Intermittent Starting Problem

Question My 1983 FLHT has an intermittent starting problem, she will lay down on me and not start till she cools off. I took her to a mech friend of mine and he replaced the voltage regulator because he said it was smoking. I rode 14 miles and she coughed, backfired and said “no mas” I pushed her home and put her to bed, the next day I hit the start button and she came alive, she is all original except for the tires … What cha think? Ben

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Answer Ben,  1983, I believe still has main breaker on the side of the oil tank , under the cover on the right side. Remove breaker from clip, install new breaker and leave loose away from clip and oil tank. Ride with side cover off for added cooling , if this solves all the problems relocate to the leading edge of the rear fender under the seat. Let me know if that is not the correct breaker location. Wrench Safe, FMH

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21 Responses to “Intermittent Starting Problem”
  1. Ronald

    my ’95 Bad Boy was doing this same thing, but it hasn’t cut off while riding in a long time now…instead, sometimes when I try to start and push start button, it fires right up…then sometimes I’ll push start button and nothing…not even a click…I can go back an hour or so later and it’ll fire right up [sometimes even just a few minutes later]…my battery checks 12.7, then drops to 12.4 while cranking…so I don’t feel it’s the battery, especially how fast motor turns over when it does crank/start…any ideas on what to check/fix please?…thanks

    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      Hi, Ronald. You need to verify that you have correct voltage to your run/off switch. Make sure your wiring harness and all plugged connections are secure. If you have changed handlebars, make sure you do not have any pinched wires that would leave you with a dead short. Confirm that you have correct voltage to your starter relay and that the relay is correctly grounded. Check your battery cables.

    • Psycho

      Batteries can go downhill fast. But its not the voltage , its the amperage. The amps provide the ‘punch’ or ‘grunt’ in the electricity. It takes a murderous amount of amps to get all the metal moving and to provide sparks too. Usually around 5 years seems to be their limit. Do maybe swap your battery with a mates from a similar bike, and if it works, just jeep riding til he gets tired of waiting and goes home leaving you with the battery ! ;- )

  2. Henry

    Bought my ’84 FLHTC new and had the same problem during triple digit temps while standing in traffic. Circuit breaker replacement did the trick. I’ll try taking the side cover off before it happens again. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. galen

    mounting new exhaust to back old pipes had mounts new pipes don’t how can I mount the pipes remember 1340 was rubber mount the turn out pipes must be able to move ..please help

    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      We would be happy to assist you; we just need some more information. What is the make/model/year of your motorcycle?

  4. Dennis

    I have a 2007 Ultra Classic, After I start and ride for awhile, maybe stop and go in for lunch, when I get back to the bike it doesn’t want to start. Starter tries to kick over but sounds like a dead battery. I know that this is not the problem. After awhile and a lot of cussing, it finally starts, but really doesn’t sound like it wants to. Any ideas? Is there some sort of test for the starter or is it best to take it out and have it checked by someone? thanks

  5. Robert Metzger
    Robert Metzger

    I had the same thing on my FLHS 1989.
    It was the pin connectors coming from the right handle bars.
    Which is found behind the head lamp and under the dash.
    Good luck and safe riding….

  6. Mike

    Engine runs rough on initial start and threatens to almost stall when RPM’s are fluctuating. Within a minute or two the engine begins the run with steady RPMs. I brought it to my local Harley dealer a while ago and after a $200+ bill, they hadn’t solved the problem.

  7. Michael

    Sometimes when I go to start the engine and push the Starter Button, nothing happens. I’m afraid that someday it won’t catch at all and I’ll be stuck.

  8. John Hamilton
    John Hamilton

    G’day, I have a 2012 Fatboy Lo (103), my problem is that at any time I’m riding it just cuts out. It used to be unable to start after stopping for fuel or food, but now it has been cutting out while riding. There’s no particular time or temperature, sometimes it won’t do it. I have asked a number of Harley dealers, but they all say the same thing, it has to do it when I’m there at the shop. No one I have spoken to or written to can help. Do you have any ideas that could help?

  9. doug

    could be the ignition brain black box getting hot and shorting or grounding out (expanding short)

  10. William Fisher
    William Fisher

    Had similar problem with 2003 FLHRSEI2 Ride for a distance shut it off for fuel or whatever. Go to restart no go. Next day or at least hrs later start right up. Changed starter no more problem

  11. Timothy

    I just bought a 2007 roadglide from VTwin partners in texas I am in Ohio .I rode 60 miles with a group of 8 .Just about a mile from my house it started missing real bad.What would cause that .I pull spark plugs ,Cleaned them ,checked air breather its ok. It is fuel injected . where do I look now ?

  12. Bill

    I have an 83 FXDG Willie G Special. It has been running fine until yesterday. I hit the ignition switch and got the clickclickclick, like it was the cellinoid. I rolled it off & she fired up. When I tried to ride back to my house it popped & choked like something was wrong with the carburetor. Any ideas?

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service


      The starting issue might be a weak battery, a weak ground, poor cable connections, failing starter relay, weak starter relay ground, or a weak starter solnoid.
      As far as the running condition; if you believe it is definitely a fuel related issue, you will need to inspect intake seals & carburetor. Check the plugs.
      Would also be a good idea to check your charging system.