123,481 Freightliner Cascadias recalled because steering linkage can separate

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is recalling 123,481 Freightliner Cascadia heavy-duty trucks in the U.S. and Canada because the joint connecting the steering arm to the drag link may not have been properly tightened, which could lead to steering failure and a possible crash.

Since April 2020, the market-leading truck maker has received hundreds of complaints about loose steering and a few cases of steering separation.

The reports on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Transport Canada websites did not list any crashes or injuries related to the condition. DTNA estimates about 1% of the trucks in the recall could exhibit the problem.

The drag link taper joint at the steering arm may not have been tightened sufficiently and may come loose, potentially resulting in a complete separation of the joint, according to DTNA’s report to NHTSA. If the joint is loose, a driver may experience loose steering, wandering, noises or vibration. 

Changes made in all plants

DTNA investigated the issue between June and September 2020 and implemented torque management and audit tools in all its plants. The recalled vehicles — the 2019 Classic Cascadia and the 2019-2021 Cascadia — were built in plants in Santiago and Saltillo, Mexico, respectively.

The company did not regard the issue as an unreasonable risk to safety until it received more reports of complete separation through warranty claims after implementing the running change in production. A fuller search found a total of 757 reports in the U.S. including 11 complete separations.

DTNA authorized service facilities will inspect the taper joint for accurate torque and repair as necessary.  

Customers will be notified of the recall by first-class mail on Oct. 31. The NHTSA recall number is 21V-689. The Transport Canada recall number is 2021-545.

Separately, the NHTSA fined DTNA $30 million last December for slow recall reporting.

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