Help! My sisters car axle or tie rod broke ( crumbled ) and both rear tires collapsed inward. What could have caused this?

Age, defect, driving regularly in standing salt water, driving over tree stumps…it would help to know the failure mode. And the mileage on the vehicle.

I hope no one was hurt. It must have been frightening.

The rear axle on your sister’s Windstar breaks in half, and you post “tires?” What’s up with that? I seriously doubt the tires had anything to do with the failure.

How old is the Windstar, and how many miles are on it? Which part of the country is this vehicle driven in? Is there a lot of salt on the roads in winter?

Give us as much information about the axle failure as you can. The more we know, the more likely the chance we can offer a reasonable explanation, although Mountainbike has covered most of the possibilities already.

“Both rear tires collapsed inward?” Which part of the tire collapsed inward? The top, bottom, front, or rear? I’m guessing the top, but you didn’t specify.

This is a known issue with Windstars, unfortunately.
Even more unfortunate is that Ford has not yet acknowledged that there is a problem, despite–literally–hundreds of this type of rear axle failures on those vehicles.

Go to to see some of the complaints that have been posted there regarding this issue. Some of the postings even have photos showing the vertical split in the axle. (It would probably be more accurate to call it a lateral suspension beam, rather than an axle, but the problem is indexed on that site as an axle problem.)

Because this is a genuine safety issue, I strongly suggest that this problem be reported to NHTSA, via their website. If sufficient numbers of people report this problem to the gov’t, then an investigation ensues. The result could be a mandated recall, which would include free repairs. Even if your sister pays for the repair now, she can be reimbursed after the fact if there is a gov’t mandate for free repair by Ford.

Wow. Thanks for clarifying. Your clarification gave me goose bumps.

On the nomenclature question, I suppose that when a transversly mounted I-beam is used on the front end of a “T” street rod it’s called an axle, even though it has spindles on the ends, so why not? But I also agree that “bent axle” makes me envision the part that the bearings spin on.