Truck on the line at Volvo's New River Valley plant. File Photo: Deborah Lockridge.

Truck on the line at Volvo's New River Valley plant. File Photo: Deborah Lockridge.

The federal government is reminding owners of certain recalled Volvo trucks that have not yet been in for repair of a serious steering problem that they could suffer a complete loss of steering and are not to be driven.

Approximately 830 recalled Volvo 2016-2017 VNL, VNX, and VNM trucks remain unaccounted for, notes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. "These unsafe vehicles should not be operated, as they pose an imminent hazard and are to be immediately ordered out-of-service by federal and state roadside safety inspectors."

On March 10, Volvo Trucks North America announced the recall of certain model year 2016-2017 VNL, VNX, and VNM trucks manufactured from May 11, 2015, through March 8, 2016. The trucks may have been manufactured without a roll pin on the steering shaft.

If the roll pin is missing, the lower steering shaft may disconnect from the junction block.  Also, the bolt connecting the upper steering shaft to the lower steering shaft may not have been properly tightened. Either condition can lead to separation of the steering shaft without warning, resulting in a complete loss of steering, which may lead to a crash. 

Volvo discovered the problem, according to its notice to dealers, when it learned of four cases in which the steering failed on vehicles equipped with a greaseable two-piece steering shaft manufactured by Willi Elbe.

The recall affects nearly 20,000 Class 8 motor vehicles, with nearly 16,000 affected vehicles in the U.S.

On March 18, FMCSA issued an Urgent Safety Bulletin advising operators and carriers of recalled vehicles to immediately contact Volvo Customer Support at 1-877-800-4945 (Option 1) before continuing driving operations. 

The recall has caused some headaches for fleets. At Sherwin-Williams' private fleet, "We were fortunate enough that almost all of our trucks currently in service were built before Volvo made the steering column change," David Phillips, director of fleet operations, told HDT when we contacted him shortaly after FMCSA issued its safety bulletin. Only 11 of its trucks had to be put out of service immediately, he said. "We do however have approximately 30 new trucks on order that are built but can not ship to us right now until Volvo corrects the steering, that's causing us to leverage rentals longer than we would like."