Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems has announced that as many as 300,000 school buses, transit buses, and heavy trucks are at risk of brake failure at speeds of 20 mph and slower because of an antilock braking system (ABS) defect. Vehicles at risk are those equipped with the Bendix EC-17-1030R air brake system manufactured since 1998.
At least 40 incidents of brake failure have occurred, according to Bendix. Sixteen of the incidents involved school buses, which have been made a recall priority by the brake manufacturer.
Bendix notified the National Traffic Safety Administration of the problem August 22. The company said defective brakes were installed on as many as 46,000 school and transit buses, as well as 254,000 heavy trucks of various makes: Ford, Freightliner, Volvo, Magnum, Mack, Ottawa, International, and General Motors.
Julie Way, a Bendix spokesperson, told Fleet Owner, a Trailer/Body Builders sister publication, that Bendix is holding individual truck manufacturers responsible for recalling vehicles so the company can replace defective parts.
Bendix said the replacement effort will start with school buses and should be completed by the end of November. Brake system replacement in other vehicles will not be complete until sometime in first-quarter 2001.
The defect involves the electronic control unit (ECU) of the Bendix ABS. The ECU should be able to compensate when it receives faulty signals from the wheels, but in some cases it does not. The result can be loss of braking ability at low speeds for up to four seconds.
A faulty signal can be generated by a frayed wire near the wheel or because of damage to the tone ring. Bendix has called for vehicle inspections to check those parts for problems.