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Getting NHTSA’s message? Daimler recalls 19,000 trucks despite no complaints

Is DTNA speeding up defect notices after $30M fine for slow recall reporting?

The 2021 and 2022 Freightliner Cascadia is among 15 models being recalled because of a possible tie rod defect. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is recalling 19,000 heavy- and medium-duty trucks and chassis in the U.S. and Canada because of a tie rod defect.

The issue, which could lead to loss of steering control, was discovered in an axle assembly  factory. It hasn’t shown up in the field, possibly because the trucks are so new. 

Or it is possible Daimler went to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) quickly to show it got the message from last year’s $30 million fine for slow reporting of vehicle defects?

NHTSA fined DTNA $30 million in civil penalties for tardy recall reporting last December. It was the biggest such fine NHTSA had sought in five years. As part of the penalty, DTNA had to present a plan by the end of March to invest $5 million to improve its analysis of safety issues.

DTNA did not immediately offer a comment on the April 12 recall.

The 15 affected 2021-2022 models are the Freightliner Custom Chassis (FCCC) MT45, MT55,  XC, S2 and XB; Freightliner medium-duty models 108SD, 114SD, 122SD and Business Class M2; and the heavy-duty flagship Cascadia. Western Star 4700, 4900 and 5700 also are in the recall.

Investigation and analysis

In late February, a DTNA axle assembly plant reported tie rod bolt and steering arm bolt quality concerns and began containment. There were no warranty claims nor other indications of failures on customer vehicles. A quality alert was issued to axle assembly plants. 

In early March, DTNA defined suspect bolt lots, cleared inventory and sent suspect bolts to supplier Cold Heating Co. for additional analysis.The initial metallurgical report showed the potential for long-term fatigue failure. 

In early April, DTNA decided to report a safety recall even though it still had no reports of failures in the field. DTNA estimates 2% of the tie rods will exhibit the problem. 

DTNA service facilities will replace the tie rod arm bolts and steering arm bolts for free.

Customers and dealers will be notified of the recall by mail on June 10.

The NHTSA recall number is 21V-256. The 1,180 vehicles recalled in Canada are listed as Transport Canada recall 2021-219.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.