In a letter dated August 26, 2010, Ford Motor Company (Ford) submitted a Defect Information Report notifying NHTSA that it will conduct a safety recall (NHTSA Recall No. 10V-385) to address a rear axle defect in model year (MY) 1998 through 2003 Ford Windstar vehicles built at the Oakville assembly plant from September 1, 1997 through February 28, 2003 and either sold or currently registered in high corrosion (Salt-Belt) states where the use of salt and other corrosive chemicals may be used to treat snow/ice covered roads.The following states are included in Ford's recall:Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The subject vehicles utilize a Stamped/Formed axle assembly manufactured by Benteler automotive Corporation of Galesburg, MI.According to Ford, after many years of vehicle service in the Salt-Belt states, corrosion can weaken the rear axle, making it susceptible to torsional stress.There is a risk that the combined effects of corrosion and stress can lead to cracks which, if undetected, can propagate and result in a complete fracture of the axle.A completely fractured axle can affect vehicle handling and increase the risk of a crash.To correct the safety defect, Ford will initially inspect all of the subject vehicles brought into Ford/Lincoln-Mercury dealerships for possible cracked axles.Owners of vehicles without cracked axles will be notified when to return for the installation of reinforcement brackets to extend the axle durability in the presence of corrosion.Owners who have vehicles with cracked axles will either be offered a repair or alternative transportation until parts become available. On May 13, 2010, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened PE10-016 to investigate complaints of rear axle cracking in MY 1999 through 2003 Ford Windstar minivans.Combining ODI and Ford complaint data, ODI is aware of a total 891 complaints alleging rear axle cracking in the subject vehicles.Over a third of the complaints (334) allege that the cracking progressed to a complete fracture of the rear axle, including 8 allegations of crashes resulting in 3 injuries. Approximately 57 percent of the subject vehicles (524,661) were sold in Salt-Belt states covered by Ford's recall and Ford estimates that approximately 463,000 of these remain in service.Ninety-six percent of the complaints (858) and all of the complaints alleging complete fracture were from the recall region.The action taken by Ford is sufficient to resolve the issues raised by this investigation.Accordingly, this investigation is closed.