how to check harley compensator

Checking the compensator on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle typically involves inspecting it for signs of wear, damage, or abnormal noise. The compensator is a critical component of the primary drive system and is responsible for absorbing and dampening torque fluctuations from the engine. Here are the steps to check the compensator on your Harley-Davidson:

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Harley-Davidson service manual (specific to your motorcycle model and year)
  • Safety glasses
  • Basic hand tools (wrenches, pliers)
  • Inspection mirror or flashlight (optional)


  1. Safety Precautions:
    • Ensure that you are working in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors or in a well-ventilated garage.
    • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.
    • Make sure the motorcycle’s ignition is turned off.
  2. Consult the Service Manual:
    • Refer to your Harley-Davidson service manual for specific instructions related to checking the compensator on your motorcycle model. The manual will provide detailed information about the location and inspection points.
  3. Locate the Compensator:
    • The compensator is typically located within the primary drive area of the motorcycle, often near the inner primary cover.
  4. Visual Inspection:
    • Inspect the compensator for visible signs of wear, damage, or abnormality. Look for the following:
      • Cracks or fractures in the compensator housing.
      • Loose or missing bolts or fasteners.
      • Excessive play or movement in the compensator.
      • Signs of oil leaks around the compensator area.
  5. Listen for Abnormal Noises:
    • While your motorcycle is in neutral and the engine is off, manually rotate the compensator’s components, if possible.
    • Listen for any unusual or grinding noises. A healthy compensator should not produce abnormal sounds.
  6. Check for Oil Leaks:
    • Look for any oil leaks around the compensator area, which could indicate a seal or gasket issue.
  7. Refer to Service Manual Specifications:
    • Your service manual may provide specific tolerances and measurements for the compensator components. If available, use these specifications to assess the condition of the compensator.
  8. Address Any Issues:
    • If you discover any signs of wear, damage, or abnormalities during the inspection, it’s essential to address these issues promptly. Repairs or replacements may be necessary, depending on the severity of the problem.
  9. Consider Professional Inspection:
    • If you are unsure about the condition of the compensator or lack the necessary tools and expertise, consider having your Harley-Davidson dealership or a qualified motorcycle mechanic perform a professional inspection.

Keep in mind that the compensator’s condition can affect the performance and reliability of your Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Regular maintenance and inspections, as recommended in your service manual, can help ensure that the compensator continues to function properly and extends its lifespan.

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