Harley Davidson 5 Speed Transmission Problems: Tips & Fixes!

There are several different problems that can occur with a harley davidson 5 speed transmission, including hard or difficulty shifting, slippage, jumping out of gear, strange noise, neutral indicator light is on, etc. These all indicate serious issues and ignoring them will cause more expensive repairs.

Here, most users suggest taking your Harley to an expert mechanic. But before doing it, you can try some troubleshooting and fixing procedures yourself. This will save you money and time. So, continue reading to learn how you can do it.

Troubleshooting And Fix For Harley Davidson 5 Speed Transmission Problems

The transmission is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the rear wheel, and any issues with it can greatly affect the performance and rideability of the bike. 

Though, Harley’s 5 transmissions are known for their reliability and durability, after a certain period and for some reason, they can exhibit problems, and you need to fix them.

So, here is a list of some of their possible problems, along with their troubleshooting and fixing procedures.

1. Hard or Difficulty Shifting

If the transmission system becomes faulty, you will notice difficulty shifting between other gears while riding. 

It can be caused by a number of things, including worn or damaged shift forks/linkages, clutch adjustment issues, dirty or low transmission fluid, or issues with the shifter pawl mechanism.

To troubleshoot it, check the clutch adjustment and make sure that the clutch cable is properly adjusted and that there is sufficient free play. 

Also inspect the shift linkage and shift forks for any signs of damage or misalignment. To solve this issue, add transmission fluid, adjust the clutch cable and shift linkage. 

But, if you notice any issues/damage with shift forks, spline/gear teeth, bearings, or shift linkages, you have to replace those. 

In this situation, consult with an expert. This might cost you around $100 to $150.

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2. Slippage Issue

Slippage Issue
Slippage Issue

Transmission slippage occurs when the transmission gears fail to engage properly. 

This issue can arise from several factors, including: defective clutch, a stretched drive belt, damaged bearings, or inadequate clutch adjustment.

If you are experiencing slippage, the first thing you should do is check the gears and bearings to make sure there aren’t any damage or cracks. 

If they are in good condition, then check the drive belt and clutch for any signs of damage or misalignment.

Harley’s 5 speed transmission is a manual transmission, and replacing or adjusting the clutch cable often solves this slippage problem. 

But if it doesn’t-try replacing the drive belt and lubricating the transmission.

If you have the proper knowledge and experience, you can do it yourself. This will cost you around $100 to $500. Otherwise, you have to take it to an expert, which will cost you more.

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3. Jumping Out of Gear

 Jumping Out of Gear
Jumping Out of Gear

This issue occurs when the transmission unexpectedly disengages from a gear. It causes a sudden loss of power and potentially dangerous riding conditions. 

This issue typically arises because of worn mounts or loose linkage, bad shifter bearings, or a weak spring in the shift rail.

To troubleshoot the issue, start by inspecting the shift drum and detent mechanism and making sure there aren’t any signs of damage, such as grooves or excessive play. 

Also check the shift lever adjustment and make sure it is slightly loose. And if this looks perfect, then check the shift forks and bushings to ensure they are physically perfect. 

You may also have to check the shift linkage. Here, experts always suggest fixing these issues with an expert mechanic. 

These are all crucial elements in the transmission system, and any wrong move could create several types of damage. Generally, this will cost you about $400 to $800.

Read Also: Harley Davidson Street 750 Problems: Troubleshooting and Fixes

4. Strange Sounds (Constant Growling sound, Clunking Noise)

A strange sound, such as a constant growling sound or a clunking noise, can be a sign of a problem with the Harley Davidson 5 speed transmission. 

Generally, this sound arises because of worn or damaged gears, bearings, a faulty primary drive system, or loose transmission mounts.

If you notice a constant growling sound, first inspect the transmission bearings and gears and make sure there aren’t any signs of wear or broken teeth. If they are worn, replace them immediately.

But if you notice clunking noises, start troubleshooting by inspecting the transmission mounts and making sure they are securely fastened. 

Also check the bearings and gears in both the transmission and the primary drive system for any signs of wear.

Remember that: any excessive clunking or growling sound indicates broken teeth on one or more gears. So in this situation, you must replace the gears, shift fork, and shift drum. 

Unfortunately, you cannot and should not solve or replace these by yourself. You must get qualified mechanics help, and this can cost you around $500-$2000.

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Tips To Prevent Harley 5 Speed Transmission Problems

A properly functioning transmission is crucial for the performance and longevity of any Harley Davidson motorcycle. 

As its 5-speed transmission system is made with several tiny and precise elements, it requires regular care and attention to prevent potential issues.

Here are some notable tips to prevent any type of transmission problem in the future:

  • Regularly inspect the transmission fluid level and quality.
  • Always use high-quality transmission fluid. 
  • Periodically inspect the clutch cable for wear, damage or tension loss.
  • Replace the clutch plate after every 20k kilometers.
  • Practice smooth and deliberate gear changes and avoid forceful shifting.
  • Avoid riding in extreme condition.
  • Avoid overloading the transmission.
  • Ensure the chain or belt tension is within the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Let the engine/ transmission to warm up before riding aggressively.
  • Repair any problems immediately.

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Is It Safe To Drive A Harley With 5 Speed Transmission Problems?

Though you can drive your Harley with 5-speed transmission problems, it’s not totally safe. 

Because a faulty transmission not only leads to sudden loss of power, difficulty shifting gears but also increases the chance of accidents. 

So, it’s always advised to have the transmission inspected and repaired by a qualified technician.


Though we covered most of it in the article, you might have some unanswered questions in your mind. So to get all those answers, read this FAQ section. Here, we tried our best to answer the most frequently asked questions. 

How Long Does It Take To Solve Harley’s 5 Speed Transmission Problem?

Mainly, the time required to solve the Harley Davidson’s 5 speed transmission problems depends on the specific issue, parts availability, and mechanic experience. Mostly, it takes 1 to 2 hours to solve. But any major issue could take days to solve.

How Much Fluid Does A Harley 5 Speed Transmission Take?

Generally, Harley’s 5 speed transmission can take/hold approximately 24 ounces (0.71 liters) of fluid. And for proper functioning, the fluid should be changed every 24,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first.

What Type Of Fluid Is Required For Harley Davidson’s 5 Speed Transmission?

For a 5 speed transmission system, Harley-Davidson always recommends using their own Formula+ Transmission and Primary Chaincase Lubricant (part number 99851-05). On their official website, this is selling for only $11.95.


Harley-Davidson introduced its first 5-speed transmission in 1980 on the FLT touring models.And since then, this has been standard on all Harley-Davidson motorcycles. 

It not only offers a wider range of gears but also makes the Harley more comfortable and reliable. So finally, to get all of its benefits, always try to take good care of it to avoid issues and increase its lifespan.

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