Sportster shut off - little advice needed.

Discussion in 'Sportster Models' started by 1970Dex, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. 1970Dex

    1970Dex New Member

    I have a 2003 Sportster XL1200C. Yesterday on my way home my bike just shut down. I pulled over to the side of the road. I tried to start it about 10 times. It cranked but would not start. It was as if there was no gas. I had to push it home, thank god I was only one block away.
    Before this happened I did let the gas get low. I had the reserve tank on, then went to the gas station. It had to be pretty low because I was almost able to put in 2.5 gallons. After filling up I rode for about 3 miles before this happened. Once I got it home I continued to try to start it. about 15 minutes later it finally started up. It did back fire a few times but it started. I let it idle for about 10 minutes then rode around the block a few times with no problems. Woke up this morning, it started right up as if there were no issues. I rode to work today and everything seemed fine. Ever hear of a Sportster doing this? I don't know much about bikes but it seems to me that there was a problem with the fuel system. Anybody had this problem or have some advice?
  2. Webbtron

    Webbtron Banned

    I see you live in Southern Caliefornia...just curious was it a warm day and the bike had been setting outside in the sun? symptoms sound similar to vapor lock.
  3. RibEye

    RibEye Junior Member Contributor

    Air in the lines?

    Rich P
  4. fin_676

    fin_676 Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    When you turn the fuel tap to reserve it draws the fuel from the lowest part of the tank any dirt or debris will have concentrated in that part of the tank and some may have got into the fuel line and partially blocked the fuel line or the inlet into the carb or the jets
    Once the bike cools down the all the parts contract a wee bit and as everything moved may have shifted the blockage

    So perhaps a flush of the tank and the fuel lines along with dropping the float bowl and giving the jets a good clean may be a worthwhile way of passing a few hours

  5. MDCowboy

    MDCowboy Member

    Fuel or ignition?? That is the question. My bike did this with a full tank. Save yourself some aggravation and go buy a cheap can of compressed air next time this happens. Your ignition module MAY be going bad and needs to be cooled down OR it could be the fuel.. Keep us updated.
  6. hogrotten

    hogrotten Junior Member

    You might also want to pull the fuel valve from the tank and clean or replace the plastic screen inside. If it were me I'd get a new screen from the dealer before I even opened it up as they tend to deteriorate and come apart over time. Might also be a good idea to replace the rubber gasket behind the valve handle as well. It definately sounds like something was restricting the flow of the fuel. :s
  7. Iceman24

    Iceman24 Well-Known Member

    Seems to me you sucked in some debris, or water from the tank when I was low. Might be a good time to run through your carb. If the bike's never had a carb kit - they're not hard to re-build & can be a fun little project. Just like putting together a puzzle, but you don't want any spare parts/pieces, in the end...:s
  8. 1970Dex

    1970Dex New Member

    Update. I rode for another week with no problems. This past Friday night. It was a cool night and I had a full tank I went out for a ride and the bike shut down again. This time I was on the Freeway. I just got on and was starting to open it up to jump in the fast lane. Doing about 75mph and the bike just shut down. I was able to glide off the freeway. I tried about 3 times to restart it but it would not. After about 5 minutes I was able to start it again but I was only able to ride for about a mile before it happened again. I repeated the process. wasn't able to start it, waiting a few minutes then started it up. Rode for about another mile, when I slowed down at a stop sign it shut down. I was able to pull into a parking lot. I left it there for about 2 hours. Went back tried to start it, after s few pretty bad backfires (and the heavy stecnch of gas) it started up but didn't last long. I tried to start it again. It back fired pretty badly and would not start. Had my ol lady pull the truck next to me. Held onto the window frame and towed it home (about 3 miles). It's in my garage now and I just feel terrible. It's only been 3 days but I miss ridin. I will have a friend come by and give me a hand as he knows a lot more than I do. Any suggestions on where to start.
  9. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Expert Member

    Pull the timer cover off and check the pick up:s
  10. NEWHD74FAN

    NEWHD74FAN Experienced Member Retired Moderators

    Do you have a lot of "stuff" hanging off your ignition key...if you have a small bundle of keys, fob and such it can induce wear on your ignition switch. I use to have my security fob hanging off of it and my 2004 XL1200R ignition switch started going intermittant as you describe. Also like Jack, Brian and others stated you could have picked up bad gas or debris, now lying in the lower portions of your carb, hoses (drain and check for rust) or your tank ( in 2004 or there abouts, the fuel tank no longer has the epoxy liner that allows water to get in as it deteriorates over time. HD now uses more "nickel alloy" in the tank material to minimize rust). Use a flashlight and take a look, or as a precaution replace the strainer and vacumn petcock (check hose also, if it "looks" old replace it as well). If you decide to remove the assembly do have the replacement parts in hand. :s