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MrHonda, Motorcycle Mechanic
Category: Motorcycle
Satisfied Customers: 534
Experience:  40 years of Honda motorcycle ownership & repair. Author of the Classic Honda Buyer's Guide (MBI)
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My 93 Honda VFR 750 is having problems starting when cold.

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My 93 Honda VFR 750 is having problems starting when cold.
When its been running and is switched off it is very easy to "restart". It starts within 1 second and runs great.

However when it's cold the starter spins (actually it sounds like a grind) but only seems to turn the engine (crank) about 20% of the time. (e.g. - From the moment the starter button is pressed the starter motor begins grinding away, and for every five seconds or so of (very loud) grinding, it seems to "catch" and give the crank at least one complete turn) More often than not, this single turn of the crank is not enough to start the cold motor, and I end up roll starting to avoid long bouts of the embarrassing racket. When it finally starts the engine will sometime skip for several minutes until it gets warm then it runs fine.

A dealer recently told me the problem was the battery so I replaced with a new one but the problem has persisted.
Hi, I read through your question, but didn't get any sense of how much choke you are using when the engine is cold?

The bike should fire up cold with full choke and no throttle, in normal circumstances. The choke cable could be loose and not engaging the enricheners, so have that looked at first.

If the cause is more "not turning over" properly, than not lighting off quickly, then the starter clutch must be slipping.

There are springs and rollers in the starter clutch assembly that may be failing. The springs often collapse over time and then the rollers don't stay in contact with the starter clutch hub to keep the crankshaft engaged for start up.

Bill S.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Hi Bill - Thanks for your reply.

Your starter clutch suggestion based on "not turning over" properly, as opposed to the not lighting off quickly sounds most appropriate to the symptoms I am experiencing. When the crank actually "catches" and is turned it will only take 1-3 turns to fire up even when cold.

From the beginning I would have described the problem as being very similar to ones I've had with cars when the starter selinoid is failng. However upon ititial inspection the honda's starter motor did not appear to have such a mechinism. Now I see the from your link that the workings are under the side cover rather than on the starter, and it uses a centrefuge mechanism rather than a selinoid. That seems therefore a very logical conclusion.

Even still, I am curious as to why the problem only seems to show up when the bike is cold? Once the motor has been started and the bike ridden (5 minutes to work in my case) it will catch and crank over just fine pretty as you please. Would this consideration have any bearing on the previous diagnosis?

Finally I have not approached or chosen a shop yet, as since moving to London England from Virginia I have yet to had the necessity until now, but wonder if you could describe (ballpark is fine) what would be an appropriate (time only) estimate to make the repair for an accredited professional mechanic?

With best regards,

PS.In addition I have a couple more questions but they are unrelated (fueling/spark related), and as this is my first question on "just answer" I am not sure of the correct protocol. Do I need to post them in a different request, or can I simply ask them as part of this request and suggest / negotiate a new figure for the additional questions?

Vic, Cold engines start up harder, due to additional cold engine and oil friction issues, for the most part. Once these bikes have been fired up once, during the day, they usually light off quickly for following restarts. I imagine that the starter clutch never stops in the same orientation every time, so some of the spring/rollers might be in better contact than others, at some times.

I am fairly new to the site, but I think that they prefer to have individual questions, so they can get more income for everyone. You can put my name on the question title or I think there is an option to ask for me, as well.

I suppose you can outline the nature of your questions here and then I can either field them separately or have you pay as you go using the ACCEPT option to pay for separate portions, then hit Reply to ask new ones....

Glad to help out with your bike questions, if I can.

Bill S.

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