How to Troubleshoot a Harley


Harley-Davidson was founded by Bill Harley and Arthur Walter Davidson in 1903 when they developed a one-cylinder motorcycle. They expanded to 20 employees within three years and started making multi-cylinder motorcycles. The famous Harley-Davidson logo was born in 1910 and the company has since become the gold-standard in motorcycle manufacturing. While Harleys are known for being well-engineered, they can have mechanical problems just like any motorized vehicle. Troubleshooting a Harley-Davidson takes some time to find the source of the problem.

  • Check the fluids to make sure they are topped off and not leaking. Harley-Davidson recalled several 2009 and 2010 touring models in order to reinforce the front fuel tank mounts. It was a voluntary recall with no reports of injuries or accidents, but the tank could be more likely to leak. Look for signs of any leaking fluids.

  • Adjust the carburetor if you are getting a rough idle or if the bike is sputtering without starting. You can adjust it by turning the screw in or out until you get the desired fuel flow to keep the motor running smoothly.

  • Test the battery of the bike if it won't start. An auto supply store can test the battery for free and tell you if you need a new one. Batteries can fail in three ways: not charging; not holding a charge; or not releasing the charge under load. With one of the first two problems, the headlights won't work. If the battery won't release the charge, the headlights will work but the engine won't turn over.

  • Inspect the bike for any cracks or visible damage. Harley-Davidson recalled a number of 2008 models due to a cracking of the fuel filter shell that resulted in a loss of fuel pressure, which can result in stalls and loss of performance.

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