The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Ford have recalled several models for impaired windshield visibility. “The presence of bubbles may hinder driver’s visibility thereby increasing the risk of a crash,” according to the recall notice.
The recall has been issued for certain model year 2011 Ford E-150, E-250, E-350 and E-450 vehicles Ford says were built between May 12, 2011 and May 26, 2011.
“Due to improper manufacturing conditions, some of the windshields may form bubbles after an extended time in hot temperatures. As such, these vehicles fail to conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 205, ‘Glazing Materials,’” reads the statement.
In a report, Ford says, “On May 23, 2011, at the Ohio Assembly Plant, a vehicle was discovered with a windshield that exhibited bubbles after sitting in the yard for three days. Other vehicles were found exhibiting bubbles in the yard. A stop ship was issued and all vehicles were inspected and repaired. An investigation was conducted and it was determined that some windshields were not manufactured correctly. A review of field data determined that vehicles had been shipped with the condition and were being repaired under Ford’s 3/36 warranty. Ford conducted a review of FMVSS 205 and determined that some windshields may not fully meet the requirement of Section S5.1 .1 that cites ANSI 226.1-1996 section 5.4, Boil Test, which prohibits bubbles in the test area.”
While the initial disclosure of the problem was filed by Ford with NHTSA in September 2011, the recall was not issued until January, in light of a petition from Ford to exempt the company from notification and remedying the situation.
The potential number of units estimated to be affected is 4,532. Of those, Steven Kenner, a representative of Ford, said in a 2011 letter to NHTSA only 100 of those windshields may bubble.
“Certain manufacturing conditions at the supplier may have allowed air particles to be trapped between the layers of glass. When the windshield is exposed to high temperatures, such as when the vehicle is parked in the sun with the windows closed in ambient temperatures greater than 80° Fahrenheit, bubbles may develop. Due to high seasonal temperatures when this concern occurred, it is expected that windshields with the potential for this condition would develop air bubbles at very low time-in-service, typically prior to delivery to the final customers. Out of 41 reports received of the 100 expected vehicles with the condition, only one has occurred subsequent to customer delivery,” Kenner wrote in the letter.
“There are no reports of air bubbles affecting the entire windshield. If bubbles occurred in the driver vision zone, they did not completely obscure it,” he added. “The appearance of the air bubbles is a slow process, most likely occurring when the vehicle is parked in the sun with the windows closed, and would be noticed by the customer who would seek repair under Ford’s normal 3/36 warranty.”
To correct the situation, Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the windshield if bubbles are present, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on, or about, January 27, 2014.