DETROIT – Ignition switch problems that have plagued General Motors and Chrysler have now turned up in the motorcycle business.
Harley-Davidson is recalling more than 4,500 FXDL Dyna Low Rider bikes worldwide because engine vibration can turn the switches from “on” to “accessory.”
The recall covers motorcycles from the 2014 1/2 model year, including more than 3,300 in the U.S. If the motorcycles have been modified to rev higher than 5,600 RPMs, an engine mount bracket can vibrate excessively, causing the problem.
If the switch goes to “accessory,” the engine can shut off while being driven and potentially cause a crash. The company said there have been no crashes or injuries reported from the problem.
Dealers will replace the bracket assembly and ignition switch knob for free. Harley began notifying owners in late July.
Harley said in documents posted Friday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the motorcycles are limited at the factory to 5,600 RPMs, but Harley offers performance calibrations that let the engine rev higher than the limit. If the bikes hit 5,800 RPMs, the top engine mount bracket can vibrate too much and cause the ignition switches to malfunction.
The company said it began looking into the problem after its service department discovered that an ignition switch slipped out of the “on” position in testing. Harley found four warranty claims and complaints about the problem, all in bikes with non-Harley exhaust systems.
The Milwaukee company’s recall comes after General Motors recalled 17.3 million vehicles to fix problems with ignition switches that can cause engine stalling. Chrysler has recalled another 1.7 million for the same problem. So far this year the auto industry has recalled more than 40 million vehicles, passing the old full-year record of 30.8 million set in 2004.
Federal safety regulators in June began a broad investigation of ignition-switch and air-bag problems across the auto industry. That investigation is still open, although the agency wouldn’t say if more automakers could be affected.
Harley said it issued the recall independently, and it has nothing to do with ignition switch problems in the auto industry or the NHTSA investigation.
The investigation and recalls come after GM bungled an ignition-switch recall of older small cars. GM acknowledged that it knew of the ignition problem for more than a decade but failed to recall the cars until earlier this year, when it recalled 2.6 million small cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt. Subsequent safety reviews caused GM to recall millions more vehicles for faulty switches.