The right front wheel on my Ford Fusion fell off after 67,120 miles. This failure was not normal wear and tear and not due to an accident. Instead, the ball joint cracked and the wheel fell off, bringing my car to a screeching, uncontrolled stop. Fortunately, I was going rather slowly and was not hurt.
I felt the axle to the car was defective when it was purchased, and Ford was negligent in manufacturing my vehicle with this part. In my experience metal parts do not spontaneously crack unless a defect is present. Ford refused to accept any responsibility, and I filed a small claims conciliation court case against Ford. The trial took place Friday, August 25, 2017 and here is what I learned:
- Minnesota law does not allow a claim of negligence against a manufacturer if the only damage is property damage. Had I been injured or killed then I would have had a potential negligence claim against Ford.
- Ford has done an effective job of limiting their exposure through carefully worded warranty statements that restrict claims that may be brought against them under Minnesota law, including the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose and merchantability.
I lost the case, and I believe the judge correctly decided the case according to Minnesota law. However, it doesn’t make me feel better, and next time I buy a car, it will very likely not be a Ford.