Question about 2000 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster Custom

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Red oil light does not come on before starting

The red oil light didn't come on today when I took my 03 1200 sportster out. Usually when i put in the key before i start it the red light will come on. not today

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  • Roland Nez Sep 05, 2013

    check the pulg under the front end of the bike just near where a tool bag hangs, mines didn't turn on and I noticed it was unplugged, probably washing with a sponge but it work now after plugging back in.

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  • Master
  • 948 Answers

Instrument bulb burned out. Bad sensor also possible, but unlikely.

Posted on May 26, 2009

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Possible engine seizure. Sportsters give oil pump problems, usually low oil pressure which will NOT turn on the oil pressure light. Get this checked straight away because if I am right, you are heading for a massive repair bill. Another symptom of this is a noisy engine as the valve lifters loose oil pressure to operate correctly.

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The thing that looks like a small solenoid on the bottom of the oil tank is the starter relay. It has three terminals on it. One terminal should be red wire and should have battery voltage on it when you turn the switch on. One wire should come from the start button and the other should go to the small terminal on the starter solenoid. Contact me directly at wd4ity@bellsouth.net. I'll send you a schematic that shows how it's supposed to be wired. Look on the solenoid and see if you see some small numbers around each of the electrical connections. Also, the bolts that hold the relay on act as a ground. If you had the oil tank painted, you may not have a good ground connection on it.

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I was on the freeway and my bike started making a loud tapping noise. I lost power, but was able to coast off the freeway. I got it started again and the engine noise was really loud. Took it into HD and...


The oil is "gooey". Hmm. Cold 20W50 oil is gooey. There is nothing else in the engine to change the consistancy of the oil. Now, your oil tank is accessible without any tools. Possiblility someone could have put something in your oil. A good sniff of the oil should tell the story on that. If it smells like sugar or syrup, that's a good clue.

Now, If the bike wre a big twin, I'd guess you lost a roller on a tappet. Big Twins are notorious for this but the header says your bike is Sporty. I've never seen a Sporty lose a roller tappet. The Sportster has a much better valve train geometry than a Big Twin.

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Other than that, anything I could tell you would be a guess at best. Take a long screwdriver and put on bone in your head just in front of your ear. With the engine running, touch the engine in various places and try to determine where the noise is coming from. Sometimes this isn't easy as the noise will have a tendency to "travel through the engine". Otherwise the only thing you can do is a compression test or a leakdown test.

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