Harley Davidson Starting Problems? Here’s What You Can Do

Last Updated on January 12, 2024 by Pittalks

If you’re a Harley Davidson owner, you know that the feeling of firing up your bike and hearing that signature rumble is second to none. But what happens when your Harley won’t start? It’s a situation that can be frustrating and perplexing, especially for those who aren’t mechanically inclined. This article will take you through some of the most common starting problems with a Harley Davidson, how to diagnose them, and how you can fix them.

What Do Harley’s Need To Start (and Run)?

infographic showing how air, fuel, spark, and compression work inside a combustion engine

To understand why your Harley Davidson won’t start, it’s essential first to understand what conditions it needs to start and keep running. A motorcycle primarily needs three things to fire up:

  1. A good electrical system: This includes a well-charged battery, a functioning ignition switch, and healthy wiring. Any problems with these components can prevent your Harley from starting.
  2. A functioning fuel system: This means your Harley needs a clear path for fuel to flow from the tank to the engine. Any blockages or problems with the fuel pump, fuel lines, or fuel injectors can prevent your bike from starting.
  3. A working mechanical system: This includes components like the starter motor, spark plugs, and the engine itself. If any of these parts are faulty, your Harley won’t start.

Overview of Common Harley Davidson Starting Problems

From the electrical system to the fuel system and mechanical components, several things could go wrong and cause your Harley to refuse to start. Here are the most common Harley Davidson starting problems:

  1. Dead or weak battery
  2. Faulty ignition switch
  3. Clogged or faulty fuel injectors
  4. Stale fuel or blocked fuel lines
  5. Faulty starter motor or starter relay
  6. Bad spark plugs
  7. Kill switch set to “off”
  8. Faulty clutch safety switch
  9. Security system malfunction
  10. Bank angle sensor tripped

Diagnostic Proceess When Your Harley Won’t Start

If your Harley won’t start, don’t panic. The first step is to identify where the issue lies. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to diagnose the problem:
  1. Check the battery: The battery is the heart of your Harley’s electrical system. If it’s weak or dead, your motorcycle won’t start. Use a multimeter to check if the battery has enough voltage to start the bike.
  2. Inspect the ignition switch: The ignition switch plays a vital role in starting your motorcycle. Use a multimeter to check for continuity in different switch positions. If the ignition switch is faulty, it will need to be replaced.
  3. Evaluate the fuel system: Check to see if there is fresh gas in the tank, inspect all fuel lines for any signs of damage or leaks, and test the fuel injectors and the fuel pump. If you find any issues here, they will need to be addressed.
  4. Examine the mechanical system: Check the starter motor and starter relay using a multimeter. If they are not functioning correctly, they will need to be replaced. Also, check your spark plugs for any signs of wear or damage.

How To Repair These Problems

A black Harley motorcycle on a lift to have its starting problems repaired

Once you’ve identified the problem that’s preventing your Harley from starting, you can move on to fixing it. Here are some solutions for the most common issues:

  1. Dead or weak battery: If your battery is dead or weak, you need to replace it with a new one. Always ensure that the new battery is fully charged before installing it.
  2. Faulty ignition switch: If the ignition switch is faulty, it will need to be replaced. It’s a relatively straightforward process, but if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, it’s best to take your Harley to a professional.
  3. Clogged or faulty fuel injectors: If your fuel injectors are clogged or faulty, they can be cleaned or replaced as needed.
  4. Stale fuel or blocked fuel lines: If your Harley has stale fuel, drain it and replace it with fresh gas. If your fuel lines are blocked, they will need to be cleaned or replaced.
  5. Faulty starter motor or starter relay: If the starter motor or starter relay is faulty, it will need to be replaced.
  6. Bad spark plugs: If your spark plugs are bad, they will need to be replaced.

How To Prevent Starting Problems In The Future

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to prevent these starting problems in the future:

  1. Regular maintenance: Regularly servicing your Harley can prevent most starting problems. This includes checking and replacing the battery, cleaning or replacing the fuel injectors, and replacing the spark plugs when necessary.
  2. Proper storage: If you’re storing your Harley for an extended period, make sure to store it properly to prevent issues like stale fuel and dead batteries. This includes draining the fuel from the tank, disconnecting the battery, and storing your bike in a dry, temperature-controlled environment.
  3. Use of quality parts: Always use high-quality parts for your Harley. Cheap, off-brand parts may not perform as well and may even damage your bike.

Should You Blame Harley’s Manufacturing?

While it’s easy to blame the manufacturer for these starting problems, it’s not entirely fair. Harley Davidson is renowned for its high-quality bikes, and starting problems are more often due to lack of maintenance or misuse rather than manufacturing defects. However, it’s worth noting that some Harley models are more prone to electrical issues than others.

What Keeps A Harley From Starting Most Often?

The most common issue that prevents a Harley from starting is a dead or weak battery. Other frequent issues include stale fuel, faulty ignition switches, and problems with the fuel system.

Which Particular Model Years Were Affected?

While some model years may have been more prone to certain issues than others, starting problems can occur in any Harley model or year. Regular maintenance and proper use can help prevent most of these problems.

Related reads for this section:
> Street Glide Years to Avoid (A Comprehensive Overview)
> Road Glide Years to Avoid (A Comprehensive Overview)
> Electra Glide Years to Avoid (A Comprehensive Overview)
> Road King Years to Avoid (A Comprehensive Overview)
> Harley Twin Cam Years to Avoid: A Comprehensive Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Why won’t my Harley turn over after winter?

If your Harley won’t start after being stored for the winter, the most common causes are a weak or dead battery, stale fuel, or clogged fuel lines and injectors. Check and address these issues before attempting to start your bike.

Why is my bike cranking but not starting?

A bike that cranks but doesn’t start could be due to a lack of fuel, weak or no spark, or a mechanical issue such as low compression or a seized engine. Check the fuel system, ignition system, and engine components to diagnose the issue.

Why does my motorcycle have power but won’t start?

A motorcycle with power but won’t start could be due to a faulty starter motor, a bad starter relay, a malfunctioning kill switch, or a problem with the fuel system, such as a clogged fuel injector or a faulty fuel pump.

Can you push start a Harley with a dead battery?

Push starting a Harley Davidson with a dead battery is possible, but not recommended. It can cause damage to the bike’s electrical system and components. Instead, use a battery charger, jump start the bike, or replace the battery.

In conclusion, if your Harley won’t start, don’t panic. With a little bit of troubleshooting and some basic maintenance, you can get your bike back on the road in no time. Remember to always consult your owner’s manual and seek professional help at your earliest convenience if you’re unsure about any of the steps outlined in this guide.

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