Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems (Solutions by Experts)

The Harley Davidson 103 is a reliable and performance-packed motorcycle that offers enhanced comfort for riders seeking a comfortable, long-lasting experience. The 2007 to 2013 model of the bike features a powerful 1690 cc engine, high-performance dual disc rear brakes, six-speed transmission, and many other impressive features. However, what are the Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems?

The Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems include engine overheating, crankshaft, engine noise, and hard shifting. You must know the problems to help you find a better way to fix them for the best performance.

Apart from the problems, you have nothing to lose with investing in the bike. The Harley Davidson 103 is designed with a strong engine that can cruise at high speeds while still delivering impressive fuel efficiency. In addition, its comfortable design lets you focus on the joy of biking without letting the weather disturb your ride.

Overview Of Harley Davidson 103 Engine

The 103 engine is part of the bigger, stronger, cooler generation of Harley Davidson engines. The 103 is a 1690cc air-cooled, pushrod V Twin that delivers ample power while reaching more than 45 mpg on the highway.Harley Davidson 103 Engine overview

An Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection system ensures perfect fuel atomization and delivery for crisp throttle response. And internal full-pressure lubrication with a high-volume oil pump keeps all the moving parts cool and running smoothly over the long haul.

Also, the Harley-Davidson 103 engine produces more torque, giving you the power, you need in reserve. The new engine is equipped with sophisticated Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) that takes full advantage of the airbox design and tuned intake to produce more torque and horsepower.

The ESPFI also contributes to cleaner exhaust emissions. And the entire system is fine-tuned to deliver the ideal air/fuel mixture at all throttle settings.

In addition, the stunning 103 engine has been a staple of Harley Davidson for the last 25 years. The 103 is the only engine that has served on the Sportster, Softail, and Touring model families. It is highly sought-after because it provides low-end torque with robust midrange power.

Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems and Their Solutions

Harley Davidson engines have a reputation for building the best motorcycle engine globally. But not a welcome reputation in all cases, because these very same engines are known to develop several problems.Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems

Below are some of the problems you can face with the Harley Davidson 103 Engine.

Engine Overheating

Engine overheating is one of the main technical issues encountered by Harley 103 engine motorcycle owners. Several problems can cause the issue, including leaking head gaskets, cylinder-base o-ring blowout, a worn-out water pump, or fan failure.

When there is an overheating problem with your Harley 103 engine, a head gasket could be the reason for it. It’s known that 103 engines leak at the base of the cylinder heads, and due to the vibration, it’s possible that the head gaskets can rupture or blow out.

Also, the overheating can be an issue with the coolant leaking, and it could lead to a serious problem if not fixed immediately. Finally, engine overheating can be a very serious problem, causing possible damage to your engine. There are many reasons why you would have an engine overheating, and fortunately, most of them are easy to solve.

The right way to resolve the problem is to check the water temperature gauge and determine if the engine is overheating. If it is, you should fix it. Likewise, if the coolant is leaking, you should also fix it by sealing the leaking area before adding a new coolant.

In addition, if it is the cause of a bad head gasket, you might have to replace it with a new one. But, again, the best decision is to get your mechanic to investigate and fix the issue for you.

Crankshaft Issue

The Harley Davidson 103 engine can develop problems. One of the most common is a crankshaft issue. In addition, the engine will backfire if one does not stay on top of proper maintenance.Harley Davidson Crankshaft issue

The 103-engine crankshaft, also known as the connecting rod, is widely considered the major weak point of Harley Davidson’s 103 engine. This failure can damage the entire lower end of the motorcycle requiring extensive repairs.

However, when it comes to the crankshaft itself, one of the most common issues is the incorrect positioning of the crankshaft position sensor. Suppose this sensor is not wound onto the core properly. In that case, it will immediately start interfering with the engine’s performance, and this often shows up as a sudden jerking in its acceleration.

On the other hand, if the sensor is placed onto the core but is too loose, it will lose power on its acceleration while idling. Other problems with the crankshaft include oil leakage issues near each main bearing or poor lubrication that ends in premature wear and tear on all of your bearings.

If a crankshaft issue causes a major problem with the Harley Davidson engine, you need to get the motorbike to your mechanic for proper fixing.

Clogged carburetors

A clogged carburetor can be very frustrating. The Harley-Davidson 103 cubic engines will have the same problems if they are not cleaned or given proper maintenance. Harley-Davidson owners can face multiple issues, such as clogged idle jets and worn-out valves.Harley Davidson Clogged Carburetors

While clogged carburetors are a serious issue that should be dealt with immediately, other issues may cause similar symptoms. But with the clogged carburetors, the engine will not get adequate fuel to operate.

The right way to solve this issue is to remove the carburetor and wash it to remove the dirt and all other things that get it clogged. If the damage on the carburetor is beyond cleaning, you have to remove and replace it with a new one.

Worn Clutch Plates

One major problem with the new Harley Davidson 103 engine is the clutch. When the clutch plates get worn out, the bike loses power as the clutch slips at high speed. Also, vibrations can be felt on the handlebar when the clutch plates are not working properly and slip a lot.

Hence, you must get your Harley motorcycle checked regularly to ensure safety and avoid these problems. Also, worn clutch plates will mean that the clutch will not stay engaged, which could be dangerous.

Therefore, installing an aftermarket clutch such as a Kevlar clutch with high strength, rigidity, and fracture resistance can help with this problem. However, there are many other aftermarket clutches that you can consider in the market.

Hard Shifting Issue

The most common problem with the Harley Davidson 103 is the hard shifting issue. If you are experiencing hard-shifting issues with your Harley-Davidson Touring model, it could result from a bad clutch cable or low transmission fluid level.

Additionally, improper clutch cable and shift linkage adjustments can also cause this issue. Therefore, the first thing you need to check if your bike is experiencing difficult shifting is the clutch condition.

Look at the clutch plates; ensure they are not coated with sludge. Also, check the clutch cables. Make sure they are not too tight or too loose and working properly. If the issue persists, you should get to your mechanic to fix the issue.

How Long Will A 103 Harley Engine Last?

The 103 Harley engine will last as long as it is taken care of. Keeping the engine maintained, clean, and checked regularly is the key to keeping it running. If you plan on any maintenance or fixing yourself, be sure to study up and know what you are doing before proceeding.

The bottom line is that the way you use the machine will determine the engine’s health and how long it will last or serve you.

Regular Maintenance Tips to Make Your Harley-Davidson 103 Engine Last Longer

You should keep up with a regular maintenance schedule can help to prevent future problems. It is also an important factor in retaining the value of your motorcycle in case you want to let go of it or trade it in later on.Maintenance Tips for Harley-Davidson 103 engine

Here are effective ways to maintain your Harley Davidson to make its engine last longer.

Use the Right Engine Oil.

Use the right engine oil. The best way to know the right engine oil for your machine is to check the owner’s manual to find the right type of oil for your motorcycle. Then, ask the salesperson at a Harley-Davidson dealership or an independent motorcycling shop what type of oil to use.

Harley-Davidson recommends engine oil with a viscosity of 20w50. The w stands for winter and refers to the low-temperature cranking characteristics. A lower number means it will flow easier at colder temperatures.

So, 20w50 is the recommended viscosity, but you can use a 10w40 in hot weather if that is all that is available where you are.

Use the Right Gas

Use the right gas. Harley-Davidson motorcycles run on premium unleaded gasoline, with a minimum posted octane rating of 91. Avoid oxygenated fuel, as it can damage your engine.

Harley-Davidson engines are designed to be operated at high speeds. Therefore, unleaded gasoline is recommended with an octane rating of 91 or higher. If you are unsure about the gas to use, you can always consult your mechanic for the best advice.

Service the Motorcycle

Ensure all motorcycle servicing is done through a qualified technician who can quickly and safely. Use Harley-Davidson engine oil and change the filter every 5,000 miles. Follow the specified intervals for oil changes in your owner’s manual.

Keep coolant at the correct level and change it when dirty or contaminated. Check tire pressure often to keep them at the recommended levels. There are many things you need to do with servicing, and it is best to allow your mechanic to do the task for you.


While the Harley Davidson motorcycle is one of the best in the market, you should expect it to malfunction once you start failing to care or carry out the right maintenance measures. So, this page covers the Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems you can face and ways you can fix the issues.

Some problems can easily be fixed with little action, while some are advanced and require an expert’s service. Overall, I suggest you always allow your mechanic to attend to any work to fix your motorcycle.

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