2004 Ford Freestar

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week that it is investigating the Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans for three deaths involving their service jacks. The particular jacks being investigated come with the car so that the owner can change a tire if necessary. The agency is probing 205,661 minivans from model years 2004 and 2005 as a result of one death and three injuries that may have been caused when the vans’ jacks failed.

Reportedly, the death and injuries occurred when the jacks’ hinges failed, causing the minivan to drop onto a person working underneath. “NHTSA said the jack should only be used to change a tire,” cautions Automotive News, since changing a tire does not require a person to get under the van while it’s jacked up.

At this point, the Ford and Mercury vans are still under investigation, so NHTSA won’t know whether to recall them until the probe has been concluded. Until then, if you’re concerned your minivan may be affected, be sure not to use the van’s jack for serious under-car work. Instead, use your own hydraulic jack, or take it to a repair shop.

To find out more about NHTSA’s investigation, or to see if your minivan is included in the investigation, keep an eye on the agency’s website. In most cases, automakers will notify car owners if their vehicle has been recalled.

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