If you learn about the various Harley Twin Cam Problems, you will not be taken aback in terms of surprises.
The Harley Davison brand is arguably one of the best motorcycle brands around. From its customization features to a near-perfect driving experience, there are so many positives you can take away from its design.
But then, the Twin Cam problem is one thing you need to prepare your mind for. And if possible, find a solution to the problem before your bike stops you in the middle of nowhere.
- 1 What Is Harley Twin Cam?
- 2 Launching year & Model of Harley Davidson
- 3 Harley twin cam features
- 4 How long will a Twin Cam Last?
- 5 Harley Twin Cam Problems
- 6 1. Cam chain tensioner
- 7 2. Jammed oil pump
- 8 3. Bearing problems
- 9 4. Damaged cam lobes
- 10 5. Camshaft Problems
- 11 Solutions to the above problems
- 12 Benefits of Twin Cam engine
- 13 Twin cam 88 problems
- 14 FAQ’s Harley Davidson Twin Cam Engine Problems
- 15 Verdict
What Is Harley Twin Cam?
Harley Twin Cam is a term that is exclusively used to describe Harley Davison engines produced between 1998 and 2017.
Although these engines are significantly different from evolution engines, they bore few similarities to their predecessors.
Twin Cam engines possess V-twin cylinders configured at an angle of 45 degrees. The two cylinders use pushrods to activate the valves while they remain air-cooled in the process.
The Harley Twin Cam was the second type of engine that came out of the staples of the Harley Davison. It employed two cams for driving the drivetrain.
Launching year & Model of Harley Davidson
The year 1998 saw Harley Davison launch the Twin Cam engine, with 88 cubic inches for its 1999 model year.
The production continued for various Twin Cam models until 2016. As a result, other Twin Cam models like the 96 cubic inch, 103 cubic inches, and 106 cubic inches were also subsequently produced.
Harley twin cam features
Even though some defects can be associated with the Harley Twin Cam, they still have to be credited for advancing their evolution engines.
Here are some of the remarkable features of the Harley Twin Cam:
- A more efficient oil pump
- 2 cams, with each having 2 lobes
- Silent chain
- Transmission casing and engine are directly connected
- Oil tank behind and below the transmission assembly
- Bathtub-shaped combustion chamber
- No wasted spark
- Extra cooling capabilities when compared to its Evo counterparts.
How long will a Twin Cam Last?
The life expectancy of a Twin Cam is something that should give you cause for concern. After investigating the twin-cam, it has been discovered that the average life expectancy is about 40,000 miles.
Please do not be so excited about that figure because it’s for the design that implements the new hydraulic system.
It will likely collapse before that time. Experienced bikers have put the life expectancy in a bracket of between 15,000 miles and 40,000 miles.
There is a lot of debate about this on various platforms. Finally, how long your twin cam will last will also depend on how much you maintain the bike.
Harley Twin Cam Problems
The Harley Twin Cam was a daring move, considering the flaws that beclouded the predecessor evolution engines.
For example, the twin-cam featured improved cooling, no wasted spark, increased power and displacement capabilities, and a host of others.
Despite all these brilliant improvements, somehow, Harley let the ball drop in a couple of areas. We will highlight the Twin cam shortcomings in this section.
1. Cam chain tensioner
This is a poor design coming in from Harley Davison. One would have expected them to do better. Perhaps, they have adopted this design to cut down their production expenses.
Whatever the case, it is what it is! The Twin Cam design employs plastic shoes that ride on the cam chains. Some say the reason for this design is to quiet any unwanted noise from the engine.
But when the plastic rubs off against one another after a while, the plastic wears out due to friction and constant contact.
When you don’t notice this on time, it will graduate to metal-to-metal contact. At this point, a devastating engine failure could be very well underway.
You may end up spending more money trying to put the engine back in shape by replacing the damaged parts.
2. Jammed oil pump
Like many types of machinery, one damage in the Twin Cam will lead to another damage until the entire system collapses.
When the failure of the plastic spring cam chain loader is evident, the next thing that takes a hit is the oil pump.
What happens is that the shredded plastic materials are sent flying into the oil pump, where it will prevent oil from flowing into the engine.
I don’t need to start explaining how serious that problem can be. It may lead to damages within the engine that will be beyond repairs. I have a feeling you don’t want that to happen.
3. Bearing problems
with the cam chain tensioner taken out and the oil pump jammed, it’s not uncommon to see bearing problems surface.
Usually, you start hearing an unpleasant sound coming in from the engine. This sound is not good by any means. It’s the typical kind of knocking sound.
That will happen because the oil is not having access to the engine. The bearings are supposed to be lubricated each time there is a rotation in the engine.
Damaged bearings can result in damaged rods, pistons, etc., when you choose to ignore the warning signs.
4. Damaged cam lobes
Some H-D bikers have put this down to bad maintenance habits. But, all the same, it looks like this problem occurs too easily, given the cost of the Harley Davison bike.
Camshaft normally requires sufficient lubrication to survive its constant rotation. So if the camshaft does not get that oil supply for whatever reason, it will ruin your bearings eventually.
In some serious scenarios, it can break off the cam cap. That can be attributed to the high amount of heat and friction existing in that area.
So, as we all hope that Harley would solve all these problems, we can do some self-inspection from time to time to ensure certain basic things are in order.
That can prevent us from incurring any unnecessary expenses that the above problems can cause.
5. Camshaft Problems
It’s obvious that more is expected from the Twin Cam engine in many respects.
But, for whatever reasons, Harley Davison seems to have a different proposition far from what bikers expect. A damaged Camshaft can be a major problem for Harley.
Solutions to the above problems
You can take solace in the fact that there are things you can do to salvage the situation. Here are some of the recommended solutions;
- Adopt a gear drive replacement system
- Invest in high-quality motorcycle oils for better performance and longer lifespan
- An extra oil cooling fan would help reduce how the plastic shoes wear.
Benefits of Twin Cam engine
The Twin Cam engine brought along with it some massive improvements when you consider the pitfalls that bedeviled its Evo predecessor.
For what it’s worth, the Twin Cam engine has got its benefits, and you need to be aware of them. This section will spell out those benefits for you:
- It ensures there isn’t as much restricted airflow during high speeds
- It promises better efficiency, thanks to its improved combustion
- You are privy to more torque during higher speeds, which translates to faster acceleration
- Enhanced cooling capacity due to the controlled cooling features
- A more efficient pumping for larger volume and higher pressure
- Lesser noise due to its silent chain
Twin cam 88 problems
This section will gladly outline the Twin cam 88 problems. The problems you are bound to experience, but not limited to, are:
- Spring-loaded cam chain tensioner
- A loud and unpleasant thrashing sound
- Bad oil pumps
- Damaged bearings due to lack of enough lubricant
- Worn out cam lobes
- Camshafts can easily go bad
FAQ’s Harley Davidson Twin Cam Engine Problems
How long is a Twin Cam supposed to last?
If you are to Google this, you will come across a flurry of different answers. It’s rightly so because a lot of factors contribute to the lifespan of the Twin Cam.
While some say it’s 100,000 miles, some have complained that theirs have failed at a much lesser mileage than that.
However, after much findings, the average life expectancy has been pegged at 40,000 miles. Again, this is not a blanket answer.
You might have to cover more or less distance before yours finally caves in. Your maintenance habits will also influence how soon your Twin cam will go down.
Should I go for the Harley Twin Cam after hearing all the issues?
That is a decision you will have to make yourself. I am only going to help by pointing out some of the Twin Cam defects.
Honestly, the chain tensioner issue is a big flaw on the path of Harley Davison. You may also have to contend with the bad pump sooner than you can imagine.
Bearings, camshaft, and cam lobes are some other things you may want to worry about as well. But does that completely disqualify the Harley Twin Cam? That’s yours to answer. There are solutions to all the problems.
Between the Evo and Twin Cam, which is better?
There seem to be visible differences between the two engines.
For starters, the evolution engine is gifted with a combustion chamber & head design that is not only more efficient but also assures higher torque and horsepower compared to the Twin Cam 88 for a specific volume cylinder.
Notwithstanding, the Twin Cam 88 comes with an improved lifter design.
The pushrods and valve actuators are positioned to ensure better revolution. One noticeable problem with the twin cam 88 is the chain drive that operates the system. It’s kind of weak.
How is the Twin Cam 88 better than the Evo in terms of spark firing?
There is a lot of wasted spark in the Evo engine because both plugs are designed to fire simultaneously.
The ignition system functions with a single coil. However, for the Twin Cam 88, the issue of wasted sparks has been cut down to the barest minimum since it deploys double coils in its ignition system.
So, the TC-88 seems to be better off when you compare it to the Evo.
I have not gotten any problems with cam-support bearings yet, but I hear it happens. How bad is it?
Although this has only been recorded with a few bikes, dealers advise their customers to watch out for it.
Many riders who have the TC-88 engine have complained of this. Somehow, it’s a matter of time before it happens.
Just make sure you keep a close eye on your bearings to ensure it doesn’t cause any serious damage on the engine.
Listen for any unusual sound as you drive. Even if Harley has said they have fixed this issue, you shouldn’t take their word for it. Always watch out for any funny sound.
How can I fix my cam tensioner problems?
The job of the cam tensioner has to do with adjusting the engine cam chain’s tension.
Due to its slackness, the cam chain may start making noise when it goes bad.
The way to fix this is by purchasing any of the tools in the market that can help you manually adjust the tension.
It’s also good to keep the service manual by your side to know how the chain should be exactly tensioned.
But if the unpleasant sound continues, you would have no choice but to do a complete replacement because the chain tensioner is completely worn out then.
Harley Davison bikes have several Twin Cam problems you cannot run away from.
The earlier you prepare your mind towards these issues, the better for you.
The best thing is for you to do an upgrade on the trouble-prone parts so that you can ride your bike peacefully.
But don’t manage it with the stock components. You will only do yourself more harm than good eventually.