Vehicle recalls — at least, the rare ones that are actually completed — tend to be drawn-out affairs.
Which is what makes the recent case of Volvo Trucks North America so remarkable.
In a recall overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each of nearly 16,000 heavy trucks in the U.S. suspected of having a potential steering defect was successfully found, repaired or taken out of service.
The 100 percent completion — an atypical occurrence when the average recall brings in only 70 percent of covered vehicles — was made even more unique by the speed with which it was reached.
Usually, recalls wrap up 18 months after being initiated. The Volvo recall, which the big-rig maker voluntarily launched in February, met its goal in half the time, the U.S Department of Transportation said Monday.
The recall, which Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called an “extraordinary effort,” stemmed from Volvo’s discovery of four instances of sudden steering failure.
The culprits: vehicles equipped with greasable two-piece steering shafts manufactured by German firm Willi Elbe. Across North America, the recall included nearly 20,000 2016 and 2017 Volvo VNL, VNM and VNX model trucks as well as some Mack Titan trucks from the same years.
Volvo worked with NHTSA, which itself took the unprecedented step of looping in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for added muscle.
The agencies employed social media to inform the industry of the recall and also put federal officials on satellite radio programs, hoping to reach drivers. Volvo tried to track down drivers directly, while government regulators also sought out companies and roadside inspectors.
Time will tell if the massive Ford Motor Co. recall announced last week — which includes more than 400,000 vehicles in North America — will reach a similar conclusion.