The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has begun an investigation of several reported defects in Volvo trucks, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA. The investigations come in response to a petition submitted by OOIDA and supported by complaints about mechanical problems with more than 500 Volvo trucks.
The new investigations focus on steering problems, front u-bolt problems and sleeper berth fires. These investigations join an ongoing NHTSA inquiry of rear u-bolt problems in Volvo trucks, according to OOIDA.
The problems Volvo owners reported with u-bolts include the unusual loosening, stretching, twisting and complete sheering off of u-bolts. The causes of steering problems reported include front-end shaking and shuddering and steering column lock-up. Volvo owners attributed reports of sleeper berth fires most often to problems with the electrical system.
A petition, such as the one OOIDA submitted, has the power of requiring NHTSA to examine the available evidence of a defect and make a decision on whether or not to open an investigation. If through an investigation NHTSA believes a vehicle defect exists, it has the power to pursue a vehicle recall and/or the manufacturer's remedy of that defect. There are no specific rules that require NHTSA to open a vehicle defect investigation. It is merely required to review the available evidence and then determine if the potential harm to public safety merits the expenditure of its limited resources.
OOIDA became aware of the problem with Volvo trucks and was able to gather from its members and readers of its monthly publication a sufficient number of Volvo owner complaints to get NHTSA's attention, according to OOIDA.
OOIDA continues to help Volvo truck owners provide NHTSA with useful information for its investigations. The length of these investigations will depend on the complexity of the problems and the cooperation of the manufacturer. There are no statutory deadlines for the completion of an investigation.