How to Buy a Used Harley-Davidson: Part 2

Posted by Lisa DiFalco on

Buying a Used Harley-Davidson 2 Motorscan Smartphone Personal Diagnostic Tool Diagnostica

As readers appear to be interested in buying a previously owned Harley, we wanted to address a few areas that were not touched upon in Top Tips to Buying a Used Harley-Davidson Motorcycle. In that previous blog, we covered how to get more information on the history of a bike and determining which bikes may be most suitable for newer riders.

What else might riders want to consider before putting cash down on a used Harley-Davidson?

In this blog, we will provide a quick overview about areas to check over on a used bike, reliability of a Harley and common Harley issues. Get a few more insights on buying used to avoid getting stuck with a lemon.

Condition of a Used Motorcycle

Understand the condition of a bike. In addition, know how much you are willing to spend and how much money it may take to get the bike into better condition when showing signs of considerable wear and tear. Prospective buyers may want to:

  • Assess the condition of the fuel tank;
  • Note dents, scratches and tab problems with fenders and side covers;
  • Look for collapsed foam, missing trim or tears in the seat;
  • Get an overview of the general condition and any repairs to paint and chrome; and
  • Watch for glazing or cracks to windshields.

Then there are deeper issues upon starting a bike. A prospective buyer wants to look for oil leaks, and the engine should start up easily even during colder temperatures. Heavy smoke should be a red flag for a buyer.

There are additional issues that may arise but these are a few that may be observable when starting up a bike and taking her out for a quick spin. Those who may not be able to ride the bike need to listen carefully for specific sounds that may indicate a problem with the transmission, such as a missed shift, or another serious issue.

Used Harley Issues

Know the issues common to a particular model bike. Whether it is a tendency to leak oil or smoke when starting up, some motorcycles have peculiarities typical of a specific model or may be on the recall list due to a problem. Therefore, after coming across a model and before buying, look into any common issues or complaints from owners. This is one way to become more familiar with what to expect with a specific Harley model.

Although Harley-Davidson bikes have big brand name recognition, they have been found to be less reliable than some other brands of bikes, including Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha, according to a Consumer Reports report. This may have changed with some models since, and many buyers are dead set on buying a Harley. According to the report, touring bikes are more problematic than cruisers as they were outfitted with more accessories that could potentially break. The most common issues with a Harley-Davidson include a problem with the break system, fuel system, electrical system or with accessories. In many of such cases, repairs did not cost more than $200. Harley enthusiasts continue to buy their favorite bike and are willing wrench issues themselves or call a trusted mechanic for relatively minor problems. As mentioned in the previous article on buying a used Harley, it would be helpful to perform a title history search on a bike to find out about any recalls or investigations on a make or model.

Diagnose a Used Bike

Those who have purchased a Motorscan smartphone diagnostic tool may be pleased to know that the device does not marry to a single bike. Therefore, it is possible to attach it to a compatible used bike and let it assess the bike’s system and provide details on the handy app quickly and without altering the bike in any way. Prospective bike owners can then use the data and trouble codes provided to determine whether or not any issues popping up on a used bike are deal breakers. Save and send the report for later if not making a purchase immediately. Comment below or tweet @DiagnosticaNews to share additional insights on how to buy a reliable used Harley-Davidson.


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