TRW Inc., which denies any problem with its antilock brakes, is near a settlement on the cost of repairing 2.4 million trucks that General Motors has agreed to fix.
The move comes as GM has agreed to repair 3.5 million trucks built from 1991 to 1996 after a five-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Of those trucks, 1.1 million are being recalled to replace a faulty switch that could increase stopping distances. A TRW unit also supplied ABS for those vehicles but is not involved in the recall.
However, TRW is involved in GM's decision to revise the software that controls ABS in 2.4 million trucks. The software change is designated a service recall, not a safety recall, as defined by federal law.
Under rare conditions - when a truck goes from a coarse road surface to a much smoother surface and back to a coarse surface - the brakes may not function as designed, GM said.
GM is asking owners of those 2.4 million trucks with ABS supplied by LucasVarity PLC to bring them in for repair. Cleveland-based TRW acquired LucasVarity on May 11 for $7 billion.
TRW spokesman Jay McCaffrey said discussions over the company's share of the repair costs are nearly complete. He declined to discuss the talks, but said TRW's share of the bill 'would not have a material financial impact.'
McCaffrey said the EBC4 brake that LucasVarity supplied GM was not defective.
'The product we supplied was a good product,' he said.
McCaffrey said TRW will assist GM's planned repair because GM is a good customer, 'and we are responsive to our customers.'
LucasVarity supplied the brake, but not the software that controls the brake system, he said.
But Bob Lange, engineering director at GM's Safety Center, said Delco, a former GM subsidiary, and the former Kelsey-Hayes, which LucasVarity acquired before becoming part of TRW, each are responsible for recoding a share of the vehicles.
'To the extent that a supplier is involved causally, we would like to have Kelsey participate financially,' Lange said, noting that he is not involved in those talks. 'It'll get resolved,' he added.
Separately, GM is recalling 1.1 million four-wheel-drive trucks to replace a faulty switch that tells the brakes whether the vehicle is in four-wheel or two-wheel mode. In some cases, the ABS may mistake 2wd operation for 4wd operation, thus extending stopping distances.
GM is responsible for the switch on the underbody of the vehicle that can misread its 2wd status, Lange said.
NHTSA said it has received nearly 11,000 complaints about the brakes on the 3.5 million vehicles. They included reports of 2,111 crashes with 293 injuries.
A separate NHTSA investigation of ABS on 1992-94 Chevrolet and GMC Suburbans continues, but GM has agreed to take some as-yet undetermined action to fix them. Complaints about Suburbans include reports of 782 crashes and 68 injuries.
Both GM and NHTSA called the investigation one of the most complicated ever. Some industry officials said privately the case unfairly undermined the reputation of all antilock brake systems.