- Mon, Feb 7, 2011
Newmar recently asked Dometic to better explain the refrigerator recall and answer the following questions for our customers.
- Explain the problem
- Why the recall
- Why they should not be afraid of absorption refrigerators
We will attempt, with this correspondence, to provide a condensed version of Dometic’s program to address a potential safety related defect in certain two door refrigerator units manufactured between April 1997 and September 2006, and the questions raised by Newmar.
This is a safety related recall, and even though only one tenth of one percent (.01%) of the recalled refrigerators have experienced a fire, our goal and responsibility is to keep our customers safe. The overwhelming majority of our recalled refrigerators will never experience an incident (99.99%).
Initially Dometic notified the National Transportation Safety Administration in accordance with the applicable provisions of 49CFR Part 573 of a potential defect in August 2006. A detailed Model and serial number listing of the double door refrigerators that may contain the potential safety related defect were identified. The recall population of Double Door refrigerators was expanded in April 2008.
The Problem: After some period of use, a fatigue crack may develop in the boiler tube of the identified refrigerators that may release a sufficient amount of pressured coolant solution into an area where an ignition source may be present. Potential ignition sources in this area include the refrigerators propane burner and / or electric heating element. If this solution is exposed to an ignition source under certain specific circumstances, it can result in a vehicle fire.
Dometic, with third party engineers, has conducted comprehensive testing for this recall. After such exhaustive testing, we have found that the Secondary Burner Housing and a double redundancy set of fuses, if tripped, instantly responds by shutting down the refrigerator in performing it’s intended function. The burner housing and fail safe fuse system made up the components of the recall kit. The system is expert tested and meets our high standards.
This secondary burner housing and fail safe fuse system became a standard production specification on all double door refrigerators manufactured by Dometic and remains so today. Additionally, increased market demand required a new production line with state of the art technology to be introduced and the old production line updated with the same new technology between the end of 2005 through January of 2006. This technology and manufacturing processes have also been in place since the startup of production in Elkhart. Further, Dometic has continued to review claims subsequent to the NHTSA recall campaign in verifying the integrity of the rationale and to make certain that other contribution factors were not present that could cause fatigue on refrigerators beyond the recall population manufacture dates.
Dometic’s notification program was extensive. Mailings were sent to all OEM’s that purchase affected refrigerators, all RV Dealers, All Campgrounds and All owners of RV’s who’s units may contain the affected refrigerators in the US and Canada. The comprehensive owner mailings were based on owner’s refrigerator warranty registrations and vehicle serial numbers of RV’s provided to us by the OEM’s during a specific time frame of their production. The RV serial number files from each OEM were sent to RL Polk and run through their data base to ensure all consumers that purchased an RV with an affected refrigerator were sent a notification package. In many instances the consumer received multiple notification mailings- one from Dometic and one from the OE Manufacture. In total, Dometic processed 3,236,587 consumer notification mailings of which 54, 048 were sent to Newmar owners explaining the situation, the recall program, listing of actions that the consumer must do and additional resources for information.
A mufti year media campaign was also launched that included Public Relation Releases, Public Relation story-line articles, advertising campaign in all trade publications both B to B and B to C magazines. We also included advertising in owner’s club newsletters and publications. In doing so we provided a recall watts line number to address any consumer concerns or questions. Our web site also provided assistance in communicating our program, identifying affective units and a dealer locator for installation of the recall kit.
Trained Dometic technicians identified RV’s during national, regional and local chapter owners club rally’s that had affected refrigerators and installed the secondary burner housing and double redundancy set of fuses when possible early in the recall process until the dealer body had sufficient supply of recall kits on hand.
Dometic has been manufacturing absorption refrigerators for almost 88 years ……… we invented it. The problem that resulted in Dometic voluntarily notifying NHTSA of a safety related problem back in 2006 has been fixed. If any Newmar Owner has an affected refrigerator and still has not had the recall kit installed, dealers can / are still installing the recall kits whenever the situation arises. Recall information continues to be available on our web site and can be used as a source by the consumer along with our watts line @ 1-888-446-5157.
Vice President, Marketing