A brittle fastener on the rear shock absorber is forcing Harley-Davidson to initiate a large-scale safety recall for select 2018 through 2023 Softail models.  65,224 potentially affected machines and first documented incidents.

The source of the problem: a brittle fastener.

Late last month, Harley-Davidson Motor Company contacted the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a safety recall for select 2018 through 2023 Softail models.  The reason is a specific type of mounting element on the rear shock absorber.  If this element fails, the shock absorber can come into contact with the rear tire, potentially causing a tire failure and increasing the likelihood of a crash.


Which models are affected?

According to the company’s own data, approximately 65,224 Softail motorcycles could have this defect, which represents about one percent of total production.  However, it’s important to note that not every Softail manufactured between 2018 and 2023 is affected by this recall.  Only those models that have the problematic shock absorber manufacturer installed will need to be taken to the repair shop.


Model details and time frame

The affected machines were manufactured between June 28, 2017 and August 7, 2023.  The recall covers various Softail models and production years.  However, the company did not specify specific VIN ranges in the recall notice.


Clues that could point to a problem

An initial alert could come from strange noises that appear to be coming from underneath the seat.  In addition, the discovery of a loose shock adjuster after removing the seat could be an indicator.  Other signs could be in the ride or unusual wear on the rear tire.


How did Harley-Davidson respond?

In June of this year, Harley-Davidson received the first service request in this matter.  As of early August, a total of 33 cases have been documented where the rear shock has come into contact with the tire.  Four of these cases resulted in a loss of pressure in the tire, but no cases involving injuries have been recorded to date.


Next steps and repair measures

For affected machines, the fastener on the shock absorber will be replaced free of charge at authorized Harley-Davidson shops.  Those who have had appropriate work performed prior to the recall may be eligible for a refund under certain circumstances.


Communication channels and additional notices

Affected owners should be notified directly by Harley-Davidson between Sept. 8 and Sept. 15, 2023.  Those with questions can contact the company’s customer service department or NHTSA.  In addition, a separate recall exists for specific shock adjusters that were sold as accessories.


Overview of affected models and production years

To help keep track, here is the list of models and production years included in the recall:

  • 2018: FLDE (2018 units), FLHC (2917 units), FLHCS (3504 units), FLHCS ANV (898 units).
  • 2019: FLDE (1858 pieces), FLHC (2078 pieces), FLHCS (3384 pieces)
  • 2020: FLHC (1896 pieces), FLHCS (3713 pieces), FXLRS (7073 pieces)
  • 2021: FLHC (1865 pieces), FLHCS (3134 pieces), FXLRS (5811 pieces)
  • 2022: FLHCS (3957 pieces), FXLRS (5186 pieces), FXLRST (3990 pieces), FXRST (738 pieces)
  • 2023: FLHCS (3033 units), FLHCS ANV (717 units), FXLRS (3340 units), FXLRST (4114 units)

The motorcycles that fall within this list were produced between June 28, 2017 and August 7, 2023.  So far, no specific VIN ranges have been named for the recall.


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