Harley-Davidson motorcycles are a common sight on the roads of West Virginia, and the company has invested heavily in advertising that portrays the brand as an iconic symbol of American freedom. However, it will soon be making an investment of a different kind, as a voluntary recall of more than 250,000 motorcycles is expected to cost the company nearly $30 million.

The recall covers Harley-Davidson’s popular VSRC line of performance motorcycles and its iconic CVO Super Glide models. The problem addressed is an issue with actuator valves used in Harley-Davidson anti-lock braking systems that can become dangerously corroded when brake fluid is contaminated by moisture. The manufacturer seems to be blaming the problem on its customers by asserting that the corrosion only occurs when owners fail to replace their brake fluid and flush their anti-lock braking systems every two years. No parts are needed to fix the problem, and Harley-Davidson says that its dealers will begin flushing and refilling the braking systems of the motorcycles affected on Feb. 12.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that it began to investigate the anti-lock braking systems fitted to Harley-Davidson motorcycles in July 2016 after receiving 43 complaints. Harley-Davidson owners told the federal road safety agency that their braking systems had failed without warning. The issue has been linked by NHTSA to at least three accidents and two injuries.

It is not unusual for manufacturers to downplay product liability issues or point the finger of blame at consumers. Personal injury attorneys with experience in this area may point out that juries often have little sympathy for companies that refuse to accept responsibility when their products cause accidents and injuries, and they could urge the defendants in these cases to safeguard their reputations by settling quickly.

Source: USA Today, “Harley recalls nearly 175K bikes in U.S. because brakes can fail”, Rick Barrett, Feb. 7, 2018