Question about 2000 Harley Davidson XL Sportster 883

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2003 Harley the ignition is not firing, the spark plugs are not firing. The coil shows 12.66 ohms.

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Being on 03, it does not have the feature on 04-up models of on-board diagnostics readable from the speedo... You are seriously best off to take it to an HD dealer an have them plug it into Digital Technician (HD's proprietary computer diagnostic system), they can tell you with 15 minutes what is wrong.

Newer Delphi Injected bikes must use a "spark tester adapter" installed between the plug and wire to check for spark... the plugs must be installed, if the bike has no compression from the plugs being out, it will not fire, giving a false no-spark reading.

This is not easy for the average person to diagnose. On a carbed bike, the three most common things would be the crank position sensor, coil/harness connector and the ignition module. On injected, the crank sensor, coil/harness connector or ECM. As I said, these are the most common, but the problem could be anywhere in the ignition/injection system.

Honestly, you will be better off letting a dealer diagnose and repair than to just start thowing on parts without knowing where to start. Tell us news.

Posted on May 08, 2010

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Hi Anonymous, on twin cams make sure both spark plugs are in heads and use a grounded third plug to check for spark or hold spark plug cable close to spark plug in head. If still not getting spark the usual suspects are:
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Hi David, on twin cams make sure both spark plugs are in heads and use a grounded third plug to check for spark or hold spark plug cable close to spark plug in head. If still not getting spark the usual suspects are:
1. Fouled spark plugs.
2. Battery voltage below 8.7 volts, loose or broken battery cables especially ground cable to frame.
3. Loose connection at ignition coil or plug between ignition sensor and module.
4. Spark plug cables in bad condition, shorting / leaking, spark plug cable connections loose.
5. Faulty ignition coil or ignition / electronic module
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Hi Ray, on twin cams make sure both spark plugs are in heads and use a grounded third plug to check for spark or hold spark plug cable close to spark plug in head. If still not getting spark the usual suspects are:
1. Fouled spark plugs.
2. Battery voltage below 8.7 volts, loose or broken battery cables especially ground cable to frame.
3. Loose connection at ignition coil or plug between ignition sensor and module.
4. Spark plug cables in bad condition, shorting / leaking, spark plug cable connections loose.
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Hi Curtis, the CKP sensor needs compression to send correct signal to the ICM/ECM, make sure both spark plugs are in heads and use a grounded third plug to check for spark or hold spark plug cable close to spark plug in head. If still not getting spark the usual suspects are:
1. Fouled spark plugs.
2. Battery voltage below 8.7 volts, loose or broken battery cables especially ground cable to frame.
3. Loose connection at ignition coil or plug between ignition sensor and module.
4. Spark plug cables in bad condition, shorting / leaking, spark plug cable connections loose.
5. Faulty ignition coil or ignition / electronic module
6. Failed CKP, CMP, MAP or BAS sensor.
7. Faulty ignition switch.
8. Security alarm failing to disarm.
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Hi Vendettachop, if you have a CKP sensor it needs compression to send correct signal to the ICM/ECM, make sure both spark plugs are in heads and use a grounded third plug to check for spark or hold spark plug cable close to spark plug in head. If still not getting spark the usual suspects are:
1. Fouled spark plugs.
2. Battery voltage below 9 volts, loose or broken battery cables especially "GROUND" cable to frame.
3. Loose connection at ignition coil or plug between ignition sensor and module.
4. Spark plug cables in bad condition, shorting / leaking, spark plug cable connections loose.
5. Faulty ignition coil or ignition / electronic module
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Test the primary coil resistance on your coil. Disconnect all the wires going to the small terminals on your coil. Using a good ohm meter, test the resistance between the two small terminals. You should read somewhere between 2 and 3 ohms. If you read more, the coil is bad.

You can also test the coil by leaving the "hot" wire on the coil and replace the other side with a short piece wire. Turn the ignition on and temporarily ground the short piece of wire you put on the "out" side. When you take the wire away from ground, you should see a spark at the plugs.

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Hi Mail4sra, if you have a CKP sensor it needs compression to send correct signal to the ICM/ECM, make sure both spark plugs are in heads and use a grounded third plug to check for spark or hold spark plug cable close to spark plug in head. If still not getting spark the usual suspects are:
1. Fouled spark plugs.
2. Battery voltage below 9 volts, loose or broken battery cables especially "GROUND" cable to frame.
3. Loose connection at ignition coil or plug between ignition sensor and module.
4. Spark plug cables in bad condition, shorting / leaking, spark plug cable connections loose.
5. Faulty ignition coil or ignition / electronic module
6. Failed CKP, CMP, MAP or BAS sensor.
7. Faulty ignition switch.
8. Security alarm failing to disarm.
For a prime suspect please visit the website below. Good luck and have nice day.
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1 Answer

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Replacing a coil is one of the simpliest jobs on a Harley. You've only got four connections. Two of them are spark plug wires and it makes no difference which wire goes to which cylinder as the Harley ignition system is a "dual fire" type system. Both spark plugs fire at the same time every time a piston comes to top dead center.

On the other two connects, the small primary connections, these make no difference either as the coil in a non-polarized type coil.

So, nothing to it, just make sure you are using the correct coil for the bike. The primary resistance of the coil should be about 3-4 ohms for your electronic ignition system. Simply unbolt the old coil and bolt in the new one.

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2 Answers

I have a 1984 Harley Davidson FXRS. I have a single fire crane hi 4 ignition system. It ran flawlessly for a few years and now the bike missed a few time then quit entirely. Now have no spark and would...


There's no real way to check the coil, it either works or it doesn't. I've found that with my Harley's when I lose spark it's generally a bad wire or loose connection. If the wires/connections are good, then it's either the coil or the ignition module. I'd say with the newer Crane on it, that the problem is going to be with the coil. Check the voltage from the ignition module going into the coil. I'm not exact on the voltage, but as long as you have a good strong current getting to the coil, and low to nothing on the plug wire side, then the coil is bad.

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