(Adds Ford statement on recalling 616 vehicles)
DETROIT, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co has told its dealers to stop test-driving and selling C-Max and Focus models produced during a week this month because of potential problems with the steering gear assembly, a notice sent to dealers on Wednesday shows.
A Ford spokeswoman said Thursday that none of the affected vehicles were sold to customers and that 32 were on dealer lots. The rest of the 616 vehicles that may have the steering gear defect are in transit to dealers, Ford said Thursday afternoon, when it confirmed that it is recalling those vehicles.
Some C-Max and Focus models built at the Michigan Assembly Plant outside of Detroit from Aug. 8-15 may not have enough ball bearings in the steering gear assembly, the notice to dealers obtained by Reuters said.
“This condition can result in deformation and degradation of the remaining ball bearings, which can lead to impaired steering, including the loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a crash,” Ford said Thursday afternoon.
Ford said 502 of the recalled vehicles are in transit to U.S. dealers, 108 are going to Canada, and six to U.S. federalized territories.
Dealers will replace the steering gear before selling the vehicles, Ford said.
Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Leslie Adler