How To Remove Harley Ignition Switch Without Key


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How To Remove Harley Ignition Switch Without Key

Do you own a Harley-Davidson bike, but you’ve lost the key and want to remove the Harley ignition switch? If so, then you’re definitely in the right place.

Removing a Harley ignition switch without key isn’t as complicated as it might seem. It involves pushing the pin under the switch knob, turning the key to the left, and pushing the pin to allow the lock cylinder to turn. This will allow the lock cylinder to turn, releasing the tab that holds the entire ignition switch in the bike.

In this article, you’ll get to know all about ignition switches in Harley-Davidson bikes, how to remove Harley ignition switch without key, how to fix a stuck ignition switch, and different ways you can replace a lost Harley-Davidson motorcycle key among others. Continue reading to get all the answers that you’re looking for.

How to remove Harley ignition switch without key

The ignition switch is an overlooked yet essential part of your Harley-Davidson bike. A Harley-Davidson bike’s switch is located just to the side of the steering wheel and column of your dashboard. They’re among the primary components of your Harley-Davidson bike’s starter system. If the ignition switch isn’t working, you’ll likely need to remove and replace it. You can do so with a set of simple tools, such as a screwdriver.

The entire process of how to remove Harley ignition switch without key is actually straightforward. You’ll just need to check under the switch knob for a square pin sticking down. Push this pin up while you’re turning the key to the left before pushing the pin will allow the lock cylinder to turn. This releases the tab holding the entire ignition knob into your bike. 

You can push this tab with one of the small pocket screwdrivers. However, re-installing the switch can be painful unless you ensure not to move anything while it’s out. The first time you attempt this, it’ll be really frustrating. 

How to fix a stuck ignition switch in a Harley-Davidson bike

Suppose that you’re rushing. You take your belongings and go to your bike to reach your destination as quickly as possible. Just when you insert the key into the ignition switch of your bike, it fails to twist. Despite your countless efforts, the switch remains stubborn, and you’re unable to start your motorcycle due to that. In such a case, throwing away your key or breaking things out of frustration is definitely not a good idea. By preparing yourself for this situation, you’ll be able to avoid them while also reaching your destination without any delay.

Ignition switches can get stuck due to rainy conditions or loosened keys. Instead of fixing the ignition switch using wet lubricants or lubricating oil, it’s recommended that you should use dry lubrication. The reason is wet lubricant fixes this issue at that point in time but leaves demerits for the long term. Wet lubricants attract dust and dirt that may fill up the ignition switch. Eventually, you’ll be left with no option but to replace the entire ignition switch.

In this guide, you’ll get to know the steps to regain the movement of your Harley-Davidson bike’s ignition switch.

  1. Gather a lead pencil and a cutter 
  2. Bring the pencil near the ignition switch such that its tip is held above the opening of the switch
  3. Using a cutter, rub the graphite section of the pencil such that the powdered graphite falls into the ignition switch 
  4.  Repeat it for a while until you realize that a decent amount of graphite has fallen into the opening 

There’s an alternate procedure that you can go for as well –

  1. If you don’t want to do the above procedure, mark the lines on your key with a pencil
  2. Make the lines on the key darker by the repetitive action of the pencil on it

How to replace your lost Harley-Davidson bike key

If you own a Harley-Davidson bike or any motorcycle, there’s always a chance of your keys getting lost. If you’ve lost your motorcycle key, your bike will essentially be a big and expensive decorative piece. It’ll be important to know you can replace your lost key and keep your bike running for long.

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How To Remove Harley Ignition Switch Without Key - Harley Davidson Motorcycle In Parking Lot

The good news for you is that there are multiple ways to replace the lost key of your motorcycle. Some options to deal with a motorcycle key are quick and quite affordable. However, the bad news is that some options might require a trip to your local motorcycle dealership. These methods can be costly.

Method 1: If you’ve got a key code, call the dealer

The first thing that you’ll need to determine is if you’ve got the key code of the bike. A motorcycle key comes with a key code for the lockset from the factory. Typically, they come as a little tab that’s attached to the key chain that you’ve got from a dealership when buying a new motorcycle. 

Harley-Davidson bikes have the key code printed on the side of the key itself. All you need to do is slide back the plastic cover and the key code will be right there. Once you’ve got the key code, you should call your local dealership. Then, give them the code number, and they’ll order a new key for you. You won’t have to worry about changing the locks or taking the entire motorcycle apart. You just need to worry about how long it’ll take, and it cannot be said for sure.

Method 2: Tell the locksmith the motorcycle cylinder code

A key code comes with new motorcycle keys, or it’s stamped into the key itself. However, another way of getting a new key made for a bike that doesn’t have a key will be to get the cylinder code. 

Many “barn find” old bikes do not come with keys. You shouldn’t let lost keys stop you from purchasing a bike you so dearly want. It should be the least of your worries. In fact, you need to be more concerned with what sort of shape the bike’s motor is in.

The second-best way of replacing lost keys is if you’ve got the cylinder code. The cylinder code is a 3-4 digit code on the ignition switch cylinder. The code is usually on the left side of the cylinder you’re putting the key into. You may need to loosen or turn the ignition switch if you want to see this number. It isn’t something that is easily visible. You should have a look from different angles and use your phone’s flash and camera for extra help.

Once you’ve got your key lock’s cylinder code, you should take a clear picture of the key code. Then, give a call to your local locksmith and ensure that they can cut motorcycle keys. The locksmith might suggest that you need to arrange a blank key from the manufacturer. This could mean passing by your dealer or ordering a blank key from the internet.

Once you’ve brought the key code to the locksmith, and either your locksmith has a blank key or you’ve purchased a blank key, your locksmith will look up software or a table. This will help them look for the key code or cylinder code that you’ve brought them, and then cut a key that fits your bike.

Method 3: Find a mobile locksmith if you don’t have a key or cylinder code

Some ignition cylinders might not come with a code or the code might be damaged. Some of them rust with time and age so that they’re not in a condition to read. If you haven’t got a key code or an ignition cylinder code, you shouldn’t worry, you can still get a new motorcycle key made. However, you are going to work a bit harder for it.

The first thing that you should do is to begin calling up mobile locksmiths. You should explain your situation in detail and the issue that you’re dealing with.  Let them know the year, model, and make of your bike and that you’ve lost the motorcycle key. Also mention that you don’t have a key code or ignition code while asking them if they can help you.

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If there aren’t any mobile locksmiths to help you, the next option would be to bring the ignition cylinder to a locksmith. Moreover, you should call ahead of time and explain your situation. Ask them if they can use the ignition cylinder to make a new key for you. 

Method 4: Disconnect the ignition cylinder and bring it to a locksmith who can make a key for you

Most bikes come with the same setup that connects the ignition cylinder to the motorcycle. You’ll see two bolts holding the cylinder in place. You can easily squeeze and unclip the wiring to remove it. Some Harley-Davidson model ignition switches come with little screws that hold each wire in place. However, these can be easily removed with a small screwdriver.

How To Remove Harley Ignition Switch Without Key - Person Removing Harley Ignition Switch

Before doing so, take a couple of pictures or use colored tapes to help you remember how things were connected. Place any hardware in a zip lock bag so that they don’t fall out and get lost. After that, write “year/model/make” of your Harley-Davidson Ignition Cylinder Hardware on the zip lock bag with a permanent marker. This will help you avoid losing any parts.

Once you’ve brought the ignition switch cylinder, the locksmith can easily make an impression of the lock on the cylinder. This is done by inserting a key blank into the lock and then turning the key blank to turn the pins. It’ll allow the locksmith to know where they should make the cuts and files needed to make the key that fits your bike.

This option is much more expensive than giving a key code to a dealer or a lock code to the locksmith. This is the case because there is much more specialized work involved. It’ll be more time-consuming on your end, as it’ll involve removing and reattaching the ignition cylinder to your bike. However, a good locksmith can easily make you a new key and replace your lost keys.

Method 5: Order a new lockset

But what if you aren’t able to find a locksmith, or you don’t have access to a locksmith? Then you’ll need to have to replace the ignition cylinder and then get a new key set. Your first step would be to remove the current ignition cylinder. Then, you should call up your local dealership and let them know everything that you’ll need.

You can also consider looking at what you can get on Amazon, eBay, or online sellers of OEM parts. Remember, when the product says “Universal”, it means that it can easily fit most bikes at the same time. Everything can be universal if you’re open to spending enough time to make it fit. You should look for something that mentions “Plug-and-Play” or something similar. A universal Harley-Davidson ignition switch can fit 80% of all Harley-Davidson bikes. The only exceptions are the LiveWire and Street models, which utilize a different type of ignition switch.

This is why it is recommended to get an ignition cylinder from a dealership made by your motorcycle manufacturer specifically for your bike. You won’t need to guess how you should put it together. You’ll essentially be taking pieces off and then replacing them with identical pieces. The only potential downside is that you’ll need to wait a few days for the new parts to arrive.

Method 6: Get a dealer to take care of your situation

If you haven’t got a key or ignition switch code, cannot find a locksmith for help, or don’t feel comfortable changing the lockset yourself, you’ll have to bring your bike to a dealership.

Before you tow or push your bike, you must call the dealership first, and let them know of your problem. Before calling, you should have your Harley-Davidson motorcycle’s VIN code handy. VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number and you can find it on the frame of your bike. You can also find it on your bike’s ownership or the insurance documents.

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For many models, the VIN on your motorcycle’s frame is black on black, which can be tricky to see. It is suggested that you should dig up your bike’s ownership, especially because unless the dealership has an established relationship with you, they might want proof that you’re the owner of the vehicle. This proof is needed before they install a brand-new lock set on your bike.

How to avoid losing your Harley-Davidson bike keys

Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced driver, it’s common to lose a motorcycle key.  There are certain ways you can keep your keys safe and avoid losing them no matter what. So without further ado, let’s begin with different tips on how you can avoid losing your Harley-Davidson bike’s key.

1. Keep your keys in the same spots every time

You should select a couple of players where you must keep your keys. You could have one spot in your chosen room, maybe have a separate spot on a different floor, or keep the keys with you at all times. This way, you’ll always know that your keys are either at the designated spots. You won’t have to panic and look around in case you’ve misplaced the keys at home.

2. Keep a big key chain

A great way of keeping your bike key safe is by attaching it to a big key chain. You could either have a puppet-like figure or a souvenir, or anything big enough that doesn’t get lost easily. The size of the key chain should be big enough that it’s easy to see and feel. Another great way of keeping track of your key chain is to have something audible attached so that it makes a sound if it’s dropped.

3. Purchase a Tile

A Tile is a handy little keychain attachment that you can pair with your smartphone. It is essentially a Bluetooth tracker that shows you exactly where your keys are.

4. Keep your keys away from any cluttered places

A great tip to follow is to keep your keys away from cluttered places. Everyone has cluttered corners in their homes. Some of them are all over the place, while others are discrete junk drawers where you stuff things in. Regardless of the location of the cluttered corners, try to keep your bike out of there. The cluttered corners are like black holes that can suck in your keys and hide them in another dimension.

5. Be verbal and inform your friends

If your hands are full, you should get verbal and tell your friend. If your hands are full, and you need to keep your keys somewhere, and it’s not possible to get your keys in your pockets, verbally tell your friend about the keys. You can inform them that you’re keeping the keys in this place, and it’ll serve as a reminder if you forget them.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about ignition switches in Harley-Davidson bikes, how to remove Harley ignition switch without key, how to fix a stuck ignition switch, and different ways you can replace a lost Harley-Davidson motorcycle key, among others. Misplacing your Harley-Davidson bike’s key is a real possibility and can happen to anyone. If your bike isn’t starting because of the absence of a key, you’ll need to remove the ignition switch.

Removing Harley ignition switch without key isn’t as complicated as it might seem. It involves pushing the pin under the switch knob, turning the key to the left, and pushing the pin to allow the lock cylinder to turn. This will allow the lock cylinder to turn, releasing the tab that holds the entire ignition switch in the bike.

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