LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bendix announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show today that it has developed a permanent fix for trucks with its faulty ATR-6 brake valve and that the solution will be widely available through truck dealers shortly, as soon as enough units are available to meet the demand.
Truck OEMs aren’t likely to announce availability of a replacement for the faulty part until there are enough to go around, Bendix officials revealed. However, the company and its suppliers are ramping up production so that the permanent fix will soon be available to all affected customers.
Bendix officials also said it’s possible that truck OEMs will make the solution available sooner to fleets operating in northern climates, where the unintentional brake applications are possible on vehicles equipped with the ATR-6 traction relay valve.
Bendix has already made available a short-term solution, which eliminates the risk of unintentional brake applications but also disables traction control and the Bendix stability system.
Scott Burkhart, vice-president of general engineering, controls group, said Bendix has been in close contact with OEMs and has been able to allow uninterrupted production of new Class 8 trucks.
“We have worked very closely with the OEMs and have had daily conversations with them,” he said today. “We have come up with a permanent fix to keep their lines going in production. Those vehicles do not need to be touched again and we did not shut down any of our OEM customers.”
Burkhart admitted some trucks that were already built with the faulty part could not be delivered to customers once the flaw was discovered, however those trucks have since been remedied with the permanent fix and won’t need further attention.
Under NHTSA rules, Bendix is limited as to what it can say about the recall and will instead rely on the OEMs to inform customers when a permanent fix is available for their vehicles, Burkhart said. The repair is relatively simple, he noted, requiring only the removal of four screws and the replacement of an o-ring. The challenge is producing enough replacement parts to begin widespread upgrades.
Burkhart said Bendix and its suppliers are ramping up production to expedite the resolution to the widespread problem. The urgency, however, could be diminished somewhat by unseasonably warm weather. The faulty valve was only problematic in temperatures below freezing, temperatures that have abated through most of Canada, not to mention the US.
Still, the problem needs to be resolved, and Burkhart said OEMs will begin announcing availability of the permanent fix shortly, when there are enough repair kits available to fix about 50% of the afflicted vehicles.
“Some OEMs may start (announcing a fix) earlier in the northern regions because that’s where the occurrences were,” he said.
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