22 Mar

Suzuki Recalls SUV with Defective Shift Shaft

Brea, Calif. – Mar. 22, 2017 – Suzuki Motor Company of America has recalled almost 800 vehicles due to shift shafts. The recall impacts Grand Vitara sport utility vehicles with manual transmissions produced between June 2008 and October 2012, according to documentation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Defect

The affected models include gearshift rear shafts – fixtures responsible for the shift lever to the transmission – that are prone to breakage due to defective materials. Shifters can snap during normal operational movements, especially when maneuvered right-to-left or left-to-right repeatedly. This poses serious risks for customers, as it prevents them from changing gears while driving, increasing the risk of a traffic accident. No injuries have been linked to this defect as yet.

Timeline of Events

  •  In July 2012, Suzuki learned that drivers were experiencing trouble when shifting gears from a distributor in Nigeria, according to a document filed with the NHTSA. Quality control specialists investigated the issue and discovered that broken gearshift rear shafts were the cause.
  • More than one year later, the automaker was forced to investigate further as more incidents involving broken shafts had been reported. Suzuki engineers eventually decided that operator overuse was to blame. It altered production practices and changed the shaft design to accommodate more aggressive gear-shifting. Suzuki implemented the new fabrication workflows in June 2013.
  • In July 2015, the company looked into the defect once more in response to an influx of new incident reports. Engineers tested the materials used in the original production process and found that they failed to comply with internal quality metrics. By then, Suzuki had fielded 29 complaints related to the defective transmission components.
  • Four months later, similar tests were performed using the alternative shafts introduced in 2013. The new fixtures met durability standards.
  • In April of last year, Suzuki engineers altered the Grand Vitara production process once more, replacing circular shafts with square-shaped models. This new design complied with company standards. Production of the new shaft began in August.
  • On Feb. 2, 2017, the automaker chose to initiate an official recall, citing more than 100 separate incident reports involving the original gearshift rear shafts. While none were filed in the U.S., the defect was mentioned in various warranty claims, necessitating the involvement of the NHTSA.
  • Dealers received notification Feb. 24.

The Solution

Suzuki has instructed dealers to replace the original shaft with the newly designed square alternative, free of charge. The automaker intends to notify affected customers March 1.

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