Harley starter

An Easy Guide To Replacing A Harley Starter

Every biker knows that dreadful feeling: you’re about to rev up your engine, but the bike won’t start. Instead, you hear an awful grinding noise or your engine just clicks. If you experience this, your Harley needs a new starter.


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There are a lot of mechanisms in the starter that forces your bike to power on. Fortunately, replacing a starter isn’t difficult and won’t take long. You’ll still be able to do this quick repair and take your bike out for a ride.

Read this guide and replace your Harley starter.

What You’ll Need

Before replacing your Harley starter, you need specific materials. The mechanisms of the starter are very specific, so make sure you look at exact parts and sizes.

Here’s what you need:

  • 10mm box wrench
  • 12mm box wrench
  • 1/4 ” Allen wrench or socket
  • Torque wrenches (foot-pounds and inch-pounds)

How the Starter Replacement Works

It’s easy for the Harley starter to become problematic and not work properly. There’s usually nothing wrong with the starter itself. It just needs some reassembling or even some cleaning.

Are you unsure of what to look for? Your Harley manual will inform you of what to look for.

If you’re still confused, remove the starter and take it to a repair technician. He will tell you if you need a new one or if he can fix it.

About the Harley Starter

The starter is a compact electric motor. It pushes your Harley V-Twin over, so the engine turns on.

This is a very complex mechanism. It contains electrical windings, gears, and a solenoid. Fortunately, replacing a starter isn’t that complex.

Today’s starters are one-piece. This model was introduced in 2006.

If you’re a previous Harley owner, you probably remember the jackshaft that separated the starter and ring gear.

Replacing the starter was more complex with that mechanism. The one-piece starter is easier to replace. This post only covers replacing this particular model.

How to Replace a Starter

Follow these steps to properly remove the starter. Once you do it, check the starter for faults or just give it a good cleaning.

Remove the Negative Cable from the Battery

Start by removing the seat. Do the same for the ECM and cover if applicable.

Disconnect the ‘negative cable’ (should be black) from the battery. Use your 10mm wrench.

Always check your owner’s manual to be sure.

Remove Cables from the Starter

On top of the Harley starter, there should be a rubber boot. Lift off the rubber boot. This exposes the positive battery cable and the nut.

First, remove the nut with the 12mm wrench. Lift off the positive cable from the stud.

Push the tab on the connector. Remove the start wire from the start solenoid.

Remove the Bolts

These bolts attach the starter to the inner primary.

First, remove the part that covers the engine oil filler. It’s usually a cap or a dipstick.

Cover the hole with a clean cloth. Take the 1/4 ” Allen wrench and remove the starter mounting bolts.

Remove the Starter from the Inner Primary

Pull the start assembly out of the inner primary, away from the bike.

From here, you check the starter. Read the owner manual so you know what issues to look for. If the starter looks fine, give it a good cleaning.

Don’t lose the two metal dowels. These align the starter to the primary.

Install Starter Mounting Bolts

Add a drop of blue Loctite to the starter mounting bolt threads. Insert the bolts into the starter.

Thread the bolts into the inner primary. Torque the bolts to 25-27 foot-pounds.

Remove the cloth that’s covering the engine oil filler. Reinstall the oil filler cap.

Attach Starter Wiring

Slip the battery positive cables over the stud. Install the nut. Torque the nut to 70-90 inch-pounds.

Replace the rubber boot over the cable stud and nut. Engage in the recess on the starter. Clip the start wire into the socket on the solenoid.

Reattach Negative Battery Cable

Insert the battery into the negative battery cable.

Attach it to the battery. Tighten the bolt to 60-70 inch-pounds. If you had to remove the ECM and cover, reattach them. Reinstall your seat. Check your owner’s manual for proper installation.

Important Note

Always remove the negative (black) cable first. If you remove the positive cable first, there could be sparks or a short circuit. This could cause a potentially serious injury.

To further protect yourself from sparks, keep the negative battery cable away from the battery post.

What If the Starter Still Doesn’t Work?

Say you reinstall your starter and your Harley still isn’t turning on.

Or, your Harley ran fine and then stopped running again. This means there is either an issue you didn’t catch, an issue you can’t repair, or you need to replace your starter.

Pull the starter off, using the first half of the instructions listed previously. Take the starter to a Harley technician. They will inform you if they can repair the starter or if you need a new one.

You’ll more than likely just need a repair. Having a repair done is pretty cheap and easy. Buying a new one can be expensive, especially if the new starter has to be shipped from overseas.

It may be helpful to take your whole bike in. If you have a truck or know someone who does, lay the bike in the truck bed and transport it to the technician. There could be an issue when you initially took the starter out.

Get Your Harley Fired Up

Removing and reinstalling the starter seems like tedious work. But Harley manufacturers made this process easier for your convenience.

Harley understands you want to dedicate more time to riding your bike rather than fixing it. Follow these instructions when a starter repair is necessary, and get back to enjoying your ride.

For Harley and other motorcycle manuals, visit our resources!