Motorcycle Won’t Start After Winter


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Motorcycles serve as efficient and exhilarating means of transportation for many riders.

However, when winter ends and the riding season begins, you may encounter a frustrating problem: your motorcycle won’t start.

In this article, we will explore the possible causes behind a motorcycle’s failure to start after winter and provide you with troubleshooting steps and preventive measures to help you get back on the road.

Possible Causes

Cold Weather Affecting the Battery

One of the most common issues faced by motorcycle owners after winter is a weak or dead battery. Cold temperatures can significantly affect the battery’s performance, reducing its ability to provide the necessary power for starting the engine. Low temperatures also increase the internal resistance of the battery, making it harder for it to deliver the required electrical current.

Fuel Issues Due to Prolonged Storage

During the winter months, motorcycles are often stored for extended periods without regular use. This prolonged storage can lead to fuel-related problems. Fuel left sitting in the tank and fuel system can deteriorate, causing clogs and blockages in the carburetor or fuel injectors. Old fuel can also lose its combustibility, making it difficult for the engine to ignite.

Moisture in the Engine or Fuel System

Moisture is another common culprit for starting issues after winter. When a motorcycle sits idle for an extended period, condensation can accumulate in the engine and fuel system. This moisture can lead to corrosion, rust, and other forms of damage, hindering the proper functioning of essential components.

Starter Motor or Ignition Problems

Faulty starter motors or ignition systems can also prevent a motorcycle from starting after winter. The starter motor is responsible for initiating the engine’s rotation, while the ignition system generates the spark needed for combustion. Issues with these components, such as worn-out parts or electrical malfunctions, can result in a non-starting motorcycle.

Troubleshooting Steps

To troubleshoot and resolve the issue of a motorcycle not starting after winter, follow these steps:

  1. Check the Battery Charge and Connections: Begin by inspecting the battery charge level. If it’s low, charge the battery using an appropriate charger. Ensure the battery connections are clean, tight, and free from corrosion. Clean the terminals if necessary.
  2. Inspect the Fuel System and Drain Old Fuel if Necessary: Check the fuel tank and fuel lines for any signs of contamination or blockage. If the fuel smells stale or looks discolored, it’s advisable to drain the old fuel and replace it with fresh gasoline. Cleaning
  1. Address Moisture-Related Issues: Remove the spark plugs and inspect them for signs of moisture or corrosion. If moisture is present, dry the spark plugs and clean them using a wire brush. Additionally, drain any excess moisture from the engine and fuel system by opening drain plugs or using appropriate moisture removal products.
  2. Test the Starter Motor and Ignition System: Check the functionality of the starter motor by listening for any clicking sounds when you try to start the motorcycle. If the starter motor does not engage or makes unusual noises, it may require repair or replacement. Similarly, ensure the ignition system is providing a strong spark by checking the spark plugs. Faulty spark plugs should be replaced.

Preventive Measures

To prevent starting issues after winter storage, consider the following measures:

  • Prepare the Motorcycle for Winter Storage: Before storing your motorcycle, perform routine maintenance tasks such as changing the oil, lubricating moving parts, and cleaning the bike thoroughly. This preparation helps protect the motorcycle during the dormant period.
  • Use a Battery Tender or Maintainer: Invest in a battery tender or maintainer to keep the battery charged and healthy during the winter months. These devices provide a trickle charge to the battery, preventing it from discharging completely.
  • Use Fuel Stabilizer and Store with a Full Tank: Prior to storing the motorcycle, add a fuel stabilizer to the tank and run the engine for a few minutes to ensure the stabilized fuel reaches the carburetor or injectors. Additionally, fill the tank to its maximum capacity to minimize the presence of air and moisture.
  • Protect the Motorcycle from Moisture and Condensation: Store the motorcycle in a dry and well-ventilated area to reduce the chances of moisture accumulation. Use a breathable cover that allows air circulation and prevents condensation from forming on the bike’s surfaces.


Experiencing starting issues with your motorcycle after winter can be frustrating, but by following the troubleshooting steps and implementing preventive measures outlined in this article, you can increase your chances of a successful start and a smooth riding season.

Regular maintenance, proper storage preparations, and addressing potential issues promptly are key to keeping your motorcycle in optimal condition.


Q: How long can a motorcycle sit without being started? A: The duration a motorcycle can sit without being started depends on various factors such as the condition of the battery, fuel quality, and storage conditions. However, as a general guideline, it’s advisable to start the motorcycle every few weeks and let it run for a few minutes to maintain its overall health.

Q: Can a motorcycle battery die from cold weather? A: Yes, cold weather can affect the performance of a motorcycle battery. Low temperatures increase the internal resistance of the battery, reducing its ability to provide sufficient power. It’s essential to keep the battery charged and protected during winter.

Q: Why does old fuel cause starting issues? A: Over time, fuel can degrade and lose its combustibility. Old fuel can also form deposits and clogs in the carburetor or fuel injectors, preventing proper fuel delivery and combustion. It’s recommended to use fresh fuel or add a fuel stabilizer before winter storage.

Q: What is the role of a battery tender in winter storage? A: A battery tender or maintainer provides a low-level, continuous charge to the battery, ensuring it remains charged and preventing it from discharging completely during winter storage. It helps prolong the battery’s life and ensures it’s ready to start the motorcycle when needed.

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