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Chrome failure on '02 Harley V-rod

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I have an 02 V-rod with chrome blistering and cracking. Harley has denied my warranty claim saying it was something I did to cause the problem. Others have had this same problem. I was wondering if there was any way of determining the cause of failure. Can you refer me to a lab that does this sort of testing?

James A. Neil
biker - Bossier City, Louisiana


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Please send us a good photo of the failed plating. Do you have any idea what Harley is alluding to in saying it was something you did? Almost always, as you'll read in many other letters here, peeling and blistering chrome indicates poor plating not abuse or environmental exposure. With the possible exception of gross overheating, it's hard to imagine anything a buyer can do that would cause the chrome to lose adhesion.

Harleys have the best chrome plating money can buy, but that doesn't mean they don't have bad days in their shops. If you did nothing wrong, it seems that they should be standing by the product.

I wouldn't bother trying to find a testing lab unless you intend to sue--in which case you're better off starting with a lawyer than a lab.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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I have tried and with the reflection of the chrome it is impossible to get a good pic. I was hoping a lab could determine a cause so I could show Harley. There is a warranty claim on file I just have to prove it was not my fault. I have no idea what they think I could have done to cause this problem.

James A. Neil, again
biker - Bossier City, Louisiana


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For the readers' reference, the way to photograph chrome is to take a picture of something that has a very even pattern reflected in it--a piece of screening, or hardware cloth may do. Recently I've seen professionals also use a a page of evenly spaced printed text reflected in the chrome.

You may find a test lab or metallurgical lab in the yellow pages, but again it may prove prohibitively expensive and get you nowhere anyway. That's why a picture posted on a popular web site, with responses from metal finishing experts, may be worth the effort.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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I have a 2005 Screaming Eagle V-ROD; 6 months old, 500 miles, garaged and the chrome is peeling/blistering on the triple clamps. The Harley Dealer is giving me the same response; exposure problem or something I did. This sounds like a generic problem with Harley Chrome and after talking with a chroming expert it appears that Harley does cheap chroming with plating the chrome over a copper base, they plate over a nickel base which is known to be bad.

If other Harley owners have this problem; please tell me the details.

William J. Lynn
MELBOURNE, FLORIDA


I'm reluctant to challenge a "chroming expert" without knowing exactly what he reviewed and exactly what he said, William, but Harley definitely does not do "cheap chroming"! Whether or not a copper base is advisable can depend on a number of other factors--but the Harley chrome I've seen so far included copper plating before the nickel and chrome.

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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I have one of the 2005 Heritage Classics with laced wheels that were only available in '05 on 3 special color bikes and both of my wheels are bubbling and peeling at the spokes. The dealer says Harley will only replace 1 piece of chrome and rarely replaces chrome wheels, that I might want to consider this in case something else starts to peel. To me this sounds like they know that they have a problem. My 1980 Low Rider has some bubbling and peeling, but I bet that it did not when it was 18 months old and you expect it on a bike that age. Also, it does not matter that I bought the 7 year extended warranty including the tire and wheel warranty. Does anyone else have one of these bikes, they are the two tone purple, tow tone orange and a cream & turquoise that were only available for 3 months I think it was March to June 2005.
Thanks,

Lisa Hancock
- Brantley, Alabama


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I ran across this web page by accident and after reading your posting I was surprised to find that my 2002 VOD also has multiple sites in which the chrome is defective and I only have 1,200 miles and garaged kept. Does anyone know the warranty process, phone # to complain. The dealership stated there is no warranty.

David Ochoa
- Corpus Christi, Texas


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There may well have been no warranty but sometimes manufacturers will extend themselves a little if something is a black eye on the company. But yours is over 5 years old so I wouldn't count on anything, David.

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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$2400.00 Harley Road Winders blistering! I have blistering. This complete BS that no one stands behind their product. It is obvious that these Harley shop owners don't stand behind their customers, they ALWAYS say it could be this it could be that, but never something Harley did wrong. In my 20+ years in the Army just once I wish I could just say... well Sir/country I might go fight or I might not want to fight for your right to rip me off. What a bunch of jack balls!

Studeleted
- Overland Park, Kansas


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To summarize what has been said on this site many times, Stu --

1. Harley doesn't do "cheap chroming"; I have been to plating shops that do plating for Harley, as well as the Harley factory, and Harley chrome is world class -- maybe the world's best.

2. It is difficult to chrome plate aluminum because it involves an immersion plating of zinc which does not offer the traditional adhesion of plating onto steel; it is even harder to chrome plate cast aluminum wheels because the pressure castings are a terrible substrate for plating and present all kinds of plating problems.

3. When chrome plating blisters or peels it is virtually always a manufacturing defect. With the possible exception of exhaust components, where a consumer might possibly do something to cause overheating, it is difficult for a plating professional to even imagine anything a consumer could do if they wanted to that would cause the chrome plating to blister or peel.

4. Regardless of how difficult it may be to chrome plate aluminum wheels, the manufacturer should either

a). not offer them, or
b). do it right, or fix it when they do it wrong.

There is no excuse for chrome plating to blister and peel and a manufacturer trying to get away without fixing it!

Please give us pictures, dates, and place of purchase, etc., and we will do what we can. The dealer is not entitled to jeopardize the livelihood of plating professionals by actions that lead consumers to believe that chrome plating is a lousy finish.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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What causes chrome to peel on an aluminum wheels?
I have some wheels that the chrome is peeling. It looks like the aluminum started to corrode then the chrome lifts. There are a few points I would like to understand before I approach the manufacture with a warranty claim.
1. How long should one expect OEM chrome on OEM wheels to last on a new very expensive car?
2. What is the failure mode for chrome plating on aluminum wheels?
3. What can an owner do to cause failure of chrome on aluminum wheels?
4. What should an owner reasonably be expected to do to protect OEM chrome/aluminum wheels?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Ray Rongley
customer - Fairfax, Virginia


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1). Sorry, I can't answer that one. If the wheels so much as lightly scrape a curb, they are history. If they never scrape a curb, I would expect them to last a few years, but I doubt that there is any legal obligation for them to do so.
2). The wheels can fail in many ways, scraping, pitting, peeling, etc.
3). There are many things an owner could potentially do to cause failure. But, as mentioned several times on this site, if the failure is general peeling (not adjacent to a scrape) it is virtually surely a manufacturing defect.
4). The owner should follow the operators manual. If there is none, regularly clean with soapy water, especially in winter.

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 26, 2008

My 08 FXSTI AT 8 MONTHS OLD ALREADY HAS THE CHROME PEELING OFF FRONT HUB, - NOTICED ROUGH LOOKING CASTING FROM NEW - ONLY BEGAN PEELING RECENTLY - WAITING RESPONSE FROM DEALER AS OF COURSE BIKE STILL UNDER WARRANTY - HOPING DOES NOT DEVELOP INTO CORROSION OF HUB WHICH I WOULD REGARD AS A SAFETY ISSUE

Rob Lord
- New Plymouth, New Zealand


April 4, 2009

I ALSO HAVE A '05 COVSE V-ROD AND MY TRIPLE TREE IS PEELING AND HARLEY DID NOT GO GOOD FOR IT; BUT LUCKY THAT I BOUGHT THE EXTENDED WARRANTY SO THE DEALERSHIP IS GOING GOOD FOR IT I GUESS THAT IS WHY I SPENT ALL THAT MONEY FOR A 100.00 PART!

JESSE FOURNIER
HOBBYIST - JAY, MAINE


June 25, 2009

I just bought a 2004 Fatboy and it has peeling sidewinders. The chrome was coming off in 12 and 14 inch strips. Is there any recourse to get Harley to fix the wheels?

Thanks,

John

John Wooton
- New Richmond, Ohio


July 5, 2009

Hi, John. You bought a 5-6 year old bike, and the price you paid was presumably dependent on your inspection and evaluation of how much value it had lost due to age and condition. Sorry for your hardship -- but I don't think there is a chance in a million of Harley paying anything towards replacements.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 16, 2009

I have a 2007 VROD screaming eagle. In answer to the person in Melbourne, Florida my bike is in the shop right now due to the same issue and Harley will not stand behind it. They say it is something I did. It stays in the garage and only has 700 miles on it. I have never even washed the bike, Harley has cleaned it up for me when I bought and one other time. We think it is due to a Harley Davidson trickle charger because it sits in the garage a lot and we have it on charge all of the time. It seems to be on the right side where the cord drapes off the bike. This is the only thing I can think of. We are looking for an answer of a way to prevent this. Another reason we think it is the trickle charger is because it was purchased recently after the battery had gone dead along with the new battery. We didn't notice this problem until after we started using the trickle charger. If that's the problem, Harley Davidson needs to address it and find another method of charging the battery.

Jay Fowler
- Palm City, Florida, USA


March 23, 2011

I have a 2004 Screamin' Eagle deuce and a 2008 Dyna Screamin' Eagle and both of them have the chrome coming off of them in the same garage I have a 2006 Dyna, 1998 Fatboy a 1998 springer these three bikes have no chrome issue. it is a shame that as much as Harley charges for the bikes they don't stand behind their product. It really is a shame. Why don't they look for the problem? Perhaps a class action lawsuit is in order.

Bob Brown
- Portland, Oregon, USA

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