Wheel Separation in 2016 Ford Taurus-Possible Recall?

One of our recent investigations involved the separation of the left front wheel and whether it was the cause of a two vehicle accident.  The scenario was such that the driver made a right hand turn and felt the vehicle pull to the left.  The driver also stated that he lost control and hit a parked car.  Typically, in these types of impacts, the wheel is pushed into the wheel well.  But, in this case the wheel separated from the car.  Upon examination, it was determined that the threaded connection holding the strut to the frame was broken as well as the clamping part of the lower steering knuckle.  The failed parts are shown below.

DSC01046

Failed strut threaded connection

DSC01042Clamping part of lower steering knuckle found broken

It should be noted that the steering arm tie rod was also bent and broken and that a stabilizing rod connected to the strut was separated from its knuckle joint.  If either of these connections is broken, then the wheel will become unstable.  Are there other instances where drivers have experienced similar situations?  Is this a condition that warrants a recall?

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What Happened Here?

Recently, we have been investigating an incident that took place almost one year prior to our involvement. A two vehicle accident occurred in which one of the vehicles involved was a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt. The vehicle was subsequently repaired at a local body shop and returned to the owner. Approximately three to four days later, the engine overheated. According to the owner, the vehicle was returned to the shop where it was determined that the shop’s mechanic had forgotten to add coolant to the radiator before returning the vehicle to the owner. Once the coolant issue had been resolved and the vehicle returned to the owner, the owner began hearing a rumbling noise that turned out to be a damaged catalytic converter. A large crack developed in the expansion joint just below the flange that connects the converter to the exhaust manifold. It was also discovered that the exhaust manifold had cracked in four places (see attached photographs).

DSC09580 what happened 1 what happened 2

Based upon the owner’s description of the vehicle’s performance after the vehicle was initially returned, the rumbling noise was not present and did not occur until after coolant was added and the vehicle was returned for the second time.  It appeard that the damage to the catalytic converter and the exhaust manifold was caused when the engine overheated.

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