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Virago Starter Repair

Virago Starter Repair

The Virago is no different than any other motorcycle manufacturer when it comes to having defects in design or manufacturing. In Yamaha's case, it is the starter employed by the Virago that has become the primary complaint. In fairness to Yamaha, many starter problems are created by the owner. There are all types of repair designed by Virago owners. Those repairs along with suggestions from Yamaha are the subject of this report.

  1. First we have the symptoms. You know, those things that either happen or don't happen when you hit the starter button. Things like: the starter slips, spins out and does not turn the engine, turns slow, runs continuously, noisy or delayed engagement, makes a clicking sound and motor will not turn etc. Well, luckily there is a fix of some kind for all these problems. Before you spend your hard-earned dollars replacing parts, there are some things you should check.
  2. Make sure your carbs are adjusted properly. Too much fuel will flood the engine causing fouled plugs and too little fuel will create hard starting. Carbs that are out of sync will cause hard starts also. Use proper procedures when starting your engine. Many new Virago owners do not understand the importance of this and they either foul plugs or cause other staring problems. To start your Virago you: turn the choke on (cold starting only), make sure the bike is in neutral, turn the key to the on position, turn the kill switch to the on position, using one finger push the starter button. If your engine is tuned properly, it will start in less than three revolutions.
    DO NOT ROLL THE THROTTLE!!!! Be sure your charging system is to spec. Make sure the water/acid level is at the proper level. If you have an OHM meter and know how to use it, then check the charge rate as specified in your owner's manual. A low battery can create all kinds of starting problems such as:
  3. The starter makes a rapid clicking noise when you push the starter button.
    (Low voltage will cause the starter relay not to engage the starter gear into the flywheel.)

    Symptom: Starter Motor Slippage (XV-920, XV-1000, XV-1100)
  4. The starter clutch located inside the left side cover is the worn part. It is designed to protect the engine from backfiring, when starting. This part eventually wears out and is relatively easy to replace. However, if you are not mechanically inclined, do not attempt this repair. Adding three shims, part number 156-11563-00, in the starter nose will take up any wear caused by prolonged use while this symptom existed.
  5. The XV-700's and 750's require a different repair because they do not have the starter clutch. Yamaha suggests changing the large tension clip, P/N 904-68291-06-00, on the idler gear. Look for wear in the clip groove. Hand grind smooth. Replace the idler gear also. A dealer would use a spring gauge to check the tension of the spring clip. It should be 4.9-5.1 lbs. per inch. If the groove is worn excessively, then install washer P/N 902-01356-68-00 between the idler gears. Again. I would not recommend this repair to a person who is not mechanically inclined.

Symptom: Delayed or Noisy Disengagement

Replace the idler gear compression spring, P/N 905-01156-36-00, and starter gear tension clip, P/N 904-68291-14-00. These parts are located inside the left side cover.

Starter Trouble Shooting Guide

*Symptoms* *Probable Cause* *Remedy*
**Starter will not start Low battery Recharge battery
Worn brushes Replace brushes
Defective relay Repair or replace
Defective switch Repair or replace
Defective wiring Repair or replace
Internal short circuit Repair or replace
**Starter action weak Low Battery Recharge Battery
Pitted relay contacts Clean or replace relay
Worn brushes Replace Brushes
Defective connection Clean and tighten
Short circuit in commutator Replace armature
**Starter runs continuously Stuck relay Replace relay
  Starter button sticks Clean and lubricate
**Starter turns but engine does not turn Defective starter clutch  Replace starter clutch

  • Yamaha does not recommend welding the starter ring gear because if the engine should backfire you could do serious damage to the case. I know that this method of repair worked for many club members, but if locking-in the ring gear was a design requirement, I'm sure that Yamaha would have avoided this flaw.
  • In most cases using 3 or 4 shims will do the trick.

Bug Notes:

  • 1) When installing shims use a tacky substance to hold them in place and do not use adhesives.
  • 2) Always lubricate the housing o-ring before re-assembly or replace if stretched.
  • 3) Do not perform these repairs unless you are confident with your knowledge of motorcycles.
  • 4) Make sure your engine is tuned before challenging the starter.
  • 5) Check your charging system and battery prior to starter evaluation.

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Rev. 1/06

Note: This Tech Article was created from the VOC site data.(Virago Owners Club)