Many brake problems have come to light in recent months, with vehicles recalled to deal with the issues. There are also another class of faults, those that may or may not exist, with testing ongoing to see if they merit full recalls.
Brake failures are obviously extremely negative events for any automaker or other manufacturer in the supply chain. The risk to drivers is significant, and the reputation damage and weakened trust can follow companies around for years. Extensive brake testing is clearly needed to make these faults and failures as rare as possible.
"The NHTSA has noted three incidents."
Ford and Mercury may soon have a brake-related recall on their hands. Reuters reported at the end of 2016 that the two allied automakers are under investigation by U.S. regulators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association has noted three incidents involving sedans from Ford and Mercury, and is trying to determine whether there is a braking problem to blame for the collisions. Fortunately, the three events so far have not caused any injuries.
The news source noted that the sedans under investigation are the Ford Fusion and the Mercury Milan, specifically the 2007-2009 models. While the Fusion remains a major part of the Ford lineup, the Milan has been discontinued in recent years.
According to Reuters, the NHTSA's investigation is focusing on a loss of anti-lock braking performance after the cars traverse rough or uneven surfaces. Drivers report brake pedal responses feeling soft, or going all the way to the floor. The cars require more distance to stop when this occurs, which can lead to issues.
The automakers involved are cooperating fully with the NHTSA to get to the bottom of the problem and determine if there is a problem within the anti-lock braking systems on these sedans. Reuters noted that there have been previous recalls related to the Fusion and Milan model years named. Notably, these cars are some of the millions that carry Takata Corp airbags, involved in a huge-scale recall effort.
Previous Ford recall
While the aforementioned investigation hasn't turned into a recall, there was a large-scale Ford recall in 2016 regarding braking. According to to the Detroit News, 271,000 Ford F-150 pickups were called back for potential brake problems.
The recalled vehicles were from the 2013 and 2014 model years, but the news source noted that as of October 2016, the NHTSA was considering whether 2015 and 2016 trucks should also be recalled. Driver complaints had rolled in about those models – 10 for 2015 trucks and 15 for 2016 models.
"Braking problems are magnified when they happen to popular vehicles."
The F-150 recall and potential problem with the Fusion shows how braking faults are magnified when they happen to popular vehicles. A hit vehicle instantly transforms from a success to a liability when it is found to have problems, and manufacturers and their dealer networks have to figure out how to get hundreds of thousands of vehicles fixed to keep their consumers safe.
The Detroit News put the F-150's success into numbers, explaining that in 2015, the latest year for which it had complete figures, 780,000 of the trucks rolled out to customers. The publication noted that the F-series in general the most popular model of vehicle in the U.S.
Getting brakes inspected
Automakers need to be extremely vigilant about the integrity of their brakes to avoid all the risk and problems associated with undergoing a recall. This is where a Greening brake testing consultation comes in.
No matter which part of the supply chain a company comes from, there is some kind of braking testing that can be of use, and consulting with an expert is the way to ensure all options are explored.