|Posted on Friday, July 06, 2012 - 06:33 pm: ||
Court, I sent you an email, but perhaps I had a bad address. I'd really like some help with this ugly situation.
After a third catastrophic failure in a row, I've written a detailed report asking for Harley to buy back my Ulysses. I sent this report to 1)The original selling dealership, 2)The servicing dealership, and 3)Harley Customer Care. I did it up in a big fancy document with pictures and everything, but here's the text version:
It is with deep regret that I am submitting this report for your assessment. I purchased this Buell Ulysses new in 2009 with the intentions of it being my motorcycle for life. I had big plans, and high hopes. This was my third Buell, yet first new vehicle ever purchased. The motorcycle fit my needs to a tee, and I was looking forward to crossing over the 100,000 mile mark on it, much like my father had done on his Dyna Wide Glide less than a year prior. Worth noting, I purchased an extended warranty from [buying dealership] Harley Davidson at the time of the original purchase.
The first issues began to appear in the way of seeping oil from numerous locations. I brought the bike to [servicing dealership] to have several gaskets replaced under warranty. This service was uneventful from my point of view, and it did not take an excessive amount of time. The most critical gasket that was replaced was the rear cylinder base gasket. My only displeasure from this service was my finding a bolt that had been stripped, and rather than replaced, the technician had applied a clear adhesive and pressed the bolt into location so everything appeared normal. The dealership supplied a replacement bolt when I informed them of my findings.
The base gasket leak repeated itself shortly thereafter, and the leak quickly became worse than initially. This can only be attributed to an ineffective initial repair. Again, the bike was repaired under warranty at [servicing dealership], and the service performed in a timely fashion. A critical connector was left unfastened, and the motorcycle ceased operation a couple miles from my home the day after receiving it from the repair work. I discovered the issue after arriving back home, and resolved it myself.
I took the motorcycle on a large ride that summer, and several issues appeared prior to returning home. The same base gasket began leaking substantially again, proving the second attempt at repair had also been ineffective. Upon replacing the base gaskets for the third time, the threads pulled out of the engine cases, resulting in the need to replace the cases. This is an extremely detailed job that, among numerous other details, requires the removal and reinstallation of the transmission. The front brake rotor began to pulse badly as well. It quickly became heavy enough that touching the front brake over about 45 miles per hour was extremely unnerving. Several other issues appeared which are documented in the Timeline of Issues / Repairs below. [servicing dealership] received the bike for warranty work on September 14th and did not complete the work until November 22nd, 58 days later. Details of the work completed can be found below. Worth noting is that the front brake pulse was not resolved. I felt that the pulse was bad enough to pose a legitimate safety hazard, but the dealership stated that it measured within specifications.
The bike was not ridden much over the winter, and in preparation for a ride in early spring, I discovered large metal shavings in the transmission fluid. I immediately returned the motorcycle to [servicing dealership], and several days later heard that a bearing within the transmission had catastrophically failed. This job required the complete breakdown of the motor and separation of the cases once again. Improper care/installation of the bearing just prior is the assumed cause of failure, as this bearing in particular was handled in the previous service. I received the bike back from this warranty repair after 70 days.
At this point in time, the bike had been in service for approximately 128 days over the previous fall and winter, and I had lost all hope. Not hope that the bike wouldnít be great for someone. The motorís been nearly completely rebuilt. The transmissionís been nearly completely rebuilt. The bike was detailed, and nearly like new. But I couldnít do it anymore. I own a bike to ride, and ride a lot. Around Ohio, around the USA, around North America, wherever my vacation time will allow, and having a bike I donít 100% trust simply wonít work for my riding style. In the time the dealership had my bike for the second major service; I gave in and purchased a replacement motorcycle. To this day there is guilt in the pit of my stomach; that Ulysses was supposed to be my bike for life, my 100,000 mile machine. Itís already been replaced. Did I fail it? Did my Buell fail me? Did Buell Motorcycle Company fail me? Or perhaps, did my servicing dealership fail me? The more Ďeducated in this regardí people I speak to, the more I hear that all my issues (short of the initial oil seeping) could easily be explained by poor service work.
Regardless, after 70 days in service for the second major rebuild, I get a call to come pick the bike up. With thoughts of resale in my mind, the ride home was a further disappointment. The front brake still pulses badly, and the throttle is drastically out of adjustment. Iím already questioning everything. Theyíve had this bike for 70 days, and this is how they give it back? Did the even test ride it? Do they just care this little? A call back to the dealership, and they promised to replace the front brake rotor. I didnít mention the throttle problem because I can take care of it myself. I shouldnít have to, but I can. I parked the bike in the corner of the garage where it would wait till I got a call about the brake rotor. 2 weeks later, prior to any call about a brake rotor, a friend asked about riding with me to a motorcycle gathering for dinner. I quickly went to work fixing the throttle issue, only to discover that the adjustments werenít working, and buried within the workings of the motorcycle, the throttle cables were left completely unbolted from the throttle body. The two nuts were left hanging on the cables, getting pinched within the throttle plate whenever you turned the throttle more than half way. It was sheer luck that one or both cables didnít fall out or get caught and snapped. Iím fully convinced if we went on our dinner ride without me fixing this, it would have failed. As Iím tightening down the unaddressed nuts, I try desperately to ignore the fact that the person, who had failed here, had just rebuilt my motor and transmission.
We left on our ride, and he started out on this Ulysses before quickly switching to my newer motorcycle, after deeming the front brake unacceptable and ďterrifyingĒ. Shortly thereafter, with 70 miles on the tank of gas provided by the dealership after the major service, we arrive at dinner in a cloud of smoke. Unable to decide whether to laugh or cry, I simply attempted to locate the cause of excessive oil leaking onto the motor, transmission, and exhaust, causing it to burn and smoke. Thereís oil everywhere; the top of the starter, the back of the engine, the front of the muffler (dripping on the ground), the back of the muffler (dripping on the ground). The oil level on the dipstick steadily dropped, and I left spectacular smoke signals whenever I had to stop at a traffic light, but I made it home.
Embarrassing for me, more embarrassing for my servicing dealership, they just arenít aware of it yet.
Iíd like to note here that I was, by all accounts, a Buell enthusiast. Like I said previously, this was my third Buell. I am a member of several Buell Owners clubs. Iíve gone to nationwide Buell gatherings. The Buell Ulysses this report is in regards to has even been signed by Erik Buell himself. The point is, I know Buells quite well, I know numerous Buell owners, and I know this quality is not common of Buells.
So, currently my Ulysses is back in the corner of the garage, dripping from no less than 6 locations onto (or near) a drop cloth. I have not informed my servicing dealership of this latest catastrophe, because Iím not planning on taking it back to them for repair. I have been, as conceited as it may sound, a perfect customer. Never once have I pressured for anything free, or tried to speed up or rush any process. (I must note, as Iím not trying to hide anything, after the first major service, a Harley Extended Warranty was offered to me, which I graciously accepted.) But itís thanks to my low key personality; I donít care how long it takes, just do it right; I donít care why it broke (even if all signs point to you), I just want it fixed; I donít care, just get it done, and Iíll be happy. Unfortunately, it seems Ďjust getting it doneí was too much to ask.
Thatís it. Thatís my story. I sincerely hope youíve put yourself in my shoes as you read through that, and honestly, I hope it upset you. Itís simply unacceptable, and I hope you realize, as I have, that taking it into the dealership to fix the issue is not working, despite what the 3 more years of warranty would allow. Plan B, selling the motorcycle, is also no longer an option, now that itís dripping oil steadily. So Iím on to Plan C; writing this report.
The ball is in your court for now. I want you to make this right; not to make the motorcycle right, youíve proved to me that is not possible, but to make this situation right. Purchase this motorcycle back from me for a price that is fair to both of us. Letís both cut our losses, and move on with our lives.
Please contact me within 1 week of receiving this report so I know that you have seen what I have to say. I realize that a solution may take longer, but I must know that something is in the works. I am more than willing to meet in person if you would like.
Timeline of Issues / Repairs
First sign of problems was oil seeping from numerous locations, some of which are pictured in Figures 1 through 4. The most prominent was the oil located on the transmission near the starter (Figure 4).
August 24th, 2010
The bike was taken to [servicing dealership] for Warranty Repairs.
After receiving the motorcycle post-repairs, I immediately went about doing an oil change, and discovered one screw on the chin fairing had be stripped and was glued into place so it would appear that all is well, when actually the screw was accomplishing nothing. I brought up the issue to the dealership, who supplied a replacement screw.
Problem Repeated Summer of 2011. Oil leaking from base gasket became worse than previously, and it began dripping onto the muffler, coating the middle section of the muffler with engine oil.
July 165h, 2011
Taken to [servicing dealership] for Warranty Repairs
The Day after receiving the bike, it died on the side of a road near my home. Upon further investigation, I discovered the crank position sensor plug had not been connected fully and came unplugged after about 10 miles of riding.
Upon taking a large ride in the summer of 2011, several issues were exposed.
ē Base Gasket Leak: this issue repeated itself for a third time, coating the muffler in leaking motor oil.
ē Front Fork Seal: One fork seal failed, leaking fork oil on the tire, brake, and engine.
ē Rear Wheel Bearing: One rear wheel bearing failed, causing damage to the inside bore of the rear wheel, as well as the machined inside edge of the swingarm.
ē Failure to Idle: The bike began having issues idling, eventually ending stalled, inability to run, and notable white smoke.
ē Front Engine Isolator: The rubber isolator was failing within the front motor mount.
ē Front Brake Rotor: The rotor became warped and pulsed badly. This issue was not resolved.
The bike went into [servicing dealership] for warranty work. See Major Service #1 for further details. Figures 10 through 12 show the work order. The bike was in service for 58 days.
Upon changing the oil in early spring of 2012, large metallic deposits were found, and the bike was immediately returned to [servicing dealership]. Due to the winter months between, the bike had only been ridden approximately 1500 miles since receiving it from the previous major service. The large deposits can be seen in Figures 5 through 7. Figure 6 also shows an excessive moisture condition within the transmission. This was not existent before the service. See Major Service #2 for further details. The bike was in service for 70 days.
[Current Issue] Upon arriving home from the dealership (10 mile ride) on May 17th, I determined that the throttle was drastically out of adjustment and the front brake rotor was still warped. I immediately questioned the dealerships test ride and ability to determine that the service was completed. I went about adjusting the throttle cable myself, only to determine that the cables were completely unbolted from the motorcycle at the throttle body. This condition had two possible outcomes: 1) The throttle cable became unattached from the throttle body, or 2) One of the two loose nuts became lodge between the throttle cable and throttle cam breaking the cable. Either condition wouldíve resulted in the complete loss of throttle control, and therefore posed a significant safety risk. I opted to fix the issue myself after taking a photo; Figure 8. I called the dealership to again raise the issue of the front brake pulse, and was informed that they would order the replacement part and take care of it for me. As of this writing, it has been 40 days, and I have yet to hear anything back regarding the part.
On June 13, 2012, I took the bike for the first ride since I brought it home from the dealership. By the 70 mile mark there was substantial oil dripping onto the muffler, and then the ground. After a brief stop, there was a 6Ē x 6Ē pool of engine oil beneath the motorcycle and it began dripping from a second location. Upon inspection, the source of the leak was unable to be determined, as there appeared to be oil coating the entire back of the engine / top of the transmission, and dripping from numerous locations beneath the motor. The ride home caused excessive smoke as oil steadily burned off the engine, transmission, and muffler. Upon arriving home, the motorcycle was parked for ten minutes, resulting in four separate oil drips which can be seen in Figure 9. Figures 10 though 12 show the motorcycle in its current state.
Assumed Cause and Effect of Repairs
ē Replaced Base Gasket
o Base Gasket leak became more prominent
o Stripped Fastener was glued in place
ē Replaced Base Gasket Again
o Base Gasket leak became more prominent again
o Crank Position Sensor became unplugged while riding
ē Replaced Base Gasket Again
o Excessive force/repeated repair caused threads to pull from engine cases
ē Replaced engine cases; tech had to R&R Transmission
o Bearing within transmission failed
o Excessive moisture introduced within transmission
ē Replace transmission bearing; tech had to rebuild bottom end / transmission
o Engine dripping oil from numerous locations
o Throttle cables were left unfastened
As far as follow up goes:
The original selling dealership called me back immediately upon receiving the report. Just as expected (because they have really had nothing to do with the bike since the sale) they were very 'on-my-side' and willing to help in any way.
The servicing dealership called now as well. Again as expected (because I did place blame) they were much less excited to help. They want me to trailer the bike to them so they can look it over before they can offer me money on it. What he said to expect though, is that Harley will only finance 50% of the value, and the value is $7900, so they can't sell it for more than $4000, and the repair would come out of that. So he said, without being confident in anything, that their offer to buy the bike back will be well under $4000. I told them that 1) I didn't expect them to buy it back at a loss, I expect Harley to step in and we all work together to work out a solution, and 2) I am not going to allow them to take the repair cost out of the money they're paying me for it; it has a warranty.
He tried to convince me that Buell's have no resale anymore, and $4000 was the most it could sell for.
In frustration, he asked what I wanted to see happen. I told him that if it weren't broken I could sell it for approximately $6,000. I'd be willing to move a bit on that due to the situation, but I do expect it to be fair. I also gave him an ultimatum; due to the unacceptable engine rebuild and transmission rebuild, I would accept a new crate motor/transmission under warranty.
I called Harley Customer Care this afternoon as well, but the report hasn't been filed in their computer yet.
I'm out of any standard Lemon Laws (at 30 months old) but the bike has been in service for 128 days recently, and is still having catastrophic problems, so I'd like to think that I have some sort of laws backing me up. I have lawyer friends I can inquire with, but I didn't think it'd come to that. Should I go down that road?
I'd love to hear from you or anyone else. Am I out of my mind? What would you do? Anyone special I can contact (on the Harley side of things I suppose)?
Any input would be appreciated.
(By the way, I purposely kept this off the internet in hopes of a solution brought forth by Harley without this being public. After speaking with the servicing dealership, I have lost all faith in them)
(Message edited by Mikef5000 on July 06, 2012)
|Posted on Saturday, July 07, 2012 - 07:48 pm: ||
Wow - that is absolutely terrible. Sucks even more that it happened to a Buell enthusiast that has obviously spent a lot of money on the company. Have you checked to see if your state has any 'lemon laws'? I hope you get this sorted out.
|Posted on Saturday, July 07, 2012 - 11:07 pm: ||
I have briefly looked into lemon laws. Most are for newer vehicles with lower mileage. But I do have a lawyer friend who loves 'sticking it to the big guys', whom would probably enjoy taking on a case such as this. I would be extremely disappointed if it came to that.
On a side note, my father ended up talking to the owner of the servicing dealership today on his weekly visit (Harley guys). Turns out they're being less than helpful right now because supposedly they are out $5000 on this bike already; Harley's not paying them for the warranty repairs. My immediate thought was "that's probably because they're causing the problems".
|Posted on Sunday, July 08, 2012 - 11:18 am: ||
Talk to the lawyer friend ASAP. You've tried to be nice for a long time (too long). Now it's time to find out your legal options. You could be running into some hard legal deadlines REAL fast, so I would not delay.
|Posted on Sunday, July 08, 2012 - 02:01 pm: ||
Good luck Mike. If you get to Stupid Cheap prices, I might be interested to get it as a hobby.
|Posted on Sunday, July 08, 2012 - 09:33 pm: ||
Shouldn't matter if you have an extended warranty...
|Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 07:34 pm: ||
Well I figure I'll update this with what new information I have (anyone listening?)...
I spent an hour on the phone yesterday with Harley Customer Care. I spoke with a Tammy, and she was extremely helpful. Turns out they didn't receive my report. I gave her a summed up version, and she seemed very down to earth and realistic with helping me. She realized, and more importantly, verbalized, that it appears to be a severe problem with the servicing dealership. She will be utilizing a tech on their end, and contacting the dealership directly, to attempt to determine why my problems escalated the way they did. She said that Harley will contact me soon and discuss my options (and whether or not I need to resend the report), after they speak with the dealership.
I'll give it a week, and call back if I don't hear anything.
|Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - 12:43 pm: ||
so what has happened since your last post?
|Posted on Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:23 pm: ||
Alright everyone (anyone?)... The grand finale...
Nothing happened quick here, sorry about the delays. Half of that is my fault. I've been busy enjoying the beautiful season, and not persistent.
In any case. I never spoke to the servicing dealership again after our 1 phone conversation. They were unreasonable then, and were unhappy and unhelpful. (That's the nice way of saying they were acting like d!ckheads.)
I spoke with my helpful friend at Harley another time, and she told me that "We are supporting you, but you need to deal with the purchasing dealership from here on". I thought I had hit a dead end.
Then the dealership called me. The owner was great. Extremely friendly, down to earth, and honest. I felt he was honest enough that I could tell him what I was thinking:
I felt like I was punishing them, and they don't have anything to do with the issues I've had. He came back with a thurough explanation of how Harley was supporting them, so they won't be out anything here. This is between them and the Harley rep, AND, their Harley rep is the same one that deals with my servicing dealership. This gave me some piece of mind, that perhaps the responsible party will pay, one way or another.
So he explained that he can help me much further if there was a Harley I wanted to trade for. Long answer short; negative. He came back with a response along the lines of "I don't blame you, we don't have anything like the Ulysses.". This is how down to Earth this guy is! He called me back a week later and said he thinks he can work out a buy back. He told me to do some research and let them know what I think a fair price would be.
Since I went all out with the original report, I went ahead and did research and made a spread sheet for this part to. And since I included my original report for you all above, I'll include this part too (Spread sheet not included, but you get the gist):
Thanks again for the help with this situation, and sorry about my delay. In hoping to be as fair as possible, I looked in the usual places and made a list of similar Buells for sale and the suggested values. I've attached my findings.
In short, I found 15 bikes, mileages averaging about 11,500, and prices averaging about $7100.
My mileage is a good bit higher than that, and I know that price is a bit steep considering what I paid. I am very confident though, if the bike were in running condition, I would not have any trouble selling it quickly at $6000. When I created a for sale flier before it failed this last time, I was asking $6500.
So my price, which I do think is fair, is $6000.
Let me know what you think.
2 days later he emailed me that Harley agreed.
1 week later the driver was at my house to pick the bike up with a check in hand.
So that's that. Case Closed. No lawyers, no fighting, and I'm happy.
Harley, like, corporate Harley, really pulled through and did the right thing. Sure they may make chrome couches and more clothes than half the clothing brands out there. But I had everything going against me; discontinued bike, high mileage, already bought a replacement out of the family, etc, yet they really came through here. I have a new found respect for the company.
Also, Valley Harley and Buell (Belmont OH and Wheeling WV) worked with Harley and me to come to this conclusion, and I'm confident without them, we wouldn't have landed here. They were great to work with; helpful and kind, and I highly recommend them.
Unfortunately, I can't mention the praises without also saying this:
AD Farrows here in Columbus and Delaware OH; this was the servicing dealership that, arguably, caused all my issues to begin with, and they are simply not helpful to work with; unreasonable and rude.
|Posted on Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 11:54 am: ||
Mike, I'm happy for you, Man, and it was good to see H.D. step up. Sorry the bike didn't work out. It was good having you on here. Fortunately, my '08 XT has been a dream, KNOCK on wood. Best of luck to you.
(Message edited by buellerxt on September 23, 2012)
|Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012 - 05:03 pm: ||
an amazing result, considering all the factors which could've easily derailed it for you
nuttin like being adult & civil, eh?
RE: Farrows - what a disappointment & a surprise, that the oldest US H-D dealer would treat you that way