How to Test a Starter Solenoid on a Harley

To test a starter solenoid on a Harley, there are a few methods you can try. One method involves using a piece of wire to unplug the small wire connected to the solenoid, and then connecting one end of the wire to the battery positive terminal and touching the other end to the solenoid connector. If the starter turns normally, the problem may be with the starter relay or the start wiring. Another method involves on-bike testing, where you check the visual condition of the starter and solenoid, ensure the battery voltage is sufficient, and then use a voltmeter to check for power at the solenoid’s power input terminal while activating the starter button. If the solenoid clicks and provides a 12-volt reading, the power is being routed properly. If not, there may be a problem between the starter and the starter button. Bench testing is another method, where the starter is removed from the motorcycle and connected to a fully charged battery using test leads. The push, hold, and pull tests are then performed to determine if the solenoid is in good working condition. If the starter fails any of these tests, it may need to be rebuilt or repaired. It is important to use a known, good battery and to check the battery cables and charging system before diagnosing the starter.

Key Takeaways:

  • Testing the starter solenoid on your Harley can save you time and money by identifying any solenoid problems early on.
  • There are three methods you can use to test the starter solenoid: unplugging the small wire, on-bike testing, and bench testing.
  • Unplugging the small wire and connecting the battery positive terminal to the solenoid connector can help identify issues with the starter relay or start wiring.
  • On-bike testing involves visually inspecting the starter and solenoid, checking battery voltage, and using a voltmeter to measure power at the solenoid’s input terminal.
  • Bench testing requires removing the starter from the motorcycle and connecting it to a fully charged battery. Push, hold, and pull tests are performed to evaluate the solenoid’s condition.
  • Consider using a known, good battery and checking the battery cables and charging system before diagnosing the starter solenoid.

Methods for Testing a Starter Solenoid

3. To test a starter solenoid on a Harley, there are a few methods you can try. One method involves using a piece of wire to unplug the small wire connected to the solenoid, and then connecting one end of the wire to the battery positive terminal and touching the other end to the solenoid connector. If the starter turns normally, the problem may be with the starter relay or the start wiring.

4. Another method involves on-bike testing, where you check the visual condition of the starter and solenoid, ensure the battery voltage is sufficient, and then use a voltmeter to check for power at the solenoid’s power input terminal while activating the starter button. If the solenoid clicks and provides a 12-volt reading, the power is being routed properly. If not, there may be a problem between the starter and the starter button.

5. Bench testing is another method, where the starter is removed from the motorcycle and connected to a fully charged battery using test leads. The push, hold, and pull tests are then performed to determine if the solenoid is in good working condition. If the starter fails any of these tests, it may need to be rebuilt or repaired.

It is important to use a known, good battery and to check the battery cables and charging system before diagnosing the starter.

MethodDescription
Method 1: Unplugging the Small WireInvolves unplugging the small wire connected to the solenoid and using a piece of wire to connect the battery positive terminal to the solenoid connector.
Method 2: On-Bike TestingInvolves visually inspecting the starter and solenoid, checking the battery voltage, and using a voltmeter to measure power at the solenoid’s input terminal while activating the starter button.
Method 3: Bench TestingInvolves removing the starter from the motorcycle and connecting it to a fully charged battery using test leads. The push, hold, and pull tests are then performed to evaluate the solenoid’s condition.

Method 1: Unplugging the Small Wire

To test the starter solenoid on your Harley, one method you can try is by unplugging the small wire connected to the solenoid. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. First, locate the small wire connected to the solenoid. It is usually a single wire connected to a terminal labeled “S” or “ST” on the solenoid.
  2. Next, carefully disconnect the small wire from the solenoid. Be sure to remember its original position.
  3. Now, take a piece of wire and connect one end to the positive terminal of your battery.
  4. With the other end of the wire, touch it to the solenoid connector where the small wire was originally connected.

If the starter turns normally when you touch the wire to the solenoid connector, it indicates that the solenoid is working fine. In this case, the problem may lie with the starter relay or the start wiring. Further diagnosis is recommended to identify and address these potential issues with your Harley’s starter system.

Remember to take necessary precautions and ensure your safety while testing the starter solenoid. Refer to your Harley’s manual or consult a professional if you are unsure about any steps or procedures.

StepDescription
1Locate the small wire connected to the solenoid
2Disconnect the small wire from the solenoid
3Connect one end of a wire to the positive terminal of the battery
4Touch the other end of the wire to the solenoid connector

By following this method, you can quickly determine if the starter solenoid is functioning correctly on your Harley motorcycle. It can help you pinpoint any issues and save you time and money by identifying potential solenoid problems early on.

Method 2: On-Bike Testing

In addition to the first method, there is another way to test the starter solenoid on your Harley. This method, known as on-bike testing, allows you to visually inspect the condition of the starter and solenoid, check the battery voltage, and measure power at the solenoid’s input terminal while activating the starter button.

To begin, first, ensure that your motorcycle is in neutral and the ignition is turned off. Next, visually inspect the starter and solenoid for any signs of damage or wear. Look for loose connections or corroded terminals that may hinder proper function.

Once you have checked the visual condition, make sure the battery voltage is sufficient. A low battery can cause starting issues and may lead to a faulty diagnosis. Use a voltmeter to measure the voltage and ensure it is within the recommended range.

With the battery voltage confirmed, it’s time to test the solenoid’s power input terminal. Activate the starter button and, at the same time, use the voltmeter to measure the voltage at the input terminal. If the solenoid clicks and provides a 12-volt reading, it indicates that the power is being routed correctly. However, if there is no click or the voltage reading is below 12 volts, there may be a problem between the starter and the starter button that requires further investigation.

Steps for On-Bike Testing
1. Ensure the motorcycle is in neutral and the ignition is turned off.
2. Visually inspect the starter and solenoid for any signs of damage or wear.
3. Check the battery voltage to ensure it is within the recommended range.
4. Use a voltmeter to measure power at the solenoid’s input terminal while activating the starter button.
5. If the solenoid clicks and provides a 12-volt reading, the power is being routed properly. If not, there may be a problem between the starter and the starter button that requires further investigation.

Method 3: Bench Testing

When it comes to testing the starter solenoid on your Harley, bench testing is a reliable method that can provide valuable insights. This technique involves removing the starter from the motorcycle and connecting it to a fully charged battery using test leads. By performing the push, hold, and pull tests, you can evaluate the solenoid’s condition and determine if it is in good working order or if it requires rebuilding or repair.

To begin the bench test, securely connect the positive battery cable to the starter’s positive terminal. Then, connect the negative battery cable to the starter’s case. With the starter properly connected to the battery, use a test lead to connect the solenoid’s small terminal to the battery positive terminal. This will activate the solenoid and allow you to perform the necessary tests.

The push test involves pushing the starter’s drive gear into the locked position. If the solenoid clicks and engages the starter’s drive gear, it indicates proper operation. The hold test requires holding the starter’s drive gear in the locked position to check if the solenoid can sustain engagement. Finally, the pull test involves pulling the starter’s drive gear away from the locked position. If the solenoid disengages smoothly and without delay, it is functioning correctly.

Bench Testing Steps:
1. Securely connect the positive battery cable to the starter’s positive terminal.
2. Connect the negative battery cable to the starter’s case.
3. Use a test lead to connect the solenoid’s small terminal to the battery positive terminal.
4. Perform the push, hold, and pull tests to evaluate the solenoid’s condition.

By following these bench testing steps, you can accurately assess the functionality of the starter solenoid on your Harley. Remember to use a known, good battery and check the battery cables and charging system before conducting any diagnosis. It is essential to ensure the proper functioning of all components to avoid misdiagnosis and unnecessary repairs or replacements. Take your time with the testing process and refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for additional support if needed.

Additional Considerations and Recommendations

When testing the starter solenoid on your Harley, there are a few additional considerations and recommendations to keep in mind. These can help ensure a more accurate diagnosis and avoid unnecessary repairs or replacements.

First and foremost, it is crucial to use a known, good battery during the testing process. A weak or faulty battery can affect the performance of the solenoid and lead to inaccurate results. So, before starting any tests, make sure your battery is fully charged and in good working order.

Furthermore, it’s essential to check the battery cables and charging system for any signs of damage or corrosion. Faulty cables or a malfunctioning charging system can affect the power supply to the solenoid, resulting in false readings or performance issues. Ensure all connections are tight, clean, and free from any debris.

Lastly, we strongly recommend conducting a thorough diagnosis before making any repairs or replacements. While testing the starter solenoid can help identify potential issues, it’s vital to rule out other possible causes of starting problems. Make sure to inspect the ignition switch, starter button, and wiring connections to ensure they are in proper working condition.

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