Harley Twin Cam Years to Avoid Harley Twin Cam Years to Avoid

Having been a fan of Harley Davidson, for a time I’ve always found myself drawn to the power, style and feeling of liberation that these motorcycles embody. At the heart of many of these bikes lies the Twin Cam engine, which truly showcases Harleys engineering prowess. However like any love affair there have been moments of difficulty and concern with the Twin Cam, throughout its history.

As an enthusiast and potential buyer myself I believe it’s crucial for us to be aware of these challenges. In this article I will provide insights into the journey of the Twin Cam engine highlighting both its successes and setbacks while offering guidance on which years may warrant consideration. 

Harley Twin Cam Years to Avoid

1999–2006: Camshaft Chain Tensioner Failure

In the year 1999 Harley Davidson made an announcement by introducing the Twin Cam engine, which received praise and admiration. This engine quickly gained popularity among Harley fans symbolizing strength and ingenuity. However its initial years were not, without challenges.

One of the issues that arose was related to the camshaft chain tensioner. Failures in this component had consequences, including contamination of the engine oil. In cases it could even lead to a seizure of the engine, which would be a nightmare for any rider. While there were factors contributing to these tensioner problems many believed that design flaws and material choices played roles.

Understanding the gravity of this situation Harley Davidson took steps to rectify it. By 2006 and 2007 they introduced hydraulic cam chain tensioners as a solution to address wear and tear issues effectively, than the original design.

For those considering purchasing a Twin Cam model manufactured before 2007 being well informed is crucial. I would advise asking about any upgrades or replacements made to the tensioners. Given the known concerns associated with them ensuring that hydraulic tensioners have been installed on the bike is a decision that guarantees peace of mind and offers a riding experience.

2003-2006: High Crank Runout

In 2003 Harley Davidson embarked on a redesign project making changes, to the cam bearings and crankshaft. These modifications were aimed at improving performance and reliability. Unintentionally brought about a set of challenges.

One significant issue that arose was the presence of crank runout. For those with the term crank runout refers to the amount of wobbling or deviation in the rotation of the crankshaft. Excessive levels of runout can be problematic. In the case of Twin Cam models produced between 2003 and 2006 elevated crank runout resulted in damage impacting components such as the oil pump, cams and even the engine block. This not compromised performance but also posed a risk, for catastrophic engine failure.

For individuals considering purchasing a Twin Cam model from this period (2003 2006) it is essential to exercise caution. It is highly recommended to have an inspection conducted on the motorcycle with attention given to the crankshaft and associated parts. If possible, obtaining a measurement of runout can provide insight into the condition of the engine. Given these known issues opting for models that have undergone repairs or modifications can ensure a dependable and enjoyable riding experience.

2001 Harley Davidson Sportster

2001 Harley Davidson Sportster 2001 Harley Davidson Sportster

The 2001 Sportster, introduced at the start of the millennium combined classic Harley aesthetics, with engineering. However it faced some challenges. The main problem centered around the tensioner cam chain system, which experienced wear and tear over time. If left unchecked this could contaminate the engine oil. This contamination not reduced the engines efficiency. Also posed a significant risk to its overall health potentially leading to expensive repairs or replacements.

2004 Harley Davidson Dyna

2004 Harley Davidson Dyna 2004 Harley Davidson Dyna

In 2004 the Dyna model from Harley Davidson, known for its performance and sleek design encountered its set of challenges. While the cam chain system was already a known concern this model introduced another issue; the absence of rubber mounting. As a result riders experienced increased vibrations during their journeys compromising both comfort and ride quality. Many riders appreciated the Dynas smoothness. Noticed this vibration issue as a departure, from that standard.

2014 Harley Electra Glide

2014 Harley Electra Glide 2014 Harley Electra Glide
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide à Annecy.

The 2014 Electra Glide was an powerful model; however it faced issues that marred its reputation. Owners reported problems ranging from safety concerns related to braking to glitches that affected the bikes functionality.These issues that were prevalent, in the past eventually resulted in the need for recalls, which demonstrates Harleys dedication to resolving and rectifying these challenges.

Street 500 and 700 (2016 to 2019)

Harley Davidson street 500 Harley Davidson street 500

Specifically the Street 500 and 700 models (manufactured from 2016 to 2019) encountered setbacks. Inconsistent throttle response made rides compromised braking systems affected performance and concerns about corrosion raised doubts regarding the bikes durability and longevity, across different weather conditions.

2005 Harley Softail Deluxe

2005 Harley Softail Deluxe 2005 Harley Softail Deluxe

The 2005 Harley Softail Deluxe was an example of the timeless Harley design. It encountered some challenges beyond its twin cam engine. Owners faced issues, with the quality of components such as brakes and handles which led to decreased reliability and an increased need for maintenance.

2005 FXSTB Night Train

As for the 2005 FXSTB Night Train this model was well known for its design and impressive performance. However there were concerns regarding engine reliability. Among problems reported by owners oil leakage was particularly common resulting in visits, to mechanics and constant monitoring of oil levels.

Best Year Harley Twin Cam Engine

The Harley Davidson Twin Cam engine has faced challenges and successes throughout its existence. However certain years truly stand out for their performance.

Excellence, after 2007

The years following 2007 marked a turning point for the Twin Cam engine. The introduction of the Twin Cam 96 and its successor the Twin Cam 103 brought about groundbreaking changes. These models incorporated design improvements that addressed many of the issues. Features like hydraulic cam chain tensioners, optimized oil circulation and advanced cooling systems made these engines unique.

Twin Cam 96 vs. Twin Cam 103

Best Year Harley Twin Cam Engine Best Year Harley Twin Cam Engine
Harley Twin Cam 103

While both engines were milestones in their right the Twin Cam 103 had an advantage with its larger displacement. This resulted in torque and power well suited for Harleys touring models. The transition from the 96, to the 103 was noticeably improved performance. Ride smoothness.


The motorcycle community warmly embraced the Twin Cam 103. Riders frequently praised its performance, reduced vibrations and overall enhanced riding experience.

The Genesis and History of the Twin Cam Engine

Prior, to the development of the Twin Cam engine Harley Davidsons Evolution engine had already established itself as a performer known for its reliability. However it faced challenges with the increasing demands of environmental regulations. In the 1990s in response to impending EPA requirements Harley Davidson took on a project called the Twin Cam 88 internally referred to as P 22. This endeavor went beyond upgrades; it involved a transformation.

The redesigned engine aimed to set industry standards by offering power, torque and efficiency. Nevertheless like any pioneering initiative the Twin Cam 88 encountered some obstacles and real world performance issues during its years. This period served as a learning experience, for both Harley Davidson and its dedicated community of enthusiasts.

What is the Common Problem with Harley Twin Cam?

The Twin Cam engine, by Harley Davidson despite its engineering has encountered a series of difficulties throughout its existence.

Cam Chain Tensioner System

One particular concern was the cam chain tensioner system, which affected models from 1999 to 2006. The original design had some flaws that resulted in wear and tear. This premature wearing not reduced the lifespan of the tensioner but also posed a risk of contaminating the engine oil potentially jeopardizing the health of the engine.

Oil Pressure and Flow

Another significant issue was oil pressure experienced by Twin Cam engines. If left unaddressed this deficiency could lead to damage to the engine.

Overheating Issues

Overheating was another challenge faced by models those lacking an optimized cooling system. This overheating problem had an impact on both performance and longevity.

Harley-Davidson’s Response

To tackle these challenges head on Harley Davidson took measures. By 2006 they introduced hydraulic cam chain tensioners to combat wear. They also made improvements to the oil pump for performance. Implemented enhanced cooling systems, in newer models. These updates significantly enhanced the reliability of the Twin Cam engine. Ensured it remained a favorite among motorcycle enthusiasts.

What should I look for while buying a Twin Cam Harley Davidson

Buying a owned Harley Davidson, particularly one, with a Twin Cam engine can be an exhilarating experience. However it’s vital to approach this decision with knowledge.

Suggestions for Buyers

When contemplating a used Harley Davidson always prioritize models that come with a maintenance history. A maintained motorcycle not offers greater reliability but also enhances the overall riding experience. Additionally seeking advice from Harley riders or mechanics who can share their insights based on experiences is prudent.

Assessing Upgrades

One of the considerations, with Twin Cam models revolves around the cam chain tensioner system. Before finalizing your purchase it is advisable to inquire about any upgrades made to the tensioner particularly if you are considering models manufactured between 1999 and 2006. Motorcycles equipped with hydraulic cam chain tensioners suggest that necessary updates have been carried out.

Research and Maintenance

Never underestimate the value of research. Utilize forums, reviews and expert opinions to gain an understanding of the specific model you have your eyes on. Once you’ve made your purchase regular maintenance becomes crucial. Even the robust engines require care to ensure longevity and optimal performance.

What Year Did Harley Stop Making the Twin Cam?

The Twin Cam engine, which had become an icon, for Harley Davidson had a run. Was responsible for powering numerous beloved motorcycles from the brand. However like all things its production came to a halt in 2017 as Harley Davidson introduced the Milwaukee Eight engine. This shift marked both the end of an era and the start of a chapter, in the history of Harley Davidson.

What Years Did Harley Have Cam Tensioner Problems?

The cam tensioner problem is a topic that Harley enthusiasts frequently discuss. The Twin Cam engines, from Harley Davidson, which were first introduced in 1999 experienced issues with their cam tensioners between 1999 and 2006. These problems were especially noticeable in the models. Could potentially lead to engine oil contamination and other related difficulties. It was not, until 2007 that Harley implemented upgrades to address this concern.

What is the Advantage of a Twin Cam?

The Twin Cam design, a hallmark of Harley Davidson engines, offers several advantages. Primarily, it provides enhanced airflow, allowing for better combustion and increased power output. This design also facilitates smoother and more efficient engine operations, leading to a refined riding experience. Moreover, the Twin Cam’s distinct sound, a blend of power and harmony, has made it a favorite among motorcycle aficionados worldwide.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

The story, behind Harley Davidsons Twin Cam engine showcases the brands dedication to innovation and excellence. From its introduction in 1999 to its culmination in 2017 the Twin Cam has made a lasting impact on the motorcycle industry setting standards and pushing boundaries.

Having an understanding of this engines history is crucial for enthusiasts and potential buyers alike. It provides insights into how it has evolved the challenges it faced and the triumphs it achieved. Armed with this knowledge individuals can make informed decisions to ensure they have a Harley experience.

Looking back although the Twin Cam encountered some difficulties along the way its strengths far outweighed them. Its distinctive sound, power and performance have solidified its place, in motorcycle legend. As we reflect on its legacy and recall the rides it powered we can’t. Appreciate all that it has contributed.

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