DaimlerChrysler's Dodge division is recalling 86,333 of its popular Ram 1500 pickup trucks
due to a potential failure of the front wheel bearing hub assembly.
The recall, under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), involves every Ram
light-duty 2006 model year truck manufactured between November 7, 2005 and April 27, 2006.
Three plants' output is involved: Saltillo, Mexico; Fenton, Missouri; Warren, Michigan.
The wheel bearing hub assembly units were manufactured by Timken at its plant in Lincolnton, North
Carolina. Due to a setup error, the units were filled little or no grease.
In its statement of defect, DaimlerChrysler warns: "The front wheel bearing may have received
an insufficient quantity of grease during the manufacturing process. This could result in bearing
degradation, and if subsequent noise and vibration are ignored, could result in hub assembly separation.
This may result in a loss of vehicle control and cause a crash without warning."
DaimlerChrysler went on to present the defect investigation timeline:
April 2006 - Timken informed DaimlerChrysler that front wheel hub and bearing units manufactured
between November 22, 2005 and April 1, 2006 on Line 1 at their Lincolnton, NC plant for Dodge Ram pickup
truck applications contained a low total volume of grease.
It was determined by Timken that an error occurred with calibration of the scale used to control
the amount of grease applied to the bearing. Assembly teardowns showed outboard grease weight ranging
from 0.1 grams to 3.6 grams versus the requirement of 12 grams.
Timken contained all affected material in their process and contacted all affected DaimlerChrysler
assembly plants for containment of any suspect parts not built into vehicles. Affected service parts
were also contained and returned to Timken.
To assess the consequence of this decreased level of grease, rig testing at Timken was initiated,
as well as accelerated vehicle testing at DaimlerChrysler's Chelsea Proving Grounds.
During May and June of 2006, testing conducted at the CPG indicated that three modes of feedback
were progressively presented to the driver and became more severe as the vehicle mileage increased. This
feedback consisted of high speed vibration, lower speed vibration, and audible feedback. It was agreed
by Timken, DaimlerChrysler Engineering and CPG personnel that the condition was undeniable and unavoidable
by the average driver and would be addressed prior to any significant consequence. It was thus agreed
to monitor the field data.
Warranty data for bearing noise concurrently showed an increase during the suspect build period.
Late in 2006, DaimlerChrysler subsequently became aware of three 4x2 vehicles built at the suspect
time frame with reports of alleged front wheel bearing failure and wheel separation. Based on testing
conducted at CPG, the drivers would have had to continue to operate the vehicles following the onset of
substantial front end vibration and wheel bearing noise to ultimately achieve wheel separation.
Further investigation showed that the 4x4 vehicle configuration would be less susceptible
to separation due to presence of the front half shaft connection.
In January of 2007, DaimlerChrysler became aware of three additional 4x2 reports alleging front wheel
separation. There are no known reports of injury, fatality or property damage associated with this condition.
This information was presented to the Vehicle Regulations Committee on January 30, 2007 who
decided to conduct a safety recall to replace the hub and bearing unit assemblies on all affected vehicles.
DaimlerChrysler goes on to indicate dealers will replace the hubs at no cost to the vehicle owner, and
that any prior wheel bearing replacements will be reimbursed if a receipt is available.
The NHTSA campaign number is 07V-038 (or 07V038000).
Affected units have a date code stamped around the OD of the flange: 05306 through 06074.
Defect and Noncompliance Notice
[ PDF; 3 pages ]
NHTSA recall acknowledgement
[ PDF; 2 pages ]
DaimlerChrysler's owner notification letter (draft)
[ PDF; 1 page ]
Remedy instructions and TSB (Dealer Service Instructions / Technical Service Bulletin)
[ PDF; 10 pages ]
The Ram series is DaimlerChrysler's biggest seller, racking up 364,180 units in 2006 -- fully 17% of
the company's total vehicle sales.
A DaimlerChrysler spokesman said, "What's important here is the safety of the drivers and we want to
ensure that there are no incidents."
Recalls can be expensive. Timken's already-beleaguered Automotive Group has taken an $18.8 million charge
to cover the estimated cost of the recall.