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4 Common Failures Of The Honda VTX 1800 Motorcycle: Problems And Breakdowns

Honda debuted the VTX 1800 in 2001 as a 2002 model. At the time of launch, a production 1800cc engine was unheard of so it surprised many, however, in this post you can learn about the most common Honda failures VTX 1800.

Honda may only have taken the biggest engine crown for about two years, before the other brands followed suit, but the VTX1800 put in a quarter-mile faster as far as the V-Twins go. Still, this bike isn’t perfect, so keep reading this post so you’re aware of issues commonly found on the VTX1800.

Common failures of the Honda VTX 1800

Whether you’re looking for a race bike or a great road trip bike, the VTX1800 is a reliable choice, but what are the most common VTX1800 failures? Next, we will tell you what they are:

1. Premature failure of wheel bearings

One of the common issues that even Honda enthusiasts air about the VTX1800 is premature wear of the bike’s wheel bearings. Before we go any further, let’s get the PSA out of the way: Checking your wheel bearings and maintaining them according to Honda spec instructions is the first part of regular maintenance on all motorcycles.

Catching a worn bearing before it goes bad will save you time, money and the sadness of having your prized bike stuck in the garage when you should be out riding the roads.

Here are four signs of worn wheel bearings on a Honda VTX 1800:

  1. The wheels generate a peculiar buzzing sensation during rides.
  2. A hyper-buzzing vibration goes up the handlebars from the wheels.
  3. A hum while driving resonates from the distance between the VTX’s wheels.
  4. Damage to the wheel hubs and axles of your VTX1800.

If you find any of the symptoms, have your 1800’s wheel bearings examined as soon as possible.

Warning: Failure of the wheel bearings can lead to further deterioration of the motorcycle, including the possibility of a collision.

  • If you find that the wheel bearings on your VTX1800 are failing, waste no time in replacing them.
  • A decent home mechanic should have no problem replacing wheel bearings in a couple of hours if he has the right tools for the job, of course.
  • Remember, if you know how to replace bearings, there’s no shame in seeking out a knowledgeable Honda mechanic for the job.

There are numerous online tutorials for changing wheel bearings on a Honda VTX 1800. If you’re determined to get down to business and have trouble finding an instruction guide, you can search for a tutorial online.

Pro Tip: Take a few photos of each step as you remove the damaged bearings; reverse the process during the installation of the new bearings to make sure you put the parts in the correct order.

You are going to need a wheel puller to remove the wheels from your VTX. There are several wheel puller assemblies that you can build yourself for little money; you decide whether to trust your integrity.

2. Headlight vibration

Another unfortunate trend the VTX1800 follows is the headlamp and its tendency to vibrate. As someone who avoids driving at night in new places, the thought of a loose headlight is scary. Luckily though. More than a handful of riders isolated the problem and took to the forums.

  • To find out where the hum is coming from on the Honda VTX 1800, some riders put their fingers on the headlight while driving.
  • We found reports from such VTX1800 owners that the headlight rattles and vibrations stop once pressure is applied to the headlight.
  • So, we suggest you honor the brave souls who risked their lives pressing down on the headlight while riding their VTX one-handed, keeping both hands on the handlebars, and taking their word for it that the headlight rattle actually stops buzzing when they hold it down.

What causes this inconvenience?

The VTX1800 riders discovered that the cause of the hum was loose wiring in the headlight. The flexible cables vibrate against the headlight hub, which is especially noticeable at highway speeds. These vibrating headlight wires seem to be the source of the VTX1800’s dreaded loose headlight rattle.

If any of our readers run into this issue, please wrap any loose wires in electrical tape to prevent them from rubbing against the headlight bowl in high winds or at high speeds.

To find out if loose bulb wires are causing your VTX’s headlight to vibrate:

  1. Remove the two Philips head screws.
  2. Remove the headlight; it will roll towards you as you remove it.
  3. Let it hang forward while you work if it doesn’t bother you. However, if you think it’s going to interfere with your focus, you can remove it completely while you take care of the wiring.
  4. You can let the headlight hang forward or remove it completely.
  5. In the headlight bucket, you will find a group of wires connected.
  6. Gracefully, so as not to intrude on the connectivity of the wires, apply that electrical tape or some velcro tape in a way that prevents the wiring from interfering with the headlight bucket.
  7. Some testimonials point out that riders glue foam to the bottom of the VTX’s headlight housing for padding, further increasing the strength factor of stabilized wiring.
  8. Other bikers tear off a piece of double-sided tape, about an inch long, and stick it to the underside of the headlight seat. If you choose this option, you’ll need to cut the tape so the headlamp can slide into the slot.

There you have it; cheap, quick and easy fix to the dreaded VTX1800 headlight rattle; Don’t let this common problem stop you from getting a great deal on a used VTX1800!


3. Battery terminals are easily disconnected

The next common fault that frustrated riders seem to have with the VTX1800 on the forums is the claim that the battery terminals disconnect while riding. Now, it’s important to note that the VTX1800 isn’t the only one this happens to. This is a common problem on countless Big Twin bikes due to the vibration inherent in the engine design.

Insufficient connection of the battery terminals will cause your VTX’s starter solenoid to stop holding a charge when the starter draws power from the now loose terminals. The result is a failed boot that clicks instead of turning on your VTX.

Typical signs of a bad battery connection

The 7 typical signs of a bad battery connection on a Honda VTX 1800 are as follows:

  1. The VTX won’t start
  2. Heat is generated at the terminal connections while the battery is working
  3. Smoke, general burning smell of heat wafts from the battery while driving
  4. Screens are less defined and weaker than normal
  5. Loss of power, either when trying to start the bike or while driving
  6. Lights dim while your VTX is running or turn off during startup
  7. The clock screen restarts itself

If you find signs of power loss similar to the seven mentioned above, check the battery terminals first. There are some motorcycle experts who pull their hair out on the road, trying to figure out why the power of the bike keeps dropping. It turns out to be a loose battery terminal that they could have fixed much faster than thought.

4. The water pump loses coolant

The VTX1800 changed the definition of a Big Twin with its liquid-cooled V-Twin. How did they get such a monstrous engine before nobody had it like that? Keywords: liquid cooling.

This motorcycle uses a liquid coolant to keep the engine below dangerous heat levels. One of the common problems found with the VTX1800 is the failure of the water pump, which develops a coolant leak.

Now let’s get something straight real quick: while there are plenty of claims about coolant leaks on VTX1800s on the forums, owner negligence is the common denominator.

Honda specifies the coolant that the masterpiece of a VTX1800 engine requires so that it can do a monster down the road as expected. However, in the multiple reports of VTX water pump failure the owners admitted that they were using car coolant in the VTX1800 engine.

  • Most car coolants contain an ingredient called silicate.
  • The VTX1800 specifically suggests coolants that do not contain silicates.
  • If you ignore Honda’s suggestion, your VTX1800 will develop a coolant leak.
  • If you are trying to extend the life of your coolant by topping it up with water, as some motorists have admitted to doing, you must distill the water. Minerals present in the non-distilled water in your coolant can corrode certain engine parts.

To be clear, not all water pump failures that have been found are the result of mismanagement – a broken thermostat can also cause coolant leaks on a VTX1800. If the thermostat gets stuck shut, you’ll hear the gurgling and backing up of hot water as it tries to get through. Next, in this unfortunate sequence of events, the coolant is forced back up and leaks from your VTX’s water pump.

How to solve this problem?

The solution is simple, replace the broken thermostat on your VTX1800 ASAP, or you’ll break the water pump as well, which has the potential to cause even more serious engine damage. Replacing the thermostat on your VTX 1800 includes replacing the thermostat itself, but also the therm:

  • Case
  • o-rings
  • hoses
  • clamps

Replacing the entire assembly ensures that the leak is resolved once and for all.

The good and the bad of the Honda VTX 1800

You have already read about the common faults of the Honda VTX 1800, now it is good that you know some good things that this wonderful motorcycle has.

Here are some pros and cons of the Honda VTX 1800:

  • Accessible power through quick throttle response
  • Comfortable heel and toe shifter design
  • strong torque
  • comfortable and ergonomic
  • Generous storage space on Touring models
  • Premature failure of wheel bearings
  • Headlight vibration
  • Battery terminals are easily disconnected
  • The water pump loses coolant

What do the reviews say?

There are plenty of big-displacement V-twin cruisers on the market these days, and until this release, Honda was conspicuously absent from the scene. Sure, life went on, but the question often arose as to when the most respected manufacturer of high-efficiency vehicles would join the party; there was never any doubt that that knock on the door would eventually come. And, of course, there was speculation about the effect Honda’s mysterious dish would have on the potlatch. Rumors had swirled for years that a monstrous displacement V-Twin was brewing in that den. And given the Jones effect on the cruiser market, a bigger size was bound to shake things up.

Well, after several years of market rumors, and more than five years of development behind closed doors at Honda, the cruiser world has its huge new entry. A street rod style bike, more bruiser than cruiser, powered by a dynamic 1795cc 52 degree V-twin, liquid cooled and fuel injected, an engine that dwarfs Yamaha’s 1600cc push-rod design, which until now it was the favorite of those who favored the big-hearted. With impressive power (we got 88.9 at 5,250 rpm) and enough torque to pull trees – 100.3 foot-pounds at 3,000 rpm (omg) – we’re talking about cutting into a new plate of mustard here folks.

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