Harley-Davidson Brake Failures: Federal Investigation Announced

When it comes to recalls, it seems as if we often hear about automobiles and trucks, but rarely motorcycles. However, that has changed with the investigation of Harley-Davidson, Inc., and the potential recall concerning the brakes on nearly half a million motorcycles.

After complaints of sudden, unexpected brake failures, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to investigate 430,000 Harleys from the model years 2008-2011. The models affected have anti-lock brakes. The NHTSA has received 43 complaints, with three reported crashes resulting in two injuries. There have been no deaths because of brake failures at this point.

According to the NHTSA, a module connected to the braking system can fail without warning due to corrosion. Generally only the front or the rear brakes have failed, not both simultaneously. However, one case of simultaneous failure is being investigated.

Harley is trying to partially blame owners for not changing the brake fluid as often as required. As old fluid becomes contaminated, it can be responsible for corrosion of the actuator valves on the anti-lock braking system (ABS). However, the NHTSA believes that any failure to change brake fluid is only part of the story: “While it may be true that the complainants failed to adhere to the . . . fluid service interval requirement, the consequent sudden and complete loss of brake without warning is a concern.”

A spokeswoman for Harley-Davidson stated that the company is cooperating with the NHTSA.

Harley-Davidson recalls have happened frequently over the past three years, and this is not the first time that anti-lock brakes have been in the spotlight. A recall affecting the anti-lock brakes of over 66,000 Harleys occurred during 2014, when the company said that the front wheels on certain 2014 bikes could lock if the brake line became caught. The defect was responsible for five crashes, with two minor injuries.

The fifth-largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, Harley-Davidson has a fiercely loyal following. The company was founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

If you own a Harley from the model years listed, we urge you to stay on top of this story. You can always check SaferCar.gov and use your VIN to search the recalls database for your motorcycle and its components.

When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.

The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., has been helping motorcycle accident victims obtain fair compensation for their injuries since 1959, providing each and every client with individual attention. Our experienced accident attorneys have represented the rights of motorcycle accident victims and others injured in South Carolina since 1959. We are committed to providing personalized service while aggressively pursuing your claim.

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