1994 FLSTC Ignition problem (recurring)

Discussion in 'Electrical' started by txhogasm, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. txhogasm

    txhogasm New Member

    Recurring issue since I purchased my Heritage Classic in 1994:

    Starter switch is engaged, but no start; It clicks, but will not engage the starter. I have replaced the ignition switch 7 times (4 OEM starters, 3 after-market).

    Battery is fully charged
    Bike will push start
    No problems once engine is running
    Bike will start when engine is hot (short-term turnoffs such as gas stops)
    Lot's of Iron-Butt miles (165K+)

    Suggestions? Thanks!

  2. glider

    glider Veteran Member

    The clicking could be a number of things like bad connection on the battery (remove clean and reinstall), starter or the solenoid contacts themselves. It could also be in the wiring in the form of corrosion in a plug. When it is in this condition is the time to trouble shoot the problem.
  3. Doc 1

    Doc 1 Member

    Starter relay....
  4. 100.000Miles

    100.000Miles New Member

    1995 FLSTC with exact same ignition problem. Two plus years of dealing with it. Always starts if it is push started, will usually start on it's own all day if I get it going once. Harley remanufactured motor at 87,000 installed by dealer. Currently just over 100,000 miles.

    Battery is good, two new starters, one starter rebuild, selinoid (sp) replaced, battery cables checked, ground wire cleaned and checked. Next idea is to replace cables - maybe a short? Any suggestions are welcomed.
  5. dangerdan

    dangerdan Junior Member

    Sounds like a solenoid issue.
    I had the same problem last year. With my brother- inlaws help we took out the starter and solenoid.

    On the starter solenoid plunger there are 2 large copper contacts, both were badly pitted. As long as contact was made on the non pitted portion, the bike started every time, but if it hit a bad spot ,it would only click. Come back 30 minutes later and it would start .?????????????????
    Once the solenoid was replaced , bike started like a charm everytime.

    Other things to look for are worn brushes and a badly worn commutator on the starter. Brushes can be replaced and the commutator can be filed down, at best the filing is a temp fix...Time for a new starter.
    Make sure to clean all high amp connections, using only high quality lock/star washers.
  6. glider

    glider Veteran Member

    Sounds like you cleaned and checked BOTH ends of BOTH cables but it also sounds like a resistance problem with the cables themselves. Possibly a replacement is in order considering the age/miles.
  7. harleygnuya

    harleygnuya New Member

    Sounds so familiar. This problem first showed up on my (now) 100k 1995 FLSTC over three years ago on a trip. Bought a new solenoid, starter relay, battery, none of which helped. Over the years had it looked at by several dealers to no avail. Finally just carried a length of 12 awg wire with me to shunt from ignition relay to starter solenoid (green wire), and that seemed to get me started.

    Usually, once it was running and I shut it down after riding some, I could get it started, but still often had to use shunt wire. Only thing that saved me during this time was that I had long before rewired my ignition switch so that I could run without the headlight, so I could start without that drain on my battery.

    Finally got so bad even the shunt wouldn't work. Checked the voltage on the battery (another brand new one) and discovered it wasn't fully charged. The light turned on in my head and I thought maybe it's a charging problem.

    Did the normal things of checking voltages at various points in the starter circuit and this verified that my starter wiring was OK. Then did a load test on the charging circuit, which indicated I wasn't charging.

    Checked the voltage regulator and it was OK, so then checked the alternator stator. It was grounded, which it should not be. Replaced the stator and it now starts like it was brand new.

    Here's how to check your stator. Unplug the voltage regulator from the stator. There's a two-conductor wire that runs from the regulator to the front of the engine case on the left side of engine. Unplug that plug.

    First, measure the resistance between the two terminals in the socket (on the engine case). It should be low, but there should be some resistance, not quite zero. This indicates that your stator wiring is not broken. An open circuit here means you need to replace the stator.

    If this checks out OK, then measure the resistance between each of the two conductors in the socket and ground. In both cases, this should be an open circuit (infinite resistance). If either shows low or no resistance, your stator is grounding and needs to be replaced.

    Hope this helps,

  8. TQuentin1

    TQuentin1 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator


    OK, I think you are saying that you HAVE done this, but if not, open up the grip housing and dissassemble, clean, lube and reassemble the ON/OFF switch and the START switch. My '91 had a similar set of symptoms, and I messed around for too long on the hard stuff BEFORE I checked the switches. They were all corroded. Once cleaned up, no more problems. I am changing out those wire harnesses and switches when I rebuild this bike for sure.