Ford is recalling more than 450,000 SUVs and minivans back to the shop to replace a faulty torque converter.
The defective part affects Ford Freestar minivans and Mercury Monterey SUVs built in 2004-2005. If the torque converter fails, it causes loss of motive power and will bring the vehicle to an inevitable stop. Steering, parking, emergency lights, turn signals, and brakes will continue to work, and the vehicle remains controllable as it coasts to a halt. But the loss of power can be dangerous for people driving behind these recalled vehicles.
An investigation into this parts defect was launched in 2009 due to 65 owner complaints about the vehicle. Records from National Highway Safety Transportation Administration show that Ford argued that it had a low complaint rate for this malfunction and only two accidents that resulted from a failing torque converter in its vehicles. However, the manufacturer agreed to the recall to avoid a protracted dispute with the agency.
Owners of affected Ford and Mercury vehicles will be notified by e-mail and will be able to have their torque converter replaced at no charge.