We buy a motorcycle and hope that it will ride well forever. But unfortunately that’s not the case, and at some point, our bike’s will have an issue. Ignoring these issues can cause bigger problems; problems that just might leave us without a ride (or at least with a very large repair bill). So what are the most important problems to look out for with your motorcycle?
Here are the top 5 warning signs from your motorcycle that you don’t want to ignore.
Warning Sign #1: You see rust
Rust may seem like just a cosmetic nuisance, but it is in fact much worse than that. Rust is caused when metal is exposed to moisture and oxygen, and since bikes are outside constantly, it isn’t an uncommon problem. But the problem is that rust spreads, and when it spreads it can seriously affect the performance and safety of your bike. These are just a few of the problems rust can cause.
- Rust in the gas tank can affect fuel flow, clog filters and fuel lines, and circulate in the engine causing damage.
- Rust on a motorcycle chain can make the chain noisy and shorten its lifespan.
- Rust on the body or frame can cause the bike to be structurally unsound.
Rust can spread not only in surface area, but can spread deeper into the metal, making the problem progressively worse and worse. So before the rust spreads too far, you want to nip the problem in the bud. When you notice rust, take the following actions to stop it from getting worse:
- Wash the rusted parts with a motorcycle cleaning gel and water to remove surface dirt.
- Dry the washed areas with a clean cloth.
- Scrape rust off with an abrasive material, such as steel wool, then switch to sandpaper when most of the rust has been removed. (Try to avoid aggressive scrubbing)
- Apply chrome polish to finish removing small rust bits and scratches.
- Wax the chrome to prevent future rust.
Keeping an eye out for rust will not only keep your bike looking good, but it will keep it running more efficiently.
Warning Sign #2: You notice a low MPG
If you are used to getting a certain mileage per gallon and notice a drop off, this can be a sign of a number of issues. An average motorcycle gets about 35-40 miles per gallon, but if you notice that you are suddenly getting under 30 mpg, you should try to figure out what the culprit might be. A loss of fuel efficiency could be caused by:
- Low tire pressure
- A leak in the fuel line
- The brakes are too tight
- Malfunctioning spark plugs
- Other reasons
If you notice a loss of fuel efficiency, take the following steps to see if you notice any improvement.
- Change your fluids–oil, transmission fluid, and coolant
- Make sure you are using the recommended fuel
- Replace your air filter
- Clean out the fuel system
- Clean and lubricate your chain
- Inflate your tires
If none of these seem to be working, take your bike into a certified mechanic to make sure there is nothing more serious going on.
Warning Sign #3: You hear strange noises
You know your bike, and you know what it should sound like. If you start hearing noises that your bike typically doesn’t make, you don’t want to ignore it. Clinking, clattering, sputtering, and hissing can all indicate deeper issues with your bike. Here are some of the top strange noises and what they can mean.
- Grinding: A grinding noise cannot be ignored, as it most likely indicates a problem with braking. Replacing the brake pads is a likely fix, but if the noise continues be sure to get it looked at immediately.
- Hissing: This noise can indicate a few issues, and can be as simple as your tire leaking. If that’s not the culprit, it might be a blown gasket, radiator leak, or exhaust leak.
- Snapping: A snapping noise may signal an issue with the ignition. You may notice that the engine is hesitating if this is the issue.
- Kinking: Again, this noise can be a few different things, but it could mean a few things such as a corroded chain, kinks in the links, or misaligned sprockets.
- Ticking: A ticking sound could be from low oil levels, loose cam chains, valve train problems–any number of problems. If you cannot detect where the noise is specifically coming from, be sure to have your bike inspected.
Strange noises are not something to ignore, as they are one of the main indicators you have that there is a problem with your bike.
Warning Sign #4: You notice poor braking
If you notice your brakes acting up when they are applied, be sure to get them looked at immediately. Depending on how they are acting, there are a few different things that could be the issue.
Loss of Brake Fluid
If you notice an above average loss of brake fluid, check your brake system to see where this loss might be coming from. The leaking could be coming from joints, the caliper, or the reservoir. Checking all of your connections can help you pinpoint where the issue is and prevent further brake fluid loss.
When the brakes do not hold onto the wheels for a prolonged period of time it is known as brake fade. This can happen for a few different reasons:
- Repeated intense application of the brakes
- Brake fluid deteriorated
- Poor contact between the brake lining and the drum
Replacing the brake fluid, reducing your speed and using lower gears, and correcting your braking habits can help with brake fade.
If you hear a ringing noise in your brakes (a judder), it may be as simple as a wrong brake adjustment, which can be corrected. It could also be from the lining rivets being loose, in which case the rivets and liner will need to be replaced.
Brake binding happens when the liner binds to the brake drum and remains there even after braking application stops. Replacing defective springs, lubricating the anchor pins, and ensuring the fluid levels are correct can all help to fix this issue.
Brake overheating can be a result of the same issues with brake binding, but could also be a result of prolonged brake overuse. Caliper seizing is another possible culprit. It’s important to remedy this as soon as possible to continue safe riding.
Grabbing, or seizing, brakes can occur for a few reasons, but they are usually easy to remedy.
- The linings are greasy. Taking them apart and cleaning them will help fix this.
- The shoes are adjusted incorrectly. Taking them off and reinstalling can fix this.
- The brake drum is scoured. Regrounding the drum should help with grabbing.
- There is dirt or dust on the brake shoe. Cleaning them thoroughly should help fix this.
- The shoes are interchanged. If they were not installed correctly, brakes will seize. Reinstalling them correctly should help with this.
Brakes can have issues for a number of reasons, but it is important to find the underlying cause. Your brakes are arguably the most important system on your bike, so it is vital that they are working properly.
Warning Sign #5: You see oil sludge
If you ever see oil sludge on the outside of your engine, or notice it when you are changing the oil, do not ignore it. Oil sludge accumulates when oil isn’t changed often enough. As oil sits in the engine, it changes and becomes thick and clumpy. Engine sludge can block proper oil flow to parts of the engine, which in turn causes certain engine parts to retain excess heat. This can cause major engine damage over time.
If you notice any sludge, clean it from your engine as soon as possible. You can clean any visible spots by hand and purchase an auto sludge remover (found at most auto stores) to clean the inside of your engine. Take your bike to a mechanic if the sludge is extremely thick or difficult for you to remove. In the future be sure to change your oil and oil filter regularly and try to decrease the amount of stop and go driving you do. Frequently stopping and starting again will cause sludge to build up. Ignoring engine sludge can lead to costly repairs down the road, so be sure to take care of it as soon as you notice it.
Those are the five warning signs from your motorcycle that you shouldn’t ignore.
Taking care of your motorcycle will ensure that you have many more miles on the road together. Bikes that are properly maintained can last a long time, so don’t ignore any warning signs. And if you have a bike that is financed, there’s a good chance that you are overpaying on your monthly motorcycle payments. Refinancing your car with Auto Approve can save you hundreds, so don’t wait–get in touch with Auto Approve today for your free quote!