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Ford recalls sedans because the wheels may fall off

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Ford Motor Company is recalling 2010-2011 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan vehicles with 17-inch steel wheels because the wheel studs may fracture, potentially causing a wheel to separate from the vehicle.

128,616 Ford Fusion and Milan sedans are affected by the recall.

Drivers of the affected vehicles may feel a vibration indicating fracture of wheel studs. If left unaddressed and the wheel should fall off, the driver could lose control of the vehicle and crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a defect investigation in January 2011 based upon customer reports of problems with the wheel studs. In July, the agency upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis after receiving additional customer reports and notification from Ford of a number of manufacturer warranty claims.

The Detroit News reports that the NHTSA has received a total of 29 consumer complaints and 128 warranty claims related to broken wheel studs.

In four cases, the wheel fell off the vehicle.

Ford has notified the NHTSA that its investigation has identified two separate root causes for the problem. Either a defect in the stamping of the steel wheel mounting pads or defect in the machining of the wheel mounting face of rear brake discs may contribute to a reduction in clamp load when the wheel is attached to the wheel hub and may cause bending fatigue of the wheel studs.

In late January 2012, Ford will send Milan and Fusion owners a letter notifying them to take their vehicle to a Ford or Lincoln dealer for replacement of all lug nuts, and inspection of rear wheel disc brakes and repair if necessary.

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  1. Tom says:
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    I owned a 1998 Ford Windstar and at 69,000 miles the right front wheel came off as I was driving. I had vibration for a few miles before the “incident” but nothing looked out of the ordinary. I thought I had a bad brake rotor. All 5 wheel studs sheared off and amazingly nobody was hurt. I filed a complaint with NHTSA, as did over 1600 other Windstar owners, but when I called Ford I was told by a Ford lawyer it was my fault for either over- or under-tightening the lug nuts. The problems went away with a change in the van model year. These current problems are exactly the same as the problems I had. See http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/defects/ and do a search for 1998 Windstar wheel/lug nuts. Incidentally, when I retrieved the wheel the next day (in a ditch), all 5 lug nuts were still firmly attached to the wheel studs, the problem was that they were lying in the plastic wheel hubcap in a ditch and not on the car: the lug nuts looked just like they should from the outside. The problem in the late ’90′s and today is an unexpected stress placed on the wheels that Ford has not isolated; a recall will not solve the problem.