View Full Version : 06 coil problem solved the hard way!

8th June 2006, 02:19
I noticed a slight miss at idle and progressively worse through 5k rpm. Brought it to the first dealer and they proclaimed that it needed a jet before they even listened to the bike! They installed a 45 s.j. and it did run better because it was very lean, I already new that from when I switched out the plugs trying to figure the problem out. When I got home I called the dealer and told them the miss was still there they said they couldn’t get the bike back in for two weeks for any REAL diagnostic work.

I had today off and was determined to get the bike fixed one way or another. I grabbed my timing light and stuck it on both plug wires. The front wire pulsed perfect never missing a beat. The back wire intermittently fired and came to a stop anywhere above 3k. I then removed the coil and tested the primary and secondary side. The primary showed open on the rear cylinder side, problem solved!

I called around to every dealer within eighty miles trying to find someone who could take the five minutes it requires to change out my coil with no luck other than the furthest dealer who is also my selling dealer, they said they could take a look at it if I could hang around for awhile. I get there and the wrench takes my bike for a ride and said there’s nothing wrong with it! Then two more employees including the service manager drove it and said how great it ran, no problems. I re-explain the diagnostic work I had already done and he agrees to have at least have a further look at it. He hooked it up to his computer and ran a coil test that showed nothing wrong. I asked him to test the coil with an ohm meter and he refused. He mumbled something to the effect that with these new coils that an ohm meter is not accurate. I mention to him the outlined procedure in the Harley Service Manual, and he still refused.

I went to the parts counter bought the coil and installed it in the parking lot, with all the mechanics conveniently on break watching me, with my allen wrench I brought along just in case I had a complete coil failure on the road. I could tell immediately just from the idle that the bike was fixed and asked the service manager to ride it again to confirm. He rode it and said he noticed no difference! To give you an idea how much better it ran, the throttle position that had to be held to maintain 60mph on the road would now propel the bike at over 75mph, before when fully opening the throttle in 5th gear at 60mph it took four seconds to reach 65, now the same four seconds brings on a speed of almost 80!

The good news is the bike now runs at its potential and I now have a solid baseline for my modifications. And something I have always known still holds true unfortunately, If you want it done right do it yourself even at your own expense. Dealers and warranty be damned!

8th June 2006, 02:58
The good news is the bike now runs at its potential and I now have a solid baseline for my modifications. And something I have always known still holds true unfortunately, If you want it done right do it yourself even at your own expense. Dealers and warranty be damned!

Wow, that's a horror story. I would be furious at this point and I'm a calm guy. I would probably start yelling, which I almost never do.

8th June 2006, 03:28
What I have come to a conclusion is that most H-D dealerships are nothing more than a shopping mall boutique. You can buy a shinny new bike, H-D clothes, but most dealers dont have ace mechanics on duty. I try to do most of my own service work now due to a couple bad experiences at the dealership.

8th June 2006, 03:38
i think i would be calling the customer service guys, maybe you could at least get reimbursed for the coil.... if nothing else, you are letting them know that these guys are a joke.

8th June 2006, 10:22
"Stealerships" are just big fancy "cat houses" you get screwed when you buy your bike, and you get screwed everytime you go back for something. HD is on the road to going belly up, if they don't change the attitude of most of their stealerships.

8th June 2006, 10:43
Should have tossed the old one at the service manager and told him where to put,frickin hacks!!!

8th June 2006, 11:01
what I don't understand is there are all kinds of stories like these. Mechanics are inept, don't care, or lazy, etc etc.
Why does Harly not hire decent mechanics?
Why doe Harley let them get away with it?
What makes the mechanics so different outside of HD than at HD?

8th June 2006, 11:42
Sad thing is, at the first dealership I tried the "let them be the hero" approach. I went in, told them the rear cylinder had a miss progressively worse from idle up. Fix it pretty please:) . After that experience, and thinking the rest may be as inept, I found the problem, told them what to do, and the that dealer did everything possible to justify not fixing it:doh ! Including not wanting to go by the book! I probably have more diagnostic tools outside of the computer:roflblack than any dealer around me. I'm brand new to the bikes but I have spent a lifetime working on hi performance cars and boats. If anyone needs help around me, Quad Cities IL. don't hesitate to contact me.

8th June 2006, 11:59
Everyone who has problems with any dealer should contact HD customer service no matter how small the problem is. If they start getting swamped with complaints eventually they will have to take a look at this problem. Get names of the people who screw you around and add them to the complaint. This is getting to be a widespread problem.

8th June 2006, 16:50
Why does Harly not hire decent mechanics?
Each dealership obviously does their own hiring, and I would say that in some cases they're not very good at it. The dealership allows substandard mechanics to remain employed.

Harley mechanics are also paid less than auto mechanics, in general. Less pay attracts less qualified mechanics. I had several auto mechanics apply for a job as motorcycle mechanic, and they laughed when they heard how much of a pay cut they'd have to take.

Similarly, I've had motorcycle mechanics leave and go work for auto dealerships because the money is better.

These are GENERALIZATIONS. Of course it's not true in every case.

Why doe Harley let them get away with it?
H-D relies on CSI (Customer Service Index) scores to rate their dealers. There is a very comprehensive formula for rating dealers for their "Bar & Shield" program (maybe you've seen dealers that are Gold B&S Dealers or Silver, or Bronze.)


(after looking all these up, I don't think they have a web-ready graphic for the B&S awards. They just hand out the plaque and everyone talks about their awards.)

That program rates everything from the number of hours the dealership is open, to the amount of parts they buy, the number of bikes they sell, how up to date they are on training, and a couple hundred other criteria. The Service Department accounts for a very small percentage of the overall score, maybe 10%.

So, what does H-D do with that score? Well, they give you a plaque if you're Gold, Silver or Bronze (which is the top 'so many' dealers, depending on the year.) They also base new bike allocation on it. So, higher scores means more bikes to sell next year. These days, with prices coming down and new bikes sitting on the dealership floors, getting more bikes next year is not a GOOD THING for a lot of dealers, so the importance of a high Bar & Shield score is less important now than it used to be when dealers had waiting lists for new bikes.

What makes the mechanics so different outside of HD than at HD?
I don't think they are, actually. I have dealt with lots of infuriating service departments on cars and other bikes. It's not totally different. And don't forget, you can have good mechanics working in a crappy service department, with poor service writers and service manager. Don't necessarily blame the mechanic (although in this case, the mechanic did ride the bike, along with the service manager.)

That brings up another good point though. Mechanics and shop employees ride a half-dozen bikes a day, maybe, and for 4 or 6 or 10 miles only. There is a large range of 'normal' to them. They may not have been able to perceive the same problem you did because of the wide range of bikes they ride daily.

I will say that whenever a customer came into the shop and described his problem, no matter what it was, I BELIEVED HIM because he knows his bike WAY MORE intimately than I do. He's been riding it for however many miles, and now something is different. I believe that. It's not made up. He's not in the shop because he LIKES coming in. No, he HATES coming in. So for him to come in with a problem, there is CERTAINLY something going on with his bike.

As the service manager, I would disagree all the time with techs that rode a bike and said that nothing was wrong, for all the reasons I just detailed above.

sorry for yelling...

HOWEVER, I will say that since there is independent certification for auto mechanics (ASE or others), those fields tend to have more qualified technicians. I think independent certification is the key.

Of course this is not true in every case, and I'm not bashing HD mechanics by any means (heck, I am one.) The point is, there are good HD mechanics out there, and when you find one, take care of him. Coffee and donuts, a cigar if he enjoys them, or a 6-pack go a long way. You might need him one day.

--Chris (sorry, this one was all over the place)

8th June 2006, 18:04
Hammer Down,

Congrats sir, you fixed what they could not. now go ride it and stay away from the stealers..