my letter to yamaha

will pattison

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#1
9/15/01

Mr. Terry Beal
Marketing Executive
Yamaha
6555 Katella Ave.
Cypress, CA 90630

Terry-

At this point you are probably wondering why I have sent you a package with a 2000 model YZ426 gas tank in it. Very simply, you are my last hope of assistance, so I hope you will read on and understand the details of my situation. This gas tank is from one of my Yamaha thumpers – one that I have owned since July 2000, but which has relatively few hours on it. Most of my racing is off-road, but this bike is used only for motocross. Thus, when the tank cracked above the right-side radiator shroud mount, the bike was approximately nine months old, but only had 21.5 hours actual riding time on it.

I know that the motorcycle only had that much time on it because I keep track of my hours in a spreadsheet. True, that makes me a bit of a geek, but that fact, along with the photos I have included, should tell you my bikes are very well cared for. Twenty years of riding and racing have taught me the value of TLC and attention to detail. You should also note from the photos – taken when I discovered the crack – that the bike has OEM shrouds and graphics that are nearly new in appearance. Again, evidence of my diligence in maintaining my equipment.

What you should also notice is that there is absolutely no crash damage evident in any of the photos. That’s important because “impact damage” is the reason the Service Manager at Central Yamaha of Plano, TX gave for denying me any assistance with warranty replacement of the tank. As you can see from the rest of the attached documentation, I am clearly not the only person to experience this problem. I believe that, including my own and the case of a friend whose bike was bought at the same dealership as mine –2 weeks later – that there are 19 examples of cracked gas tanks in the attached information. Many of those – including my friend’s – were replaced by Yamaha, no questions asked. Yet, in spite of the evidence my claim was denied by a Service Manager who admits that he does not ride dirt bikes and in fact has never owned a YZ. I mention that because I believe that if he had, he would understand that you generally do not suffer “impact damage” to the top of your gas tank without substantial evidence…like, say…a cast on your leg!

After that exercise, one of my good friends who owns Champion Motorsports of Roswell, NM attempted to work directly with Yamaha in getting my tank replaced. He told me he “ran into a brick wall” after a month of trying. Of course, he also told me stories about people like the guy who bought a TT-R90 and never once tightened the spokes, yet Yamaha warrantied his rear wheel when it collapsed. Where is the consistency?

I am a mechanical engineer, and I have been in product development for my entire career, so I understand how design decisions get made. I understand that accountants, engineers, and marketing people make the product development decisions they do for good reasons. It is very easy to see, therefore, why Yamaha chose to reduce the wall thickness of the gas tanks on 2000 and newer YZ426 models. The problem is that owners immediately started having problems with cracked tanks. Although made with good intent, it was a bad decision, and Yamaha should take responsibility for it, if not as a complete recall, at least on a case-by-case basis. Yamaha has failed me in this respect.

I was a loyal Kawasaki rider until 1998, when I bought my first YZ400. I completely changed my program – in spite of the hassles and the reduced contingency money available. My entire stock of spare parts got replaced with Yamaha parts, and I officially became a “Yamaha Guy”. There are three of them in my garage right now, and I have personally been responsible for the sale of at least a half dozen others. I have practically been a disciple for this product because it’s so good. I have had nothing but respect for Yamaha’s achievement in bringing such a revolutionary product to the market in the way that they did, but my attitude has been drastically changed by this experience.

Make no mistake, I am keeping a very close eye on what Honda is doing with the CRF450.

Terry, if you can do anything to help restore my faith in Yamaha, I would certainly appreciate it. If not, then I at least have the satisfaction of having taken it to the top before giving up.

Sincerely,
 

Vic

***** freak.
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#2
I'm VERY interested in knowing how this turns out, as I'm sure are many others. Please let us know. Good luck, Will.
 

Seth_88

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#3
The tank on mine (2000 model) also cracked a couple of weeks ago. I didn't know this was such a widespread problem with this model. I bought mine used, so I guess I'll have to fix it or get another tank.
 
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#4
Will,
I think it is a well written letter! Good luck, I hope they do the right thing for you.
 
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#5
If they don't help you after getting that letter, then they really, really don't want your business. Good Luck!:)
 

wayneo426

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#6
I would guess that they will fix your tank, Will. Its the only thing to do.
 
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#7
Heard anything yet?

Please update us on any info you hear on this subject. I check daily to see what has happened w/ your tank. I have had problems w Yamaha as well. I have tried to e mail them numerous times and they have never even notified me if they received my mail let alone answer it. Yamaha sure doesnt seem to care about thier customers. Your final outcome will make or break my decision to purchase their products.
 

will pattison

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#8
nothing yet. i sent the box regular parcel post (gotta save coin for when i have to buy a new tank, ya know.) so they can't have had it long at this point. i will probably give them a week or two then see if i can't get someone on the phone.

wp.
 

DougRoost

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#10
I'm having the same problem with the tank on my KLX right now. Cracked behind the petcock on the bottom of the tank. There is no source for stress there whatsoever, nor any crash damage. The conclusion I'm coming to is this problem is common on Yamaha and Kawi's and it just so happens both of these bikes have a one way valve in the vent tube. In other words, air can get in but not out.

I noticed you're in Texas, too. My bike was sitting for 3 weeks in the garage in our Texas heat with about 3/4 tank of gas. Thus I believe the air expanded in the tank but had no where to go, so it released at the weakest part of the tank, resulting in a hairline crack that over time made a nice puddle of gas on the floor. Could well be the case for you as well since it sounds like that part of your tank is where there's a sharp bend, which would likely be thinner than the rest of the tank. Hopefully Kawi steps up to this since a new tank is $465!!! (Thump, got any Kawi parts connections?) Either way, when it goes back on there'll be a straight vent hose (no valve) in the cap!
 
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#11
Good luck with Kawasaki.. It's been my experience that they don't stand behind their "craftsmanship."
 

penguin

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#12
Doug: Get the IMS 3.2 Gallon tank and some KLX250 shrouds from Maier. It is what I used on my 97 KLX when I destoyed the stock tank on an MX track. The IMS tank gives you a little over 1/2 gallon more capacity and does not restrict your movement on the bike, and is of excellent quality. The tank is about $200 and the shrouds are about $35.
 

DougRoost

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#13
Penguin, I saw this since it's the only aftermarket option for the KLX (Clarke doesn't make one and has no short term plans to do so). The stock tank gives me more than enough gas, so I was worried how this would look, especially with KLX250 shrouds. Unfortunately there's no picture of it on IMS's web site. Are you aware of anyone in the KLX email list, who maybe has a pic posted, that has this setup? Thanks!
 

DougRoost

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#14
Should have stuck with Kawi...

Wow!! Kawasaki and my local dealer just made my day. My week even. They're buying a new tank for me -- and the bike is a '98! My faith is restored!
 
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#15
You're a better man than me Will. :)
The tank on my '98 YZF cracked a couple of weeks ago and I called Clarke ordered a new one and chalked it up to wear and tear. I hope you're successful in your quest.