Harley-Davidson Starter Problems Troubleshooting: How To Fix A Starter That Isn’t Working


White Star Rides is your trusted Harley-Davidson companion, offering expert guidance and information to enhance your riding experience.

Harley Davidson Starter Problems Troubleshooting

Do you have a faulty Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but the starter is giving you trouble? If so, then you shouldn’t worry, as you’ll know all about the fixes here.

Starter problem troubleshooting begins by first identifying if the starter is really the cause of the problem. If your bike isn’t starting, starting intermittently, giving a strange clicking sound, and more, it means you need to fix your starter. Fix it by making sure all the connections are fine, and it is spinning freely.

In this article, you’ll get to know all about Harley-Davidson starters, common symptoms that indicate your Harley-Davidson bike has a starter problem, different Harley-Davidson starter problems troubleshooting methods, and more. Stick around to know all the answers that you’re looking for.

Harley-Davidson bike starter giving you trouble?

Nothing can be worse than trying to start your Harley-Davidson bike and realizing that it just won’t start. There can be many reasons why a Harley-Davidson bike won’t start. One of the most common reasons is that there’s something wrong with the starter. Sometimes, it can be hard to know whether your starter is really the component causing the issue.

Some ways to find out what you’ve got a bad motorcycle starter are if it isn’t starting, the bike is only starting intermittently, you’re hearing the starter running even once the engine has started, or you’re hearing a strange clicking sound from the starter. Your motorcycle starter will be responsible for providing the necessary power from the battery to the motor. If everything is running as it should, your starter will be good enough to last for several years. On the other hand, if your starter quits on you, you could end up being stranded.

Common symptoms that your Harley-Davidson motorcycle has a faulty starter

For properly understanding what is going on with your Harley-Davidson bike, first understand the starter circuitry and how everything works. When you turn on the ignition, the starter motor gets energized. This ends up causing the electromagnet inside the solenoid body to engage. This moves the road, which then causes the starter to turn through the pinion gear.

The turning of the starter motor then turns the engine, forcing it to suck air in and have fuel injected. Electricity will be sent to the spark plugs for starting the first combustion. This is how the engine starts and covers the basics regarding how your Harley-Davidson bike’s starter circuitry works. Once you have the basic knowledge, it’ll be easier to understand how your bike’s starter system can be diagnosed.

Your Harley-Davidson bike will generally give you hints that something might be failing. By paying close attention, you hopefully won’t end up being stranded, waiting for help to arrive. If you notice your starter failing soon enough, you might not have to replace it. You could just get it repaired instead. But to achieve that, you’ll first have to know the symptoms of a faulty starter.

Your Harley-Davidson bike might not start at all

The first symptom you might notice is that your Harley-Davidson motorcycle doesn’t start at all. If you try starting your bike, and it doesn’t turn over, it can be a starter issue. It is also important to ensure that your battery is functioning as it needs to. If your battery drops slightly too low, you might not be able to supply enough amps to the motorcycle starter. Without enough amps, you won’t be able to start it.

See also  How to Lower a Harley-Davidson Sportster
Harley Davidson Starter Problems Troubleshooting - Harley Davidson Motorcycle

Even if the lights work, but the bike still isn’t starting, the culprit could be the starter or the battery. Measuring the battery’s voltage would be a great way of determining whether the battery is the reason or the starter. Check this before you attack your starter. It can save you a lot of time as charging a battery will be easier than fixing a motorcycle starter.

Intermittent starting

Another symptom of a failing motorcycle starter is the intermittent starting of the bike. Over time, the internal components of the bike starter start wearing down. This results in a loss of contact inside it, preventing it from working as expected. This can easily lead to it working intermittently. A great way of testing this would be to wait until it doesn’t start. If you take an object like a hammer and tap the starter motor, it can often start for you.

Strange clicking noise

In case you hear a sort of strange clicking noise coming out of the bike starter, it’s likely that the starter solenoid is going bad. Over time, noise starts occurring as corrosion starts to appear. This is a great way of ruling out whether the solenoid is failing here or the starter itself. This can be done if you run a jumper wire from the battery directly to the motorcycle starter. If nothing happens, the starter is likely the problem. If your starter reacts, but the solenoid doesn’t move, then you’ll know that the solenoid has failed.

Hearing the starter even after the bike has been turned on

Another common symptom of a bad bike starter is indicated if you still hear the starter even after the bike has been turned on. Sometimes, there might be electrical shorts within the starter. Even if your bike has been turned on, the starter continues trying to start the bike by delivering voltage. This could end up resulting in a grinding sound.

Harley-Davidson starter problems troubleshoot

If there’s an issue with your starter, you can easily fix it yourself. It’s important to know the Harley-Davidson starter problems troubleshoot methods, and you’ll be able to diagnose things before repairing anything. If you skip over the diagnosis, you’ll likely have to spend time repairing the starter motor only to find out that it isn’t working.

You’ll want to know whether the starter is bad, the solenoid is bad, or the battery is the problem, among others. You should also need to have a look at the wiring to the motor. It’ll help you ensure that all the connections are good and everything else is wired properly. Once you have successfully narrowed down the issue, you’ll be ready to start troubleshooting the problem.

See also  How to Easily Install a Slip-on Exhaust on a Harley Street Glide?

You can easily disassemble the starter motor and then put it back together after troubleshooting. Many starter motor brands come with specific instructions for their own starter motors. Make sure that you throw away and replace any O-rings used inside the motor. Once you’ve removed the armature entirely from the cover, you’ll be able to inspect it for any abnormal wear.

Moreover, take a look at the bearing at the end of the cover. Ensure that it can spin freely. You’ll also need to measure the diameter of the commutator. Your bike will have an explicitly stated service limit. If you find that you’ve got a diameter that is too small, you’ll have to replace the armature entirely.

Harley Davidson Starter Problems Troubleshooting - Harley Davidson O-Rings

You’ll then have to remove the brushes entirely. The length of the brushes can be measured, and your Harley-Davidson bike specifies the minimum length that they can be. If necessary, you can even replace the brushes. Once these things are inspected and the motor is repaired, you can put it together all over again.

At what point do you have to think about replacing the starter?

It is possible to repair any Harley-Davidson bike starter motor that has failed or has started failing. But when will it be the better option to buy a new starter altogether? This could be a hard question to answer, as it’ll depend on many things. The first factor will be the cost. A new starter motor for your Harley-Davidson bike could cost you anywhere between $80 and $350. This could vary from one model to the other. When your Harley-Davidson starter motor goes bad due to a single part of the starter needing to be replaced, it could be repaired for around $30. If you have to save money, then this could drastically cut down the cost.

Another important factor will be time. Replacing a starter motor will be relatively simple. Generally, you could do it yourself in about 20-30 minutes. Repairing a motorcycle starter can take quite a while. To remove and tear apart the starter motor, it can take around 30 minutes on its own. Then, there’s also time to diagnose the different components of the motor, replace them, and re-assemble the motor. Installing a new motorcycle starter only takes a fraction of the time compared to repairing one.

Another important factor will be the age of the motorcycle starter. If the starter is old, and it fails, you’ll likely have to replace the part causing it to not function. It’ll only start working for a while. Due to its age, it’s likely that it’ll fail again soon. In that case, you may have to spend the cost of a new starter motor on different pieces. Moreover, you’ll be spending countless hours tearing the thing apart and putting it back together when you could have just bought a new one.

Ultimately, the choice will be up to you whether you decide to repair it or replace the motorcycle starter. Many recommended that you should only replace the starter motor. The time spend can make it hard to justify the difference in cost. Ultimately, you’ll need to decide what is the best option for you and your Harley-Davidson bike.

See also  Uncovering What Makes Harley-Davidson Unique: A Comprehensive Look

How to take care of your Harley-Davidson motorcycle starter?

Clean the connections to the starter motor

There are many things that you can do to extend the lifespan of your Harley-Davidson bike’s starter motor. The biggest thing that you could do is to regularly clean all the connections to the starter motor. Dirt, corrosion, and other contaminants can accumulate where the wires come from the battery and then connect to the starter. Eventually, the buildup could interrupt the flow of electricity and prevent the bike’s starter from working.

Mounting bolts should be tightened

Another important thing that you should check periodically is that the starter mounting bolts have been tightened properly. If they become loose, the motor will start vibrating excessively. It could cause the starter to fail prematurely. This can prevent the starter from engaging properly with the flywheel. By doing it properly, you’ll be able to ensure that the starter lasts as long as possible before it needs to be repaired or replaced.

Never overlook the simple signs

While it can be tempting to overlook the simple signs and think the problem isn’t big enough, it could eventually be. Sometimes, the most basic issues with your starter could end up becoming a major problem. Anytime you see that your starter isn’t working as expected, immediately look to resolve the problem.

Never buy replacement parts without consulting a pro

Unless you’re a mechanic or an expert, you shouldn’t rush to purchase replacement starters for your Harley-Davidson bike. If you’ve run every troubleshooting method, and you still cannot get the starter to work, you’ll likely need professional assistance. Purchasing the wrong parts could end up costing you eventually, especially if it’s costly and not what your bike needs.

Remember not to void the warranty

If you’ve got a warranty on your Harley-Davidson motorcycle, try your best not to do anything that voids it. In your DIY troubleshooting ways, you shouldn’t do something that voids the warranty. Avoid taking any drastic measures unless you know what you’re doing, or you’ve got the approval of an expert.

Typically, warranty companies only want the repair to be performed at specific locations of your bike. If you modify the parts that you aren’t supposed to alter, you’ll no longer have a valid warranty.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about Harley-Davidson starters giving you trouble, common symptoms that indicate your Harley-Davidson bike has a starter problem, different Harley-Davidson starter problems troubleshooting methods, and more. To start diagnosing the motorcycle starter issue, you’ll first need to identify that there’s a problem with the starter. There are many symptoms like the bike not starting or a clicking noise among others. Once you’ve found that the problem is indeed the starter, you can troubleshoot the issue and try to fix it.

Photo of author
White Star Rides is your go-to Harley-Davidson expert. We live and breathe these bikes. Our team has years of experience in fixing, riding, and loving Harleys. We know every part of these bikes and love sharing what we know with you. Whether it's about fixing a problem or just enjoying the ride, we're here to help. Trust us to make your Harley journey better and easier.