1. Check out the controls. Where are they and
what do they control. It will be a major waste of time if you
spend a week trying to figure out why the scooter won't start
and then find out the "kill switch" was on the whole
time. Does the scooter have a fuel tap you have to turn on and
off? Is there an automatic choke or is it manual? What do the
different positions on the ignition key do?
2. Take off the Body Panels that allow access to the motor,
the oil/gas tank, the radiator, the wheels and the battery.
3. Check out the cables (brakes, clutch, throttle, oil pump)
at both ends to check for fraying, rusting and tight connections.
The high wear areas are usually out where you can see them.
While you are at the end of the cables that go to the brakes,
check the brake adjuster to see if it has much more adjustment
to it. If the Brake lever/pedal is almost at the end of its
travel, there is usually an adjustment at the end of the cable
that attaches to the brake drum. Check that out first because
odds are once you get the engine fired up you'll want to take
it for a little spin. Check the cable going to the oil pump
on scooters with autolube. If the cable is broken you can always
put oil in the gas. When you are checking cables, it helps to
have an oil can/wd40 in hand especially if the scooters been
sitting a while.
4. Check the fluids (gas, oil, brake fluid, engine coolant)
If the scooters been sitting a while, you should drain the gas(and
oil if its autolube) tank and put in new fuel. Replacing ot
topping up fluids is probably the cheapest way of ensuring long
life and the simplest maintenance issue. Checking out the condition
of the old fluids can give you a hint at the condition of the
scooter. If there is a lot of rust in the gas tank, you'll find
out when you're draining the gas. You'll also probably want
to think about cleaning the carburetor if the gas tank was full
of sediment especially if there was no fuel filter. Even automatic
belt driven scooters have final drive gears which run in an
oil bath. There are usually two openings for any crankcase/gearbox/final
drive oil. The one at the top is for filling and topping up
and the one at the bottom for draining. Most scooters that have
been sitting a while will have accumulated some moisture/water
and will need a change. If the oil being drained is especially
dirty, you may want to change the "new oil" you put
in after a few hours just so it will rinse out any residue/grit.
Oil is cheap compared to the price of new parts. Any oil will
not do. Find out the specific oils needed for each application.
5. Replace and/or clean air filters, fuel filters,oil filters,
and make sure you know what tire pressure to run at. In most
cases air filters are usually cleanable. If they are foam then
they can be cleaned in hot water and soap, rinsed and ,after
dried, saturated with a light oil. Excess oils should then be
squeezed out and the filter re-installed. There are special
air filter oils available at your local motorcycle shop. If
its a paper air filter, just try and clean it as best you can
until a replacement can be found. Don't get it wet. use a brush,
vacuum cleaner or compressed air to clean away surface dust.
Don't run the scooter without the air filter. It will throw
off the tuning and even a well tuned motor will not run as well.
When the air filter is off look inside the carburetor mouth
while working the throttle. The carburetor slide/butterfly should
open and close. I once laboured over getting a newly aquired
scooter to start only to realize after checking everything else
that there was no throttle slide in the carburetor. Fuel filters
can be generic- you don't have to spend premium price at a motorcycle
shop unless your fuel line is so small a regular auto filter
won't fit. Even then, marine supply or small engine (lawnmower)
shops may be able to help. Some filters have an "in"
and "out" side, others will let fuel flow in any direction.
Measure your fuel line (inside) before going shopping. You may
or may not have an oil filter. Most four strokes have them but
they are not always externally fitted like a car. The 150 cc
Honda Elite oil filter is a metal screen fitted to the oil drain
so when you remove the oil drain plug, don't forget to remove
and clean the oil filter. The 50 cc Honda Elite/Vision/Dio has
a filter built into the oil tank just where the oil leaves the
6. Tires More so than a car, the tires are really important.
It doesn't really matter if they have a lot of tread left. I've
seen fourty year old tires with lots of tread left. The only
reason for not replacing the tires IMMEDIATELY is you want to
see if the scooter runs ok before putting out any serious cash.
Fine but don't count on more than a few SLOW turns around the
block before at least replacing the tubes, especially if the
scooter was exposed to the weather, left at low pressure or
has age "cracks" in the sidewall. At the very least
check the air pressure.
7. Spark Plug should be replaced. Its cheap and you should have
a spare one anyway. Make sure you have the right one for your
scooter and that the gap is correct. Take this opportunity to
check whether you have a spark. Turn on the ignition and make
sure the kill switch isn't "on". It doesn't matter
if the battery is dead unless you only have an electric starter
and not a kick-start. Even then you can use booster cables from
your car to see if it starts but check first whether the scooter
runs on 12 volts (most modern scooters) or 6 volts ( most pre-80s
scooters). Regardless of whether the battery works or not, don't
remove it as it may need to be hooked up as part of the electrical
circuit in order to operate. Some scooters also need all their
light bulbs (brake, turn signal etc. ) in working condition
before the scooter will fire up. You'll want to make sure the
metal base of the spark plug with the hexagon shape is touching
metal or grounded. Try and have it touch the motor case somewhere
where you'll be able to watch and see if it sparks when you
turn the motor over. You could always run a wire from the base
of the spark plug to a metal part of the scooter. Turn the motor
over and watch for a spark. Make that hope for a spark because
if you don't get a spark it could get expensive and complicated
but before panicking check the ignition/kill switch/spark plug
ground already mentioned. If there's still no spark, check all
electrical connections back from the spark plug. On older scooters,
the ignition sometime relied on the light bulb for the rear
brake light working. On older scooters you'll probably also
want to check the points. If the scooters been sitting awhile
the points will need to be cleaned and gapped. If you still
don't have a spark, you'll need the specialized knowledge of
a service manual or someone familiar with your brand and model
of scooter so make sure you haven't missed something obvious
8. If your scooter has a battery is it fully charged? Is it
12 volt or 6 volt? There is usually a "fill line"
and if the liquid is below that, top it up with distilled water.
If it's dead and attempts at charging it have failed you should
still keep the battery hooked up. Its very important to keep
the charging circuit intact otherwise damage to other electrical
components could result.
9. Start me up! After replacing fluids and bleeding any oil/fuel
lines to make sure there is no air inside, Its time to see if
the thing will actually run. You know where the choke is (if
its manual) after checking out all the controls . Does the fuel
need to be turned on? Did you pre-mix the gasoline if needed?
Put the scooter up on the stand and give it a kick. Nothing?
Give it two or three more and do not open the throttle. Still
doesn't start? Pull the spark plug and smell it- do you smell
gas? If not try a couple more kick-starts in case the gas hasn't
worked its way through the carburetor. If its still dry then
you may have to see where the problem is and why fuel isn't
making it through from the gas tank to the fuel line into the
carburetor and next into the motor. If it starts it may still
run roughly. Don't rev it too highly but don't let it just idle.
While its running, check out if there are any especially loud
noises coming from the exhaust, the gearbox, the carburetor/manifold.
Test the engine controls such as the clutch lever, the throttle
and make sure they operate smoothly. If you must take it for
a drive make it a short one and don't make the motor work too
hard. Odds are good that if it has been sitting a while before
you brought it back to life that it will take a few miles for
the motor and controls to loosen up. One scooter I had kept
working better every time I drove it for the first two weeks.
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