While Indian motorcycles are known for their reliability, performance, and distinctly American style, like any other bike, they can sometimes experience technical difficulties that cause them to stall.
The failures that cause stalling can be frustrating, dangerous, and costly if not fixed promptly.
This article explores the most common reasons why an Indian motorcycle keeps stalling and how to troubleshoot and fix them.
Table of Contents
1. Restricted Fuel Flow
One of the most common reasons why an Indian motorcycle keeps stalling is restricted fuel flow, meaning a fuel system blockage is preventing fuel from reaching the engine to maintain combustion.
Restricted fuel flow can be caused by several factors, such as:
Clogged Fuel Filter:
The fuel filter is a device that removes dirt and debris from the fuel before it enters the engine.
If the fuel filter is clogged, it can reduce the amount of fuel that passes through it and cause stalling.
You can prevent your model Indian from stalling by inspecting and cleaning or replacing your Indian’s fuel filter regularly.
Blocked Fuel Lines:
The fuel lines are the hoses that connect the fuel tank, the fuel pump, and the carburetor or fuel injection system.
If the fuel lines are clogged, they can prevent the fuel from flowing smoothly and cause stalling.
Inspect the fuel lines for cracks, leaks, or kinks and replace them if necessary.
Faulty Fuel Pump:
The fuel pump is a device that pumps the fuel from the tank to the engine.
If the fuel pump is defective, it can fail to deliver enough fuel pressure or volume and cause stalling.
Test the fuel pump for any malfunction and replace it if necessary.
Faulty Pickup Tube:
The pickup tube is a part of the fuel pump assembly that connects to the filter in the bottom of the tank on specific models, including the Indian Scout. The Pickup tube “picks up” the fuel from the tank and sends it to the pump.
If you replaced your fuel pump thinking that was the issue behind your Indian’s frequent stalls, but it’s still happening, you may have a disconnected pickup tube on your hands.
“Even if Indian did replace the fuel pump, they still may not have gotten the pickup (two pieces) back together so it could pick up the fuel in the bottom of the tank. A lot of this happened in 2015 when they were trading out tanks because of paint issues!” -IndianMotorcycles.net
If the pickup tube is faulty, it can fail to reach the bottom of the tank or detach from the filter and cause stalling.
“Apparently, they finally figured out how to connect the fuel pumps and the pickups together to make it work. All of us went through all of this in 2015 with all the tanks that were replaced from bad paint jobs. When the tank comes to the dealer, it is not a complete unit; it is only a shell, and the plastic nameplates are not attached.
They do not come as a complete unit, just installed on the bike. The number 11 pickup tube with the filter hanging from it in the “Indian Scout’s” schematic is the culprit for not being able to pick up the gas from the tank. There is a technique to ensure it is over the edge of the sides of the inside of the tank and connected when the unit goes back into the shell.” – IndianMotorcycles.net
To fix this problem, inspect your Indian’s pickup tube for any damage or misalignment and reconnect it correctly.
2. Vacuum System Leaking Air
Another common reason an Indian motorcycle keeps stalling is if your vacuum system leaks air. A failure in the vacuum system allows air to enter the engine without passing through the air filter or fuel injection system.
“There is a strong possibility that intake vacuum leaks are the source of your issue. Vacuum leaks CANNOT be “tuned out”. The Indians use the type of rubber manifold attached to the head with two bolts, and they are the worst in design and quality I have seen in 44+ years working on scoots. When I suspected vacuum leaks on my scoot, I removed them from the heads. Most of the time, manifolds are stuck to the heads; mine just FELL OFF. In other words, there was no effective seal… Other Indian owners had severe cracking at the mating surface… You can see a ring around the inside of the port just inboard of the mounting surface, a common sign of vacuum leaks.” IndianMotorcycles.net
Unregulated air entry can cause the engine to run lean, which means too much air and insufficient fuel in the combustion chamber.
Running lean can cause the engine to idle high, surge, backfire, or stall.
Several factors can cause a vacuum system to leak air on an Indian motorcycle.
- The IACV regulates the amount of air that bypasses the throttle body when the throttle is closed. It helps to maintain a stable idle speed and prevent stalling. If the IACV is faulty, it can either stick open or closed, allowing too much or too little air into the engine and causing stalling.
- The throttle body controls the air entering the engine when the throttle is opened. It consists of a butterfly valve that opens and closes according to the throttle position. If the throttle body is cracked or loose, it permits air to leak into the engine and cause stalling.
- The intake manifold gasket is a seal that connects the intake manifold to the cylinder head, preventing air from leaking out of the intake manifold and into the engine. A damaged intake manifold gasket allows air to circulate into the engine and cause stalling.
3. Blocked Airbox Filter
A blocked airbox filter can also cause your Indian motorcycle to stall. The airbox filter is a device that cleans the air before it enters the engine, protecting the engine from damage and improving its performance and efficiency.
However, if the airbox filter is dirty or clogged, it can reduce the airflow to your Indian motorcycle’s engine and cause stalling.
- The airbox filter can get blocked by dust, dirt, or debris from the environment, especially if you ride in dusty or dirty conditions.
- It can also get blocked if you fail to inspect, clean, or replace it per the outlined intervals or use a wrong or incompatible air filter for your Indian model.
- To prevent this problem, you must regularly check and replace or clean your airbox filter, using a soft brush or compressed air to remove any loose dirt.
Some of the Indian bike models use a disposable airbox filter that needs to be replaced every so often.
You can wash some of the other Indian models’ reusable airbox filters with warm water and mild soap when it gets dirty. Let it dry completely before reinstalling it on your motorcycle.
By checking and cleaning your airbox filter regularly, you can prevent your motorcycle from stalling.
4. Loose/Corroded Battery Terminal Connection
Another reason for stalling on Indian motorcycle models are loose or corroded battery terminal connections. Terminal connections are the points where the battery cables connect to the battery posts.
The connection relays the electrical power to the motorcycle’s ignition system, starter, and other electrical components.
Therefore, if the connection is loose or corroded, it can interrupt the electrical flow and cause stalling.
“I was talking to a guy today who said… the Scout has a bad habit of loosening those connections over time.” IndianMotorcycles.net
The connection can become loose or corroded by vibration, moisture, or dirt from the environment. This can affect the electrical contact and cause stalling.
“A lot of posts about loose battery connections [on Indian bikes] would cause strange issues with these high-tech machines. My dealer added a battery tender pigtail even though there is a factory-installed one. They said it’s very light gauge and not very direct. If this is normal practice, then the dealer and his methods, washers, etc. would be suspect in loose connections, not Polaris.” IndianMotorcycles.net
Check and clean your connection regularly to prevent poor battery terminal connections, especially if you ride in harsh conditions.
Use a wrench to tighten the battery cables and ensure they are secure. You can also use a wire brush or a baking soda solution to remove any corrosion or dirt from the battery posts and terminals.
NOTE: Wear gloves and eye protection when cleaning these terminals.
When finished, apply some dielectric grease or petroleum jelly on the connection to prevent further corrosion.
5. Ignition System Issues
The ignition system is the system that creates and delivers your Indians spark to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the engine. If any of its components are faulty, damaged, or worn out, it impacts and weakens or prevents your Indian motorcycle’s spark, causing stalling.
The ignition system consists of components such as the battery, the ignition coil, the spark plugs, and the ignition switch.
A bad ignition coil can fail to produce enough voltage or deliver it inconsistently and cause stalling.
Test the ignition coil for any signs of malfunction and replace it if necessary.
Dirty or fouled spark plugs prevent the spark from reaching your Indian bike’s combustion chamber, causing it to stall. Check and clean your spark plugs regularly and replace them as needed.
Your bike’s ignition switch can fail to send or cut off the power to the ignition system and cause stalling.
Test the ignition switch for any signs of malfunction and replace it if necessary.
6. Malfunctioning Crank Position Sensor
Another reason for stalling is a malfunctioning crank position sensor. The crank position sensor is a device that measures the position and speed of the crankshaft, a shaft that rotates the pistons in the engine. It helps to determine the timing of fuel injection and ignition.
That said, if the crank position sensor malfunctions, it can send incorrect signals to the engine control unit (ECU) and cause stalling.
“The crank position sensor is notorious for being an intermittent failure, with each failure getting closer and closer together.” IndianMotorcycles.net
“It doesn’t take much crud for them to give erratic signals. It depends on how gunned up it was. I’d look at the price and gauge whether it is worth replacing or simply sourcing one and carrying it as a spare. As you know, it’s a 5-minute swap out!” IndianMotorcycles.net
“Yesterday, I was out riding, and the bike shut down while under medium throttle. The check engine light came on. I retrieved the error code – 636 – Crank Shaft Position Sensor. I was able to restart the engine and limp home. The bike would start, idle, and run under 2500 rpm but would fall flat if I tried to rev the engine.” IndianMotorcycles.net
- If the sensor itself is damaged or worn out by age or use, it can fail to detect or report the crankshaft position and cause stalling accurately. Replace the damaged sensor.
- If the wiring or connectors that link the sensor to the ECU are faulty, they can cause poor or intermittent electrical contact and cause stalling. Inspect and repair or replace the wiring or connectors.
- If the ECU that receives and processes the signals from the sensor is bad, it can fail to properly adjust or control the fuel injection and ignition timing and cause stalling. Test and replace or reprogram the ECU.
7. Improper Engine Timing
If your Indian motorcycle model’s engine timing is off, it can cause stalling. The engine timing synchronizes the combustion chamber’s spark, fuel, and air. It determines when the spark plugs ignite the fuel-air mixture in the cylinders.
The ignition system, the camshaft, and the crankshaft control the engine timing.
On an Indian motorcycle, components can be impacted by multiple factors, such as:
- Worn or damaged timing belt: This can cause the camshaft and crankshaft to lose alignment and affect the valve timing and ignition timing. To fix this problem, replace the timing belt.
- Incorrect ignition timing adjustment: This can cause the spark plugs to fire too early or too late and affect the combustion. To fix this problem, adjust the ignition timing according to your owner’s manual—we suggest consulting a professional mechanic.
8. Inadequate Rider Input
Sometimes, the reason an Indian motorcycle keeps stalling is not the motorcycle itself but the rider. The rider may not provide enough input to the motorcycle to keep it running due to being inexperienced, distracted, or careless.
The clutch is a device that connects and disconnects the engine and the transmission.
The clutch lever lets the rider change gears and control the motorcycle’s speed.
If the rider releases the clutch too slowly or too quickly, it can cause the engine to lose power and stall.
- To prevent this problem, the rider needs to find the friction zone, which is the point where the clutch starts to engage and disengage.
- Release the clutch smoothly and gradually while giving enough throttle to the motorcycle.
The throttle controls the amount of fuel that enters the engine. It allows the rider to accelerate and decelerate the motorcycle.
- If you fail to give enough gas to the motorcycle by hitting the throttle, your Indian’s engine can backfire or stall.
- Moreover, if the rider shifts to a wrong or inappropriate gear, it can cause the engine to over-rev or under-rev, which means it runs faster or slower than it should.
Over-revving or under-revving can cause damage to the engine and stall; be sure to shift to a suitable gear for the bike’s speed and load.
9. Tripped or Faulty Circuit Breakers
Your Indian motorcycle may equip circuit breakers, devices that protect the electrical circuits of the motorcycle from overload or short circuits.
These breakers are designed to “trip” or open and interrupt the current flow when the current exceeds a specific limit. If the circuit breakers are faulty, they can trip below the rated current value and cause stalling.
“My 2014 Vintage has NEVER had one issue in over five years of ownership until now. Riding down the highway, I had a sudden total loss of power with the dash going dark for a couple of seconds, then everything reset and the bike ran fine again. I rode for another couple miles, and it did it again with me having to pull off the highway onto the berm… It did these three more times when I made it 15 more miles to home. Then, after pondering for a while, the only circuit with a problem was the main ignition circuit! I looked at the fuse block; the fuse was a tall-looking 20 amp. After investigation, I found out that [the problem] is a [tripped] circuit breaker.” IndianMotorcycles.net
Some circuit breakers may have an internal defect that makes them open below the rated current value.
This can affect the electrical flow to the ignition system, the fuel pump, or other electrical components and cause stalling.
- Replace your faulty circuit breaker; consult your local Indian dealership to determine if your bike is covered under recall or warranty.
- Furthermore, your Indian’s circuit breakers may degrade or wear out due to heat, vibration, or corrosion.
- Once worn, they may open below the rated current value and cause stalling.
If the circuit breaker is not installed correctly, it may not make good contact or connection with the electrical circuit, causing a poor or intermittent electrical flow and cause stalling.
Inspect your breakers regularly, replacing or reinstalling the circuit breaker as needed.