Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems With Solutions Discussed

Harley Davidson introduces a new engine almost every ten years. Following it they brought the Harley Davidson 103 engine in the last part of the 20th century. It enabled the manufacturer to make its motorcycles bigger and better with the powerful Harley 103 engine. 

This V-twin engine is one of the jewels of the crown in Harley’s long lineup of formidable engines. However, it has seen a few concerning issues since its introduction. So, we will talk about Harley Davidson 103 engine problems to see its performance. It will help you decide whether or not you should own a Harley motorcycle with the 103 engine. 

The main problems of Harley 103 engines include an increase in heat during long rides, noisy riding experience, loss of the crankshaft, and failing to start correctly. Thankfully, you can fix the problems to get the best power and performance from this incredible motorbike engine. 

Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems

What Is A Harley Davidson 103 Engine?

What Is A Harley Davidson 103 Engine

Harley Davidson 103 is a very popular engine series from Harley Davidson; it is also called the Twin Cam engine for its special powerful thrust. It was first launched in 1998 and continued till 2017-2018. There are other engine series too in Harley Davidson bikes, but this is very popular for its twin cams valve-train. 

For this kind of extra power output, this engine became the stock engine at Harley Davidson. It is a perfect bike engine for Softail and Touring bikes that generate up to 120 mph, and they made it the stock version too. From the external view, the bike engine is larger than other cruiser bikes; the engine is very powerful. 

The improved capacity of the engine enabled it to deliver more energy for the bigger touring bikes. Also, with a continuous upgrade in its displacement capacity and torque, the engine has become a much sought-after inclusion for most touring bikes. 

In fact, many experts say that the 103 V-Twin engine has revived the fame of Harley in the first decade of the 21st century. It happened due to the outstanding consistency and performance of the engine. 

Nonetheless, the engine has gone through a few minor problems over the years. It includes heating problems, a less effective cooling system, and failure to start, mostly. The engineering team of Harley has addressed the problems and made a necessary adjustment to the engine to fix it. 

As a result, you will enjoy the improved performance from the engine with your Harley touring and cruiser series. 


What Are The Features Of The Harley Davidson 103 Engine?

What Are The Features Of The Harley Davidson 103 Engine

Due to mechanical and power issues, the Harley Davidson 103 engine is a unique One. It is truly a different type of engine that other bikes do not use. It is a great invention where you will notice that many things are different from other bike engines. 

Advanced Braking System

Harley Davidson bikes use Advanced Braking System, which is quite different from other motorcycles; these are perfect for cruiser bikes based on their shape and engine type. Harley 103 engine is a powerful twin cam that needs a stable braking system. The brakes handle the engine power into a stop with the double disc braking system. 

Use Of Base Gasket

Use Of Base Gasket

Leaking in the base gasket is a common issue in bikes here. Harley Davidson uses Base Gasket that prevents leaking, and the adjustment of the Crankcase is durable enough to keep you hassle-free for years. It also makes the maintenance of the engine straightforward and affordable. 

Improved Push-Butter Seals

The Push-butter Seal are used in Harley Davidson bikes where you can stay free from oil leak problems. Now the seals are more flexible and light to manage the powerful twin cam engine movements. With a 103 engine, you do not take hassle about any oil leak issues.

Advanced Injection And Regulator Systems

From Marelli injection to DELPHI injection system, Harley Davidson is moving ahead to a new era of Advanced Injection system that saves gas consumption and comes with a sensor to manage the usage and operation smoothly. 

Plus, the Improved Regulator system promptly manages battery usage and power supply because many other engines frequently lose batteries. In this twin cam engine, the manufacturers have used a regulator system to manage the battery consumption to a better extent. 

Reinforced Gasket And Diaphragm Clutch

Reinforced Gasket And Diaphragm Clutch

Harley Davidson solved the use of paper gaskets and the common issues of oil leaks. They started to use the Reinforced Gaskets, which are used for oil leaks and Crankcase. So, you will get the best features from this 103 engine these days. 

Furthermore, they solved the issues of the 5-speed gearbox with the Diaphragm Clutch and moved to a 4-speed gearbox. These improvements made the gear changing and speed control easier for the riders. 

Electronic Alarm System

Now you can enjoy the Electronic Alarm System. With this alarm system, you will find systematic malfunction issues. You may also get mobile-based notifications, and it is upgrading to more feasible. Thus, you can enjoy using the system to drive and talk with others; it will send your system issues. It makes your riding comfier and safer. 

Easy Part Availability

Parts availability is a great strength of Harley Davidson; you will get the necessary parts and other supporting materials easily. There are countrywide service centers, authorized mechanics, and a 24/7 part supply chain to keep you updated and use your bike hassle-free. 

Lastly, the  103 engine uses an Updated Secondary Belt that lasts almost double that of other brands, giving you up to 100,000 Km drive without any tension. So, you need not spend extra or worry about changing the belt in a short time. 

You can get a Harley Davidson by closing your eyes with all these features. The engine will never disappoint you in terms of performance, consistency, and longevity. Still, in daily riding experience, you might face a few problems with the engine. Indeed, we can’t deny that there are some issues even with the incredible engines. We will discuss and solve it below. 

Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems 

Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems 

Harley Davidson 103 is a delicate engine used for around 15 years by the manufacturer. We will now discuss the common problems here as you can generally understand the issues and do proper maintenance. 

Cause Too Much Heat For The Rider

Engine 103 creates too much heat in the long run and can cause harm for the riders. In a few cases, the engine was too hot that riders had to stop by for cooling. It is very dangerous for the riders in terms of safety.

When you continue riding the motorcycle for hours, you may feel burning sensations around your feet and body close to the engine. So, this excessive heating is a major concern for the 103 engine. In shorter rides, you may not face the problem. 

Loose Crankshaft Issue

Harley Davidson uses a world-class crankshaft, but it often becomes lost, which can cause an accident on the road. So, we have to check the crank pin very often to ensure the safety of the crankshaft. At least, this is a good practice to prevent these issues frequently. 

If the crank pin is lost during long rides, the crankshaft will become loose. It can be dangerous in the highways where you need maximum control over the engine. In fact, many riders have complained about minor accidents due to it. 

Engine Creates Noise

In a few cases, the 103 engine is not stable; it makes different types of sounds like pinging, ticking, and tapping. It is not normal at all for any engine. You can lose both control and stability due to these noises. 

Also, the unwanted noise will ruin your riding fun. When you hear a constant buzzing sound from the engine, it is disturbing. You may often be impatient with the buzzing noise and it can defocus you from the roads. 

Engine Starting Issue

Engine Starting Issue

If you have a Harley Davidson from 2007 to 2012, you may have faced this problem; it causes trouble. In 103 engines, it is a common problem, and when you are in a rush, it will not start in time. 

The problem becomes acute during the winter days. As the outside temperature often reaches a sub-zero level, the engine faces a real challenge to start instantly. During the rash time, it can make you restless. This problem can be identified easily with a regular checkup. 

Engine Hot Issues

After the release of engine 103, it was a common issue that the engine was producing extra heat. It is harmful to the Rider and the bike. This engine runs on an oil cooler that does not effectively cool the system. So, it becomes hot after a short drive. You will find it even acuter during long rides on highways. It can transform your riding experience with Harley touring bikes into a nightmare. 

Absence Of Electronic Compression

The stock engine 103 does not come with electronic compression. It disables the engine to provide you with the correct compression to increase riding smoothness.  So getting a compression system for this twin cam engine is better. 

Solution of Harley 103 Engine Problems 

Solution of Harley 103 Engine Problems 

Now we know all the problems of a Harley Davidson 103 engine. Based on that, we can take necessary measures and do maintenance properly. Regarding it, we will guide you through the fixations of the possible Harley 103 engine problems. 

Engine Cooling Solution For Harley Davidson 103

As we know, the engine heating problem is a critical issue for Harley Davidson. So, we take it as major trouble for us, but there are ways to keep it cool. Now we will share the tips with you as you can follow that. 

Do the below regularly:

  • Always check the radiator heating position
  • Check coolant levels while driving
  • Make a stop for some of it, if it is already high
  • Check the radiator when you are at the workshop
  • Keep oil tank full for regular riding

Also, you can take your bike to your mechanic and do the needful as below:

  • Remove the left side thigh protector to access inside
  • Do not use fork wings or umbrella baffles. 
  • Install a tank lift here with the Deluxe option will be better
  • Install a cooling deflector wings

You can cool your engine through all these methods and ride hassle-free with your 103-engine, Harley Davidson. 

Solution And Maintenance Of Harley Davidson 103 Engine: 10 Steps 

Solution And Maintenance Of Harley Davidson 103 Engine: 10 Steps 

As we know all the engine issues, some maintenance tasks must be done frequently. Now we will share those with you so you can be safe and take proper care. 

  1. When your bike is making too much noise, use rocker lockers with sleeves that lock the shafts; that helps to manage the extra noise. It is an effective and workable technique.
  2. Harley Davidson parts are not cheap, so we need to regularly maintain the engine as we do not go for a replacement shortly; with a small expenditure, you can run the engine for years. 
  3. After some regular drive, you drain your engine oil and refill with a new one; always use three-quarters of oil in the chamber. Also, change the fuel filter after a distance of driving. 
  4. Consult your mechanic for proper engine tuning for better speed adjustment. It is not about huge speed; based on your engine condition; the speed adjustment will help you to drive it at a stable rate. 
  5. You have to check the spark plugs to see if that is working, it works with air and fuel, so there is the issue of rust on it. It may cause an incident, so you must change the spark plugs for your 103 engines. 
  6. It would help if you did a regular monthly or bi-monthly checkup for all the electric lines and switches, as it can also cause fire and engine seizures. Consult with an electrical mechanic who works on Harley Davidson bikes. 
  7. Take your bike to the workshop for a monthly checkup where you will check fuel valves, fittings, and lines for leaks; it will be regular maintenance, and if anything is found, you have to take an immediate repair decision. 
  8. The brake is a very important part of our bike. After every 5000 miles, you must check your brake lines and wires if required. It will help you to have better on your bike speed and is useful for emergency braking. Always take care of your bike engine for longer use. 
  9. Also, it would help if you looked after your bets and chains, these transfer the moving power to the wheel, and there is a risk of loosening chains. Also, it would help if you looked after the crank pin and crankshaft. 
  10. Every week check your tires by yourself, and take immediate care of worn-out tires; riding is risky. Also, check for proper air pressure in tires to get an appropriate balance. 

Now we know all the maintenance factors that we need to do for Harley Davidson, and the cost is also very reasonable. It does not require any extra bucks that will make you sweat! It is easy to take your bike for regular maintenance and do some on your own. 

Regularly maintaining your Harley Davidson 103 engine allows you to drive it for some extra years and enjoy cruising. It meets all the requirements of your booming ride on the road. 

What Is The Maintenance Cost Of The Harley Davidson Engine?

What Is The Maintenance Cost Of The Harley Davidson Engine

The general maintenance cost without any parts and other materials is very low. You may need from $200-$500 per year for a whole checkup at the workshop. It is not a big deal, and you can take it bi-monthly or quarterly; a regular checkup will keep your road monster moving.

Regular maintenance is the best method to keep your wheels moving. Also, the heat issues and other problems will be solved at less expense. If that goes in the wrong direction or any accident occurs, you will need to spend huge money.  Now we will discuss some commonly asked queries that you may find helpful.

Last Few Words

We have made a detailed discussion on Harley Davidson 103 engine problems and related issues. Now you know from the features to maintenance and all concerned topics that will enable you to move ahead with solving the issues. All the information will give you an A to Z access to your Harley touring and cruiser motorcycle issues. Thus,  keep your eyes open and stay hassle-free. 

 Frequently Asked Questions 

1.How Long Does A Harley Davidson 103 Engine Last?

Ans: Harley Davidson bikes are one of the most popular and well-made motorcycles in the world, and these are expected to last over 100,000 miles. And there is a record of more than that with proper maintenance and better handling. If you take care of your bike and ride responsibly, it is as adorable as a kitty and will have five years of comfortable riding. 

2.Which Is The Most Reliable Harley Engine?

Ans: Harley Davidson invented and launched several types of engines; most of them have their specialties and also some shortfalls. Among all these, the V-Twin, the Evo, is the best engine they have launched. It is comparable to other engines from Harley. 

3.What Is The Harley 103 Engine Called?

Ans: Harley 103 engine has another name, Twin Cam 103, which is very popular and has great performance. It has 3500 rpm, and the peak torque is better than Twin Cam 96, which makes it perfect for sticking to the road well and doing better mountain climbing. 

4.Is Twin Cam 103 Reliable?

Ans: Twin Cam 103 is one of the reliable engines from Harley Davidson for its excellent performance and durability. It runs for years without major issues if that is maintained properly. A few riders have been using this bike for 20 years, so you can guess the legibility of this bike and engine too. 

5.How Many Spark Plugs Does A Harley Davidson 103 Have?

Ans: Harley Davidson 103 has four spark plugs; from two, you can access two easily, and the rest need to be changed by mechanics. These are on the right side of the engine that you can find after removing the fuel tank, which professionals should handle. 

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