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How to Free a Seized Motorcycle Engine

How to Free a Seized Motorcycle Engine

Posted by Wiley Moody on May 27, 2020

Dealing with a seized motorcycle engine can be incredibly frustrating. You may have tried different solutions to solve the problem and feel overwhelmed when none of them seem to work. Well, there’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to understanding what causes seizures in V-twin cruiser engines. The good news is, it may be possible to fix the problem yourself.

Let’s have a look at the potential causes and some tips on freeing a seized engine.

What Causes a Motorcycle Engine to Seize?

There are different ways your V-twin cruiser engine seizes. Unfortunately, this is something that happens more frequently than you would expect. Depending on the cause, there are different solutions for fixing the problem that you may or may not fix yourself.

  • Lack of Lubrication - This is the most common cause of a seized motorcycle engine. Failing to top off or add quality oil in your motorcycle engine will probably cause an engine seizure. If you suspect that’s the reason, the damage done could already be too severe for you to fix it yourself. Oil helps lubricate engine parts and transfer heat away from moving parts. Engine oil replacement is a vital part of motorcycle maintenance.
  • Without enough oil in the engine, heat and friction between the moving parts increase significantly, ultimately causing the engine parts to wear down, which then causes parts to seize together. Continued movement often causes further damage, such as broken pistons, bent valves, and burnt piston rings, resulting in a seized motorcycle engine.
  • Old or Dirty Oil - Topping up your engine oil sparingly may be good on your wallet, but eventually causes problems on your cruiser bike. Oil degrades and thins out over time and will have minimal lubricating effects. Old or dirty oil will ultimately cause the pistons to stop moving as well as other problems, leading to engine seizure.
  • Rust and Grime Built-Up in the Engine - If you let your V-twin cruiser bike sit for too long, water and condensation can often find its way into the engine and carbs, which increases the formation of rust. With rust in the engine, your piston will fuse to the engine cylinder wall. The collection of grime inside the engine causes the same problem.

How to Free a Seized Motorcycle Engine

There are several tips for freeing a seized engine. However, these are not guaranteed to work as motorcycle problems and solutions are not always the same. For instance, you could be dealing with other problems like bogging on acceleration or stalling. If you’re new to motorcycle maintenance, it’s better to take your bike to your mechanic to get it checked and fixed. Either way, be careful when working on your motorcycle and always wear protective gloves and eye gear.

If you’re comfortable maintaining your own bike, here’s how you can free your seized motorcycle engine:

  • Lubricate Your Pistons and Engine Combustion Chamber - Do this by taking out all the spark plugs then pouring a quality lubricant down the spark plug holes that lead to the top of each piston. Do this on every spark plug hole. Use lubricant that breaks down any grime, such as WD-40 or the Marvel Mystery oil that offers top-notch penetration.
  • After adding the lubricant, wait a few hours for it to soak and then put your cruiser bike to first gear without starting it and rock the motorcycle forward and backward slightly a few inches at least. The upward and downward force on the piston will help break it free. Be gentle as you do this to free your seized motorcycle engine.

Recently seized motorcycle engine

  • Manually Turn the Flywheel - If you have enough experience with general bike maintenance at home, then you should be able to remove your bike’s crack base cover on the side of the engine. Place an oil pan underneath as oil will spill out of it. You can also drain off the oil before taking off the crack base. You should see a bolt sticking out in the middle.
  • Use a socket to rotate the bolt or nut back and forth. Don’t use lots of force as it could cause further internal damage to your engine. This should help loosen your pistons. These two methods should work well for bikes that have sat for too long. However, if you’ve been using low-quality oil or have not been topping up and these tips don’t work, there could be significant damage inside your motorcycle engine. An engine rebuild is the only solution at this point.

Harley engine with cover on

How to Prevent Seizing

engine oil

Want to avoid dealing with a seized motorcycle engine?

  • Ensure that your V-twin cruiser bike always has oil in it.
  • Change the oil at least once a year or every 3500 miles.
  • Check your owner’s manual to know what kind of oil you should use and how often you should change it.
  • If you’ll not be using your bike for long, turn it on frequently and let it idle to allow the fluids to circulate and get the oil to full operating temperature. This will help prevent potential rusting and the accumulation of grime.
  • If your motorcycle requires coolant, top it off once in a while.

Customize Your Cruiser Bike

If you want to learn more about seized motorcycle engines or other motorcycle problems and their solutions, be sure to visit our blog at West End Motorsports. We not only sell custom motorcycle parts and accessories for V-twin cruiser motorcycles but also provide helpful tips and resources for bike owners. Shop aftermarket motorcycle parts by bike, category, or brand.

Need help with placing orders or have questions? Call us at 570.992.1113.