What to do when your Motorcycle has a Recall

You open your mailbox only to see a letter from the manufacturer that you just bought your brand new bike from. Not only that, but in big read letters it say’s something like “Open immediately, Important Information Enclosed”.  Your first thought may be “Oh man, I just bought a lemon”, or you might be thinking of calling up that dealership you bought it from and giving the salesman a piece of your mind after he told you what a great product you were buying. But, before you get upset, let me give you some information that may ease your mind should you ever get a letter in the mail telling you that your motorcycle has a recall.

Different Classifications of Motorcycle Recalls

 First of all, there are different classifications of recalls.  Some recalls are safety issues, some recalls are based on emission standards, and you may even get something called a performance modification recall.

Safety Recalls

 When you receive a letter that your bike has a safety recall, you will be contacted directly by the manufacturer with a letter and sometimes a follow-up call from the dealership where you purchased your bike. Generally the dealer is calling to set up an appointment to get the service done, get the recall repaired, and get you back on the road.  The letter from the manufacturer will tell you the reason for the recall, what to expect from your dealer, and what steps you should take (like not drive the bike until the problem is fixed).  This letter should come only from the manufacturer, don’t be deceived by generic safety letters from people just trying to get you into their service department or to buy an aftermarket warranty.

 What always surprises me when manufacturers send safety recall letters telling you your motorcycle has a recall, they tell you to contact your dealership to set up an appointment for your repair, and the next sentence is telling you that you should not ride your motorcycle.  The necessary repairs will be done free of charge, but nowhere in the letter does it say they will cover the cost to tow the motorcycle you are not supposed to ride, they leave that for your dealer to explain to you when you contact them. But, don’t blame your dealer.  Your best bet is to call the customer service department of the manufacturer and ask them if they will work with your dealer to cover the towing expenses. 

 Emission Recalls

Emission recalls are based on just that.  Your motorcycle has been tested before it was released for sale, but at some point an emission issue came up.  This happens because as more bikes hit the streets and put on miles on them, hoses or clamps can fail creating an emissions issue.  These are not safety related, but you should contact your dealership to get the problem corrected as soon as possible.

Performance Modification Recalls

 One other recall you may come across is something called a performance modification.  A performance or sometimes referred to as a “factory” campaign is the result of something that occurred at the factory that is not a safety issue, but rather an issue that requires replacement of a part because it was either made or installed incorrectly.  A clutch is never considered a warranty item, but one manufacturer discovered an issue with a clutch plate resulting in a factory modification campaign in order to replace clutches that had a design flaw.  It was much more cost effective to replace the clutches than to replace entire engines and transmissions that could have been damaged by the faulty clutches. In this case, you may have thought you got a lemon, but actually the manufacturer is making this change to keep customers from having problems down the road and to keep their customers happy.

 The important thing to remember is that recalls are issued for the safety and protection of consumers.  Unfortunately, no system is perfect and safety recalls do not become apparent until the vehicles are on the road, being driven in real life situations and not on some machine.  And by the way, should you not want to go back to the dealership where you bought your bike, the manufacturer can give you a list of authorized dealers in your area that can do the necessary repairs.

I hope this gives you some piece of mind should you ever get a letter in the mail telling you your motorcycle has a recall.

 Did I forget anything?  Have a recall story to share?  Please tell us about it.