Three dozen fires resulting from improper installation of replacement headlamps is prompting Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) to recall more than 72,000 Freightliner Cascadia Class 8 trucks across six model years.

No injuries were reported by DTNA or in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) filing.

Daimler does not think the issue, which has led to complete losses of some trucks, is a safety issue because it occurs in after-sales service, but said in its filing it was recalling the trucks out of “an abundance of caution” . 

The leading truck manufacturer filed the safety recall May 10 after NHTSA opened a preliminary evaluation (PE) in March. A PE is the first step in NHTSA potentially ordering a safety recall. 

About 1% of 72,508 Cascadias recalled from the 2017 to 2022 model years are expected to exhibit the problem. If a replacement bulb is improperly installed, it may melt beyond the headlight/headlamp assembly, potentially reaching the hood, cab and complete vehicle, increasing the risk of fire.

An improperly installed bulb could be seen through the headlight/headlamp lens as being positioned at an odd angle. It may flicker during operation because the bulb is not fully seated in the headlight assembly housing.

First indication in 2018

DTNA learned three years ago this month of the first case of a replacement halogen headlamp melting a headlamp socket with no fire. The company blamed the first incident and one in August 2018 on installation error. An internal investigation opened in June 2018 was closed in January 2019 with four total field reports.

But the field issues continued. Eight more incidents were found in 2019. When DTNA pulled field reports in January and February of this year, it found two dozen more incidents that ”resulted in melting of components and in some cases total vehicle loss,” according to the company’s chronology filed with NHTSA.

“At all relevant times prior to May 10, 2021, given the facts as they were best understood at the time, DTNA reasonably did not know, nor could it have known, of a potential defect with an unreasonable risk to safety,” the company said in its filing.

The recall remedy is to install a foam grommet to replace the rubber boot within the headlight/headlamp assembly on both sides of the vehicle, cut a 4-inch access hole into each inner fender, and place a warning label/sticker on both fenders.

DTNA will notify dealers and owners about the recall by mail on July 12.

The NHTSA recall number is 21V-357.

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