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Federal Officials Launch Investigation into Brakes in Semi Trucks for Fire Risk

Kidde, the largest manufacturer of fire extinguishers in the United States, has agreed to pay a $12 million fine

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into air brake systems in semi-trucks that are reportedly causing fires.  According to a news report, in a July 16 NHTSA notice, the agency confirmed it had launched a probe into Haldex Gold Seal GC3030LCW air brake chambers installed in the model year 2015 to 2020 trucks.  The investigation was launched after complaints of air loss resulting in multiple vehicle fires.

What Spurred the Investigation?

NHTSA officials say this investigation could affect about 500,000 trucks. The agency says the defect involves power spring fractures that puncture the diaphragm, causing air loss within the spring brake circuit and resulting in brake drag without enough warning to the driver.

NHTSA documents show that 11 vehicle owners reported failure of a Haldex brake chamber without discernible warning to the driver. In seven out of the 11 cases, owners reported fires that caused extensive damage to the vehicle and, in some cases, to the cargo.

In at least one of the fires, an investigation report identified a wheel end fire as the origin. The documents stated that an analysis of other failed units found Haldex brake chamber diaphragms punctured by the power spring.

After receiving these complaints, officials learned that multiple fleets had issues with numerous vehicles. The Office of Defects investigation also learned that Haldex agreed to replace brake chambers on some of the vehicles in these fleets, NHTSA documents said. The agency’s investigation could potentially lead to a recall.

Issuing a Prompt Recall

When a safety defect is discovered, automakers or manufacturers of defective vehicle parts must report it promptly to NHTSA, which will then investigate the matter. If it turns out to be a valid safety concern, NHTSA elevates the probe to an engineering analysis.

If there is a determination that the defect is dangerous, the automaker is asked to issue a recall. This can be a lengthy process, and it often takes several months or years. Conducting a safety recall is costly, so automakers drag their feet when issuing these recalls. However, it is the duty and responsibility of automakers to issue a timely safety recall to ensure the safety of the consumers.


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California Personal Injury Blog