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ADV NewsFTC Hits Harley-Davidson For Warranty Voiding Practices

FTC Hits Harley-Davidson For Warranty Voiding Practices

Riders are now getting more choice when performing repairs or mods.

Published on 06.29.2022

A new order from the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, an independent, federal agency put in place to protect American consumers, will be of special interest to owners and aspiring owners of Harley-Davidson models like the Pan America. 

Turns out the FTC, after a long push, has strong-armed the iconic manufacturer into treating its customers better. Specifically H-D will need to abide by consumer rights laws already in place and end the offensive practice of voiding bike warranties over the use of aftermarket products, or for engaging services or repairs by non-H-D dealers. 

This is a huge deal for Harley enthusiasts who have long complained about this warranty snafu and how it limits their freedom to shop for aftermarket parts, and even more inconvenient, how they were forced to travel to a Harley-Davidson dealership for even the simplest services, even though those facilities could be hundreds of miles away. 


But perhaps worst of all, Harley’s proviso regarding warranties being voided if customers used out-of-system services or parts — terms the FTC calls illegal — wasn’t even transparent. “Harley-Davidson failed to fully disclose all of the terms of its warranty in a single document, requiring consumers to contact an authorized dealership for full details,” the FTC states in its report.

FTC orders Harley-Davidson to honor consumers' 'right to repair' rules.

Since its release in February 2021, the Motor Company’s Pan America 1250 and 1250 Special have been selling like proverbial hot cakes. In fact, sales out of the gate were so voluminous that by the end of summer 2021 H-D announced its 1250 Pan America Special had become the “#1 selling adventure touring motorcycle in North America.“

While there was no straightforward data provided to support CEO Jochen Zeitz’s claim, it has never been challenged by the bikes’ competitors, and a deep dive into the numbers by showed the claim was likely true. 

This means there are thousands of freshly-minted Pan America owners who can now enjoy the full range of available aftermarket products, not to mention the banquet of aftermarket items and performance enhancements that will be created for the bike in the wake of these long-standing restrictions being lifted. Vance & Hines president and CEO Mike Kennedy called the action taken by the FTC “a huge win for motorcycle riders.” 

The FTC has been pursuing a long list of manufacturers over violations of consumers’ “Right to Repair” the products they own. For example, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Apple and other tech manufacturers being directed to make it easier for consumers to make common repairs to their own smartphones. 

Harley-Davidson hit by FTC for Warranty Voiding practices.

Interestingly, the pandemic has helped the agency gain momentum on actions against companies that sell products that can affect consumer safety. Smartphones, for example, are necessary for receiving critical information during a crisis. Westinghouse-brand generators, a company disciplined alongside Harley-Davidson for imposing illegal warranty terms, provide emergency power. Harley’s family of cruisers and that crazy uncle, the Pan America?  Transportation, and therefore vital to the consumer. 

Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection says these new orders require Harley and Westinghouse to “fix their warranties, come clean with consumers, and ensure fair competition with independent providers. Other companies that squelch consumers’ right to repair should take notice.” A per-case monetary penalty of $46,517 can also be sought by the FTC in the case of violations.

“Consumers deserve choices when it comes to repairing their products, and independent dealers deserve a chance to compete,” Levine added.

The details of the FTC’s report are pretty interesting, and also a tad comforting to see that some government agency, somewhere, is achieving something positive. 

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

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4 thoughts on “FTC Hits Harley-Davidson For Warranty Voiding Practices

  1. That would be tough on consumers considering Harleys usually need thousands of dollars of work out of the gate just to get them running properly.

    • these bikes are tuned horrribly at the factory and arrive to the consumer in a lean running condition that is not good for the motor and other components , the first thing everyone does id replace exhast and tune , they made it impossible to do it and per EPA regulations this will not change , so dont run out thinking you can void yur warranty


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