Delaware State Police Mercury Crown Victorias, photographed in 2010

Delaware State Police Mercury Crown Victorias, photographed in 2010.

Safety is being compromised in more than one way because of possible defects in about 195,000 Crown Victoria police cars, which Ford is recalling along with taxis and limos, according to news reports. The recall affects not only service cars, but includes certain 2005 to 2011 model year Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Cars, whose steering mechanisms could fail due to corrosion, writes Jonathan Welsh for The Wall Street Journal blog Speakeasy.

Welsh writes:

Corrosion can cause a part called the lower intermediate shaft to seize, leading to a potential loss of steering control. Earlier this year federal safety officials with NHTSA said they were looking into several complaints about alleged problems with the steering mechanisms in Crown Victoria Police Interceptor cars from the 2005 through 2008 model years.

At the time the agency said it had received 15 reports of cases in which the vehicles’ upper and lower intermediate steering shafts came apart. The shafts connect the steering wheel to the steering assembly that moves the front wheels. If they separate the driver will no longer be able to steer the car.

Veronica Linares writes for that the recall of 370,000 vehicles includes about 15,000 in Canada, with the rest in the U.S. There have been no reports of accidents or injuries so far, she notes.

According to an article by Christopher Jensen on The New York Times blog Wheels, the cars are only being recalled in those states that use a lot of road salt in wintery weather. They include: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The Center for Auto Safety and other consumer advocates have long criticized regional recalls, saying they save automakers money at the risk of excluding vehicles that could have problems, Jensen writes, adding that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approves regional recalls, and that carmakers have defended them as “safe and practical.”

Ford said owners of the affected vehicles in other states could have their cars checked and, if necessary, repaired by dealers at no cost, Jensen writes. Dealers will correct the defects by replacing the lower intermediate steering shaft, and repairing or replacing the upper intermediate shaft and steering column lower bearing if needed, Welsh writes.

Image by Lee Cannon.

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