Aweres Volunteer Fire and Rescue serves an unincorporated northern Ontario township with just 650 winter residents. Funds are tight, and they recently had to buy a new $250,000 fire truck to replace an aging 1977 vehicle.
The 2011 International DuraStar truck was delivered in February of 2011 with 2,247 km. In January of 2015, with only 5,154 km, total brake failure occurred, and it was towed to the dealer in Sault Ste. Marie.
Towing, diagnostics and repairs cost over $7,000 (the brake module alone was $3,000). Despite extremely low mileage, they said the warranty had timed out, so, too bad.
Navistar, the parent company for International, acknowledged but didn’t answer our repeated inquiries, nor would they confirm basic warranty information.
RELATED: Insider Report: How to put out a truck fire, Canadian-style
Further research uncovered that Meritor Wabco, the brake module manufacturer, lists its own three-year/482,000 km warranty on ABS air brakes, or two-year/321,000 km on ABS hydraulic brakes.
Michael Lambie of Meritor Wabco explained that, particularly in extreme climates such as northern Ontario, non-use or little usage over many years can sometimes be as tough on braking systems as ultraheavy usage. (Several independent mechanics confirmed this is generally true across all brands, for both passenger cars and transport trucks alike.)
Though outside warranty, Meritor Wabco generously stepped up in lieu of the automaker, and we conferred with Aweres firefighters to come up with a creative resolution.
We asked what equipment they needed most, and, as per their request, Meritor Wabco gifted a Honda high-volume water pump, hoses and accessories to Aweres Fire and Rescue for remote backwoods firefighting. The donation is valued at over $5,500.
“I hope it saves many lives,” adds Lambie.
Meritor Wabco, incidentally, is a leading global provider of electronic braking, stability, suspension, and transmission automation systems for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Their “collision mitigation” systems constantly monitor traffic conditions and can warn the driver, or even fully apply brakes, if there’s danger of a collision. According to legislators, such systems may soon be mandated on all new cars.
Our reader, Ernie Gulyas, representing the volunteer Local Services Board, provided this update:
Our community sincerely thanks the Toronto Star
and Meritor Wabco. That unexpected repair bill really hit us hard and we were stonewalled seeking redress from International. We’d given up hope, but Eric Lai persevered for over eight months to help our small township.
In gratitude for his outstanding service in assistance to our community, the Board is pleased to award Eric Lai the title of Honorary Captain with the Aweres Volunteer Fire Department.
Follow Toronto Star Wheels on Facebook
Freelance writer Eric Lai is a regular contributor to Toronto Star Wheels. Email your nonmechanical questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.