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Turns over but will not start

1988 sportster.when riding heard a big back fire and then smoke came out of carb. will turn over but will not start at all.just smoke out of carb

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  • Harley Morris
    Harley Morris May 11, 2010

    First off you need to check the plugs to see if they are fouled out. Simply replace the plugs with new HD spark plugs. Let me know from there what it does. You should probably also do a compression test and possibly a leak down test as well.

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Carb needs to be cleaned and adjusted properly

Posted on Apr 15, 2009

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After changing the spark plugs, and riding the bike for about10 minutes, I heard a back fire , and the bike started smoking, and gasoline leaking throught the tail pipes.


When you drove it for 10 minutes did it work & run perfect without any missing? One cylinder possibly started missing backfired and then maybe the carb flooded some how. I would pull both plugs first. Have a look at the plugs, then you will be able to tell which one was missing (wet with fuel). Check compression on each cylinder and then check the carb. I hope this helps.

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My 1980 sportster back fires when started but after its running its OK.This just started what could cause this. Thanks JL


By the term "backfire",are you referring to the engine spitting back through the carburetor or popping through the exhaust system? You also didn't tell me what type of carburetor the bike is equipped with. A lot of the owners of early Sportsters didn't like the original carbs and replaced them with aftermarket carbs. Since the carburetors use different starting circuit designs, it makes a difference in how the engine is started. It really makes no difference and I've heard many bikes that do either or both of these things when starting. What does make a difference is how easily it startes and how it runs AFTER it starts. If it's simply a spit or a pop, this is not unusual. Does the bike run the way it's supposed to? If not, that's what we need to look at.

Good Luck
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1 check fuel filter
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Is the compression release operating properly? Is it stuck open a bit? Is the head gasket blown? Normal compression is 125psi to 150psi. This sounds like a stuck compression release, blown head gasket or burned valves. A mechanic will need to pull the cylinder head and do a valve job on it if the compression release or gasket is not the problem.

Please rate this answer. Thanks robbman1!

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1 Answer

FIRE and FUEL........NOT CRANKING !!!!!!!


check your ignition fuses but i think your problem is between your module and ignition switch if you got safty switches on there any one of them can cause that also.

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