Driver complaints in December 2011 helped Bendix uncover a faulty valve on vehicles equipped with its traction control and stability systems. The issue, a Bendix spokesperson told Fleet Owner, has been resolved, but as many as 50,000-60,000 vehicles may be affected.
“We are working very closely with our customers, the OEs, to resolve the problem,” Barbara Gould, manager, communications & brand management for Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, told Fleet Owner. “We are working very closely with our customers to address the issue and remedy the situation as rapidly as possible.”
Bendix notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the issue on Jan. 26, 2012.
“This potential defect has caused several vehicle manufacturers to defer shipments of trucks with the ATR-6 manufactured between Dec. 2, 2010, and Jan. 18, 2012,” Gould said.
Jack Allen, president of Navistar’s North American Truck Group, told analysts yesterday in an earnings call that the company’s first quarter earnings would be negatively impacted due to a supplier issue with a faulty product. He did not specify the company, but Gould confirmed the product is Bendix’ valve.
“It doesn’t affect everybody in our industry and it doesn’t even affect all of our products, but it’s a serious issue,” Allen said. “As a result we haven’t shipped a whole lot trucks since Jan. 20.”
The issue, Gould stressed, is not a problem with the traction or stability control systems themselves. The affected valve, though, does impact the performance of the vehicle, resulting in pressure building within “a service brake circuit.” This pressure can “cause intermittent or – in isolated cases – continuous brake application,” Bendix said in a service bulletin on its website.
During the brake application, ABS is still operational and additional service braking is still available, the company noted, adding that the problem could appear as a loss of engine power.
The issue occurs because the ATR-6 valve can leak internally, resulting in the pressure buildup in the service brake circuit. Bendix said this only appears to happen in temperatures at or below 0 deg. F and does not affect every vehicle with the valve.
According to Gould, a temporary fix is available. However, on vehicles with the temporary fix installed, the Bendix Wingman ACB and Wingman Advanced, plus traction control systems and the Bendix ESP system will become disabled. A permanent fix will be available shortly that will allow full use of those systems, the technical bulletin noted.
Bendix is recommending anyone using an affected vehicle bring it in for service as soon as possible. If a temporary fix is installed, the vehicle will need to serviced a second time to install the permanent fix, Bendix said. The company said that it is not aware of any injuries related to the issue.
Bendix has provided a technical bulletin on its site (www.bendix.com) to help technicians identify if their vehicle has an affected valve. A Q&A about the issue appears at the Product Action Center on www.bendix.com, the company said. It has also set up a toll free action line at 1-800-478-1793. The action line is manned from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET seven days a week.