Every motor vehicle, no matter how common, will have its own braking requirements. Whether dealing with a mass-produced sedan that sells millions of units around the world or a concept car manufactured in single-digit numbers, developing adequate braking is absolutely essential. To see the various ways braking problems can emerge, it pays to take a look at recalls. These demonstrate the risks to drivers and the lengths automakers have to go to to counteract these dangers.
Today's crop of recalls focuses on esoteric vehicles other than the average coupes, SUVs and minivans filling the world's highways and parking lots. These are off-road vehicles, purpose-built motorcycles and more. The connecting thread between them all, and every other vehicle besides, is that they need to be able to come to a safe stop.
One of the smallest cars on any given road, the Mercedes-Benz smart fortwo is being recalled to deal with potential parking brake problems, according to Car Complaints. The 2016 model year version of this tiny, two-passenger car may pose a rollaway danger if the lock nut holding the parking brake bowden cable loosens over time. The factory made incorrect adjustments to the vehicles when they were produced, and now repeated parking brake could lead to too much movement.
There are 5,000 cars named in the recall, and the process of replacing the affected components will begin in September. The automaker discovered the issue in testing, and noted that, if left unaddressed, it could cause cars to roll away.
The Star Tribune recently described an off-road vehicle manufacturer's persistent recall woes. Polaris Industries, maker of ATVs, has issued 11 recalls within the same year. In excess of 420,000 vehicles have been named in recalls over the longer course of the past two and a half years. The newspaper noted that one of the faults causing the attention is a potential front brake problem in the RZR 570.
In a twist to the story, the brake risk is not even an issue cited by customers or linked to any accident reports. According to the Star Tribune, the company's review process following 30 complaints of fuel leaks led to the discovery of the brake fault. Other mechanical flaws include potential throttle-switch issues affecting 2,800 vehicles.
BMW police motorcycles
A specialized motorcycle used by public safety agencies may have problems with its brake lights. According to Dealer News, the BMW Motorrad R1200RT has a software issue potentially causing lights to fail. These are work vehicles with a limited number of examples on the road – the source explained that there are only 911 of them from the relevant years, 2014 to 2017.
The automaker has expanded the scope of its recall since it began. When they first found the software fault, investigators thought the flaw only existed in new models of motorcycles, those made following March 2016. However, service visits may have led to other vehicles receiving software with the issue. In September, dealerships will bring the vehicles in for new software updates.
Heavy-duty Land Rover
A Land Rover vehicle designed for off-road use and sold in Australia has a risk of brake pipe chafing, according to Car Advice. If left untreated, the issue could potentially lead to brake fluid leaks. Leaking fluid is bad news for drivers, resulting in weak performance in areas from stopping distance to stability. The affected SUVs were built in 2015 and relatively few in number – only 124.
In a slightly embarrassing turn for Land Rover, the issue that can lead the pipes to chafe is actually the result of a previous recall. When the Land Rovers were called in for a previous issue, the work potentially compromised the connection between the brake hose and the calipers. Now, it's time for another recall.
Testing: Always essential
No matter what corner of the vehicle industry a manufacturer operates in, getting braking right is one of the non-negotiable parts of the job. Cars, trucks, motorcycles and more each have their own unique needs, and great braking means suitability for the task at hand, as well as reliability over time. The above examples only scratch the surface of the kinds of vehicles out there.
Manufacturers working on new braking concepts need to think about testing – a complimentary brake testing consultation from Greening can get them on the right path.