Heavy Vehicle EDRs - Event Data Recorders

Getting Data from HV EDRs

The first thing to understand about HV EDRs is that the most common ones are part of a truck's engine control module (ECM). Other HV EDRs may be part of a safety feature, such as a collision avoidance or rollover-protection system.

The engine type and safety features that are installed on a tractor are not predictably dependent on the brand name of the tractor (e.g., Freightliner, Peterbilt).

The following diagram may be helpful in understanding the relationship between trucks, engines, ECMs, and EDRs.

Click image to view larger.

figure 1

Unlike passenger cars, HV engines are not always made by the same company that makes the tractor. For example, Kenworth manufactures tractors, not engines. A Kenworth tractor might have an engine manufactured by Detroit Diesel, Caterpillar, or Cummins. Some tractor manufacturers also build engines but will install another brand ’s engine in their tractor at the customer's request. An example is Volvo, which makes tractors and engines under the Volvo brand, but could also install a Mack or Cummins engine in a Volvo tractor.

A partial list of
truck manufacturers

A partial list of common
engine manufacturers

  • Freightliner
  • Peterbilt
  • Kenworth
  • Navistar / International
  • Mack
  • Sterling
  • Volvo
  • Detroit Diesel
  • Caterpillar
  • Cummins
  • Mack
  • Navistar / International
  • Volvo

Determining the Type of ECM and EDR

Try the online VIN Decoder (Requires JAVA Standard Edition 6. Click here to download the latest version of JAVA.)

  • The two most important pieces of information to obtain when attempting to determine whether a truck has EDR capability are the year model of the tractor and the make of the engine.
  • Under normal circumstances, the simplest way of determining what kind of ECM (and therefore what kind of EDR) a truck has is to decode the VIN. Almost all VINs contain both the year model of the tractor and the make of the engine that the tractor was built with.
  • This website contains a free VIN decoder designed by Kender-CR, Inc that will decode the year model and engine type of a commercial vehicle built between 1995 and 2005 from its VIN.
  • Gates offers a free online VIN decoder that will decode most heavy truck VINs through 2010 year models. Try the Gates VIN Decoder.
  • Commercially available software, such as VIN Power or R. L. Polk’s Vintelligence can completely decode heavy vehicle VINs.
  • There are three important limitations of decoding the VIN:
    • Engines can be replaced after the initial production of the truck.
    • Engines can be rebuilt and a new ECM can be installed on the rebuilt motor--in either of these cases, the new ECM may have recording capabilities that the original ECM did not have.
    • The VIN will not provide information about an add-on system (such as VORAD or Qualcomm) that may contain relevant data.
  • Police Accident Reports can be helpful in making a preliminary determination of ECM type. However, not all states include VINs on police accident reports.
  • The only foolproof method of determining what type of ECM is installed on a tractor is to visually inspect and download the ECM itself.

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