WASHINGTON (Dec. 13)—DaimlerChrysler A.G. said it would respond today to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's request that it recall about 600,000 Dodge Durangos and Dakotas for possible wheel loss.
NHTSA told the auto maker that its investigations revealed that the Durango 4x4 vehicles and Dakota pickup trucks, model years 2000-2003, suffer from unusual corrosion and wear in the upper ball joints of the front suspension control arms. If the ball joints fail, the agency said, the wheel, brake rotor and steering knuckle can fall off.
NHTSA began the preliminary evaluation of the vehicles in July 2003 and upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis four months later. It received 37 separation complaints during the investigation, 25 of which came from owners of model year 2000 Durangos. The problem ended in model year 2003 when DaimlerChrysler redesigned the ball joint, according to a report from NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigation.