Sportster Not Getting Spark

Q: Hello, I have a 2000 XLC 1200 with 30,000 miles she sat for about 5 years. when I fire her up, she starts fine and sounds good. I ride her for about 5 minutes and she dies, she still cranks, she has spark and she is getting fuel but will not start. After she sits for about 30 minutes she fires right up and the same thing all over again. She has an HSR 42 Mikuni carb, I did not rebuild the carb but I did thoroughly clean the carb, petcock, fuel tank and replaced the spark plugs. Is there a way to test the ignition coil and ignition module. Or do you guys have any idea’s about this problem.

A: Not sure how you can have, both, spark & fuel and still no start. You absolutely have to be missing one of them. You need to go back and verify that the Sportster not getting spark.
Are you getting fuel to your float bowl?
If so, is the float height correct?
Confirm that your needle valve is not hanging up.
Verify that your gas cap is vented. You can be experiencing vapor lock.
Check your fuel line routing. Make sure the line is not collapsing.

Ground your spark plugs and verify that you have strong, definitive spark, both, front and rear.
Check your speedo head for DTC’s.
A failing crank position sensor can cause a problem like yours. A bad sensor will sometimes fail when heat is introduced and begin working again once it cools.

If/when this occurs again, turn off your fuel valve right away to see how much gas is in your float bowl. Open your gas cap and listen for a possible vapor lock condition. Ground your spark plugs to check for spark. If this problem began after you cleaned your carb, start looking in that area 1st.

Related Videos:
How to Check and Fix Vapor Lock on a Harley-Davidson

Carburetor Rebuild
Discussion
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30 Responses to “Sportster Not Getting Spark”
  1. john raymond

    crank sensors can be bad,or wires from them could have vibrated loose or been chewed through by rodents,same goes for your coils,which can do the same exact thing when heated,vented cap could have gotten plugs during the long sit also.

    Reply
  2. Wayne

    Have an 02 sportster starts runs for afew sec. Dies turn off key back on starts dies bout 4th try starts runs bitchen What’s up? Replaced ign. mod. ,swt.,coil,plug wires,petcock.

    Reply
    • Steve

      Your problem sounds like the same thing I had with my Dyna Convertible which used the same ignition switch. What happened with mine was that the ignition switch brass contacts eventually melt into the plastic back plug in the ignition switch and they lose contact. Initially it would start and then it wouldn’t start, but when it gets worse the problem will even happen when driving down the road and you hit a bump and the bike shuts off. I was able to wiggle the switch quickly and it would fire back up, but because it was a safety issue I decided to cure mine by building my own key FOB ignition and replacing the switch because I didn’t like it under my butt on my bigger Saddleman seat as it was hard to reach. Harley couldn’t believe my problem and even accused me of changing the ignition switch when I showed it too them because the part number was a 1994, but I bought the bike new off the showroom floor and hadn’t changed it. The switches were the same for many years. I built a replacement ignition for about $52 instead of buying one that would do the same thing. I had changed my bike over to a brighter headlight and had changed my turn signals over to running lights and I believe the extra amperage load was just too much for the cheaply made ignition because their contacts are lightweight and heat up too easily and then melt into the backing. A quick way for me to tell without tearing the switch apart was that there was a bout 1/2″ of wire out the back of the ignition switch that showed melted wire. Hope this points you to the right place, but it is definitely something to check out and it is easy to look at the back of the switch while it is still installed.

      Reply
  3. larry

    whale replacing jujs the sparkplug wires were removed forgot how thay go back front and rear to coil

    Reply
    • John Uchtman

      I have a 2001 Softtail. Several years ago, I had a similar problem. Thought I had no spark. I changed ignition, coil, crank angle sensor, Bank angle sensor, ignition switch, fuel line, plugs, gas cap. Plus several other attempts to fix. Was in several HD shops. Turns out it was the diaphragm in the vacuum operated petcock. Had 3 of old style petcocks in basement. I plugged vacuum line with rivet, put on “new” old petcock, not problems since. Spent lots of money chasing a simple bu elusive problem.

      Reply
  4. ernest rocco

    Bad ignition module….20 minutes of riding, Module heats up and fails.let it cool and it will run….Bad Ignition module..Old Sportster have them on right side motor…Heat Kills.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

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

      Reply
  5. Kevin

    I had that issue with mine. It was the starter relay that was going out. Hope that might help

    Reply
  6. Chris

    I have a 2014 48 sporster. I have taken in 3 times to Harley Davidson I now have 5000 mile the problem have loud tappets they said that’s commen with that model my son bought me headers so I can’t hear the tap pit but I still hear it want to put my orrginal pipes back on any suggestions

    Reply
  7. Dennis Kranes

    had the identical issue 3 years ago, did the same things as you have done, i have a 2001 hd sportster 1200 custom, it finally had to be towed to dealer, very frustrating, well after some thorough research, it turn out that the ignition module was replaced, it has been about 3 years, and not a hitch, that was my problem, had it out today as well, hope this helps, dennis

    Reply
  8. Felipe

    Hello, I have a 06 sporter 1200 carb I bought use 17,000 mile it was park for a while, it start when you run it it start for about a few minutes you accelerate it start hesitate want to turn off . What could be the problem. Thanks

    Reply
  9. Ynot

    Crank positioning sensor One min. Spark nxt time no spark ! Acting as if you had a bad set of points which you don’t have if it get hot then shuts off you can spray freon on it and if it starts there’s your issue . There are ways to check but you need a multi meter the sensor can be had on eBay or if you have another bike sportster same year switch out need a tiny screwdriver or the right tool to take apart the connector , but I’m almost 99 % sure it the crank sensor from your symptoms have replaced quite a few. Good luck

    Reply
  10. Jim Hewitson

    I have a2009 ultra my problem is after riding for 20 minutes when I come to a stop my voltage will drop to around 12 volte but if I release the hand or foot brake the volts start to return to 14 volts if I apply the brakes the volts starts to drop this happens only when the bike has run awhile I have replace the stator and regulator still happens at a loss now any ideas thanks

    Reply
  11. Rich

    Missed something, you can have spark, and fuel, and not start if it’s a bad crank position sensor, or pick-up coil etc. this also could explain the “resting period” then restart. The bikes cooling down and the CPS hs electronics inside that cool as well. It’s loosing connection when it gets hot and shuts down.

    Reply
  12. Jesse Littleton

    Hi I have a 97 883 Hugger I replaced the handlebar dampers both sides vibration stopped then it came back any ideal what might be causing this and what I can do to fix this problem the dampers are hard rubber the old OME one’s were wore out?

    Reply
  13. Joe

    I replaced the starter on my 2000 Sportster 1200 & now there is no spark. I’ve backtracked, checked connectors, fuses, wires, grounds, coil, ECM and I must have missed something. Any guidance will be greatly apporeciated.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      You may have a bad ignition module pickup.
      Try this: isolate your ignition system from the main harness –
      Remove the white wire with black tracer from your coil. This wire powers the coil when the run/off switch is toggled to run.
      Temporarily replace this wire with a jumper wire from the positive battery terminal. You should have a pink wire on one coil post, a white wire & the jumper on the other. You have isolated the ignition from the main harness.
      Now, check for spark.
      If, still, no spark; you have a bad ignition.
      We would suggest a Dyna 2000i ignition.
      If you spark returns, you may have an issue somewhere in your wiring harness or a bad BAS (bank angle sensor).
      https://www.fixmyhog.com/video/simplifying-electricity-002170/
      https://www.fixmyhog.com/video/harley-davidson-ignition-coil-test-008707/
      -Mark

      Reply
    • beamount_68

      Hey joe.i have the same bike and been having small issues and have missed place manual is there anyway u have one and would take the time to copy wiring diagram and torque spec and any other need to know for general repair. e-mail..beamount_68@hotmail.com thanks

      Reply
  14. JOE

    I replaced the starter on my 2000 sportster 1200 and now i have no spark. Can’t figure out what I could have done. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      You may have a bad ignition module pickup.
      Try this: isolate your ignition system from the main harness –
      Remove the white wire with black tracer from your coil. This wire powers the coil when the run/off switch is toggled to run.
      Temporarily replace this wire with a jumper wire from the positive battery terminal. You should have a pink wire on one coil post, a white wire & the jumper on the other. You have isolated the ignition from the main harness.
      Now, check for spark.
      If, still, no spark; you have a bad ignition.
      We would suggest a Dyna 2000i ignition.
      If you spark returns, you may have an issue somewhere in your wiring harness or a bad BAS (bank angle sensor).
      https://www.fixmyhog.com/video/simplifying-electricity-002170/
      https://www.fixmyhog.com/video/harley-davidson-ignition-coil-test-008707/
      -Mark

      Reply
  15. Jeremy Dickerson

    I have a 2000 1200 Sportster all of the main components have been replaced starter switch ignition module, it is not a fuel issue I have no spark.

    Reply