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Urgent safety inspection of 2,250 heavy vehicles

For immediate release
Date 20 March 2006
Land Transport NZ orders urgent safety inspection of 2,250 heavy vehicles


Land Transport New Zealand is today notifying the registered owners of 2,250 pre-1980 Ford trucks, buses and motor homes that their vehicles require urgent safety inspections.

The action follows the crash of a school bus in Southland earlier this month as a result of a complete loss of steering. Land Transport NZ’s inspection of the bus found that a ‘drag link’ assembly in the vehicle’s steering system had broken. Further inspection indicated that the component had been cracked for some time before breaking.

Land Transport NZ has established that the failure relates to the design of the drag link assemblies of ‘R’ and ‘D’ series heavy Ford vehicles manufactured prior to 1980. A total of 2,250 of these vehicles are currently registered in New Zealand, comprising 1,844 trucks, 179 motor homes, 153 buses and 74 ‘miscellaneous’ vehicles.

Many of these vehicles will already have been fitted with redesigned drag link assemblies as part of regular servicing, but individual inspections are necessary to check on the status of each vehicle.

Director of Land Transport Wayne Donnelly said Land Transport NZ was treating the situation as an urgent issue of public safety.

“The fact that these potentially defective components may be fitted to a large number of heavy vehicles on New Zealand roads, including buses, makes us extremely concerned.

“As such, we are instructing owners to cease operating these vehicles immediately and requiring them to have the vehicles checked by an independent heavy motor vehicle inspector,” Mr Donnelly said.

Vehicles which fail the inspection will have their Certificate of Fitness (CoF) revoked and cannot be driven until the potentially faulty drag link assemblies have been replaced.

Owners of heavy vehicles who have not yet been contacted by Land Transport NZ and are concerned that their vehicle may be affected should visit http://landtransport.govt.nz/vehicles/alerts/index.html to view a full list of the chassis numbers of affected vehicles, or ring the Land Transport NZ helpdesk on 0800 699 000.

ENDS

Ford R-series and D-series Recall

Questions and Answers


Why is Land Transport NZ ordering these vehicles off the road?

A Land Transport NZ inspection of a similar vehicle involved in a crash on the Invercargill Bluff highway on 6 March has determined that the crash was caused by the 'steering drag link' breaking, resulting in a complete loss of steering.

How many vehicles are affected and how do I know if my vehicle is affected?

There are 2,250 Ford ‘R’ and ‘D’ series heavy vehicles currently registered in New Zealand. A list of all the chassis numbers for these vehicles has been posted on Land Transport NZ’s website at www.landtransport.govt.nz/vehicle-safety/alerts.

A service campaign run by Ford in 1978 advised that the drag link assemblies on ‘R’ and ‘D’ series heavy vehicles should be changed at 160,000km. Many of the 2,250 currently registered vehicles will already have been fitted with redesigned replacement drag link assemblies as a result of that campaign, but individual inspections are necessary to check on the status of each vehicle.

What exactly is a steering drag link?

The steering drag link is the rod connecting the lever of the steering gear to the steering arm in a vehicle.

What is the problem with the steering drag link on these models?

A design flaw makes them susceptible to cracking after prolonged use.

Have there been any accidents as a result of the fault?

As noted above, the cause of one accident has been attributed to failure of the drag link.


What are owners of the affected vehicles required to do about this?

You must stop operating your vehicle immediately. Then, your vehicle must be inspected as soon as possible by an independent heavy vehicle maintenance service provider.


When should the inspection be done?

Your vehicle must be inspected as soon as possible.

You will be sent information about your inspection requirements by fax or by courier-post. If you have access to the Internet, you can access this information by visiting www.landtransport.govt.nz/vehicle-safety/alerts. A ‘Record of Vehicle Inspection’ form must be completed and signed by your service provider. The original copy of this form must be returned to Land Transport NZ before 10 April 2006.

Please note that this inspection is in addition to your normal Certificate of Fitness requirements.


What will happen if I ignore this advice and continue driving?

Should you ignore this advice and continue to operate the affected vehicle(s), you may be in breach of section 6(1) Land Transport Act 1998 which states that a person may not operate an unsafe motor vehicle on a road.

If your ‘Record of Vehicle Inspection’ is not returned by 10 April, your Certificate of Fitness will be revoked immediately. You will not be able to obtain a new Certificate of Fitness for the vehicle until new components are fitted.

Contravention of section 6(1) is an offence under s. 34(1)(a) and carries a maximum penalty on conviction of a fine not exceeding $2,000.


How will this be enforced?

The Police have been advised of all vehicles affected and if they are found driving on the road after owners have received notification, the driver could be charged with operating an unsafe motor vehicle (as above).


Who will pay for the inspection and any repairs?

As the vehicle owner it is your responsibility to maintain it in a roadworthy condition. It is unlikely that Ford NZ will pay for these inspections/repairs, as the affected parts were the subject of a previously issued service bulletin.


Where can I get more information?

For more information about this issue, visit www.landtransport.govt.nz/vehicle-safety/alerts. Alternatively, you can ring the Land Transport NZ Helpdesk on 0800 699 000.

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