LEGAL: Ford Files Law Suit Over Dana Frames
Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
In an unusual legal move, Ford Motor Co. has filed a lawsuit against Tier I supplier Dana Corp., alleging the supplier produced frames for its Windstar minivan that prematurely corroded in cold-weather states and caused a recall of some 425,000 vehicles. Ford alleges in its lawsuit that road salt caused the problems that led to the recall.
Dana has denied the accusations.
The Ford lawsuit seeks compensation for the recall, although a figure on the cost of the recall was not released. The Ford Windstar was recalled as many as nine times prior to 2011 for various issues.
Considering the amount of outsourcing that automakers perform, these types of lawsuits have become rare and automakers are usually able to find a non-court solution when these situations arise. Indeed, Ford Motor stated that it continues to purchase parts from Dana despite the legal rift.
In December 2010, the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) initiated an engineering analysis of all Windstar models made from 1999 to 2003, particularly those that were driven in salt-belt states where corrosion issues are more severe. NHTSA said at the time that it had received 346 complaints related to corrosion on the vehicle's front subframe, which supports the engine, transaxle, steering gear and other components. These complaints were related to cracking and excessive corrosion of the subframe.
We reported at the time that the problem appeared to be concentrated on the passenger side of the minivan where the vehicle's air conditioning lines are located and there was a consideration that condensation from those lines drips down onto the subframe contributing to the corrosion problem.
Ford has not elaborated as to whether or not the air conditioning lines contributed to the problem.
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