Harley Davidson 5 Speed Transmission Problems With Troubleshooting Explained

You’re cruising down the open road on your Harley Davidson. Also, you’re enjoying the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. You take a corner a little too fast, and suddenly you hear a loud grinding noise.

You pull over to the side of the road and realize that your Harley Davidson 5 speed transmission is in trouble. This is a common sight for the Harley Davidson motorcycle transmission system. Hence, we will discuss the Harley Davidson 5 speed transmission problems today. We’ll show you how to fix them yourself too. So you can get back on the open road as soon as possible.  Thus, without further delay, let’s get started.

Harley Davidson 5 Speed Transmission Problems

Harley Davidson 5 Speed Transmission Problems And Solutions 

Harley Davidson 5 Speed Transmission Problems And Solutions 

Harley Davidson uses one of the best transmission systems for their motorbikes. Yet, the mechanical and electrical system isn’t free from different flaws. The most common Harley Davidson 5 speed transmission problems are issues with the clutch slipping, not-so-smooth acceleration, and gear shifting issues.

You will also see leaks in the transmission oil tank, reducing efficiency.  When you go on a long ride, checking these problems for the transmission speed functions is essential. So, let’s see their details and fixes. 

Clutch Slipping Issues

Clutch Slipping Issues

Often the clutch of the Harley Davidson transmission will slip. Thus, it fails to engage with the engine. It results in toughness in riding the motorcycle. You will see it particularly more evident in riding up hills. The problem again appears acute in cities where you must stop and go through heavy traffic. 

Hence, you will often experience challenges in driving the motorcycle. Also, the slipping gears will lower your riding safety. You should, thus, fix the gears ASAP. 

Tips On Fixing The Clutch

If your clutch is slipping, it might be because of the damaged clutch plates. Thus, you need to replace the clutch plates. 

  • You can check this by removing the primary cover of the clutch. 
  • If the clutch plates look wet and greasy, they must be replaced.
  •  Sometimes the plates become too dry. Then, you should add some type of lubricant. You can purchase a transmission lubricant. It will last for years and safeguard the clutches. 
  • Alternatively, you can use motor oil. If you choose to use motor oil, you must add it to the engine instead of the transmission.

Another common cause of slipping gear is loose or too-tight clutch cables. You should check it and make adjustments if required. You can adjust the clutch cables with a wrench quickly. 

Problems With Gear Shifting

Problems With Gear Shifting

Like the clutch, the gear of the Harley Davidson transmission also occurs different problems. Some of the most common problems with the transmission gear are:

  • Difficulty shifting gears, 
  • Grinding gears, and 
  • Popping out of gear

The gear may get jammed. As it happens, you will have difficulty shifting it. You will need more physical power to shift the gears. Also, jammed gears may fail at any time. Moreover, it will start grinding as there will be blocks inside. 

Finally, worn-out gears may pop out from their place. If it fails during motorcycle rides, it can cause severe accidents. You must be careful that the gears are functioning properly. 

Tips On Fixing The Problematic Gear

There are a few things you can do to troubleshoot these issues. It helps you get your bike back up and running smoothly. First, ensure that your transmission is properly lubricated. If not, this can cause all sorts of problems with shifting. You should lubricate the transmission of your Harley Davidson motorcycles for every 40000 to 50000 miles. 

Adjust the cable that connects the transmission to the throttle. Often, the cable gets loose due to overuse and ill-maintenance. As you tighten the cable, it may help you to get into gear more easily. 

If all else fails, you may need to replace the entire gear system of your Harley motorcycle, and it’s costlier. You may need to spend around $250 to $500 to replace the entire transmission system and the gear. You should consult a technician and find the accurate transmission system for the Harley Davidson model. 

Unusual Acceleration Issues

Riders choose Harley Davidson motorcycles for their performance and beast-like power. Ideally, it should accelerate smoothly. However, due to a poor transmission system, it may start to vibrate and jerk too frequently during acceleration. Also, you may experience hesitation to accelerate the motorcycle. As it happens, you must follow our troubleshooting suggestions. 

Fixing Acceleration Problem

The acceleration may become jittery and unsmooth for many reasons. So, depending on the actual cause, you need to take different ways to fix it. First, check the carburetor and adjust it. Often, cleaning the carburetor improves acceleration. 

Next, the spark plug might be the culprit. So, try cleaning and replacing the spark plug. You may get it for less than $10, an inexpensive fix. If the vibration during acceleration persists, check the following sensors:

  1. TPS (throttle position sensor) 
  2. MAP (manifold absolute pressure sensor)

Both sensors calculate the air intake pressure and send signals to the motorcycle EMS. When they go wrong, the computer miscalculates. As a result, acceleration becomes jerky. It would help if you changed the TPS or MAP to troubleshoot this problem. 

You may check the MC1414 Throttle Position Sensor. It is compatible with 2001-2005 FXSTDI Softail. There’re other options to get on Amazon too. 

Leaky Transmission Oil Problems

Harley Davidson 5 transmission system needs proper lubrication to work rightly. So, when the oil starts leaking, it is undoubtedly a big problem. When you notice excessive leaks, there are some things you can do at home. It helps you address the problem. 

Tips To Stop Transmission Oil Leakage

Tips To Stop Transmission Oil Leakage

First, check your Harley transmission oil plug. It should be tight and undamaged. If the plug is loose, try tightening it. When the oil plug is wholly damaged, replace it. It is a cheap fix for less than $5 to $7. Next, check the gasket and make sure it’s not cracked or worn. You need to replace the damaged gasket. 

You can also tighten the mounting bolts of the tank. It should help reduce vibrations that cause oil leakage. Over time, different parts of the transmission system may become loose. Tightening them helps stop oil leakage and vibration. 

Finally, if all else fails, take your Harley bike to a certified Harley Davidson mechanic. They can pinpoint the source of the transmission oil leakage. Thus, they can recommend the best fix and allow the transmission to work correctly. 

Grinding Noise Issues With Gears

Did you hear a grinding noise from your Harley Davidson 5 Speed Transmission? Then, it’s likely that something has gone wrong with the gears. This is usually due to worn gear or an issue with the transmission itself.

A Quick Fix To Gears’ Grinding Issue

First, you’ll want to check the selector forks. Damaged or worn forks can cause issues with the gears. It stops the gears not engaging correctly. Hence, it’s best to replace them as soon as possible. If you continue riding with the loose fork, it might develop further damage. At this point, your entire transmission system will require changes. 

Next, inspect the gear synchronizers and shift forks for any wear and tear. Worn-out shift fork and synchronizer can cause a grinding noise when shifting gears. In this case, you’ll need to replace them to keep the Harley transmission working correctly and safely.

Finally, if all else fails and there is still a grinding noise even after inspection and repairs have been made, there’s likely an issue with the transmission itself. At this point, it’s best to seek professional help to fix your transmission.

Quick Solutions To Common Harley Davidson Transmission Problems

Quick Solutions To Common Harley Davidson Transmission Problems

Fixing up your transmission doesn’t have to be an uphill task. With the right troubleshooting advice, you can get it running smoothly in no time. So if you’re dealing with everyday issues like grinding or shifting difficulties, here are a few solutions that may help.

  • Check if the clutch is adjusted correctly. The clutch springs and plates should be in good condition. If they need to be replaced, do it ASAP.
  • Ensure the linkage is adjusted correctly. Also, the shift forks and shift rails must be clear of debris. If there are many build-ups around the transmission, try cleaning it with a vacuum or compressed air. You should clean the transmission system twice a year. 
  • Check for worn-out sync rings or faulty synchronizers and replace them if necessary. You can fix it for around $50 to $100.

The important thing is to act quickly when you notice something wrong with the transmission. That way, you can uncover and fix any problems before they become more serious! Or else, you may need to compromise your riding safety on the roads. It can be particularly harmful while riding on highways, where mechanics are hard to get fixes. 


Harley Davidson 5 speed transmission problems are common. Thankfully, many of the problems can be easily remedied. Nonetheless, it’s always best to maintain your Harley Davidson transmission to avoid these problems. You should clean the carburetor, spark plug, and clutch timely. Also, check the gear and EPS as you routinely take your motorcycle to professionals. 

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