VFR 1200 DCT Catastrophic Engine Failure at 17000 miles.

Discussion in '7th Generation 2010-Present' started by Pitfox, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. Pitfox

    Pitfox New Member

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    The story so far:

    I bought my VFR 1200DCT from Honda Chiswick in London in 2011. It was a 2010 reg and had done 2000 miles or so.

    I was very excited to own this bike as I have previously owned 2 blackbirds and a CBR1000. I never had any trouble with any of them and both the Blackbirds notched up 60,000 miles or so with just normal servicing.

    My VFR has also been a great bike until last weekend and I have not had any trouble with it.

    It has been serviced by Honda Chiswick and the last service (16000 miles) was conducted a few weeks ago. They have always looked after me.

    Last Friday I headed out of London to go up the M11 and A11 to spend the Bank Holiday weekend on the Norfolk coast. I always wear earplugs on long journeys to protect my ears from the wind blast traffic noise on busy UK motorways.

    All seemed fine until I started to slow down coming up to the Thetford Roundabout where the A11 joins the A1065. I noticed a strange noise coming from the engine when I accelerated in Sport Mode. So I switched to Drive Mode and took it very gently.

    All seemed OK until I was heading out of Brandon towards Swaffham, when the noise started to be very persistent even on VERY gentle acceleration in Drive mode.

    I therefore switched to Manual mode and tried to keep the bike in as high a gear as possible. It occurred to me that there was a motorcycle garage in Swaffham who might still be open (It's bank holiday Friday remember!) The noise was bad enough that I didn't wan't to risk riding all the way to my destination in Brancaster.

    Unfortunately I never made it to Swaffham.

    There is a rather steep hill after a bend on the A1065 about 6 miles outside Swaffham and I had to change down a few gears.

    The most horrible wrenching noises came out of the engine followed by a loud bang and blue smoke came billowing out of the engine cowl and exhaust.

    Then it stalled and I jumped off of it on to a grass verge.The Bike fell over sideways into the grass at very low speed.

    Once I had eventually hauled it onto the sidestand it would not start.

    A kind man gave me a lift into Swaffham. No one there could recover it but the RAC did recover the bike and took it to John Banks Honda in Bury St Edmunds.

    On Tuesday(I am now back in London) after a very miserable bank holiday, the man at John Banks told be it looked like a total failure of the Big End and or Crankshaft. He said that basically a lot of the inside of the engine was trying to make its way to the outside and that I was lucky this had not happened on the crowded bank holiday M11 motorway as the rear wheel could have seized up.


    That really shook me.


    So as of today Honda Chiswick are charging me £120 to pick the bike up from Bury St Edmunds. They are going to carry out a full inspection and send the diagnosis to Honda UK. They have given me a scooter, so that I can stay on the road whilst this happens.

    The man at Honda UK says that it is out of warranty and will not say anything more until he has the report from Honda Chiswick.

    He did say that if no manufacturing fault is found I will have to pay the full cost of the inspection on top of the £120 I have paid to get the bike to Honda Chiswick where it was serviced 2 weeks ago at vast expense. Admittedly the service was done at 17000 miles, but I don't think that would cause an incident like this.

    Up until last weekend it had been my favourite Honda motorcycle so far.

    Now that I realize it might have thrown me down the M11 I am not quite so fond of it.

    That's alll for now folks...I'll let you know what Honda UK have to say after the inspection.

    If they stick to the "Its out of warranty" line then I suppose I can try writing to Honda Japan and contact the MCIA arbitration service as well as making sure that this story gets a wide following on the internet and social media. Otherwise I am totally stuffed as my comprehensive insurance does not cover mechanical failure...Well you don't expect it with Honda's flagship sports tourer do you?

    Anyway I am still in one piece even if my Viffer isn't.

    Thankful for that at least.

    Pitfox
     
  2. Arnzinator

    Arnzinator Active Member

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    Sorry to hear about your experience. Here's a link to a thread with the owner having a similar problem: VFR1200FD engine failure at 23572km.

    In that case Honda took care of the problem. Good luck.
     
  3. Pitfox

    Pitfox New Member

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    Well I see he was in Nigeria, so hopefully they will be just as understanding here in UK. Although I note that Honda UK initially told him what they have told me..."It's out of Warranty"

    I have my fingers crossed they will take this incident a little more seriously than that.

    P.
     
  4. RobVG

    RobVG Well-Known Member

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    Pull in the clutch when it seizes.
     
  5. Badbilly

    Badbilly Official VFRWorld Troll Of The Year!

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    Ahhh ..What a great language we share even though youse gyze talk funny. The inside the of engine trying to make it to the outside.. Poetry for gearheads..
     
  6. Pitfox

    Pitfox New Member

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    The words are much more poetic that the actual sound... Think of putting some spanners, hammers,wrenches and nuts and bolts in a washing machine...then press high speed spin dry function.....aaaaghh!:grief:


    P.
     
  7. Gator

    Gator Insider

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    Better yet, throw all that into a wood chipper.........?
     
  8. Pitfox

    Pitfox New Member

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    Then chuck the whole lot into the front of a jet engine

    P.
     
  9. tyarosevich

    tyarosevich Member

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    Good luck with all this man, that sucks to go from "favorite bike ever" to "paper weight". If Honda doesn't take care of this, I'll be really disappointed.
     
  10. skimad4x4

    skimad4x4 "Official" VFRWorld Greeter

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    Aggh - not good!

    IIRC this is actually the third VFR1200 suffering catastrophic engine problems reported on here. (I recall a while back there was a flurry of really hacked off posts from a German owner, with similar problems.) The big concern here is that these problems all seem to be linked to the early (launch year) models so just 2010 bikes. I don't know if Honda altered anything for later years but certainly there was meant to be some sort of dealer checks/recall done on a batch of 2010 bikes after swarf was found in a number of engines.

    I guess if your 2010 bike was in the affected batch it would have been checked at the time and presumably no sign of swarf was found - as I think Honda went so far as to replace engines where the checks found evidence of swarf. If the check was overlooked - especially after being serviced by a Main Honda dealership, you may be lucky and get some contribution to the cost of getting your bike running again.

    Good luck let us know how you get on.


    SkiMad
     
  11. Pitfox

    Pitfox New Member

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    I've seen details of that recall notice and it states that DCT models were not included. Now that seems weird to me since as far as I know the engines on DCT models is exactly the same and it was an engine problem...Nothing to do with the gearbox.


    I think we all know what the ethical thing to do is in this instance but I'm afraid Honda UK might just stick to the letter of the law and continue to spout their mantra to date: "It's out of warranty"

    Lessons learned so far:

    1. Do not buy new technology launch Honda motorcycles.

    2. Do not wear earplugs on a VFR1200 on a motorway....You need to hear the sound of the engine because it might be getting ready to launch you onto the tarmac.

    3.Do not believe for one moment that new technology show case Hondas like the VFR 1200 will display the same reliability as Hondas that have gained a reputation over the years because they have stood the test of time.



    Thanks for all your kind wishes and keep an ear on your engines.

    Best,

    P.
     
  12. Arnzinator

    Arnzinator Active Member

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    With a bike that is effectively 7 yrs old be prepared for a fight. If you have any service records start gathering them now. Check with the service dept from the selling dealer & see if they will provide you with a copy of any service records. Anything that can prove the failure wasn't caused by lack of proper maintenance. Keep us posted.
     
  13. Glenngt750

    Glenngt750 Active Member

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    You WILL get Satisfaction!

    Think positive! If you tell the Honda Rep. that you'll never buy another Honda, new Honda technology is shite, you are going to the "Troubleshooter" dude on the local news, etc, etc., he'll realize that he's lost you as a Customer and you'll get no help from Honda UK. But if you are nice to all involved, and try and work with them, you may be surprised. It is kind of funny that this happened right after a major service. Maybe the dealership Mechanic dropped something into the engine, forgot to tighten something, didn't add the correct amount of fluids, or displaced some"Swarf"!? More likely, it is a Manufacturing issue.
    In order to get some "Goodwill" repairs made they must believe that them giving you a "new" engine will result in a future sale. The fact that you have bought a "few" bikes at that dealership, and serviced them there, will most likely result in at least the parts or labor being paid for. Most likely, I'd say Honda UK will pay for parts, dealership will pick up labor, and you can offer to pay for towing charge! Don't give up, and don't freak out at the first refusal to pay. There is always a person above that person. The way you deal with these people is going to determine what they'll give you. Though this is a catastrophic event for you, they deal with this stuff day in and day out. Lack of respect for them may feel good at that moment, but may cost you a lot in the end.
     
  14. Pitfox

    Pitfox New Member

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    I see where you are coming from and I will be the ultimate diplomat when dealing with Honda.

    My main reason for posting here is to make my fellow bikers aware of what this bike is capable of doing to you if you happen to be unlucky.

    I was actually VERY lucky that this happened when I got off the motorway and was chugging along at a snail's pace.

    The internet has it's uses and I think this is one of the best....PR cover ups and obfuscation by big corporations becomes more difficult.


    Best,

    P.
     
  15. Pitfox

    Pitfox New Member

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    It's the mileage on the engine that stuns me..... Both my Blackbirds got to 60,000 miles with no problems.

    That's what gave me confidence that this would be another fantastic and reliable bike.

    WRONG on that one wasn't I?

    If Honda are prepared to help, then my confidence in their bikes will remain untarnished since it will show they really care about their reputation for reliability.

    Time will tell... as in all things.


    P
     
  16. Badbilly

    Badbilly Official VFRWorld Troll Of The Year!

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    Bikes do come with flaws. I was on a team that "fixed" 160 Honda 250 motocrossers that came in with blocked cooling ports. The next batch to be unloaded were in Canada.

    Diplomacy when dealing with dealers is being able to say "fuck off" whilst flashing yer pearly whites..
     
  17. Glenngt750

    Glenngt750 Active Member

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    As with things mechanical, one little thing amiss will/can cause HAVOC!
    Pip pip, chin up, and all that! (My U.K. saying for today)
     
  18. NormK

    NormK New Member

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    Anybody remember what the outcome for the very unhappy German was?. I thought there was a flurry of these engine failures at that time and the 1200 was a must avoid bike because of this
     
  19. Badbilly

    Badbilly Official VFRWorld Troll Of The Year!

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    Harleys too!
     
  20. V4toTour

    V4toTour Active Member

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    Damn, that sucks. At least your bike gave you warning (which you chose to ignore). Chalk this up to a learning experience. When the metal innards of an engine start making weird ass noises, turn it off.
     
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