NHTSA opens probes into GM, Ford minivans

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Dec. 29, 2011—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened investigations this month into problems with rust and fuel leaks on vans and minivans that General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. made.

According to NHTSA documents, preliminary investigations into approximately 17,165 2004 Chevrolet Express minivans are now open because of complaints about fuel leaks. Investigations into about 63,000 2004 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans are open because of corrosion in rear wheel wells.

The NHTSA received five complaints about fuel leakage on the GM vans, all from salt-belt states. The fuel filler pipe goes through the back wheel well, exposing the pipe to road debris and water spray by the rear tire. Debris and water then collect between the pipe and protective tubing, which then causes corrosion and leakage.

In the Ford complaints, the stowable third-row seats are secured to the vehicle by two anchors on each side of the seat cushion. These anchors are mounted to the rear wheel wells, which were severely corroded, according to the NHTSA. In some cases, an anchor mount completely detached from the vehicle, according to agency documents.

According to a report in The Detroit News, the NHTSA didn’t connect crashes or injuries with the investigation. GM and Ford both told the newspaper they are cooperating.

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