fordescapeAccording to Edmunds.com, Ford has issued a recall for over 385,000 Ford Escapes last year because of a rust issue that could cause a dangerous steering malfunction. One crash was traced to the problem, but no one was injured in that crash. In an article entitled “2001-’04 Ford Escape Recalled for Rust, Steering Problem,” Edmunds.com explains which vehicles are affected, the reason for the recall, and how Ford wants to fix the problem. The Affected Vehicles Included in the recall are Escapes built in Kansas City from October 22, 1999, to December 19, 2003, and in Ohio from May 1, 2003, to January 23, 2004. Apparently, to be affected by the recall, a vehicle must have been sold to or registered by a resident of a ‘salt belt’ state or province. That includes New Hampshire, of course. The Problem The article quotes this description of the problem by Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker:

“In some of the affected vehicles, a corrosion-related separation of the forward attachment of the lower control arm from the subframe may occur when vehicles are operated in high-corrosion environments associated with road salt use for an extended time. Separation of the lower control arm from the subframe may result in diminished steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.”

So, once again, the issue is rust. And New Hampshire vehicles get rusty faster than vehicles in states where the winters are so mild they don’t even bother putting any salt on the roads.

The Fix Ford’s solution to the problem is to have its dealers install a reinforcing crossbrace on the affected vehicles. It seems that this crossbrace would be a secondary measure to keep the lower control arm in place in case its original connection to the subframe rots away. If your vehicle falls under this recall notice and has not yet been fitted with its crossbrace, you should make an appointment with a local Ford dealership. If you have any questions, you can call Ford at 1-866-436-7332. New Hampshire Driving One of the comments on the Edmunds.com article seems to echo the experience of a lot of New Hampshire drivers:

Have driven vehicles my whole life in the northeast. Salt on the roads nearly 1/2 the year. When you close in on 10 years of service there is already significant damage to the chassis and sheet metal. In my neck of the woods, it’s not the mileage, it’s the time. With proper maintenance and a bit of luck, you could drive a Honda, Toyota, even many domestics for 25 years if you lived in Arizona or New Mexico. Salt is a killer.

Proactive Rust Prevention Fortunately, there’s now an alternative to just watching our vehicles decay, that doesn’t involve packing up and moving to the desert. A modern rustproofing method more commonly found in Canada is making its way into the States as its effectiveness is becoming more widely known. It is available in New Hampshire from The Rust Stop Pro. Call them at 1-855-OIL-RUST or visit their shop in Concord and ask for the proactive rustproofing service called RS3000, or the corrective solution called Rustoration. If you cannot bring your car in, they offer pickup and delivery, as well as a mobile service that comes to you.