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Motorcycle Repair/bike been driven with no water or anyifreeze for unknown time


QUESTION: I purchased my 2002 honda vtx 1800c last month and have driven it on short trips 20 miles to town and such and one time 45 miles both ways. Very little maintenance was done to it. The air filter was junk, the oil was super low etc..  I changed the oil today (very black) and was gonna change the coolant but nothing came out of the radiator. So I started filling it. I have a leak at the cross tube between the cylinders. I also noticed the front cylinder gets hot at the exhaust coming out but not at the tail pipe and black splittle comes out with the cold exhaust but that there is an exhaust leak at the manifold gasket (related issue?). My question is would my water pump need replaced since its been run dry? How can I check to make sure its working and will my heads/gaskets be cracked? Thank you very much for your time.  Mike

ANSWER: Hello Mike,

Sorry for the delay. Xmas preparations...

Although the engine in question is considered bulletproof, running without coolant even for short periods, is too much to bear.
It's almost certain that you have rear cylinder head gasket burned, best case scenario...
Don't worry about the pump, it's the least of your problems. If it doesn't leak coolant and/or oil, no problem there for the time being.

First, replace the O'rings (23,5 x 2,2mm)at the cross tube, to seal the cooling system: Remove the ring-clips located on each end of the middle section of the tube and slide it to one side. Remove and replace the O'ring, apply oil or light grease, and slide the middle section back all the way to uncover the other side. Replace the remaining O'ring, slide back, put the clips and you're done.

Now that the circuit is sealed, proceed with the troubleshooting.

Make sure the system is full with liquid and remove the hose next to the radiator cap, that goes to the coolant reservoir. Attach a spare hose in it's place, long enough to go inside an empty container (bottle, cup or aluminum can) that you'll temporarily place close to the radiator.

Start the engine and let it warm up to radiator-fan-temperature. In the mean time, observe the hose for liquid coming out. If the container tops-up, replace it, but keep the coolant that came out. If you see a lot of steam or unburned gas smell, stop the engine.
Either way, let it cool down completely, remove the cap and pour back the coolant that came out while warming-up. The radiator should be almost full again. If not, it's confirmed. Your engine needs repair. Worse case scenario, an overhaul. Even connecting rods could be damaged from overheating and insufficient lubrication.

I'm sorry I'm not encouraging, but it would be a huge surprise if your engine came out unharmed from this...

Regards and best of luck,

P.S. Don't hesitate to get back to me with any new findings or follow-up.
    Merry Christmas.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Sorry its taken so long to get back with u. Fixed the cross tube and filled with prestone 50/50. No leaks. No smoke or antifreeze smell in exhaust or oil. And no chocolate milk oil. However now my idle is so low upon warm up that it dies if I dont keep the tthrottle opened slightly. I've come up with iat, tps, temperature, or map sensors. Or possibly fuel pump regulator or wax assembly/starter valve. What do u think?

ANSWER: Hello Mike and Happy New Year,

You should first check the spark plugs and compare front with rear cylinder's.
Compare their appearance at:  

Also, compression pressure must be checked.

Get back to me with the results.

Best Regards,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The plugs before I changed them were between dry and wet fouled. I've only put 20ish miles on the new ones. Installed bosch platinum +4 4419's which everyone on the vtx forum suggested. I did a compression with a questionable guage. It was stuck on 75 psi to start with then when I cranked it I got 175 after 2 seconds or so. And happy new year to u too

Normal Vs Overheated
Normal Vs Overheated  
Hi Mike,

I can't "read" a spark-plug other than the original equipment.
Even on a new, properly running engine, when you change the type of plug, there are many reasons for incompatibility and signs of malfunction, even misfire and fouling.
I'm not saying that the plugs you use don't match, but I have never used them, thus no opinion.

As for the compression, a reliable test must be carried out, because that's the ultimate judge to your engine's condition.
Even if we suppose that the tester you used, has only zeroing problem, you have 100PSI, which is low anyway.

Let me remind you my point of view, that it's REALLY hard for an engine to get away unharmed from a situation like yours (check out picture).


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Lazaros Ampatzidis


I can help you on EVERY issue involving POST-1980 Japanese Motorcycles plus KTM and Husaberg. My field of expertise includes Engine, Transmission, Fuel system (carburation & EFI),Electrics and Electronics. Maintenance, repair and tuning. Road and off-road suspension tuning. Please don't ask me about non-Japanese Motorcycle, especially American built on which I have low to zero experience.


I'm a rider and hobbyist since childhood. 25 years motorcycle workshop mechanic.15 years motorcycle racing mechanic. In order of experience high to low:Kawasaki,Suzuki,Honda,Yamaha,KTM,Husaberg.

Hellenic (Greek) Technical School.Internal Combustion Engines Engineer. Automotive Electronics.

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