Motorcycle Defects and Recalls
One of the most common consumer product defect issues faced by the public is that of safety recalls of motor vehicles, including motorcycles. Safety recalls are usually instigated by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the vehicle manufacturers themselves, in response to a discovered defect in a vehicle or a component of a vehicle. Accordingly, it’s important to understand the procedure involved in vehicle recalls as well as the respective responsibilities of those involved.
Manufacturers' Duties and the NHTSA
Whether a safety recall is conducted by the vehicle manufacturer or ordered by the NHTSA, the manufacturer must file a public report describing:
- The safety-related defect or noncompliance with a federal motor vehicle safety standard;
- The involved vehicle/equipment population;
- The major events that resulted in the recall determination;
- A description of the remedy; and
- A schedule for the recall.
Motorcycle manufacturers have a duty to attempt to notify owners of recalled vehicles or vehicle equipment. For vehicle recalls, this means that manufacturers merge their own records of vehicle purchasers with current vehicle registration information on file with each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. For equipment recalls, in situations where state registration records do not exist, manufacturers are obligated to notify their distribution chain and known purchasers of the recalled equipment.
Importantly, if your motorcycle or other item of equipment is the subject of a safety recall -- even if you don’t receive a notification of a recall -- the manufacturer is obligated to remedy the defect at no cost to you.
Under federal law, manufacturers must remedy any safety problems that are significant enough to prompt a recall without cost to consumers. The NHTSA monitors each safety recall to ensure the manufacturers provide owners safe, free, and effective remedies in accordance with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 as well as other federal regulations. The NHTSA also releases monthly lists of motor vehicle safety recalls. These lists identify the make and model of the vehicle or equipment involved, with a brief description of the safety problem.
The NHTSA publicizes the recalls to alert consumers about safety problems, and encourages them to take action. However, the agency urges owners to wait until they receive notification from the manufacturer before contacting their dealers to schedule any necessary repair work. This may be because not all vehicles of a particular make and model may be subject to the recall or because the manufacturer has not yet obtained all the parts necessary to remedy a safety defect right away.
Getting Recall Information
Consumers can get up-to-the-minute information on safety recall campaigns, or information on the recall history of a particular make and model of car, truck, motorcycle, or child safety seat, by calling the NHTSA's toll-free Auto Safety Hotline, 1-888-327-4236, or by accessing NHTSA on the Internet at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov. The Hotline also can be used to report safety problems or concerns you might have about the safety of a motor vehicle or equipment related to the operation of a vehicle.