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Transport Canada warns of leaf spring failures

OTTAWA, Ont. - Following many reports of leaf spring failures, some ending in tragedy, Transport Canada is issuing a formal warning to both truck drivers and owners."Faulty leaf springs have lead to a...


UNDERLYING PROBLEM: The failure to properly inspect leaf spring suspensions is what Transport Canada has identified as the root cause.
UNDERLYING PROBLEM: The failure to properly inspect leaf spring suspensions is what Transport Canada has identified as the root cause.

OTTAWA, Ont. – Following many reports of leaf spring failures, some ending in tragedy, Transport Canada is issuing a formal warning to both truck drivers and owners.

“Faulty leaf springs have lead to at least three fatalities involving commercial vehicles,” says Trevor Lehouillier, a motor vehicle defect investigator with Transport Canada’s Road Safety department.

He stresses there is no need for a recall at this time blaming the recent rash of problems on improper repairs, lack of vehicle maintenance and poor inspection practices.

“We’re trying to be proactive with this right now,” says Lehouillier. He adds that operators and technicians need to remember several key factors when performing leaf spring repairs or maintenance.

During inspection, operators should look for items such as leaf spring displacement (out of position), cracking or actual breakage of springs and or spring components, wear or rubbing of spring clips/bands or any other abnormality within the suspension system. If problems are found, the vehicle should be serviced immediately.

U-Bolts must be kept tight and must be properly torqued after a spring has been repaired or replaced. Most manufacturers recommend the use of new U-bolts and related hardware any time spring repairs are performed. When installing U-bolts it is important to properly torque the assembly. The suspension should be retorqued after a short period of operation.

Adding a leaf to increase the load-carrying capacity should be reconsidered. All of the suspension parts are designed to carry part of the load. Adding leaves may result in overloading of other suspension parts or the vehicle itself. If leaves are added, compatibility should be verified. Do not mix and match different leaf types.

Insure that the system is equipped with all the appropriate parts (i.e. spring clips/bands). Any modification to the original leaf spring design may seriously damage the associated parts of the suspension system or the spring itself.

Spring clips/bands are installed to assist the leaf spring suspension when exposed to shock and rebound loads and prevents spreading or fanning out of the leaves. Make certain that broken clips or bands are replaced and are properly adjusted.

Never exceed the manufacturer’s recommended Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and Gross Axle Weight Rating. Inadequate leaf spring suspension maintenance may result in serious damage to the vehicle and injury or death to the operator and other users of the road. Be cautious and take care of your spring and suspension systems.

For additional information, contact Transport Canada at 800-333-0510. n


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