NHTSA said. The agency said it has received five complaints from salt-belt states over rust issues on Express vans.

The NHTSA said in the Express vans under investigation, the fuel filler pipe is farther back than on vans not equipped with a left-side passenger door. As a result, the filler pipe routes through the rear wheel well, which exposes the filler pipe to road debris and water spray by the rear tire.

GM and Ford both said they are cooperating.

Sources: NHTSA, Detroit News, Automotive News