Honda makes a wide variety of motorcycles intended for all types of riding styles and environments, all renowned for their reliability, comfort, and consistent performance.
However, even the most dependable motorcycles can sometimes experience issues starting.
This article will help you identify some of the most common reasons your Honda motorcycle won’t start and show you how to get back on the road.
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Here’s Why Your Honda Won’t Start:
Some Honda starting problems are due to issues with the electrical system, such as the battery, the starter motor, the ignition switch, and the wiring. Others are related to the fuel system, such as the fuel tank, the fuel pump, the fuel injector, the engine itself, the air filter, spark plugs, valves, and compression.
Honda Won’t Start
Some of the reasons Honda motorcycles develop faulty starting issues are:
- Clutch lever not pulled in
- Neutral indicator not on
- Engine kill switch off
- Low or dead battery
- Faulty starter motor
- Dirty or wet air filter
- Bad fuel or fuel injector
- Fouled spark plug
- Improper valve clearance
Read on for some tips and tricks to troubleshoot and diagnose the problem.
But first, let’s cover the most straightforward reasons your Honda might be having trouble turning over.
Kill Switch Set to OFF
The kill switch is a red button on the right handlebar that cuts off your Honda’s ignition and stops the engine.
It’s a safety feature that lets you quickly turn off the motor in an emergency.
However, if you forget to flip the switch back on, your Honda motorcycle will not start.
To fix this problem, simply flip the kill switch to the RUN or ON position and try to start the bike again.
Older Honda bikes equip the petcock valve, a system that controls the fuel flow from the tank to the carburetor.
These older Honda motorcycles have a manual petcock with three positions: ON, OFF, and RESERVE. If the petcock is set to OFF, no fuel will reach the engine, and the bike will not start.
Check that you’ve turned the petcock to ON or RESERVE, depending on how much fuel you have left in the tank, before moving on to more technical troubleshooting.
Side Stand Extended
Some Honda motorcycles have a safety feature that prevents the engine from starting if the side stand is extended to avoid accidental movement and forward lurching if the rider shifts into gear with the stand on the ground.
The side stand has a sensor that detects its position and sends a signal to the ignition system.
If this sensor is blocked or faulty, the bike may not start even if the side stand is retracted.
To fix this problem, clean and inspect the sensor and ensure the wiring is intact.
Honda Won’t Start Just Clicks
If your Honda motorcycle makes a clicking sound but won’t start, the likely cause is a low or dead battery.
The clicking sound comes from the starter solenoid, a relay that connects the battery to the starter motor. When you press the start button, the solenoid is activated by a signal from the ignition switch. However, if the battery does not have enough power to turn the starter motor, the solenoid will click repeatedly.
To fix this problem, you need to charge or replace the battery.
Use a multimeter to check the battery voltage.
- A fully charged battery should have at least 12.6 volts.
- If the voltage is lower than 12 volts, the battery is weak and needs to be charged.
- If the voltage is lower than 10 volts, the battery is dead and needs to be replaced.
A faulty or corroded starter solenoid is another possible cause of a clicking sound.
If the solenoid contacts are dirty or worn out, they may not connect well with the starter motor. To fix this problem, you need to clean or replace the solenoid.
Use a screwdriver to bridge the two terminals of the solenoid and see if the starter motor turns.
If it does, the solenoid is bad and needs to be replaced.
If it doesn’t, the starter motor can be impaired and needs to be checked.
Honda Won’t Start in Gear
If your Honda motorcycle doesn’t start in gear, it can be due to a faulty clutch switch or a faulty neutral switch.
The clutch switch is a sensor that detects when the clutch lever is pulled in.
The neutral switch is a sensor that detects when the transmission is in neutral.
Both the clutch and neutral switches send signals to the ignition system to allow the engine to start. However, if either switch is damaged or misadjusted, it can prevent your Honda motorcycle’s engine from starting.
Inspect, clean, adjust, or replace the switches to rectify this starting problem.
Using a multimeter, test the continuity of the switches.
The clutch switch should have continuity when the clutch lever is pulled in and no continuity when it’s released.
The neutral switch should have continuity when the transmission is in neutral and no continuity when it’s in gear.
Furthermore, both switches have wires connected to them.
Shorts or damage to the wiring can also cause your Honda to have false starts in gear.
Honda Won’t Crank
If your Honda motorcycle won’t crank, it means that the starter motor is failing to turn the engine over.
A Honda motorcycle that won’t turn over could have one or more of the following issues:
- A low or dead battery
- A faulty starter motor
- A faulty starter relay
- A faulty ignition switch
- loose or corroded wiring
To fix this problem, you must check and test the battery, starter motor, relay, ignition switch, and wiring.
Use a multimeter to measure the voltage and the resistance of these components.
You can also use a jumper wire to bypass the starter relay and see if the starter motor works.
If any of these components are defective or damaged, you need to replace them.
Honda Won’t Start In Cold
If your Honda motorcycle won’t start in cold weather, it’s frequently due to a cold engine, battery, or carburetor.
First, try warming up the engine using a heat gun, a hair dryer, or a heater to warm up the engine to help the oil flow better and expand the engine’s metal components, reducing the friction between parts.
The battery capacity and performance decrease in cold temperatures.
You can use a battery charger or a jumper cable to charge the battery, amplifying the battery’s voltage and power.
The fuel mixture becomes leaner in cold weather, especially on carbureted Honda models, meaning there’s less fuel and more air in the combustion chamber.
You can use the choke lever to enrich the fuel mixture, increasing the amount of fuel and making it easier to ignite.
Honda Won’t Start After Laying Down
If your Honda motorcycle won’t start after laying down, it’s sometimes due to a flooded engine, a fouled spark plug, or a damaged fuel system.
If the motorcycle was lying on its side, some fuel could have leaked into the engine or the air filter.
You can drain the excess fuel by opening the drain screw on the carburetor or removing the spark plug and cranking the engine.
If the spark plug is wet or dirty, it may not produce a strong enough spark to ignite the fuel. You can clean the spark plug with a wire brush or a rag.
If the spark plug is damaged or worn out, you must replace it.
If the fuel tank, the fuel line, the fuel filter, or the fuel pump is damaged or clogged, it can prevent the fuel from reaching the engine.
Examine and repair the fuel system by inspecting, cleaning, or replacing the components.
Finally, some Honda moto models have tip-over sensors that need to be reset by shutting off the bike and turning it back on once the bike is back upright.
Honda Won’t Start After Winter
If your Honda motorcycle doesn’t start after winter, it can be due to a dead battery, stale fuel, or a gummed-up carburetor.
The battery can have lost its charge or become damaged due to cold temperatures or lack of use.
You can charge the battery with a battery charger or a jumper cable.
If the battery is worn, old, or damaged, replace it.
The fuel can become stale or contaminated due to moisture or oxidation. Stale fuel can cause poor performance or damage to the engine.
Drain and refill the fuel tank with fresh gasoline, adding some fuel stabilizer to help clean it and prevent future problems.
The carburetor can get clogged and gummed up due to varnish or dirt buildup from stale fuel and moisture exposure.
A stopped-up carburetor can cause deficient performance or damage to the engine, including starting failures.
Clean or rebuild the carburetor by disassembling and cleaning or replacing its parts.
Honda Won’t Start: Oil Light On
If your Honda motorcycle won’t start and the oil light is on, it’s often due to low oil pressure, low oil level, or a faulty oil pressure switch.
The oil pressure is the force that pushes the oil through the engine to lubricate and cool it. If the oil pressure is too low, the engine may not start and could incur permanent damage.
You can check and adjust the oil pressure by using a pressure gauge and following the specifications in your model’s service manual.
The oil level is the amount of oil in the engine.
If the oil level is too low, the bike can develop starting problems.
Examine and fill the oil level by using a dipstick and following the specifications in your owner’s manual.
The oil pressure switch is a sensor that detects the oil pressure and lights up the oil light on the dashboard.
If the oil pressure switch is faulty or damaged, it may not send the correct signal and prevent the engine from starting.
You can check the oil pressure switch using a multimeter and replace the sensor switch as needed.
Honda Won’t Start When Hot
If your Honda motorcycle won’t start when hot, it’s commonly due to vapor lock, overheating, or a faulty ignition coil.
Vapor lock is a condition where the fuel vaporizes in the fuel lines, tank, carb, or FI (Fuel Injectors) due to elevated temperatures.
This prevents the fuel from reaching the engine and causes starting problems.
You can release the vapor lock by opening the fuel cap and letting the air out of the tank.
You can also wrap the fuel line with insulation to prevent it from getting too hot.
Overheating is when the engine, starter motor, or battery gets too hot due to prolonged use or exposure to heat, reducing your Honda’s performance and causing starting problems.
You can cool your bike down by letting the motorcycle sit until it cools, out of the sun, and preferably in a climate-controlled place.
You can also use a fan or a spray bottle filled with cold water to speed up the cooling process.
The ignition coil is a device that generates a high-voltage spark to ignite the fuel in the engine.
If the ignition coil is faulty or damaged, it may not produce a strong enough spark to start your Honda’s engine when hot.
You can check and replace the ignition coil by using a spark tester and following the instructions in your service manual.
Honda Motorcycle Won’t Start After Valve Adjustment
If your Honda motorcycle won’t start after valve adjustment, it can be due to improper valve clearance, a loose cam chain, or a bent valve.
The valve clearance is the gap between the valve and the rocker arm. It affects the engine performance and compression. If the valve clearance is too tight or too loose, it can prevent the engine from starting.
Inspect and correct the valve clearance using a feeler gauge and following the specifications in your service manual.
The cam chain is a chain that connects the camshaft and the crankshaft, synchronizing the opening and closing of the valves with the movement of the pistons.
If the cam chain is loose, it can cause the valves to open and close at the wrong time and prevent the engine from starting. Inspect and tighten the cam chain using a tensioner and following the instructions in your service manual.
A bent valve is a valve that is damaged or deformed due to excessive pressure or impact, affecting engine performance and compression. If the valve’s damage is severe, it can prevent the engine from starting.
Honda Won’t Start After Changing Handlebars
If your Honda motorcycle won’t start after changing handlebars, it’s likely due to loose or damaged wiring, a misaligned throttle cable, or a faulty safety sensor switch.
The wiring on the handlebars connects the ignition switch, the kill switch, the clutch switch, and the horn to the electrical system.
If the wiring is loose or damaged, it can cause a short circuit or a bad connection and prevent the engine from starting.
Start by inspecting and reconnecting or replacing the pinched or damaged wires.
The throttle cable also connects to the handlebars, to the throttle on your right-hand side, controlling the amount of air and fuel that enters the engine.
If the throttle cable is misaligned or too tight, it can cause the engine to idle too high or too low, preventing the engine from starting.
You can check and adjust the throttle cable by loosening or tightening the adjuster nuts on the cable ends.
Finally, there are safety switches on the handlebars that control the ignition, the kill switch, and the horn.
If the sensors are faulty or damaged, they may not send the correct signal to the ignition system.
If your ECU detects a problem with the sensors, it prevents the engine from starting.
If the sensors are faulty, the ECU can detect an issue where there isn’t one.
You can check the safety switch with a multimeter, following the instructions in your service manual, and replace the faulty switches and wiring as needed.
Honda Won’t Start With Key Fob
If your Honda motorcycle doesn’t start with the key fob, it can be due to a low or dead key fob battery, a faulty key fob transmitter or receiver, or a wrong key fob code.
The key fob battery powers the transmitter that sends a signal to the receiver on the motorcycle. If the key fob battery is low or dead, the signal can be weak or nonexistent.
If the ECU doesn’t detect the signal, it will prevent the engine from starting. Try replacing the key fob battery by opening the key fob case and inserting a new one in place of the old one.
The key fob transmitter and receiver are devices that communicate with each other to verify the rider’s identity.
If the key fob transmitter or receiver is faulty or damaged, they may not communicate properly and prevent the engine from starting like a bad battery.
The transmitter is on the fob; the receiver is on the bike. If either one is faulty, you’ll have to replace it.
Honda Won’t Start With New Battery
If your Honda motorcycle won’t start with a new battery, it’s often due to a loose or corroded battery terminal, a blown fuse, or a faulty regulator/rectifier.
Check and tighten the battery terminal.
The battery terminal is the metal connector that attaches the battery cable to the battery post.
The loose or corroded battery terminal can cause a poor connection and prevent the engine from starting.
You can check and tighten the battery terminal using a wrench and a wire brush.
Fuses protect your Honda’s various electrical devices, preventing electrical damage in the case of a surge by breaking the circuit when there is too much current.
Once a fuse is blown, it cuts off the power to the ignition system and prevents the engine from starting.
You can check and replace the fuse by using a fuse tester to isolate the blown fuse and replacing it with one of equal value; using a fuse of the wrong rating can cause starting problems too.
The regulator/rectifier is a device that converts the alternating current (AC) from the alternator to direct current (DC) to power the battery and other electrical components.
If the regulator/rectifier is faulty or damaged, it can overcharge or undercharge the battery and stop the motorcycle from starting.
Honda Won’t Start With Clutch Pulled
If your Honda motorcycle doesn’t start with the clutch pulled, it can be due to a faulty clutch switch, a faulty starter relay, or a faulty starter motor.
The clutch switch is a sensor that detects when the clutch lever is pulled in. It sends a signal to the starter relay to allow the engine to start.
However, if the clutch switch is damaged or misadjusted, it may not send the correct signal and prevent the engine from starting.
The starter relay is a device that connects the battery to the starter motor. A signal from the clutch switch or the ignition switch activates it.
If the starter relay is faulty or corroded, it may not contact the starter motor properly and prevent the engine from starting.
The starter motor is a device that turns the engine over when you press the start button.
However, if the starter motor is faulty or damaged, it may not turn the engine over and prevent it from starting.
Honda Won’t Start Lights Flashing
If your Honda motorcycle won’t start and the lights are flashing, it can be due to a security system issue, a low or dead battery, or a faulty charging system.
Many modern Honda models have security system features that prevent people from riding without permission and motorcycle theft.
The rider uses their key fob or code to arm their bike’s alarm.
That said if the security system is triggered or malfunctioning, it can immobilize the engine and cause the lights to flash.
Reset the security system using the key fob or the code, and follow your owner’s manual instructions