Harley-Davidson Stung By EPA For “Off-Road” Modules

Power tuners are the target of this expensive EPA action.

2007 Harley-Davidson Super Glide
Harley also got dinged for selling some 12,000 bikes between 2006 and 2008 (2007 Super Glide shown here) that were not covered by EPA conformity certificates.©Motorcyclist

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tagged Harley-Davidson for $15 million for selling engine tuners that allowed street-going bikes emit greater pollution than they were certified for. Of that, $12 million is a civil penalty and $3 million goes to an EPA program aimed at mitigation of air pollution. The EPA asserts that Harley dealers sold 340,000 of these modules.

Screamin' Eagle Street Performance Tuner Kit
Screamin' Eagle Street Performance Tuner Kit©Motorcyclist

At issue are Harley’s Screamin’ Eagle Pro Super Tuners, which could modify the bikes’ fuel/air ratios and ignition timing and were usually prescribed when making other modifications. The SE module was available for all of Harley’s injected bikes from 2001-on. To get around the issue of altering emissions, the kits were labeled for “race applications only.” As part of the settlement, Harley has stopped selling, and will buy back and destroy these modules.

In a statement, Harley-Davidson’s government affairs director, Ed Moreland, said: “This settlement is not an admission of liability but instead represents a good faith compromise with the EPA on areas of law we interpret differently, particularly EPA’s assertion that it is illegal for anyone to modify a certified vehicle even if it will be used solely for off-road/closed-course competition. For more than two decades, we have sold this product under an accepted regulatory approach that permitted the sale of competition-only parts. In our view, it is and was legal to use in race conditions in the U.S. Concern for our U.S. customers and dealers weighed heavily in reaching this compromise with the EPA. By settling this matter, we can focus our future attention and resources on product innovation rather than a prolonged legal battle with the EPA.”

The settlement does not indicate whether owners of already equipped bikes are required to remove the modules, though one report indicates that Harley-Davidson could limit or revoke warranty coverage for bikes still using the Super Tuners. Harley would have to tread carefully here, as the Magnuson-Moss Act prohibits manufacturers from blanket denial of warranty claims for either non-dealer service or modifications unless they can be confirmed as the cause of the failure that prompted the claim in the first place.

UPDATED: We received an email from Pat Sweeney, Director, Communication Integration and Corporate Reputation, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, saying, "The settlement does not require owners to do anything to motorcycles that have been tuned with the super tuner. Further, the use of the Pro Super Tuner voided the Harley-Davidson limited manufacturer’s engine warranty due to the wide range of adjustability the Pro Super Tuner provided for competition-only configurations, which can enable excessive RPM redline or engine damage when improperly tuned."

Harley also got dinged for selling some 12,000 bikes between 2006 and 2008 that were not covered by EPA conformity certificates.