Last weekend, I was ready for a highway ride, but my motorcycle was not starting. It was a frustrating moment because my friends were waiting for the ride.
Are you also in the same situation? I can feel your frustration level.
It becomes more frustrating if a motorcycle won’t start in the middle of a ride and no mechanic is around.
In this guide, we’ll discuss some common reasons why a motorcycle won’t start and how we can fix them in the first place.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are The Reasons Why A Motorcycle Won’t Start?
- 2 Conclusion
What Are The Reasons Why A Motorcycle Won’t Start?
Several causes might stop your motorcycle engine from starting. The culprit could be from mechanical to electrical systems. In this guide, I have covered everything in-depth.
Let’s find out the culprits and fix them…
1. No Gas
The most obvious reason why your motorcycle won’t start is that it’s out of gas. However, it’s a very basic thing everyone knows. The bike engine runs on fuel, not on knowledge.
Check your fuel gauge and ensure enough gas is in the tank. If the tank is empty, fill it up with fresh fuel and try starting your motorcycle again.
Symptoms of no gas: If no gas is in the fuel tank, your motorcycle will start, and the engine will shut off immediately.
How to fix it: Refill your gas tank.
2. Kill Switch
The kill switch is designed to stop your motorcycle’s engine in an emergency. It cuts off the current supply to the ignition coil, and your motorcycle won’t start.
If you accidentally hit the kill switch or it’s stuck in the on position, your bike won’t start. Check the switch and make sure it’s in the correct position. Also, a bad kill switch will not let you start the engine.
Symptoms of bad kill switch: If your motorcycle kill switch is on, the engine will not crank. It happens because the ignition coil doesn’t supply current to the spark plug.
How to fix it: Turn off the kill switch and listen if the fuel pump starts. If not, replace the kill switch yourself or visit a mechanic shop.
3. Bad Spark Plug
The spark plug ignites the fuel in combustion chamber. If it’s faulty, your bike won’t start. If you’re in the middle of a ride, remove the spark plug, clean the tip with a cloth, and install it back.
If your spark plug isn’t damaged, cleaning the electrode will start your engine. If it’s damaged or has any sign of wear and tear, please replace it with a new one.
Symptoms of a bad spark plug: The spark plug will not ignite the air-fuel mixture, and your engine won’t start. You’ll hear a cranking sound, but the engine will not start.
How to fix it: Remove the spark plug from your cylinder head and clean the electrode with a cloth.
Touch the spark plug’s outer ring (which works as a negative terminal) with the engine’s metal part and press the start button. If no sparks are visible, it means your spark plug is faulty and needs to be replaced.
4. Current Leakage
A motorcycle starter requires 12V DC power to crank the engine, but if there is current leakage in your electrical system, it won’t start the motorcycle.
Any aftermarket accessories could be the culprit. So, inspect everything and fix all the electrical connections.
Generally, current leaks from your motorcycle spark plug wire. So, inspect the spark plug wire; if there is any crack, please replace that. A cracked wire could lead to an exhaust misfire.
Symptoms of current leakage: When you press the start button, your motorcycle engine will start partially and then shut off. It also creates exhaust misfires, and your motorcycle seems to lose power.
How to fix it: Inspect all the electrical connections and replace the spark plug wire.
5. Dead Battery
A motorcycle starter takes initial power for cranking from the battery. If your motorcycle’s battery is dead, it won’t have enough power to start the engine.
You can jumpstart your motorcycle with a car battery or charge it with a charger. If the battery is over 2 years old, it may be damaged, and you should replace it.
Many people think a motorcycle can run without a battery, but that’s untrue. Modern motorcycles have ECU that requires external power to function properly. I have already published a guide on this topic.
Symptoms of dead battery: When your battery is totally discharged, the motorcycle engine will not start, and no instrument cluster lights will glow.
Moreover, you get a check engine light for low battery voltage. You can also read the battery voltage with a multimeter and ensure it supplies a minimum of 12V when you press the start button.
How to fix it: Recharge your battery with a 12V charger or replace it if it’s older than two years. You can also jumpstart your motorcycle with another vehicle. I have published a detailed guide on jumpstarting a motorcycle with a car.
6. Corroded Battery Terminals
Terminal corrosion is a common problem with AGM batteries. It happens because of hydrogen gas formation during the chemical reaction. The hydrogen gas finds a way to escape and reacts with terminals.
A corroded battery terminal can prevent your motorcycle’s battery from delivering power to the engine. Clean the terminals with a wire brush and securely fasten them to the battery.
Symptoms of corroded battery terminals: A visible layer of carbon and rust will be seen when you open the battery cover.
How to fix it: Clean the corrosion and carbon build-up with sandpaper and tighten the screw properly.
7. Bad Starter
The electrical starter rotates the engine when you hit the starter button. If it’s faulty, your motorcycle won’t start. To fix this, you must visit a mechanic garage to repair or replace the starter motor.
If your motorcycle has a kickstart lever, please use that for initial cranking. Otherwise, ask someone for help to bump start your motorcycle.
I have published a detailed guide on starting a motorcycle with a bad starter; please read that.
Symptoms of a bad starter: Your starter motor will not respond when you press the start button. You’ll also hear a slow tik-tik sound from the motorcycle starter.
How to fix it: If your motorcycle has a kickstart lever, please start the engine with that. Else, take someone’s help to bump-start the engine. Once your motorcycle is started, please visit a mechanic shop to get it repaired or replaced.
8. Blown Fuse
Motorcycle manufacturers provide fuse to prevent major electrical failure. If the current flow exceeds the designed value, the fuse melts and cuts off the supply to prevent circuit damage.
So, a blown fuse could be another reason your motorcycle is not starting. If no lights glow when you turn on the ignition key, it’s the first sign that your main fuse is blown. Inspect the fuse and replace the blown fuse to start your motorcycle.
Click here to read my other guide on motorcycle fuse. I have explained everything in detail.
Symptoms of a blown fuse: When you turn on the ignition key, no lights will glow on the instrument cluster. Also, your starter will not respond when pressing the start button.
How to fix it: Open the fuse box and find the blown fuse. If there is a spare fuse of the same amperage rating, please replace that. You can also short the fuse with thin naked wire temporarily.
9. Clogged Fuel Line
The gas from your motorcycle tank passes through a pipe to fuse injection or carburetor. If your motorcycle sits too long, dust or debris clogs the fuel line and prevents gas flow. When your carburetor doesn’t receive any fuel, it passes only oxygen to the combustion chamber.
Due to the absence of fuel, your motorcycle engine doesn’t produce any power. So, if your motorcycle is not starting, inspect the fuel line. Clean it with compressed air or replace the pipe if it’s clogged. I would advise you to go to a mechanic garage.
Symptoms of clogged fuel line: Either your motorcycle will not start, or the engine will immediately shut off. Also, you might feel your motorcycle is losing power while accelerating.
How to fix it: Clean the fuel line with compressed air or replace the fuel supply pipe.
10. Clogged Air Filter
The presence of oxygen is very important for combustion. All motorcycles have an air filter that removes dust particles before supplying to the carburetor.
If your motorcycle is sitting for more than six months, there is a high chance that the air filter is clogged.
A clogged air filter doesn’t supply sufficient oxygen to the combustion chamber, and fuel doesn’t burn. As a result, your motorcycle won’t start.
Click here to know when to replace a motorcycle air filter.
Symptoms of a clogged air filter: Your motorcycle will create problems in starting. It stalls when you accelerate the throttle bar. Also, you’ll see black/white smoke from your exhaust pipe.
How to fix it: If you haven’t replaced your air filter on the last service, please clean or replace it to get maximum power from the engine.
11. Dirty Carburetor
Older motorcycles have a carburetor system that automizes fuel hydrocarbons and mixes them with air. However, modern motorcycles don’t have a carburetor.
If the carburetor is dirty (the nozzle is clogged), it won’t mix the fuel with the air, and your motorcycle engine creates a starting problem.
Symptoms that your motorcycle is too cold: If your engine doesn’t rev when you press the start button or stops after a few seconds, it indicates your carburetor is dirty.
How to fix it: If you don’t know how a carburetor works, please visit the nearest mechanic shop to get it cleaned by a professional.
12. Too Cold
If your motorcycle has a carburetor and you live in a cold place, you might struggle to start your motorcycle engine.
It happens because the gasoline freezes into the carburetor and won’t mix with air properly. Generally, this problem doesn’t occur with a fuel-injected engine.
Symptoms that your motorcycle is too cold: When you press the start button, your engine will sound like it’s attempting to start, but the turning sound feels slightly slower than normal. Also, your engine will feel too cold from the outside.
How to fix it: If you have a space heater, please blow the hot air around the carburetor and engine for at least 20 minutes. Once frozen gasoline melts, your motorcycle will start in the next few try.
13. Seized Engine
Can you imagine the temperature of the combustion chamber? It reaches over 1500°C to 2000°C during the power stroke. There should be sufficient arrangements for heat dissipation for the engine’s proper functioning.
Engine heats dissipates by various medium such as fins, radiator, engine oil, etc. The heat dissipates via extended fins and engine oil if your motorcycle is air-cooled.
But, if there is no engine oil, the combustion chamber overheats, and the piston will expand and block movement. This condition is popularly known as a seized engine. If your motorcycle engine is sized, it won’t start at all.
Symptoms of a seized engine: Your starter motor will not rev and make a brief clicking noise, then make a humming sound. The electrical starter will heat up, and the main fuse might blow if the engine is seized.
How to fix it: You need to visit the nearest mechanic shop to fix the problem. Repairing a seized engine at home is next to impossible because it requires various tools.
These are some common reasons why a motorcycle won’t start when you press the start button. These are some easy methods to fix the starting problem of any motorcycle. If your motorcycle is started, please let me know which solution worked for you.
I hope you found this guide helpful. Enjoy a hassle-free ride!