How to ruin a Harley engine

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known for their iconic design and powerful engine. Nevertheless, you can ruin a Harley engine, like that of any other motorcycle, especially if you don’t take care of or use it properly. This article will talk about some of the most common ways to ruin a Harley engine.

How to ruin a Harley engine

Anyone can ruin a Harley-Davidson. Perhaps, you want to get someone a new motorcycle but feel the need to ruin their older one to make way. Whatever the case, below are ways to ruin a Harley:


1. Make the engine overheat

Overheating is a common way to cause engine damage in Harley-Davidsons. A Harley-Davidson motorcycle’s engine is made to operate at a specific temperature range. The pistons, valves, and cylinder walls can all be permanently damaged if the engine gets too hot.

You can overheat it by running the oil at improper levels, clogging up the air filter, or damaging the cooling system. Just take your eyes off your Harley’s temperature gauge to destroy the motorcycle.


Read also: car oil works on Harleys too

2. Get rid of the Lubrication

Harley-Davidson engines need the right amount of lubrication to work well and stay safe.

Thus, a lack of oil in the engine can cause the metal parts to rub against each other, causing friction and heat which can lead to serious engine damage, including scoring of the cylinder walls, damaged bearings, and even seized engine components.

Just don’t lubricate the Harley engine. Don’t change the oil and don’t take care of the oiling system, then it’ll be left in ruins.


3. Do not perform regular maintenance

Normally, regular maintenance is essential for keeping your Harley-Davidson engine running smoothly. However, you can ruin a Harley engine if you don’t run regular maintenance such as changing the oil, checking and tightening the bolts, and inspecting the cooling system.

4. Ping the engine

Engine detonation also called knocking or pinging, is a type of Harley engine damage that happens when the mixture of air and fuel in the engine starts to burn too quickly. This can cause damage to the pistons, cylinder walls, and other internal components. You can ruin your Harley through engine detonation such as wrong timing of the spark plugs, using low-quality gas, or a broken engine management system.

5. Overload the engine

Harley-Davidson engine designs are made to handle a certain amount of weight and stress. Thus, if you overload the engine by pulling or carrying too much weight, it puts too much stress on the engine parts, causing a ruin or even engine failure. In essence, just make sure to load the weight outside the limit before riding your Harley. That should ruin the engine.

6. Use low-quality oil

Low-quality oil would normally lead to several issues, including accelerated engine wear, decreased fuel efficiency, and increased emissions. Don’t use high-quality oil made for motorcycles that meet the requirements set by Harley Davidson to prevent the engine from running smoothly, thereby ruining it. In the primary drives, for example, don’t use oil like Mobil 1 Racing™ 4T 10W-40 or Mobil 1™ V-Twin 20W-50. Just use any bad oil.

7. Put the wrong gas

Put the wrong kind of fuel in your Harley-Davidson engine to ruin the engine. Harley-Davidson recommends premium unleaded gas because lower-octane gas can cause engine knocking and pre-ignition, which can damage the engine, so don’t use that one. Also, use fuels that have ethanol in them to cause corrosion and damage to the parts of the fuel system in your Harley.

8. Drive hard

Drive hard such as accelerating too quickly, going too fast, and shifting gears too quickly to put extra stress on the engine and transmission. That should ruin your Harley engine. The engine will also have to work harder to keep up with the speed which will also cause it to overheat. Never drive carefully to decrease the life of your Harley-Davidson engine.

9. Perform extreme engine modifications

If possible, modify the engine of your Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a way that will cause serious engine damage. Incorrect engine modifications are known to cause power loss, poor performance, and even engine failure.

10. Don’t break in properly

The break-in period is usually very important for the Harley engine to last a long time. Therefore, try putting excessive stress to strain on the engine during the break-in time since the internal parts are not yet used to one another. Try excessive revving, high speeds, and heavy loads for the first 500 miles of the engine’s life. Don’t adhere to the recommended break-in procedures.


Some things you can do to ruin a Harley engine are revving it too fast, using the wrong oil, not taking care of the air filter, not checking and tightening the bolts often enough, and improperly tuning the engine. Do note that if you don’t take care of your Harley engine, it can break down and cost a lot of money to fix.

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