Symptoms of Bad Crank Position Sensor on Harley Davidson

symptoms of bad crank position sensor on harley davidson

A crank or crankshaft position sensor is an electronic device found on virtually all modern vehicles with internal combustion engines. It measures the rotation speed (RPMs) and the precise position of the engine crankshaft.

The crankshaft speed and position are important for use in engine management circulations. Without it, the engine wouldn’t even start! Of course, you don’t want your Harley’s crank position to go bad in the middle of the road, do you?

Symptoms of Bad Crank Position Sensor on Harley Davidson

Now, there are few symptoms of bad crank position sensor on Harley Davidson. But the two major symptoms are related to circulatory problems and overheating of the engine. But the major symptoms are as follows.

Error Code

If the sensor goes bad, the first thing it will show is a PO374 error code. This is a diagnostic trouble code for vehicles with an engine position sensor. For a Harley, the P0374 code may be shown when the powertrain control module (PCM) detects no pulses from the position sensor.

Besides, this code could also mean there is a wiring problem, or the oil is contaminated.

Intermittent Stalling

An important indication for the malfunction of your Harley’s crank position sensor is that, while running, it might turn off sometimes.

The crank position sensor or its wiring might have issues causing the signal to cut off while the engine is still running. A bad crank position sensor causes this symptom. But it might also be a wiring problem too.

Erratic Starting

This is the most common and serious of all the symptoms relating to bad crank position sensor for Harley Davidson or for any other vehicle for that matter. A damaged position sensor will cause the engine to start inconsistently.

It starts out with minor difficulty in starting, but eventually, one day, it finally goes dead if you don’t get it fixed fast.

Vibrating Engine

Another symptom of a bad crank position sensor is that the engine often vibrates unusually. This can easily be detected by someone who has monitored the engine vibration before.

Over time, this vibration can reduce the amount of power the engine produces and hamper its ability to record accurate mileage. Because a faulty crank position sensor fails to give proper information about the piston positioning of the engine and thus it vibrates or some time misfires.
So if you feel or hear the engine stuttering or vibrating unusually, take action immediately.

Cylinder Misfiring

When your vehicle’s crank position sensor is failing, then you’ll notice the cylinder misfire. This is because it is unable to provide your vehicle’s computer with correct piston position information.

Uneven Acceleration

When your Harley Davidson’s crank position sensor turns bad, you’ll notice the acceleration performing unevenly.

The reason is almost the same as Cylinder Misfiring, which is the incorrect information regarding cylinder position and consequent delay of computer processing. This delay between receiving and applying the data causes the accelerator to misbehave.

Reduced Mileage

Since the bad crank position sensor fails to send correct information, the gas isn’t pumped efficiently into the engine. As a result, you’ll notice the engine eating up more gas than necessary. This means you get less mileage against fuel.

Check Engine Light

Well, this notification comes in handy, but not always at the time you want it to. Sometimes the check engine light comes on after the crank position sensor is gone. But other times, it is fairly accurate. So whenever you see the light coupled with any of the problems mentioned earlier, it is probably the sensor.

Driving with a bad crank position sensor is potentially dangerous. You might end up losing a lot of your cash behind repairing Harley. In worse cases, the vehicle might stop working at all.

In most cases, whenever there is actually a problem with the crank position sensor, one of the above-mentioned symptoms appear. And when they do, I suggest you take action immediately.

I have added a few tips you could apply. They really come in handy, as seen from professional experiences. But if you’re a newbie, take it to the nearest expert available.

What to Do Now?

Here we have compiled some to-dos to perform when you have a bad crank position sensor on Harley Davidson;

Check the Condition of the Sensor

Check the crank sensor with an ohmmeter. The first thing to check is to see if you’re getting voltage to the sensor from the ECU. If it has more resistance than likely, then it is the sensors fault.

Always keep a Spare

This is the best way you can get anywhere if the crank sensor dies out in the middle of the road. Trust me; most pros keep a spare one with them.

Replace with a Better Sensor

Because I can tell you when a sensor decides to finally quit, you’re not going anywhere. If you’re confident with your abilities, you can replace it yourself. But otherwise, it’s better to leave it to an expert.

Factory Checkup

When you see the error code, the first thing you can do is visually inspect the position sensor and its corresponding wiring. If you can’t detect anything yourself, take it to a factory or repair shop for a proper full inspection.

Final Note

In the end, take note that these symptoms are more common in Harley Davidson’s older models than the newer ones. In newer models, the crank position sensor is designed in such a way that it allows you to reach your destination even after it goes bad.

Usually, the symptoms of a bad crank position sensor on Harley Davidson are quite easy to notice. For example, you experience slight hesitation with the engine or reduced mileage, etc. But the first thing you’ll notice easily is the PO374 error code.

The performance of all vehicles, including Harley Davidson, reduces greatly with age. You will start noticing it is not running as good as it did during the first few months of purchase. So you see, it is kind of a common phenomenon if yours is an older model and nothing to get worried or upset about.

Resources & References


Hi, I’m Adam Vachon, an avid learner and working in the product marketing niche for the last few years. The problem I faced when marketing products for manufacturers made me interested in starting GearsLoft.

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