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Old 2nd April 2018, 16:38   #1
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Default Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

This incident was shared with us by Surender Kumar, who purchased a Tata Tigor top-end model in June 2017. The car had done 7,911 km before it met with an accident on February 3, 2018. Having survived the car accident, Kumar believes that the failure of the rear axle caused the accident. On taking up the matter with Tata, an investigation was carried out by the officials at the accident scene. The officials from Tata however reported that the accident was caused because of the driver losing control of the vehicle and not the failure of the axle. Here's how Kumar describes the events of February 3, 2018.

Kumar along with his family set off for Delhi from Indore at 3.30 a.m. Approximately 2 hours into the journey after passing Ujjain, the car was on Unhel road doing approximately 65 km/h. While on a right-hand turn, the occupants heard a sound from the rear of the vehicle. Immediately after this, the car spun out of control and skidded and flipped, finally coming to a halt in a farm nearby. Here is a look at the turn on which the car lost control and ended up in the farm next to the road.
Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-accidentalturn.jpg

All 5 members of the family who were travelling came out safely from the crashed car. 4 out of 5 passengers were wearing seatbelts and all of them walked away with minor injuries.
Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-img_7855.jpg
Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-img_7861.jpg

After making sure that all the occupants were alright, Kumar did some inspection of his own.
• The car was damaged all over indicating that it had rolled over, although he doesn't remember the number of flips that the car did.
• The car was lying on a farm which was on the right side of the road. The car was now facing exactly the opposite of the direction of travel (Google maps location).
• The rear left wheel of the car was not on it, but about 80-100 meters away from the car and it looked like it had broken out from the rear axle.
A call was made to 108 and help arrived on time; members of the family were taken to a nearby hospital for a check-up. The immediate next step was to call 24 X 7 On Road Assistance provided by Tata. Despite continuous follow-up, the assistance was a no show. After approximately 6 hours, with the help of local police, a crane was arranged to pick the car from the farm and the vehicle was taken to Sanghi Motors Ujjain (Tata Motors service center). Although, they were informed that the car would have to be taken to Sanghi Motors Indore. The vehicle was then transferred to Indore (on Kumar's expense). Since there was no direct line to Tata, Kumar tweeted about the incident, and then again, the only response he received was to have patience and that the team was working on it. 10 days after the incident, with no solid response, Kumar decided to put up the story on Facebook.
Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-img_7832-1.jpg

After going live on Facebook, a surveyor was arranged by the people at the service station, who assessed the damages and Kumar gave the go ahead for repair work.

Here's a look at the broken rear brake liner:
Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-img_7835.jpg

Here's the rear wheel brake drum:
Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-img_7842.jpg

The axle inside is clearly broken:
Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-img_7867.jpg

The same day, he also received a message saying that Tata's technical team would investigate the case. The team then visited on February 19, 2018 and they got the members involved in the accident on a conference call which lasted for about 40 minutes. After 9 days, a report regarding the accident was released by the technical team which concluded that the accident was indeed caused by a driver error.

Here is the email conversation between Kumar and Tata Motors -

Quote:
Dear Sir,

This has reference to your Tata Tigor XXXXXX, which was brought to our workshop through flatbed towing on 3/2/2018. Based on the below observations made on the car and on the accident spot, it is established that there is no manufacturing defect.

Request you to kindly get in touch with our dealer, Sanghi Brothers, Indore for necessary support and further action regarding the case.

Assuring you of our best support always.
Regards
This was followed by the formal report regarding the accident -

Quote:
Dear Mr. Surendra Kumar,

Greetings of the day.

Please find below observations of the investigation carried out by the team of Sanghi Brothers and Tata Motors at the accident site of your Tata Tigor XXXXXXXXX.

1. Customer (User / Driver) Verbatim:
• Journey began at about 3.30 am, i.e two hours prior to the accident.
• Accident occurred at 5.15 am in the morning when the vehicle was taking a turn in Ujjain to Delhi road near Ruia Village.
• There were four people in the vehicle when the accident occurred. The speed was about 65 kmph.
• Noise from rear side heard before accident, but when further probed, he could not ascertain when noise happened - before or after loss of control.
• Customer mentioned he found rear LHS wheel after accident, 80m away on the LHS side of the road (from the final position of the vehicle ), which he later brought to the accident spot.
2. Observations on the vehicle:
• Heavy Impact found over Rear Axle Tube & Rear RHS Shock Absorber. This heavy external impact might have caused vehicle toppling & damaged vehicle.
• Very less impact & damages found over Rear LHS Brake Base Plate which must have excessive damages if wheel got removed from vehicle due to Axle Breakage (as per customer voice).
• Rear LHS Alloy found with Heavy Scratches. Deep scratch observed along the periphery of the rim of RR and RL wheels.
• While lifting vehicle on the lift, it is clear that something struck with the twist beam & then axle got broken.
• Deep scratch also visible on rear RHS shock absorber.
• Topple mark on both LH & RH side.
• No front & rear crash mark, airbag also not activated.
• Spindle mounting bolt of rear LHS wheel found in tightened condition and two bolts found bent when it is removed.
• Front and Rear tyres found deflated.
• Spindle base plate of LHS rear found deformed in top side.
• RTB found bent in RH side and RHS rear damper tube had dent marks / deep scratches.
• No scratch mark on both wheel arch and liners – This is a clear indication that rear wheel was intact while the vehicle skidded and overturned.
3. Observations on accident site:
• Accident occurred in a sharp turning about 90 degree bend on RH side.
• There is a warning board at the spot about the sharp blind turn on the road ahead, there was no speed breaker, and no street light at the spot.
• Vehicle was lying on the right side of the road in the field facing opposite to the direction in which it was originally moving (As per photos shared).
• There are multiple deep groove marks on the pitch road at the turning point in the direction towards the fields (where the car finally came to a rest after toppling).
• There is a deep step (6 inches) beside the road at the left turning point.
• There are three other windshield breakage remains found at the spot - indicates three accidents occurred on the spot before.
4. Concluded Hypothesis:
• Poor visibility (no street light) and sharp turn with high speed (65 km/hr) may lead to vehicle going off the road on left side in the step (5 to 7 inches) and driver could have lost control.
• Vehicle skidded on the left side - heavy, continuous dent and scratch observed on LH rear, and front side wheel rim, which is evidence that wheel was intact when the driver lost control of vehicle.
• While skidding (LH side body on ground) from LH side to RH side of the road, vehicle changed the direction of motion and toppled first on LH side of the vehicle (no of turns during topple could not be ascertained), and the vehicle landed in the farm on RH side which is 7 feet.
• Consequentially LH spindle cracked due to vehicle landing on wheel during topple which is evident from spindle plate bend at top side due to heavy impact during vehicle rolling.
Kumar, with prior experience in the automobile industry, adamantly believes that the rear axle broke off which is why the vehicle ended up skidding and flipping. Kumar lists down all of his comments regarding each of the conclusions mentioned by the Tata Team in this document - Click here

Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-1-1.jpg

Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-1-2.jpg

Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-1-3.jpg

Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-1-4.jpg

Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-1-5.jpg

Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-1-6.jpg

Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-1-7.jpg

Going through the whole incident from a third person perspective, it is tough to come to an exact conclusion as to what might have happened. Although the conclusion mentioned by the Tata team which caused the accident is hard to come to terms with. Report mentions that the vehicle went off the road on the left side in the step (5 to 7 inches). But as the document from Mr. Kumar mentions that is the case with most of the roads in India, which I would agree on. Also, some of the pictures depict that it wasn't that much.
Name:  Consumer Remark against Tata team analysis for Axle broken in running Car  1 copy.jpg
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Another point which seems out of the picture is that the car lost control so easily on a simple right-hand turn. The car is a top-end Tigor which comes equipped with corner stability control (CSC). Tata officially says this about the safety feature - "CSC supports / stabilizes the vehicle during partial braking in curves by reducing pressure at the required inner wheel. This helps to reduce the probability of vehicle oversteer during cornering + braking".
Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?-websit.jpg

In the email that Kumar has shared with us, he has stated that he does not seek any sort of monetary compensation. He believes that there is a glitch in the system which caused the failure. The production glitch might be limited to a particular batch of vehicles, but it is important that the same is rectified since it is a matter of public safety. He expresses his concerns regarding the safety of the vehicle, quality control in the part manufacturing, clearance issued to a part that might eventually fail, or even the possibility of a design flaw.

One more takeaway from this whole incident is the way this case was handled by the officials. The lethargic response a customer of less than a year old car cannot be neglected. The official website of 24 X 7 On Road Assistance Program (click here) states that the assistance would arrive in at least 120 minutes. Even after considering the disclaimer "The response time will depend on the location, terrain, traffic density and the time of the day.", a 6 hour wait isn't justified.
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Old 2nd April 2018, 16:39   #2
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Street Experiences Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 2nd April 2018, 17:02   #3
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

A wheel simply can't break off. So, I am unsure the onus lies on whom. But, I hope that the car is being declared as a total loss and not repaired. Secondly, on Team-BHP, I hear good and positive things about Tata's service, which is completely the opposite as to what is happening here.

Last edited by Sheel : 2nd April 2018 at 17:03.
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Old 2nd April 2018, 17:26   #4
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Unhappy Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Shouldn't a disinterested party be doing the investigation? If another case of axle breakage occurs would that be enough to point towards a manufacturing defect? I shudder to think of how a loss of life would be dealt with in such a case. Another "chalta hai"?
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Old 2nd April 2018, 17:27   #5
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Thank god the occupants are all safe!

Regarding the axle break, the evidence that can be checked is that of the axle metallurgy. Do some tests on either side to see if it was a crack that had originated a while back or recent? The corrosion on the face of the broken part is worrisome to a layman like me. If it was a fresh cut, shouldn't it be shiny metal like at the edge?
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Old 2nd April 2018, 17:27   #6
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
Secondly, on Team-BHP, I hear good and positive things about Tata's service, which is completely the opposite as to what is happening here.
Being a Tata Car customer I find this unbelievable. I feel Tata makes profits in service and not selling cars. The total service spending on my Tata Nano over a period of 5 years has exceeded the maintenance cost of my 10 year old Honda Car. And Honda service is one of the costliest.

Parts on Tata cars fail and how. Service centers steal, replace good parts with defective and openly fleece customers. Every single one of them I tried in my city Pune. Once I received my car with the brakes NOT working after service.

If its one good advice I can give about cars - stay away from Tata cars like they're the plague if you want a peaceful life with your car. They make great cars but no one can beat them at giving service / maintenance nightmares.

Last edited by jagzrk : 2nd April 2018 at 17:31. Reason: Typo
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Old 2nd April 2018, 17:30   #7
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Everyone is safe, kudos to Tata for building a strong car.

No offence to the driver here, this is just my own observation and not generalization of any kind. I would agree if a Wagon R or Xylo flips over, but, I am seeing too many Tiago's flipping(refer our own accident threads) and the same applies to many Hyundai's. I guess these cars with soft suspensions have really good speed masking capabilities that give a false sense of car being under control.
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Old 2nd April 2018, 19:24   #8
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggu View Post
Thank god the occupants are all safe!

Regarding the axle break, the evidence that can be checked is that of the axle metallurgy. Do some tests on either side to see if it was a crack that had originated a while back or recent? The corrosion on the face of the broken part is worrisome to a layman like me. If it was a fresh cut, shouldn't it be shiny metal like at the edge?
I agree with this observation. Unless this picture is taken weeks after the accident, the formation of rust on the entire surface of the broken axle indicates that it had cracked long back but was holding on. This is clearly a quality issue.
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Old 2nd April 2018, 19:33   #9
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Shearing of the rear left axle stub and detachment of the wheel is very suggestive of material failure, which can be verified by subjecting the two ends of the axle stub to microscopic and metallurgic tests in an independent Physical Laboratory. Tata can do it themselves if they wanted do, but I wouldn't believe reports from their own labs, which may well be biased. In fact, a bad report should initiate a recall of all cars using the same batch of axles for reasons of safety.

Whether the wheel detached before or after the crash, is the main bone of contention between Tata and the owner, which only an experienced independent crash investigator can determine through reconstruction of the crash. I believe such specially trained professionals are very rare in India. For us to look at a limited number of pictures and to try and reconstruct exactly how the crash happened, is absolutely impossible. Tata's own personnel have provided a report which reeks of ignorance. Even in far more violent crashes, axle stubs and wheels are not known to shear off as in this case, and damage to other suspension components is the norm.

Either way, Tata Motors is unwilling to own responsibilty for the material failure, and has passed on the onus of responsibility for the crash to the owner/driver. Presumably, the vehicle is insured, and the owner should be able to recover his money without too much trouble. No lives have been lost or any major disability occurred, thank God (and the passengers at the back who remembered to wear seatbelts) for that.

However, the point remains that the manner of handling the case by TML has been highly irregular and unethical, and the customer's trust in the Tata brand is certainly shaken - personally, I would be very wary of a manufacturer that probably supplies inferior quality of key components in its cars.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 2nd April 2018 at 19:35.
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Old 2nd April 2018, 20:20   #10
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

That looks like a bad one. Really good to see that all the occupants walked out unscathed. Speaks a lot about the safety of the cabin and seatbelt usage.

Have not gone in detail, however, the distance the car covered to reach its final spot, does not indicate it was doing only 65km/h. Just my imagination seeing the pictures.

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Old 2nd April 2018, 21:32   #11
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Another instance of a crash involving a new Tata car (model) - and the occupants walking away safe, or without much injury. Glad that they were wearing seat belts (even if 4 fof 5 ).
Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
However, the point remains that the manner of handling the case by TML has been highly irregular and unethical, and the customer's trust in the Tata brand is certainly shaken - personally, I would be very wary of a manufacturer that probably supplies inferior quality of key components in its cars.
Compare this with Jeep - when they replaced the crashed vehicle with a new Compass. Tata should take a leaf from Jeep here and spring up from such unattached behaviour.
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Old 2nd April 2018, 23:06   #12
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
Secondly, on Team-BHP, I hear good and positive things about Tata's service, which is completely the opposite as to what is happening here.
Having owned a Tata car for about 8 years, I carry ample experience of the way a Tata car behaves and the manner in which a service centre would respond to the Customers calls. I have faced situations where the car breaks down without any reason and the service centre guys have no clue of how to address a particular issue. A customer's car eventually turns into a guinea pig, and the service personnel try all permutations and combinations to set a small issue straight. Once through your car, they merrily continue their never ending learning processes with another car from a fresh customer. Given the details of the case, I find no surprise in the sudden failure of a car component in as much as the indifferent attitude from Tata guys.

Having said that, it is my personal opinion that reading a good and positive feedback about Tata's service is simply a very rare phenomenon.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 10:01   #13
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Mod Note: Let's please focus on the causes of this accident and not get into a debate on Tata's after-sales. Thanks for the support & understanding .
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Old 3rd April 2018, 10:54   #14
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

They said the occupants heard a sound at the rear axle. Could it be the driver didn’t notice a sharp obstruction that could’ve made intact with rear axle as it’s told the area he was in was a bit dark with no street lights. Again, this is just my assumption.

Like Jaggu said in the above post, metallurgy test should reveal if the crack developed before or after this accident.

Lastly, I’m happy the car saved the occupants. Tata has done a good job with the exterior build quality. Cannot comment on the mechanical parts yet as we are unable to judge or come to a conclusion as there’s 2 sides to this story.

Again, the owner should claim insurance and buy a new car rather and shouldn’t get this repaired.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 11:24   #15
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Default Re: Tata Tigor Accident - Axle breaks on the highway. Driver error or manufacturing defect?

Have been a regular traveler on the road where this accident took place. Though completely paved, it is bumpy. Lot of tractors ply on this road. Very much possible that rock was left on the road after being used as support to change a tyre or provide a support to a vehicle.

Referring to the observation Point#1 (Heavy Impact found over Rear Axle Tube & Rear RHS Shock Absorber): Is their a possibility that only the rear part which broke off had hit a rock (but front missed it); while swerving for some reasons? The impact may have ripped apart the parts. I am only guessing that car the car fully loaded (in terms of weight - Five passengers on a long trip).

Apologies, if above does not makes sense. Just shared my observation & thoughts.

I am happy that build quality has come out as a positive again for the new lot of Tata cars.


Tigor XZA is what we have bought a week ago, a third Tata car in our garage. Car is still parked in our garage in Indore, as my father as red flagged the car to be taken out of garage till it has its registration formalities done & we have a permanent registration plate installed on car, not a temporary one. I have opted for extended warranty & as the SA assured, it covers the road-side assistance for the same period.

The entire incidence is giving me goose-bumps, cause I own more or less the same car.

Last edited by saurabh2711 : 3rd April 2018 at 11:37.
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