Thomas Built Buses announced earlier this month that it is voluntarily recalling 53,528 school buses because their seats, which were manufactured by SynTec Seating Solutions, may not meet federal regulations for leg protection in the event of a crash.
Thomas Bus said that styrene blocks in certain Syntec S3B and SCR RTR seats in model-years 2014 through 2020 Saf-T-Liner C2, Saf-T-Liner EFX and Minotour school buses don’t meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 222. The school bus OEM added that there have been no reports of injuries as a result.
Thomas Bus filed its report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigations on Oct. 4. The school bus manufacturer said it will begin notifying dealers and customers on Dec. 2 of fixes to be made free of charge.
The issue arose in March 2019 when Transport Canada tested four seats for knee foam impact. Two of the seats failed, and the country’s regulatory agency notified the school bus manufacturer, which then launched an investigation alongside Syntec. During a teardown of the Transport Canada seats, the companies found indications that there were variations of the position of the knee styrene blocks to the seat frame and that the seats were not in compliance with Section 5.3.2 of FMVSS 222.
“The seats may have been manufactured with styrene blocks that may not provide sufficient impact absorption in certain specific areas around the steel seat frame of the back support,” Thomas Bus said in a written statement.
Thomas Bus said Syntec began a design change in August to improve the resisting force of the styrene blocks. Additional impact material will also be installed on the seats between the rebond back and the vinyl back cover. Thomas Bus said the repairs performed by authorized Daimler Trucks North Amerca service facilities can be made without taking the buses out of service.
A Syntec company rep told School Transportation News there was no further comment at this time.