WASHINGTON—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Cadillac Allantes for alleged anti-lock brake failure, as well as warning Ford Mustang Cobra owners about possible problems combining original equipment brake hoses with aftermarket high-performance front brake linings. The agency also recently announced that it has closed a defect investigation into possible brake hose rupture on 155,240 1992 Ford Aerostar minivans—for now.
NHTSA knows of at least 415 complaints regarding complete or partial brake failure on the Allante at speeds of 10 to 60 mph, including 29 crashes, 18 injuries and one fatality. Most of the failures were preceded by the ABS light and the electronic dashboard message, "ABS Disabled."
The agency is investigating 16,280 Allantes built between 1987 and 1992.
As for the Mustang Cobra, both NHTSA and Ford are warning more than 34,000 owners of the 1994-98 SVT Mustang Cobra that certain aftermarket brake linings are incompatible with OE front brake hoses on the vehicles.
NHTSA said it knows of 21 brake hose failures in 15 Cobras driven at high speeds on race tracks, two of which caused crashes. Two of the failures were brake hose leaks, and the others involved separation of the hose from the metal end fitting at the brake caliper.
Ford said the hose failures are the direct result of brake caliper/rotor overheating in Cobras equipped with the aftermarket brake linings. A Ford spokesman declined to name the aftermarket companies involved, but said the company recommends against aftermarket brake linings in general.
"We don't test aftermarket parts or materials of any type," he said.
In its SVT Enthusiast magazine, Ford published an article reporting that it has designed a new front brake hose for the 1999 Cobra that incorporates a steel section between the fitting and hose to dissipate heat. Ford will make this new hose available for purchase by owners of the 1994-98 Cobra who have retrofitted their cars with the aftermarket high-speed linings.
Regarding the Aerostars, NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation and Ford have received a total of 23 complaints of brake hose rupture on the vehicles. Two crashes, neither of which resulted in injuries or fatalities, were blamed on the failures.
This low complaint and crash rate is insufficient to suggest a defect trend, the agency said. "However, given that further failures may occur as the vehicles age, ODI will closely monitor these vehicles and subsequent model years of the same platform to determine if a trend emerges," it added.
No brake hose ruptures have been reported on Aerostars manufactured after 1992, the agency said.
On average, the brake hose failures reported to NHTSA occurred after six years and 67,000 miles, the ODI reported.
The owner's manual for the 1992 Aerostar recommended a brake inspection every 15,000 miles.
However, NHTSA said "such an inspection may not necessarily detect this failure, since the portion of hose which is involved is located above the frame inside the engine compartment and would not be readily observable if the disc brake caliper, rotor and pads were being examined for wear."