Paul's GoldWing Maintenance for Dummies


Maintenance of your Motorcycle requires mechanical aptitude and knowledge. Work done by an unqualified person may endanger your life or worst, void your waranty. These tips are from my own experience or from friends and seem to work for me. I, or GWTA, are NOT responsible if it doesn't work for you. Use at your own risk.

Do you know the difference between a Left handed philips screwdriver and a Right handed one, if not, then Exit now.

If you've passed the above test and wish to do more than just change the oil and filter, I highly recommend getting the Honda Service Manual. It's a little confusing reading at times but it's better than spending hours trying to figure out how to get one of the fairings off! Might be a little expensive too but it's a lot less than taking the bike to the shop (You don't count your own time and you work for free right?).

Water Pump Failure:

Came across an article on Chapt J's WEB site. Seems like automotive coolant may damage the Wing's water pump and suggest to only use motorcycle or Honda coolant:

In response to letters written to Motorcycle Consumer News about the water pump failures, they printed this article In their August,1997 issue, Volume 28.

After six months of study, we believe we may have found the problem, and the cure. Unfortunately, it may be several more years before we can be absolutely certain, but we are going to reveal what we know now, in hopes that Mr. Carey and some of you others with the same problem will try our fix and report back in about a year as to whether it worked.

First item: Of all the reported failures 99% occurred sometime after the owner flushed the system and/or replaced the OEM coolant.

Second item: Of all the reported failures, 99% replaced their coolant with either Zerex or Prestone, and less than 0.2% used Honda or another motorcycle brand of coolant.

Third item: Conversations with chemical engineers at Dupont and Prestone revealed that their coolants contain microscopic silicate particles---like very fine sand or ground glass---which are designed to "scrub" rust and corrosion from the surfaces of radiators. Their experts claim that in all their testing these silicates have never damaged seal or 0-rings in water pumps, but they also concede that no testing has ever been done with motorcycle water pumps.

Forth item: Honda and most other made-for-motorcycle brand coolants Do Not contain these silicates.

Fifth item: In all of Honda's testing of its water pumps, they cannot find a problem. But they are using their own coolant in the tests.

From this information, it seems likely that the water pump failures on Gold Wings are being caused by the silicate particles in the automotive coolants. Obviously, we don't have enough verifiable, scientific data to know this as a fact. Which is why we need readers like you, Mr. Carey. The next time you replace your water pump, please flush the system out thoroughly, and then use only Honda-approved coolant and distilled water with the new pump. If this one lasts longer than the previous five pumps-or even if it doesn't-please let us know. And the same goes for all you other Wingers out there with this problem. With your input, we should know within a year whether we've licked this problem or not.

And if this is the answer, please remember that quite a few of you may owe an apology to Honda for all the nasty things you've said about them. After all, they can hardly be held responsible for someone else's products damaging their machines.

Compressor Outlet:

Have you tried using the compressor's air outlet? After buying one of those extension hoses I just couldn't get it to work! Had to go thrue the electrical diagram to find out that the key must be in the "Park" position for the outlet to work...

Now why do I always have to do things the hard way, normal people would look in the Owner's Manual which says so! Must be because I'm somekind of engeneer or sum'thin.

Oil Change

Have you ever wondered if there's an easier way to take off the front under cover to get at the oil filter with all those tabs holding it to the other fairings around it? Well, the Service Manual says to first remove the fairing front cover by "pressing in on the fairing...".

Pressing on it??? something must have gone wrong in the translation (my first thoughts)... After many attempts, I found out that they're right but it's probably missing a sentence or two. The fairing front cover is held by 2 bosses close to each side, and about 3/4 of the way up. Pushing the fairing at the very top about 6 inches from one of the upper corners will release the tab in that corner. Then squeeze your finger in the opening created while pushing on it and pull the coner of the fairing out releasing the bosse inside. Repeat for the other upper corner and the fairing front cover will come off. The under cover can now be taken out much more easily. After taking out the 3 screws you only have the tabs to the right/left fairing lower cover to worry about.

To put it back together do the reverse, the fairing front cover goes on last. Doesn't make much sense when looking at the bike but it is a lot easier doing it this way. See diagram.

Tim's Quick Oil Filter Change Tip:

Tim Smith suggests this easy way to change the filter without even taking off the fromt fairing.

Cut out a small section under the lower cover, just enough to get a filter wrench in and get the filter out. The cutout is not visible since it's under the bike.
Ask Tim to show you his bike at the next meeting.

Changing Spark Plugs

Spark Plugs are seated deep down in wells where sand and dirt gather. Clean it out carefully so that it doesn't fall inside the cylinder. I've been using a straw to suck it up then spitting it out. This method however has not yet been approved by OSHA, the FDA nor any other buraucracy.

Carburator Balancing

Service manual mentions a "Special Tool" for this. Nothing "Special" about this tool, it's 4 vacuum gauges and you only use 2 of them (with 6 carbs on the Valkery, would you need 6 gauges?). The only special tool needed is the attachement to connect one of the gauges to the right intake manifold, the other gauge plugs in the left manifold with a regular rubber tube. Any vacuum gauges would work just fine, and since you will be measuring the DIFFERENCE between the 2, you don't need any high accuracy gauges but they have to be calibrated to each other (Doesn't matter if they're both wrong, as long as they're both wrong by the same amount). You also need damper valves on the gauges to get a stable reading. The Special Honda Tool however is nice because the gauges are all mounted together so you don't need more than 2 hands to do the job.

The Service Manual is not very clear about how to connect the gauges. It says to connect one gauge to the right manifold using the special attachement then to "install the vacuum gauge probes to the intake manifold joints". The drawing also shows the 3 hoses from the other gauges going to the left side of the bike as if all 3 need to be connected somewhere. Only 1 other gauge is connected to the left side, the other 2 gauges are not used. ( I have had this confirmed by a Honda mechanic who sort of laughed at me with a " How many Carburators do you think you have?" type of comment!)

To screw in the special attachment tool to the right intake manifold you need to take out a bolt. (seems like they designed this just so they could sell this special tool...). This bolt however has a Philips head and unless you have a very long philips screwdriver, you could damage the head going at it from an angle because the crash bar is in the way. I eventually got it out after removing the crash bar and using a punch to get the screw with the damaged head out. I replaced it with a regular bolt with a hex head, should be a lot easier to take out the next time!
If you mess up the head and have to drill to tap it out, take good care to clean out all the metal filings before taking the bolt out. Remember this is the INtake manifold!

Is it Really worth doing this?

At 16Kmiles you're supposed to clean the filter in the air compressor motor. That's a lot of work for a little foam filter the size of a quarter that doesn't even get dirty anyway...

Submit your own tips, if it makes any sense I might even try it myself!