Al-Ko axle failures per PCv magazine

Jun 20, 2005
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Catching up on my reading PCv say Bailey’s suffered axle failures . Be careful! Their words.

Was it only Bailey? Where have Al-Ko been? So my axle fails at five years?
Do we caravanners have any recourse against anyone?
Car manufacturers go back years. Kia is a good example with Sorento corrosion Rear axle.
why can’t we caravanners enjoy the same🤔🤔
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I suspect its far more complex than it seems, Obviously the customer might try using the CRA approach, but getting together the necessary evidence that proves the axle was faulty or of incorrect design is fraught with problems, and also proving the caravan hasn't been overloaded or damaged whilst towing which could see the action fail.

It would be in the customers favour if there has been multiple failures, especially when similar sized(Weight) caravans from other makers who use the same chassis manufactures parts do not suffer failures.

The arguments will flow back and forth, Caravan manufacture will blame customers for overloading or damaging whilst towing, Secretly the caravan manufacture will also be exploring if the fault is with the chassis manufacturer.

Has the caravan manufacturer dismissed the problem as being statistically insignificant, and therefore does not warrant a deeper investigation ?
But could it be the wrong parts were specified in the design of the caravan, and thus who is responsible for that design decision? In my view its the Caravan manufacturer, though they might claim they sent the specification to teh chassis manufacturer and asked for their best fit design.

Were the wrong parts ordered by the caravan manufacturer?
Was the order correct but the wrong parts supplied by the chassis manufacturer?
Were the parts sub standard or faulty?
Did the caravan manufacture use the wrong parts from stock?


Answers on a post card please
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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Why should the customer have recourse against AlKo? If you buy a Ford with an engine supplied by Peugeot you don't lodge a complaint against Peugeot if the engine fails, but you go through Ford channels. The same applies to a caravan.
One can argue that Bailey's receiving inspection didn't do its job if the axles were faulty.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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Why should the customer have recourse against AlKo? If you buy a Ford with an engine supplied by Peugeot you don't lodge a complaint against Peugeot if the engine fails, but you go through Ford channels. The same applies to a caravan.
One can argue that Bailey's receiving inspection didn't do its job if the axles were faulty.
I really don’t think a receiving inspection would pick up problems with the rubber bushes material composition which seems to have been one of the suspect causes. Or it could just have been poor design of the bushes but again not a goods inward type of inspection finding.
 
Nov 6, 2005
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I really don’t think a receiving inspection would pick up problems with the rubber bushes material composition which seems to have been one of the suspect causes. Or it could just have been poor design of the bushes but again not a goods inward type of inspection finding.
Lutz's point is that it's not the component suppliers' liability to the consumer, it's the manufacturers' - for example, millions of cars globally have had faulty airbags but their owners don't get Takata (the airbag maker) to fit new ones, they get Toyota, etc.

The caravan industry seems to have a habit of trying to avoid manufacturers liability - axle failure on a Bailey caravan is Bailey's responsibility - the fact that they'll recharge Alko is nothing to do with the consumer.
 
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I really don’t think a receiving inspection would pick up problems with the rubber bushes material composition which seems to have been one of the suspect causes. Or it could just have been poor design of the bushes but again not a goods inward type of inspection finding.
Even if receiving inspection was unable to pick up a rubber bush material composition issue, it should have been picked up during their own durability testing, either at the time of first sample approval or during later random sample checks. These would typically be carried out by road or rig testing. If they don't have the resources to do that, they should have demanded similar action by AlKo and had them document and submit the results. One can't blame AlKo if Bailey didn't ask for such documentation. The supplier will only provide what is contained in the contract between him and customer. If quality control is not adequately covered in the contract, it's a bad contract.
 
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Jun 20, 2005
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When our own PCv points out there is a Bailey /Al-ko axle problem, it is a problem that needs resolution. My own MTPLM is 1679kgs. Each of the two axles is rated at 1000kgs. Most failures are dismissed by Bailey as overloading or road damage. I’d have to go someday to overload🤪.
Clearly there is a problem, not just Baileys, so why isn’t the caravan industry sorting it out!!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Lutz's point is that it's not the component suppliers' liability to the consumer, it's the manufacturers' - for example, millions of cars globally have had faulty airbags but their owners don't get Takata (the airbag maker) to fit new ones, they get Toyota, etc.

The caravan industry seems to have a habit of trying to avoid manufacturers liability - axle failure on a Bailey caravan is Bailey's responsibility - the fact that they'll recharge Alko is nothing to do with the consumer.
I quite understand where the responsibility for product liability lies. But failed to understand why it would be thought that an inspection by Bailey would have picked up the problem. If its like my replacement axle it came in shrink wrapped and once the dealer checked it’s serial number and label on it went. Apart from signs of physical damage there’s little else to check for.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Even if receiving inspection was unable to pick up a rubber bush material composition issue, it should have been picked up during their own durability testing, either at the time of first sample approval or during later random sample checks. These would typically be carried out by road or rig testing. If they don't have the resources to do that, they should have demanded similar action by AlKo and had them document and submit the results. One can't blame AlKo if Bailey didn't ask for such documentation. The supplier will only provide what is contained in the contract between him and customer. If quality control is not adequately covered in the contract, it's a bad contract.
I agree that there has been a design or manufacturing drop off between the two main players. In my experience when a prime contractor sub contracts for parts they should work with the parts supplier to ensure that the contract specification can be achieved. This will often involve the parts supplier in rig testing over a life cycle and beyond. The prime should also development test the whole product too. I don’t know if Alko would development test each axle given the large range that they produce. But given their extensive experience and relationship with caravan suppliers I find it hard to believe that they would not be involved quite closely.
However suppliers can and do change the specification of materials and unless it’s specifically banned in the contract as long as the changes part still achieves the primes contract the prime may be none the wiser.
The disappointing thing about this saga is that it was becoming clear that some Bailey caravans were suffering axle failure in relatively short time periods. Yet overloading by the owners was blamed. But didn’t anyone ask as to why this current generation if buyers may have been overloading when buyers 3-4 year earlier weren’t? Was it down to reduced payloads not being adhered too? Or was it material composition changes?
In my experience with a dropped suspension Swift were no help in defining the axle type and referred me to Alko. I sent photos to Alko of the makers label affixed to the axle all clearly readable. Even then they required the exact fixing point locations and dimensional positions to be measured with the van up in the air on lifts. If Alko couldn’t determine the axle configuration from their own makers label fixed onto the axle then I’m not impressed at all with their configuration control. .
 
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I quite understand where the responsibility for product liability lies. But failed to understand why it would be thought that an inspection by Bailey would have picked up the problem. If its like my replacement axle it came in shrink wrapped and once the dealer checked it’s serial number and label on it went. Apart from signs of physical damage there’s little else to check for.
You are unable to check the quality of a replacement axle, that's true, but Bailey are perfectly able to carry out durability tests to see how the axle performs under load and one would expect them to do so at the time of first sample approval and later on a random basis. If they can't do it themselves they need to delegate the work elsewhere. This could be to AlKo who would then have to submit the results to the customer, Bailey.
After all, Bailey have specified an MTPLM for the caravan and one would expect them to confirm that it remains serviceable at that MTPLM. If they claim overloading was the issue, where is their evidence?
 
Jun 20, 2005
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You are unable to check the quality of a replacement axle, that's true, but Bailey are perfectly able to carry out durability tests to see how the axle performs under load and one would expect them to do so at the time of first sample approval and later on a random basis. If they can't do it themselves they need to delegate the work elsewhere. This could be to AlKo who would then have to submit the results to the customer, Bailey.
After all, Bailey have specified an MTPLM for the caravan and one would expect them to confirm that it remains serviceable at that MTPLM.
I suspect the failures related to a certain change in production methods and materials at Alko. It is no coincidence that the failures relate to a four year period of production. I understand failures over the last few years are negligible. I conclude Bailey , Swift and Alko do know they had a problem, now fixed, but in denial because of cost🤬🤬🤬
 
Jul 18, 2017
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The issue with axles on Baileys has been going on for several years, but why only Bailey? Surely other makes are using the same axle. If it is an inherent fault maybe you can still claim after the 6 years from date of purchase as I think the onus would be on the dealer to prove that the carvan was overloaded?
 
Jul 18, 2017
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The big issue remains that Bailey claim that the caravans were overloaded. Where is the evidence to support that?
I would have thought that it would be up to Bailey to prove that the caravan was overloaded. Isn't there a safety margin built in so if the maximum load is 1500kg the axle can still handle another 2-300kg?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Bailey weren't the only make to suffer but they did seem to have a spate of relatively new caravans suffer early failure. This blog is one I came across when mine suffered a relaxed axle. One thing I never could find out is whether the axle bushes are identical both sides. As my van has most of the heavy stuff on the offside and that's where the problem occurred. I'd had it serviced in the winter and it was okay. Outing to Shropshire in early Spring, with some diabolical roads and potholes, in for work in May and axle problem found. Given it was just 4-5 years old it could have been the previous owner or UKs rubbish roads. We will never know.

bailey-alko-axle-problem
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I would have thought that it would be up to Bailey to prove that the caravan was overloaded. Isn't there a safety margin built in so if the maximum load is 1500kg the axle can still handle another 2-300kg?
[/QUOTE

I had French pop top van with MTPLM of 1000kg. When I took it on its first outing I called into a weighbridge near Brecon and was shocked to find it nearer1250kg than 1000kg. Luckily I had fitted upgraded tyres and was quietly pleased to find out that my patient weighing of everything was quite accurate. when home I offloaded everything and took it too a weighbridge hat only weighed up to 3500kg. Only to have my results confirmed.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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This article sums up the problem very well indeed. Prof, it reads like you had a big influence 👍👍👍🤪


Clive beat me to it!
 
Jul 18, 2017
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This article sums up the problem very well indeed. Prof, it reads like you had a big influence 👍👍👍🤪


Clive beat me to it!
Quite interesting!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I would have thought that it would be up to Bailey to prove that the caravan was overloaded. Isn't there a safety margin built in so if the maximum load is 1500kg the axle can still handle another 2-300kg?
Absolutely! There would be a reason to believe their claim of overloading if they were able to provide test results to prove it, either in the form of reliability road testing at MTPLM or equivalent rig tests. After all, they have approved an MTPLM so one would assume that they did their homework to confirm that the MTPLM is both safe and reliable.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Other than offering general advice on this forum, I Can't and don't claim to have had any input into this claim. I condone the approach of customer which mirrors my own thoughts on the subject, and was very glad to see the outcome for the customer.

What has always concerned me about Caravan manufacturers, is their all to ready to blame the customer for the companies own failings. We are never likely to know the root reason why Bailey caravans seemed to suffer this problem, and this is down to companies apparent inability to say sorry, and they don't want to wash their dirty linen in public because it can open the floodgates to wider ranging claims, and loss of confidence for investors.

This is also frustrated by UK consumer rights focusing on the purchasing contract, which decouples the manufacture from the end user. There is a possibility that a "Class Action" cold be raised against the caravan manufacturer, but these are extremely complicated, it requires the cooperation of several complainants, and they cost a lot. The other possible option would be a "super complaint" which only a few organisations are permitted to do - the" Consumers Association" publishers of Which? magazine are one, but these actions are generally against an industry sector for example Telecoms, Trains, Energy or Water companies, rather than one company (unless they're a monopoly).

I would love to see an addition to the CRA two further stages where the customers interests are considered equally to a businesses commercial interests.

If a substantive proportion of a product has a history of common failures, these could trigger a formal arbitration hearing in front of a jury, where the manufacturer would be required to explain why the fault has arisen and what they have or intend to do about it. The jury would consider if the companies explanation and actions were reasonable, and if not, they instruct the company to take further action to reduce to a prescribed percentage failure rate future recurrences of the fault, with a time schedule for its implementation, and verification.

The company should also put int place a package for past, current and any future end users whose claims for this particular fault were frustrated or rejected by the manufacturer. A company failing to comply with the jury's ruling could be taken to court for a judicial review .

This process should also be open to commercial organisations who are middlemen in the supply chain before the retail customer.

These are only first thoughts on the subject, and I'm sure there will be others who have points to make.
 
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May 7, 2012
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I have only seen reports of Baileys having the problem but other makes could have. When yo buy the caravan you get a guarantee from the caravan maker and with this component from ALKO but more importantly you have rights under the CRA against the seller and assuming you used a credit card for all or part of the purchase and/or a finance company you have even more rights against them. Basically claim against the lot, given the numbers of problems involved I cannot see you failing as there was clearly a manufacturing fault.
Personally I cannot see that anyone except ALKO are at fault here, but that is not your problem, and the rest can reclaim their losses down the line.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Personally I cannot see that anyone except ALKO are at fault here, but that is not your problem, and the rest can reclaim their losses down the line.
Whether or not AlKo is at fault is something that is of no concern to the consumer. To put it bluntly, if Bailey purchase faulty parts and pass them on to the customer, then the ball is in Bailey's court.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Whether or not AlKo is at fault is something that is of no concern to the consumer. To put it bluntly, if Bailey purchase faulty parts and pass them on to the customer, then the ball is in Bailey's court.
Unfortunately it is the dealer that is saddled with the problem and it is the dealer that will probably end up in court. I would think that if a dealer ends up with faulty products that cost them time and money, the dealer should be taking the manufacturer to court. However doubt if this will ever happen.
 
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Jun 20, 2005
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Reviewing Baileys public accounts at Companies House they set aside the following reserves for future Warranty Claims
2018. £6,854,325. Turnover £112,000,000

2017. £10,176,911. Turnover. £133,000,000

Granted the Warranty reserves are a for a six year future.
IMO a significantly high expected failure rate.
 

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