Harley 117 Engine Problems That You Must Know Before Buying

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The Harley Davidson 117 cubic inch (1,923 cc) engine, part of the Twin-Cooled Milwaukee Eight engine series, is Harley’s most powerful factory-installed engine in their CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) models.

Harley 117 Engine Problems

Like all engines, it might encounter some issues. Many users have faced different problems with this engine in the last few years, and here we will intensely discuss those issues and their solutions.

Let’s dive into:

What are common problems with the Harley 117 Engine?

Here, we have compiled all the issues that users complained about, but some might be due to lack of maintenance and several other factors.

Harley 117 Engine Problems

However, some problems are due to manufacturing defects, which are required to be addressed by Harley Davidson. 

1. Oil Consumption

The oil consumption issue signifies that the engine is burning more oil than it ideally should. It can manifest in a few ways, such as visible exhaust smoke, reduced engine power, or refilling your oil more frequently. 

Several underlying factors could cause this problem, including worn-out piston rings, a malfunctioning PCV valve, or a clogged air filter. 

You should check and replace the air filter if required to address these issues. If the problem persists, consider having the PCV valve inspected and replaced by a professional mechanic. 

If neither solution resolves the problem, you may need to have your piston rings examined and replaced. However, remember that this is a more involved and potentially costly procedure.

In some cases, the oil consumption issue may be caused by excessive blow-by gases resulting from poor piston ring clearance or cylinder wall glazing. These issues can often be fixed with a simple honing procedure or replacement of worn-out parts.

Another common culprit of high oil consumption is a faulty valve seal. In this case, you may notice blue smoke coming out of the exhaust, especially upon starting your bike after sitting for a while.

It is due to oil leaking into the combustion chamber and being burned off. Replace the valve seal to fix the problem.

Related: Harley 110 Engine Problems

2. Excessive Heat

The heat issue is often a result of the engine working harder than usual, leading to excess heat generation. The primary causes can be a poorly tuned engine, inappropriate oil usage and an obstructed cooling system. 

These problems can lead to suboptimal performance and, in severe cases, engine damage.

Harley 117 Engine Problems

To address these issues, first, ensure your engine is tuned correctly. A well-tuned engine operates efficiently, reducing excess heat production. 

Secondly, ensure you use the correct oil per the manufacturer’s recommendation. High-quality oil with the proper viscosity can significantly improve heat dissipation. 

Ensure there are no blockages or leaks in the cooling system. A fully functioning cooling system is crucial to maintaining an optimal operating temperature.

3. Vibration

The vibration issue mainly occurs from unbalanced rotating assemblies, which can cause undue stress on the engine components, leading to premature failure.

It could be due to improperly aligned parts and uneven wear and tear. To fix this issue, it’s essential first to identify the source of the imbalance. 

It could involve inspecting the engine components for any signs of excessive wear or misalignment. If any parts are faulty or out of alignment, they should be replaced or realigned as needed. 

The vibration issue in Harley 117 engines can result in frustration and discomfort for you. It not only affects the overall riding experience, but it can also lead to more severe problems if addressed.

That’s why it’s crucial to understand the root cause of this issue and take appropriate measures to fix it.

One of the main reasons behind the vibration issue is the use of aftermarket parts not designed for these engines. 

These parts may not be compatible with the engine’s specifications, leading to imbalance and excessive vibration.

It’s always recommended to use genuine Harley parts or those specifically designed for your engine model to avoid such issues.

4. Camshaft Issues

Camshaft issues in the 117 engine can significantly affect the engine’s performance, often causing irregular acceleration, poor fuel economy, or even leading to engine failure. 

These problems typically occur from excessive wear and tear on the camshaft’s lobes, often due to poor oil maintenance or high mileage. 

To rectify it, replacing the worn camshaft with a new one is generally the most effective solution.

Harley 117 Engine Problems

Always ensure that your engine is well lubricated to minimize wear and tear, and consider periodic inspections and preventive maintenance to catch potential issues early on.

However, camshaft issues can also be caused by faulty components such as the lifters and rocker arms.

These parts work in tandem with the camshaft, and any malfunction can damage it. Therefore, it is vital to regularly check and replace these components as needed to avoid further damage.

5. Starter Issues

Starting a Harley 117 engine should be easy and smooth, but unfortunately, starter issues can sometimes get in the way.

Starter issues with the Harley 117 engine typically manifest as difficulties or delays in starting the motorcycle.

It can be due to various factors, such as a faulty starter motor, a weak battery, or a problematic ignition switch. 

To fix these issues:

  • Inspect the battery to ensure it is fully charged and capable of delivering sufficient power.
  • If the battery is satisfactory, move on to the starter motor and ignition switch.
  • Check for wear or damage and consider replacement if necessary. 

6. Transmission Problems

Issues with the transmission can result in rough shifting and a slipping transmission that can occur from inadequate fluid levels, worn-out gears, and even damaged bearings.

To fix these problems, it’s crucial first to identify the source of the problem. In cases where fluid levels are low, the solution is often as simple as replenishing the transmission fluid.

For worn-out gears, a complete replacement may be necessary. If bearings are the culprits, seeking a professional mechanic’s assistance is advised, as this requires specialized tools and expertise. 

But what about more severe transmission issues, like gear slipping and complete failure? In these cases, the problem may lie in the clutch system.

The clutch engages and disengages power from the engine to the transmission, allowing you to shift gears smoothly.

A worn-out or damaged clutch can result in difficulty shifting gears, grinding noises, and even engine stalling.

If you experience these symptoms, it’s essential to get your clutch system checked and repaired by a professional mechanic immediately. 


Many Harley 117 engine users face oil consumption issues, which results in excessive oil consumption. You can fix it by replacing the piston ring and PCV valve. 

Some users complain about the excessive heat production from the Harley 117 engine, which could be due to a lack of engine tuning.

Sometimes, you may face vibration issues, which could be due to misalignment of parts, and you should replace or realign them earlier. 


How much HP does a Harley 117 have?

The Harley Davidson 117, the company’s most significant displacement for the Twin Cam models, delivers approximately 105 horsepower.

This powerful engine, combined with the bike’s superior design and construction, offers riders exceptional performance and ride quality.

What is the difference between Harley 117 and Indian 116?

The primary difference between the Harley 117 and the Indian 116 lies in engine configurations and performance.

Harley-Davidson’s 117 engine, found in their high-end CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) models, boasts a displacement of 117 cubic inches and features high-performance camshafts, intake, and a high-flow exhaust.

On the other hand, the Indian 116, available in select models like the Indian Chief, provides a displacement of 116 cubic inches.

While slightly smaller, it compensates with its Stage 3 Big Bore Kit, significantly enhancing the bike’s overall power and responsiveness.

Is the Harley 117 engine reliable?

Yes, the Harley 117 engine is known for its reliability. It showcases Harley Davidson’s dedication to delivering high-performance and durable machines.

With its high displacement, the 117 engine provides a robust and smooth ride, while its quality construction ensures long-term durability. 

You can also check out the Harley 88 engine, 96 engine, 103 engine, 107 engine, 110 engine, 114 engine, 120R engine, 131 engine and Evolution engine Problems.

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