NHTSA Investigating Cab Sway of Volvo VNL780
A complaint from OOIDA Members Nancy and Albert Cusson about the “swaying” of their Volvo VNL780 has prompted an assessment from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Defects. The group is asking truckers for their comments and any concerns regarding their experiences with “excessive cab sway or lean in” of the truck in question. The concern is that the movement of the cab could be adding to driver fatigue, causing possible injuries to drivers, and could even cause the loss of vehicle control.
The move from the NHTSA comes as response to a petition from the Cussons, who operate a drop-deck trailer hauling mainly specialty and oversized loads, regarding three complaints the agency has been given about the effects of the front-to-back and lateral movement of the cab. It states that all drivers experienced cab sway from the first day of driving the truck. On driver noted that the sway on his truck was prominent enough that it triggered the vehicle’s crash avoidance system as he was rounding a corner at 40mph on a four lane highway.
Currently, the agency is only asking for information from drivers with complaints as well as gathering pertinent data from Volvo engineers and if a full investigation is needed, they will take action. Nate Seymour, a NHTSA safety defect engineer, stated, “At this point our question is to gather some information. If it looks like it warrants an investigation, we’ll grant it. If it looks like there isn’t a reason to go forward, we’ll deny the petition and that will be the end of it.”
The Florida couple bought the custom tailored 2015 Volvo VNL 780 last year and within their first 12 months of driving it, they reported that at least four months during that time they were out of service while trying many times to correct the sway. They’ve even realigned the cab and replaced the shocks more than once, which initially seemed to help, but the fixes seem to wear off quickly and the conditions return.
The pair states that the motion makes the truck tremendously difficult to drive, and when driving on wet or poorly maintained roads, they are afraid the potential for accidents. They also report fatigue and injury from the constant jumping and rolling. “Physically, this truck is killing us. It’s just killing us,” Nancy said. “We’re just really tired and really in a lot of pain. I don’t know what else to do. I have a
truck payment to make, I have insurance payments to make, and I have to stay in this truck. And it’s killing us.”
Her husband echoes her complaints. “You can’t sleep in the truck without being beat or tossed around in the sleeper,” Albert said. “We can’t afford that. Number one, I’m 60-years-old and when you get a beating in the sleeper, it’s like being in a fight. I’d rather get in the ring with a boxer before I sleep in the truck.”
Volvo, nation’s largest commercial truck maker, has offered to buy the truck back from them, but the couple has turned down their offer, citing concerns that the company could stop them from buying another Volvo truck in the future. “We want our Volvo,” Nancy said. “We love our Volvo. It has everything we want. It is superior in every way to any other truck that’s out there. But it has this one problem. All we’ve ever wanted was Volvo to work for us.”
They also state they put a lot of work into getting the truck the way they want it and don’t want to go through that process again. When they ordered the truck, they asked for a 248-inch wheel base, VEC and VEST safety packages, and an array of lighting accessories.“The problem is, I got everything on this truck that I want on a truck. I finally got it set up the way it needs to be set up. … When I bought the truck, I ordered it in specific colors; I ordered it a specific length. I ordered it with special stuff on this truck to handle the type of driving that I do. …That all took time. That took six weeks to set this truck up. I’m not ready to do it again.”
Instead of selling it back to Volvo, the couple decided to sue the company under Texas’s Lemon Law. “We didn’t want to have to go file under the Lemon Law. … We didn’t want to have to do all that,” Nancy said.
John Mies, spokesman for Volvo, reported speaking with each of the customers who have had complaints, as they taken them very seriously. “We also conducted a thorough investigation of this issue, and to the best of our knowledge, there is no product quality or safety concern. Rather, we believe that in the instances we’re aware of, the issue has been a matter of customer ride preference,” Mies said.
Volvo has stated they are more the willing to work with NHTSA and offer their full support of the investigation, but they believe the issue is not with all Volvo VNL780, despite the fact they have reported receiving several complaints. “Our expectation is that when NHTSA has all the facts, it will conclude that there is no product quality or safety concern,” Mies stated.
If you need to report a complaint regarding this model, you may do so via an online submission form at the agency’s safercar.gov website, ; by calling the agency’s hotline at 888-327-4236; or by printing out a complaint form on the agency’s website, filling it out and mailing, or faxing it in.
“(Those submissions) help us make a determination one way or another,” Seymour said. “What sometimes gets lost is just because one person experiences (an issue with a vehicle) doesn’t mean it’s not an unreasonable risk to highway safety. When it becomes multiple vehicles experiencing the same thing, and it becomes a hazardous condition, then that becomes something our agency is really designed to address.”