Freightliner LLC has notified its bus and fire/emergency vehicle customers who have vehicles manufactured between March 1998 - August 2000, equipped with air brakes and with Bendix Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) EC 17-1030R electronic control units (ECU), of a defect in that system. The company's customers and dealers, which include Thomas Built Buses, Freightliner Trucks and Sterling Trucks dealers, have been notified of the problem and the proper inspection procedures for the vehicles included in the recall.

According to Bendix advisories, this braking system defect involves 300,000 vehicles industry wide. Of that number, about 46,000 are buses and coaches. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that school buses and fire and emergency service vehicles are the first priorities for recall.

On August 29-31, Freightliner/Thomas distributed notifications for approximately 6,000 of its bus chassis and fire/emergency vehicles that are included in the recall.

"In addition to being available around the clock to inspect any of our buses and trucks that are affected, Freightliner has diverted all the new Bendix ECUs we have in production to repair the recalled vehicles," said Debi Nicholson, Freightliner LLC corporate communications general manager. "We are encouraging Bendix to do the same so this situation with school buses and fire/emergency vehicles can be remedied as soon as possible."

Nicholson said the repair of the defective braking system involves both inspection of the existing system and then replacing the Bendix ABS electronic control units with a new ECU. New ECUs will become available in limited quantities beginning in mid-September. Additional details about the defect, inspection process and repair should be obtained from the Bendix Communications Center at 800-478-1793.

Freightliner has advised its customers to call their local Freightliner, Thomas Built Buses or Sterling dealers with any questions or to schedule inspections. Also, Freightliner's toll-free customer assistance center -- 800-FTL-HELP (800-385-4357) -- is staffed around the clock to answer questions and direct customers to the appropriate resources for help.

"We advise parents and concerned citizens to contact their school districts if they have any concerns or questions about their school buses," Nicholson said. "They will have the best and latest information on whether they have buses affected and the inspections or repair steps they've taken. Districts and others who operate fleets should remember that not just Freightliner and Thomas products are included in the recall," she added. "Other manufacturers' products are included and we expect they will notify their customers as well."

Freightliner LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, American LaFrance and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Freightliner is a DaimlerChrysler Company, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.