Power Steering Recall

Roughly two years ago, Chrysler recalled approximately 442 Dodge Ram pick up trucks for a problem with the electric power steering (EPS) module.  The recall applied specifically to 2015 -2016 Ram 1500 trucks manufactured between January 22, 2015 and September 13, 2015.  The problem had to do with short circuiting of the EPS circuit board that would cause the loss of power steering and increase the risk of a crash.  Since that recall was put in effect, reports have been received that indicate that the short circuit is not enough to cause the 100 amp fuse, that is supposed to protect the module, to open.  As a result, the short circuits are causing wiring to overheat and ignite resulting in vehicular fires.  It should be noted that overheating of the wiring has not been addressed and is not part of the original recall.  The original recall is identified as NHTSA campaign # 16V16700 and Chrysler recall # S19.  A copy of the recall is attached below.  The second page shows a wiring diagram and the connection between the EPS module and battery through the 100 amp fuse that is in question.  Also shown is the connection between the battery and the power center.  If a fire occurs, the origin appears to be in the area of the battery and power center, both of which are located on the driver’s side of the engine compartment above the left front wheel well.  Complaints regarding vehicular fires related to this recall should be reported to NHTSA through their website at www.nhtsa.gov.

Recall & wiring diagram0001

Recall & wiring diagram0002

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Long Hydraulic Hoses Cause Trencher Fire

Heavy equipment used on construction sites are subject to all kinds of conditions.  Those conditions include, bad weather, rocky terrain, and remote locations.  All of these factors can play a part in determining whether a vehicle will ignite and burn.  We were recently asked to examine a trenching machine that was destroyed by fire.  The machine that was examined is shown below.

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One of the most common causes of heavy equipment fires is hydraulic fluid leaks.  It is well known that hydraulic fluid is flammable and will ignite with the correct mixture of air and an ignition source.  Such sources can include engines and transmissions as well as electrical devices.  Although these are some of the more common factors, sometimes unusual circumstances can also lead to a piece of equipment being destroyed.  In the case of the fire damaged trencher, one of the findings included hydraulic hoses being long enough to reach the ground.  As a result, while the trencher was in operation, dirt was actually burying the hoses.  At the same time, the movement of the machine, as the trench was dug, was pulling the hoses through the dirt and causing the hoses to tear.  Hydraulic fluid leakage was not only inevitable but, so was the possibility of fire.  When hydraulic hoses have to be replaced, the lengths of the hoses are a maintenance issue.  It is extremely important that hoses of correct length are installed,  If the hose is short and fits tight between connections, the stress imposed by forcing the hose to stretch coupled with the stress of pressurization, can cause premature failure.  Likewise, a hose that is longer than necessary will move around and possibly make contact with solid objects that can wear or cut the hose jacket, weakening the wall.  As in this case, the dirt and rocks contributed to the weakening of the hoses found beneath the conveyor section, on the ground, and the subsequent release of hydraulic fluid that ultimately ignited and destroyed the trencher.  The hoses that were found are also shown below.

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Toyota Recalls Hybrids

Toyota Motor Corporation has announced the recall of approximately 2.4 million vehicles.  It is estimated that 830,000 vehicles were sold in North America.  These vehicles are gasoline engine hybrids that can stall as a result of a problem with the “failsafe” switch over driving mode.  When the vehicles fail to switch driving modes, a loss of power can occur resulting in a stalled condition.  Although Toyota is not aware of any crashes, an unexpected stall could cause the driver to lose control and crash.  The affected vehicles apply to Prius and Auris models manufactured between October 2008 and November 2014.  For additional information, consumers can contact Toyota by calling 1-800-331-4331.

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