DETROIT -- Ford is recalling 230,000 minivans in 20 cold-weather states and Washington, D.C., to fix rust problems that can cause the third-row seats to come loose.
The company says the recall affects Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans from the 2004 through 2007 model years. They were sold mainly in Canada and U.S. states where salt is used to clear roads in the winter.
Ford said Thursday that rust can weaken the mounting brackets that hold the removable seats to the van floor. The company says no crashes or injuries have been reported from the problem.
Dealers will install new seat mounting brackets, placing them outside of the area that can rust. They'll also install panels above the rear wheels to prevent water from entering, Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said. Owners will be notified of the recall by letter during the last week of March.
"The panels will protect that area so that it won't get any other exposure to corrosive elements," Felker said.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating the vans from the 2004 model year in December, and added 2005 through 2007 to the probe in April because they all have similar seat designs.
The recall covers 196,500 minivans in the U.S. and another 33,500 outside the U.S., mainly in Canada, Felker said.
Vans in Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Delaware, Maine, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Indiana, Michigan, New York, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., are being recalled.