Harley-Davidson Recalls 174,636 Bikes for Potential Brake Problem

If the brake fluid isn't changed every two years as directed, components may stick, including the ABS module.

Justin Hughes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a recall notice for a wide variety of recent Harley-Davidson motorcycle, all for the same problem. The concern is that owners are not changing their brake fluid every two years, a practice that is specified on the maintenance schedule. 

Old brake fluid can collect water from the air, making it work less effectively. But a bigger concern is the gel that can congeal out of old brake fluid. This can gum up the lines, and even the anti-locking braking system module, preventing the brakes from working as effectively as they should.

A wide variety of Harley-Davidson motorcycles are covered, generally built between 2008 and 2011. Take a look at the recall notice itself and its extensive list of bikes to see if yours is affected. Generally speaking, if your Harley has ABS, it's probably included in this recall.

Though Harley-Davidson has a reputation for not being one of the highest quality manufacturers, this issue is not H-D's fault. Brake fluid degrades over time on every vehicle, from Harleys to Kawasaki Ninja H2s to the Lexus LC500 to my own Subaru WRX. Which reminds me, I need to replace its brake fluid before I hit the track this year.

These Harleys probably never hit the track, but their brake fluid still needs to be replaced every two years for similar reasons. Do you know when the last time you changed your bike's brake fluid was? If you don't, it's probably time.

Thanks to the recall, Harley-Davidson will take care of this routine maintenance item for you at no charge—this time. It will still be up to you to come back in another two years and have it done again.

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