Ford Motor Co has recalled nearly 129,000 of its Mercury Milan and top-selling Ford Fusion in the United States because their 17-inch steel wheels may fall off, U.S. safety regulators said on Friday.
In some vehicles from model years 2010 and 2011, the wheel studs may fracture and make the car shake. If ignored, the wheels may fall off a moving car, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a posting on its website.
Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, said the issue may stem from wheel mounting pads or rear brake discs that have been incorrectly built and cannot support the wheel.
The sedans were built at Ford's Hermosillo stamping and assembly plant in Mexico in April 2009 and from December 2009 through November 13, 2010.
Fusion sales were up about 15 percent for the first 11 months of 2011. The car competes against Honda Motor Co's Accord and Toyota Motor Co's Camry.
The recall also affects vehicles with service steel wheels likely sold between mid-April 2010 and mid-November 2010.
As of September 30, Ford has found six cases in which a wheel has fallen off possibly due to these problems. One front wheel was affected and the other five incidents involved a rear wheel.
Cars with alloy wheels are not affected. Ford said that 128,616 cars were affected by the recall.
Ford's sales have rebounded partly because of the improved quality of its lineup. Still, the company tumbled 10 spots this year on a widely-watched reliability study due to technical glitches in some of its models.
(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit; Editing by Derek Caney)