7 Harley Davidson 96 Engine Problems (Tips From Experts)

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The Harley Davidson 96 cubic inch engine was introduced in 2007. Motorcycle enthusiasts love it for its power and rumble.

Harley Davidson 96 Engine Problems

However, like any high-performance engine, it has some problems. So, addressing issues promptly can make or break the experience.

In this article, I’ll show you the most common problems of Harley Davidson 96 engines, and provide you their solutions.

Let’s begin!

Most Common Harley 96 Engine Problems

Harley Davidson 96 engine common problems are oil pump failure, cam chain tensioner failure, RPM increases unexpectedly, gasket leaks, starter problems, clutch failure, and bearings failure. 

1. Oil Pump Failure

One of the common problems is the oil pump failure. This is like when your heart has trouble pumping blood around your body. 

The oil pump’s job is to keep oil flowing through the engine, much like your heart pumps blood. 

If the oil pump fails, the engine will not get enough oil. Without oil, the engine parts can start to rub against each other, causing damage and the engine breaking down.

Some studies and surveys indicate that problems can start to occur around the 30,000-40,000 mile mark. 

For example, after walking a huge distance, say from New York to San Francisco, your shoes might start to wear out and need replacing. 

2. Cam Chain Tensioner Failure

The cam chain tensioner is a small but important traffic controller inside your Harley 96 engine. 

Its job is to keep the engine’s cam chain running smoothly and at the right speed; which helps control when your engine’s valves open and close. 

It’s like the coordinator inside a school making sure each teacher starts and ends their classes on time.

But sometimes, the cam chain tensioner can fail; leading to problems in the engine’s combustion cycles. 

It can cause your engine to lose power and, in the worst-case scenario, can cause serious engine damage.

When you are facing this problem; you can replace the faulty tensioner with a new one. It’s a bit like getting a new coordinator for the school when the previous one retires. 

3. Internal Bearing Failure

One issue that many users have come across is an internal bearing failure. This is a bit like having a bicycle with a wobbly wheel. 

The ‘bearings’ in your engine are like the little balls that let your bicycle wheel spin smoothly. 

When these start to break down, your engine wheel gets wobbly, leading to some serious problems.

Here is a process to resolve the bearings problem:

  1. First, you’ve figured out if the internal bearing is really the problem. Listen for a loud or unusual noise from the engine, especially when you rev it up. 
  2. Then you’ll need a ‘bearing puller’ to remove the faulty bearing. And a new bearing will cost around $40-$60.
  3. Remove the faulty bearing and replace it with the new one. 

4. RPMs Increase Unexpectedly

The 96 engine sometimes has a problem where the (RPMs) increase all of a sudden. 

When the RPMs increase unexpectedly, it’s like the engine starts sprinting when it should just be jogging. 

One common cause is a glitch in the Throttle Position Sensor (TPS), it’s a small device that tells the engine how hard to work based on the position of the throttle.

If the TPS is broken or not working properly, it can send the wrong signals, and cause the engine to rev up unexpectedly.

In order to fix the problem you’ll need to replace or recalibrate the TPS. However, you should have a qualified mechanic look at the bike to make sure this is the real problem.

5. Gasket Leaks

Gasket leaks are akin to having a drippy faucet that just won’t stop. These gaskets are like seals, and when they fail, oil can leak out. 

It’s a common problem, but not one that should be ignored because this engine oil is like the lifeblood of your motorcycle. 

You can recognize a gasket leak by spotting oil drips beneath your parked motorcycle or if your engine oil level goes down quicker than it should. 

Also, your engine might run hotter than usual. To fix this issue, it’s usually a two-step process. 

First, you’ll need to identify the faulty gasket. This engine has several gaskets, including ones for the cylinder head, rocker cover, and base gasket.

The second step is replacing the faulty gasket. This job is a bit like completing a difficult puzzle and might require some special tools. 

To give you an idea of the cost, you might be looking at $200-$400, depending on which gasket is leaking and the labor involved. 

6. Starter Problems

Starter problems are also common issues with 96 engines and they can prevent your motorcycle from starting up properly. 

One of the main causes is a weak or dead battery; your motorcycle’s battery should maintain a minimum of 12.6 volts. If it’s less than that, you may need to charge or replace it.

Another issue could be a faulty starter relay, it’s a small device that sends power to the starter motor. 

It’s a bit like a messenger carrying an important letter. If the relay isn’t working, the ‘letter’ (electric power) never gets to the ‘recipient’ (starter motor), and the engine won’t start. 

The relay should make a clicking noise when you turn the key. If it doesn’t, you should replace the stator.

Finally, there may be a problem with the starter solenoid, it’s a larger device that receives power from the relay and activates the starter motor. 

This is like the ‘delivery guy’ who hands the ‘letter’ (electric power) to the ‘recipient’ (starter motor). 

If the solenoid is faulty, it’s like the ‘delivery guy’ losing the ‘letter’ or dropping it at the wrong address.

7. Clutch Problems

Sometimes the Harley 96 has clutch problems; the clutch might not work properly. You might feel a jerk or a sudden change when you try to switch gears.

A common reason is that the clutch might be worn out, and you’ll need to replace it. So, you’ll need to get a new clutch part and swap it with the old one. 

The clutch cable might also need adjusting. Imagine it like a loose brake wire on a bicycle; you just need to tighten it up until it feels right.

You can also check out the Harley 88 engine, 103 engine, 107 engine, 110 engine, 114 engine, 117 engine, 120R engine, 131 engine and Evolution engine Problems.

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