Kawasaki Recalls 3,172 Motorcycles Because Camshaft Chain Tensioner Plunger May Lock

2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE 6 photos
Photo: Kawasaki
2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE
Fresh from calling back the Ninja H2 SX SE over a software issue, Kawasaki has issued a new recall with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. On this occasion, the concern may pose a risk to the rider’s safety, as well as the safety of other traffic participants.
Back in November 2020, the Japanese manufacturer became aware of a report from a Japanese distributor in regard to abnormal engine noise. Not long after, Kawasaki Motors identified a locked camshaft chain tensioner.

In light of this discovery, the company asked the supplier of the camshaft chain tensioner to inspect the part. The supplier in question, which is curiously listed as Kawasaki Motors Ltd. in the attached document, found nothing off with the failed tensioner. The supplier had the audacity to report a possible maintenance issue that was eventually proved incorrect.

In March 2021 and June 2021, two additional reports of abnormal engine noise were submitted to Kawasaki Motors Ltd. by the Japanese distributor. Come September 2021, KML received a report from KMJ alleging that a vehicle lost power while being operated. Thankfully for all parties involved, none of these reported incidents ended in accidents or injuries.

In September 2021, almost a year after the first report of abnormal noise, the quality assurance department shared this information with the research & development department, as well as the supplier. Kawasaki reopened the investigation, which concluded rather disappointingly for affected customers. Even though certain parts of the camshaft chain tensioner varied dimensionally between units, every single one of them was within the tolerance specified by Kawasaki Motors Limited for said component.

Adding insult to injury, KML wouldn’t investigate if these variances were the root cause of this concern. Between February 2022 and September 2022, Kawasaki Motors Ltd. and the unnamed supplier tried replicating a lock up during engine operation and by manually compressing the tensioner. But KML couldn’t replicate a lock up during engine operation.

Yet another instance of lost engine power came by way of the Japanese distributor in October 2022, the month when KML decided that enough is enough. Better late than never, engineers decided to test a tensioner from a different model to eliminate this issue. In November 2022, the new tensioner was introduced into series production to eliminate this concern.

Kawasaki still hasn’t determined if the aforementioned variances were the cause of the lock up, which is a bit strange given the Japanese manufacturer’s engineering prowess. The suspect camshaft chain tensioner bears part number 12048-0119. No fewer than 3,172 motorcycles produced between model years ‘15 and ‘23 are called back because of it.

All eligible motorcycles will require the replacement of the tensioner, as well as the gasket. Owners who have already done it out of pocket are eligible for either full or partial reimbursement of the documented cost of repair. The planned notification date for affected owners is December 21st.
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 Download: Kawasaki tensioner recall (PDF)

About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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