BREAKING: NHTSA Blames Random Winter Brake Failures On Salt

U.S. investigators have spent years trying to figure out why the brakes on thousands of U.S.-made trucks and SUVs were failing without warning. Brake failures were behind at least 107 crashes last year and there is data illustrating that up to two million vehicles could be affected.

Finally, after four years of study, the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it has finally solved the mystery: Salt.

According to reports, the agency has “strongly” suggested that Americans “thoroughly wash the underside of their vehicles.” Investigators found unexpected brake failure could happen to anyone driving a 2008 and earlier vehicle in a cold-weather state.

In a 2011 NHTSA probe, the agency looked at GM trucks made in 1999-2003 following numerous reports that some of the U.S.’s largest passenger vehicles seemed unusually prone to sudden brake failure. Among the suspects: the Cadillac Escalade, the Chevy Suburban and the GMC Yukon.

Photo Courtesy of  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Photo Courtesy of THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Investigators responded by sending out surveys, pored over safety records, and inspected 71 randomly selected vehicles — but nothing found warranted a recall/

However. the probe did find that sudden brake line ruptures were not limited to a couple of million GM cars. Instead, they could be a danger to anyone behind the wheel of an older model truck or SUV in one the U.S.’s “salt states.”

“Salt and other chemicals can accumulate on road surfaces, can accumulate on your vehicle’s underbody, and could put you and your passengers in danger,” says a safety video issued Thursday by NHTSA.

The ‘incubation period’ identified by the report was only eight years. By that point, cars driven in “harsh conditions” would have built up enough corrosion to produce extremely dangerous and life-threating structural problems.

If you live in one of the “salt states” and own a vehicle that falls within the period, you could seriously be at risk. The best action to take at the moment would be to follow the Agency’s directions and thoroughly wash the underside of your vehicle. This should be done semiannually to prevent the spread of corrosion.

We will be updating this story as soon as we’ve received more information.

Special Thanks to the National Post and NHTSA

 

 

RANT: NHTSA Video is WRONG and Dangerous

This video from NHTSA advises NOT to pump your brakes if you experience brake line failure due to corrosion. This is WRONG. Pumping the brakes replaces lost fluid and generates more braking pressure so the vehicle can be brought under control. ABS only “pumps the brakes” when it senses that a wheel could lock or skid. If a vehicle loses brake system hydraulic fluid, the ABS system will not activate because the brakes can’t lock. Idiots.

NHTSA Safety Advisory For Brake Lines: NHTSA Sells Out To Car Washes

rustWell, there will be no recalls on GM vehicles for brake line corrosion. But we do get this nifty advisory form NHTSA. I have some problems with the advice given. First, When the brines are dry they do the least amount of damage. When they are activated by water the oxidation process kicks into high gear. So, if you were to do an undercarriage wash at a car wash (15-20 seconds at the most) it could be activating the brines and salts. Also, most car wash undercarriage washes do not remove all of the corrosive compounds, especially on top of the fuel tank where a lot of ruptures were occurring.

NHTSA Safety Advisory: Preventing Brake Pipe Failure Due to Corrosion in Older Vehicles

ISSUE: Model year 2007 and earlier vehicles may be susceptible to brake pipe corrosion that can occur after seven to eight years of exposure to winter road salts. If brake pipe corrosion is not properly addressed, there is the potential of brake pipe failure which could result in a crash.

Consumer Actions to Protect Against Brake Pipe Corrosion in Older Vehicles

  1. Remove road salt that leads to corrosion:
    • Thoroughly clean your vehicle, including the undercarriage, at the end of the winter
    • Regularly wash the undercarriage throughout the winter.
  2. Monitor your brake system, including brake pipes, and other undercarriage components for corrosion or signs of brake failure:
    • If you own an older vehicle in a cold-weather state, have a qualified mechanic or inspection station inspect the vehicle at least twice a year. If there are any signs of corrosion, inspect the brakes more frequently, at least every time you bring your vehicle in for service.
    • Keep an eye on brake fluid level. Watch for changes in how your brake pedal feels and for signs of fluid leakage beneath the vehicle. All of these could indicate a leak in your brake pipes.
  3. If you find severe corrosion that causes scaling or flaking of brake components (see the photos below), replace the entire brake pipe assembly:
    • Do not replace just a portion of the assembly. Failure in one portion of the brake pipes generally means other sections of pipe are at risk of failure.
    • Check with your manufacturer to see if they have pre-fabricated brake pipe kits to make replacement easier and potentially less expensive.

Background

NHTSA recently conducted an investigation of brake pipe failures due to corrosion in a large population of 1999 through 2003 model year full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles and found that the failures result from end-of-life wear-out. Data show that this corrosion problem is linked to brake line coating materials that several manufacturers used during this time period. Vehicles driven in the following salt states are more prone to corrosion-related issues: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

Taxi Driver Saves Self, Kills Two in Brake Failure Crash

Two people were killed and eleven were injured this past Saturday in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa following a gruesomely selfish brake failure crash.

News 24 reported that the driver had leapt from his seat to save himself as the vehicle slammed through a roadside barrier and ultimately plunged down an embankment, literally flinging passengers out of the vehicle as it rolled.

First responders and firefighters were said to have set up a rope rescue system at the top of the embankment to help medics carry the injured to waiting ambulances.

Currently, there is no additional information regarding the status of the injured or the criminal proceedings regarding the driver of the taxi.

The same type of taxi involved in the crash. Photo by Duncan Alfreds

 

 

Amazon Getting into the Brake Business

amazon damaged boxAmazon has announced the launch of Amazon Home Services, a new marketplace for on-demand professional services including brake repair. Customers can now browse, purchase parts and schedule brake repair on Amazon.com. Just think of it as a higher class Craig’s List where you can also buy the parts.

Amazon claims Home Services features handpicked pros offering upfront pricing on pre-packaged services with helpful reviews from customers and are using Yelp and Angie’s list as references. Amazon’s Happiness Guarantee backs all service purchases, so customers know the job will get done right. But, Amazon has not announced if the technicians have to be ASE certified.

Amazon Home Services is now available across the country in major U.S. metropolitan areas including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Amazon claims it curates an invite-only marketplace for professional service providers. Invited pros are background checked, required to maintain insurance, and expected to maintain a high performance standard.

Service pros compete for a customer’s business based on price, quality and availability. If customers find a lower price for the same service and pro, we will match it. This may work for curtains but not cars.

I don’t know if this is Amazon’s April Fools pranks, but it has the potential to put drivers at risk.

 

Taxi Driver Goes For A Swim Following Brake Failure

A taxi driver in Massachussets is thanking his lucking stars after being spared during an untimely brake failure crash while on duty last night.

According to reports, it was about 3am when the 27 year-old driver suddenly experienced a loss of pressure beneath his brake pad. The event happened so quickly that the driver was unable to respond with evasive action in time so the vehicle careened down a few flight of stairs and came to rest at the bottom of the Severn river.

Fortunately, the cabbie was uninjured in the incident and walked away from the scene.

The taxi has now been recovered but marks, believed to have been caused by the rescue operation, are still visible on steps leading to the water.

West Mercia Police officers posted the picture on social media, joking “Worcester welcomes its first water taxi – the launch didn’t go too well.”