The Honda Interceptor, or affectionately known as the “ Viffer ” due to the VFR800 engine, is a popular series of sport touring motorcycles produced starting in 1998. It may seem hard to find fault with a motorcycle held in such high esteem. , but even a legend like the Interceptor has some blind spots to watch out for and in this post we will talk about the common failures of the Honda Interceptor.
A favorite of the sport-touring community, this motorcycle is Honda’s fiery and fierce answer to fans of high-tech, high-powered sporty riding, as well as long-distance touring aficionados seeking comfort. If you are passionate about motorcycles and you like the “Viffer” keep reading this post, and find out what its faults are and how to solve the problem.
Common Honda Interceptor Failures
Problems specific to each model and generation include the regulators or rectifiers, the cam chain tensioners, and some owners complained about the expensive service of the VTEC models.
Recalls have also been reported for the electrical system for the 2002-2005 models, as well as the hydraulic brake systems for the 2002-2004 models, which we will cover in this article.
1. Regulator/Rectifier Problems
The regulator or rectifier is an integral part of a Honda Interceptor’s charging system. I’d like to take a moment to take a deeper look at how a regulator or rectifier works so you can diagnose and fix any problems you may be having with your Interceptor.
A regulator or rectifier changes AC (alternating current) to DC (direct current) so that the alternator can charge the battery with the proper amount of voltage. The regulator makes sure that the correct amount of current is flowing through your charging system .
In addition, it also converts all incoming AC power to outgoing DC power that can flow back into the battery and keep it charged. Many Honda Interceptor owners reported that the most common problem is premature failure of the regulator or rectifier.
In fairness to Honda, the regulators or rectifiers on any make or model of motorcycle do wear out over time and are not something that specifically affects the Interceptor, but they certainly show up as one of the series’ significant issues.
How does a regulator/rectifier fail?
If your regulator or rectifier is putting out too low a current, the battery will slowly start to drain. On the other hand, if a regulator lets too much voltage through the battery, the battery can get hot enough to completely fry the battery and even explode.
Here are some symptoms of a regulator or rectifier not sending enough voltage to the battery:
- Difficulty starting the motorcycle.
- The bike won’t start at all due to low voltage slowly draining the battery.
- Engine failure while driving if the battery is completely depleted.
- Headlights that dim or waver.
- Inconsistent voltage readings.
Most riders who experienced a regulator malfunction sending too much voltage to the battery reported feeling a lot of heat from the regulator or rectifier.
This is due to its proximity to the Interceptor’s VFR800 engine in an unventilated, high-heat area. The powerful V4 engine can generate enough heat to overload the sensitive governor.
More commonly, Interceptor owners or drivers said that the regulator was more likely to send too low a current, and they had problems with starting, battery depletion, and even engine failure due to a dead battery.
If your Interceptor is experiencing these symptoms, it’s worth testing your charging system because you likely have a failing regulator or rectifier.
You can buy a cheap voltmeter at just about any auto parts store, and you don’t need to be an electrical genius to use one!
How to test the regulator/rectifier on your Honda Interceptor?
Here are the simple steps to test the controller:
- To get started, test the battery voltage. Using your new or borrowed voltmeter, test the battery voltage reading by placing the meter leads across the battery terminals (red to red, black to black!).
You should get a voltage reading between 13v and 15v. If the voltmeter shows a reading greater than 15v, the regulator is allowing too much current to pass to the battery. If you get a reading below 13v, the regulator is not passing enough current.
- Next, separate the wires from the Honda Interceptor.
- Change the voltmeter to the diode configuration.
- Test the regulator or rectifier by connecting the positive probe of the voltmeter to the positive diode of the Interceptor and the negative probe to the input of the stator of the Interceptor.
This test should produce no reading or “0”.
- For the next test segment, place the voltmeter’s negative probe on the Interceptor’s positive diode and put the positive probe on the stator input.
Here you should get a reading, but the number is not as relative as getting a reading in general.
- Now repeat steps 4 and 5 on the negative diode of the Interceptor.
The voltmeter positive probe to the negative diode and the negative probe to the stator input should still produce “0” and the negative probe to the negative diode and the positive probe to the stator input should give an overall voltage reading.
If any of these readings are incorrect, or if your battery is reading outside of the acceptable voltage range (13v-15v), it’s probably time to replace your Interceptor’s regulator or rectifier.
There are plenty of aftermarket regulators that can be used to replace your stock Honda regulator or rectifier and it’s relatively easy to do.
You can call a trusted service professional to service your Honda Interceptor and he’ll immediately ask if you’re replacing the regulator or rectifier.
2. Cam Chain Tensioners on 2002-2013 VFR800 VTEC Models
In 2002, Honda replaced the Interceptor’s VFR800Fi engine with the VTEC model, a purported improvement on its predecessor, to mixed reviews. VTEC models came with an automatic cam chain tensioner (CCT) made of an alloy that seems to wear out suddenly.
Innovative scientists and engineers have replaced the most common manual chain tensioner on the Honda Interceptor with the automatic chain tensioner. Unfortunately for Interceptor pilots, there are “glitches” in this cutting-edge technology that need to be fixed.
An automatic CCT works just like it sounds: it immediately adjusts to changes in cam chain tension as needed. The Interceptor’s timing chain connects the camshafts to the engine’s crankshaft, so they pump in harmony with one another.
As the automatic CCT begins to wear and malfunction, it cannot keep up with the automatic cam chain adjustments, causing the cam chain to loosen or hit. The noise this creates should be enough to scare you a bit.
The downside to all of this is that an automatic CCT cannot be adjusted by hand, making the part a useless hunk of alloy if the automatic tensioner feature is too worn to work. Which means you’re going to have to replace the worn out CCT with any number of more reliable aftermarket cam chain tensioners.
The good news is that replacing the cam chain tensioner on your Honda Interceptor will keep you on the road much longer without worrying about a camshaft or crankshaft malfunction.
On a final note about the Honda Interceptor’s automatic CCT, these automatic units can easily be replaced with a manually adjustable version by a Honda mechanic or certified service professional. The manually adjustable CCT is considered a much more reliable alternative and can extend the life of your engine.
3. Expensive service for VTEC models
Although the VTEC engines built to replace the VFR800Fi once popular in the Honda Interceptor were met with a less than warm reception when they were introduced, these VTEC models have become more popular over the years.
Honda recommends an inspection and valve adjustment when necessary at the 16,000 mile (25,700 km) mark, a service many forum contributors found costly and often unnecessary.
An Australian user posted the following about spending the 16,000 mile (25700 km) service on his Honda Interceptor:
“VFRs are famous for their longevity, so that seems like complete nonsense to me. I’m in the same situation with my 8th gen, only done 24,000 miles (I’m sure first valve service is recommended at 24,000 miles), although I’ll almost certainly wait for another 12,000 miles. They quoted me A$1,000 for the complete overhaul including the valves.”
Although it is always recommended to stick to the manufacturer’s recommendation for mileage or calendar services, the Honda Interceptor is an incredibly reliable motorcycle. Many reports suggest that valves and caps can be serviced at 32,000 miles instead of 16,000.
4. Thermostat malfunction
The thermostats on the Honda Interceptor tend to stick in the closed position. When this happens, the thermostat is not sending the signal to the coolant temperature sensor to turn on the fan and the engine is overheating.
Whether due to a faulty thermostat that came standard with the Honda Interceptor, or simply the age of these bikes (older models are going up in the decades ), replacing your thermostats is highly recommended, especially on older models.
Something as small as a coolant thermostat should never be the reason for catastrophic engine failure. The thermostat is manageable for a mechanically inclined hobbyist to replace.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this to your Honda Interceptor, plenty of experienced mechanics are well aware of this common problem with the model and can fix it at a reasonable price.
Any model produced as long ago as the Honda Interceptor is bound to have some parts recalls, and many are repairable at Honda dealers, even if your bike is not under warranty.
If you are buying a used Honda Interceptor, be sure to ask the seller about the following general recalls:
- Electrical System Recalls on 2002-2005 Honda Interceptors
- Hydraulic Withdrawal/Service Brakes on all 2002 thru 2004 Interceptor models
The good and the bad of the Honda Interceptor
Since you know all about the common faults of the Honda Interceptor, you should also know that this motorcycle has some good things to offer. Here are some of the pros and cons of the Honda Interceptor:
- The Honda Interceptor is one of the most durable motorcycles, spanning 8 generations from 1998 to the present due to its incredible and powerful V4 engines.
- Sporty enough for the street rider.
- Comfort and durability for the longest road adventures.
- Each generation of Interceptor has offered up-to-date technology that keeps the bike ahead of the curve, yet remains easy to use.
- Stylish design: the ultimate sportbike look.
- A recent survey shows that the regulators or rectifiers on the Honda Interceptor are defective parts about 1-3 times.
- Automatic cam chain tensioners wear too quickly, causing loud engine noise and costly repair
- Expensive (and potentially unnecessary) valve and cap service at 16,000 miles on VTEC model engines.
- Thermostat malfunction causing overheating in engines that do not have the proper amount of coolant flowing through them.
What do the opinions say about the Honda Interceptor?
The reviews and comments about the Honda Interceptor are more positive than negative and that is, despite having some flaws in an excellent motorcycle and the solution to the problems it presents are simple, which is why many enthusiasts prefer it. Among the most notable comments are the following:
“Being comfortable on your daily commute, joining the guys on a fun weekend trip, and taking that long road trip you’ve been talking about…all in your VFR. I have done it and I highly recommend it.”
It rides like it’s on rails, and it feels a little lighter than expected when cornering. It’s easy to move from side to side, and the ground clearance is impressive. It’s easy to change lines mid-corner, and it feels sporty and very willing to be driven aggressively. Very stable in the curves, but with great responsiveness. On the highway, it is very stable and moves very well, without any problems.