Harley starter drives that are failing may crank the engine too gently for a quick start, or at times it may not crank the engine at all. Most often than not, the obstacle is not the starter but a low battery or a loose or corroded battery cable connection. So make sure that you check the battery charge and condition first before jumping to the conclusion - a failed starter drive.
How to figure out what's causing the failed Harley starter drives?
If you are not sure what might be causing this cranking problem, you can get a bench-test of old Harley motorcycle starter. If the current starter passes the tests, the slow-cranking or no-cranking obstacle is something other than the starter. You should get the starter relay, starter circuit, battery, battery cables and wiring connections checked out as one of them is the culprit behind the failed starter.
When should you consider buying new Harley starter drives?
When the starter of your Harley Davidson motorcycle fails to spin at all, has a high current intake or when the there is low cranking RPMs you should be looking into buying a new one. A weak or a defective starter drive can be detected when the engine cranks slowly, with excessive noise or fails to crank absolutely. Starter drives that are on the verge of failing will usually engage briefly but then will eventually slip. The starter drive has a one-way overrunning clutch mechanism that you can inspect once the starter is detached from the bike. If the starter turns freely in one direction, you can put it back as the problem doesn't lie in it. However, it freely runs in both directions you should have it changed as soon as possible as there is the possibility of the drive locking up and over-revving which can ultimately destroy the starter.
When you're getting any parts of your Harley motorcycle replaced to make sure that the new parts you get are compatible with your model. The noise that comes from the starter is from the drive, so based on that you can make your assumptions on whether or not you going to be needed a replacement soon. Also at times, it is a healthy practice to wiggle the new gear gently in an attempt to get it to slip. When it does, you need to ask for a replacement of the newly purchased starter due to a defect.
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