Motorcycle Buzzing When Trying To Start It (Solved!)


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Troubleshooting issues on your motorcycle can be tricky sometimes. There are a slew of sounds that can indicate hundreds of different problems. One such sound you may be hearing from your motorcycle is a buzzing sound which probably leaves you wondering where that is coming from and why it’s making that sound.

So, why is my motorcycle buzzing when I try to start it? When trying to start your motorcycle, you may hear a buzzing sound because of a possible weak or dead battery, a bad starter, or a faulty starter solenoid. Additionally, many newer motorcycles will set off a buzzer when you try to start if you are not in neutral or if you have certain error codes indicating issues such as engine overheating.

There are many different reasons why your motorcycle might not start, with potential causes as simple as a dead battery all the way up to the most severe like a seized engine. Luckily, a buzzing sound when trying to start your motorcycle generally doesn’t indicate anything too severe. 

Regardless, this can still happen in an inconvenient place and can still be difficult to find out exactly what the problem is. We will give you all of the information that you need to accurately be able to diagnose this issue if this is happening to you.

Why A Motorcycle Buzzes While Trying To Start It

So, imagine you just tried to start your motorcycle and heard a weird buzzing noise. What could be the cause of that? As we have previously mentioned, there are several different things that can cause this. Let’s get started with some of the more simple potential problems.

The first most simple culprit (and the most common) is a weak or dead battery. Batteries go bad over time and aren’t able to hold their charge as well. As a result, your battery may not have enough charge to engage the starter motor all the way. This can result in a clicking or buzzing sound as the starter weakly tries to start your motorcycle. This is one of the least severe causes of a buzzing sound and is usually the easiest to fix.

This could also be a result of a bad starter or starter solenoid. Poor current flow within the starter could more specifically be a result of a faulty starter motor, damaged starter gear, a bad starter relay, or the starter solenoid altogether going bad. If any of these components do not work correctly, you may get some sort of strange clicking or buzzing sounds as you are trying to start your motorcycle. See our other article here to learn more about why a starter could cause your motorcycle to not start.

Some newer motorcycles have a special feature that will notify the rider if they are trying to start their motorcycle while it is in gear and not in neutral. If you’re a seasoned rider, you’ll know that starting your motorcycle in gear is very dangerous and can immediately jolt you forward when you start it. This buzzing sound will remind you to put it in neutral if needed.

This could also be a result of a certain error code on your motorcycle. If something has happened which has thrown a DTC on your motorcycle, it may set off a buzzer when you go to start it to let you know that it is not safe to start it right now. This could be something like the engine overheating at that moment. Determining DTCs on a motorcycle is much more complicated than on a car as there is no sort of standard diagnostic protocol. The troubleshooting of this will vary from bike to bike and manufacturer to manufacturer.

How To Fix A Buzzing Motorcycle

So, how can you fix these issues? If the issue is a matter of a weak battery, then you usually can just jumpstart the motorcycle and you should be good to go. Batteries can get low for a lot of different reasons and these instances are often isolated. It could be something as simple as leaving the lights on.

Jumpstarting your motorcycle will often be all that you need to do. However, if the battery is faulty and is not holding a proper charge anymore, then you will need to simply replace it.

If the issue is with your starter, most of the time it is a matter of just replacing the starter and/or starter solenoid. This is a fairly simple procedure and usually only involves disconnecting the power to the starter, unbolting it, bolting the new one in, and then reconnecting the electrical. Ensure that the battery is not the issue before attempting to replace the starter.

It can be a bit more complicated if the buzzing issue is due to your motorcycle warning you that there is an unsafe underlying problem. Determining diagnostic trouble codes on a motorcycle can be tricky as there is no established standard for diagnostics and monitoring.

Every manufacturer can handle things differently. You may need to do some research online to see how you can read the diagnostic codes on your motorcycle or just take it to a trained professional. 

Is This A Common Issue Among Motorcycles?

So, after discussing all of this, you might be wondering how common a buzzing while starting may be with a motorcycle. A lot of this depends on the type of motorcycle you have and how old it is. For newer motorcycles, its just really not that common. For older bikes, however, it may be much more common since parts have gone through their wear and tear.

Additionally, some motorcycles are more susceptible to wiring issues. This may be due to wiring placement, wiring harness production, and the riding habits of the owner. One of the biggest issues I’ve seen with the older motorcycles I’ve restored is after-market wiring which can ultimately cause some parasitic drain. Parasitic drain can drastically reduce the life of a motorcycle battery which, in turn, can reduce the longevity of other electrical components. This can cause a buzzing sound much more frequently.

Ultimately, there is no blanket answer as to whether or not a buzzing sound on motorcycles is common. Additionally, the level of care given to a motorcycle will also determine how often issues like this occur.

How To Prevent Buzzing In The Future

So, is there anything that you can do to prevent this buzzing in the future? There are a few different things that you can do to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. In general, this all comes back to routine maintenance and general care of your motorcycle. The better you take care of it, the longer that it will last and the less issues you will have.

By keeping up on your routine maintenance, you give your motorcycle the best chance possible of running as it should for as long as possible. This can help prevent a whole myriad of different issues from occurring and not just the issues that we have talked about here. This also includes regularly cleaning your motorcycle and storing it such that it’s protected from the elements.

Another important thing that you do is to take proper care of your battery. This means to be sure that it doesn’t get deep-cycled. This also means that you do your best to keep connections clean and free of corrosion. If you need to, adding a battery tender to your battery (especially in the winter) can allow it to stay fully charged.

Can An Unfixed Buzz Cause Further Damage?

Can ignoring this buzzer on your motorcycle lead to further damage? In most cases, no this wouldn’t lead to damage. Oftentimes it’s something as small as a weak battery or a warning from your motorcycle.

However, a buzzing sound from your motorcycle will often mean you can’t start it anyway because of a depleted battery or a warning mechanism preventing you from starting in the first place. That being said, you may have to get the buzzing sound fixed because you won’t be able to ride at all until it’s addressed.

This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.

Kyle Cannon

Kyle currently works as a mechanical engineer and graduated with a minor in automotive engineering. He loves restoring motorcycles, has a vast knowledge of how they work, and has sold his restoration projects to customers from all over the United States.

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