Authorities look into allegations of improper sales at Honda dealership

Publish Date: 
Oct 29, 2012

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Federal and state authorities are investigating allegations that Southern Honda Powersports sold vehicles that were not correctly assembled or had not received recall repairs before they were delivered.

The investigation may involve thousands of vehicles the country's largest Honda powersports dealership sold between 2004 and 2010.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started investigating in May. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Nashville and the Tennessee Attorney General's Office joined last month, according to USA Today.

Ernest “Pug” Vickers III says federal regulatory agencies failed to act five years ago — and in 2010 — when he told them that about 25,000 new motorcycles, ATVs and dirt bikes were assembled unsafely when he consulted for the dealership between February 2004 and May 2007.

Vickers and former Southern Honda employees say the dealership illegally sold, from 2004 through 2010, hundreds to thousands of new vehicles that were under safety recall by the federal government without first correcting the problems.

Besides Vickers, nine former employees — including seven who, in 2010, signed notarized affidavits alleging safety problems — report a disregard for vehicle safety at Southern Honda, claiming assembly checklists and other documents were forged to make it look like work was done correctly.

Southern Honda owner Tim Kelly says there "is no substance" to Vickers' allegations, and says alleged assembly problems are "utter balderdash."

Kelly says "some bikes were delivered" before recall work was performed, but their owners were notified and their vehicles were repaired. He says he recently fired a salesman for selling a vehicle under recall.

Posted by Holly Wagner