New NHTSA Defect Investigation Affects an Estimated 1,500 Fire Trucks
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New NHTSA Defect Investigation Affects an Estimated 1,500 Fire Trucks

March 6, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a defect investigation into model year 2004-2013 Pierce Arrow XT fire trucks manufactured with TAK-4 independent front suspensions. An estimated 1,500 fire trucks could be impacted and at risk of ball joint failure.

NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) decided to open this Preliminary Evaluation (PE) after receiving a consumer complaint which alleged that a model year 2007 Pierce TAK-4 fire truck "was not steering correctly".

ODI interviewed the complainant who described the vehicle as difficult to control/steer and unsafe. Furthermore, the complaint stated that the driver never felt in control of the truck.

Upon inspection it was found that the failure was related to the vehicle's front suspension ball joint. The ball joint is identified as a "lifelong" front ball joint that became loose as a result of foreign intrusion getting into the boot assembly. In addition, ODI says that it is aware of media reports concerning the failure of a three different Pierce TAK-4 fire trucks that resulted in "wheel-off events." Two of these events occurred in Baltimore, MD (July and August 2014), and a third occurred in Ann Arundel Co, MD (December 2014). All three vehicles were responding to emergency calls when the failures occurred.

ODI has also identified a technical service bulletin issued by Pierce Manufacturing in December of 2014 regarding TAK4 ball joint inspections.

ODI has opened this Preliminary Evaluation to assess the scope and potential safety related risk and consequences associated with the alleged defect.

The ODI report cited above can be reviewed at using the complaint identification number 10671053.