Which Harley Twin Cam Years To Avoid & Why?(Explained)

One of the most common Harley Davidson engines out there today is the Twin Cam engine. Chances are, if you have never owned a Harley before & want to buy a used Harley Davidson bike with twin power then this guide is for you. 

As a buyer, you should be aware of the years that you should avoid at all costs not to deal with engine issues on the route. In this way, todays’ article will greatly assist in getting all the information about the matter. So read on.

Harley Twin Cam Years To Avoid! 

To be honest, there is no definitive answer to the query of the Harley Davidson with Twin Cam, which year is best or worst, as it all depends on personal preference & opinion. 

But based on our research, the users suggest some years to avoid as they have engine issues, poor quality control, or design flaws comparatively more than the other years. The Harley Davidson Twin Cam may not be worth your money including. 

  • 1999- 2002 Harley Davidson with Twin Cam 
  • 2003- 2006 Harley Davidson with Twin Cam 

What Makes Harley Twin Cam Years Worth Avoiding?

Harley Davidson with Twin Cam engines is stylish and fun to ride. But no motorcycle is free from fault & the Harley is also no different. 

In the Twin Cam of Harley Davidson, the years we mentioned above show more faults than the others, making it suggestive for avoiding. Let’s check the reasons. 

1999- 2002 Harley Davidson With Twin Cam 

The main thing that makes Harley Twin Cam’s 1999-2002 years models avoid is the camshaft chain tensioners failure. It wore too fast then & the users have to replace its rubber shoes too frequently. 

Apart from it, these are the early years of introducing the TC 88 engine. The engine appears plagued by issues & the riders face horrible engine failures. 

In the 2000 models, the engine problems became so severe that Harley recalled the 2000 models. 

2003 & 2006 Harley Davidson With Twin Cam 

2003 & 2006 Harley Davidson With Twin Cam 
2003 & 2006 Harley Davidson With Twin Cam 

If you want to buy the later years, like 2003 to 2006, we will suggest you think again. 

Because apart from the cam chain tensioner failure, these years also have had high crank runout issues. Riders face bumps and shocks, resulting in a poor riding experience. 

Besides, the 2003 model is the first to introduce a six-speed transmission. Due to the massive transmission issue, Harley had to recall the 2003 models. 

Now if we talk about 2004 or closely newer models 2005, the riders suggest avoiding the one equipped with DTP or Deluxe Touring Package. The DTP has an electronic throttle control system, so it is prone to fail. 

Besides, some 2005 models have oil leak issues. Due to this reason, Harley has to issue another call for the 2004 & 2005 models.

Read Also: Which Harley Shovelhead Years to Avoid?

Which Year Is Harley Davidson With Twin Cam Worth Buying? 

Now that we discussed the worst years of the Harley Davidson Twin Cam, that does not mean all Twin Cams are identical. 

Some years of the Harley Davidson Twin Cam engines have meticulous performance and are worth buying. That year can be 2009 or newer, like 2010 to 2016 of Twin Cam 103. It is because- 

Better Engine Performance

In these years of Harley Davidson models, the TC 103 has a larger piston with a larger ratio of compression range. As a result, the engine offers more incredible speeds as the compression ranges between 9.2:1- 9.6:1. 

Upgraded Torque

The torque difference has also been upgraded these years than before. For compassion, we can see the Twin Cam 96 has 92.6 lb.-ft at 3500 rpm, whereas the Twin Cam 103 has upgraded to 102 lb.-ft at 3500 rpm in 2010 to 2016. 

Oil Cooling System

Besides the Twin Cam, 103 has an oil cooling system which the older models do not have. As you know, a pollution-reducing catalytic converter can make the engine hotter, so Harley Davidson upgraded the oil cooling system from the TC 96.

So, from the discussion, ultimately it appears that the new engines come with high quality, better performance, and speed, making the older years, like 1999 to 2002, experimental & bad years, right?

Read Also: Which Harley Electra Glide Years to Avoid?

In What Year Did Harley “Fix” The Cam Chain Tensioner Issue??

The Harley Davidson cam chain tensioner problem has been a great issue since 1999. 

In the Twin Cam engine discussion forums, we see that an issue with the cam chain tensioner has occupied more space than the other issues debate. 

But not anymore, as the Harley Davidson was updated to hydraulic cam chain tensioners in 2006 & 2007. 06 models have new tensioners and 6-speed transmissions. 

All 2007 Harley Davidson Twin Cam models result in HD modifying with a hydraulic actuated tensioner.

Read Also: Which Harley Street Glide Years to Avoid? (Why Explained)

Tips for Buying A Used Harley With a Twin Cam Engine?

Generally, the primary thing you need to consider while buying a used motorcycle is its condition, mileage use & price. 

Especially for the Harley Davidson with Twin Cam engine, if you are willing to buy one, here we will provide some expert tips you should know beforehand. 

  • First, you should decide which year you will buy or which year is better than the other for the Twin Cam. 
  • Once you decide on the year, go ahead with the machine. It will be costly from the dealer, but you can get it at a reasonable price from the original owner. 
  • Check the bike carefully for leaking, corrosion, lights and over everything. Pull the bike’s clutch several times & if the clutch feels too hard or pulls rough, that indicates a problem & will need adjustment later. 
  • Start the bike & if the bike cranks slowly or starts hard, it can mean that the battery is ready to go or can have a bad automatic compression release.

Frequently Ask Questions

We know you still have some queries regarding the matter that we are discussing. That is why here we will cover mostly searched questions that may help you get the answers you may be looking for. 

Is The Harley Twin Cam Engine Reliable?

It is hard to provide a definitive answer whether the Harley Twin Cam is reliable or not. Some users swear by them, and some have nothing to do but face the problems. Ultimately the reliability depends on the individual bikes. 

What Is The Average Life Of A Harley Twin Cam?

The Twin Cam of the Harley Davidson is designed to last 100,000 miles. From information from Quora, apart from having teething problems with the Twin Cam, it is seen that the engine has 225,000 miles TCs. 

How Often Does A Harley Twin Cam Need An Oil Change?

semi-synthetic oil usually lasts for 5000 to 6000 miles & you can stretch it to 8000 miles before you change it. Full synthetic oil increases the mileage for the engine oil changing to the Harley Twin Cam to the 7000 to 1000 miles. 

What Years Of Harley Twin Cam Are More Fuel Efficient?

Harley Davidson with Twin Cam of all 2017 models is more fuel efficient. All touring bikes of the 2017 Harley twin-cam model provide more power, torque & improved performance with better fuel economy. 

How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Harley Twin Cam Engine?

The maintenance bill of the Harley twin-cam engine can be crucial. The price depends on the services you want to have on your bike. 
For the 5000 miles service visit, you can expect a bill of about $400. So, the rider who has 20000 miles may have to spend $1600 a year to maintain the Harley Twin Cam engine. 


Twin Cams overall are pretty damn good motors, and if you are just riding them, you will generally be in a pretty good place to have one! 

But if you are going to keep these bikes for a long time and you really want to avoid some problems later down the road, then you should be careful and be aware of your out & invest one. Hope that our discussion has helped you in the matter effectively!

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