By Steve Saunders
I've trawled through some of the several thousand e-mails
I received over the years from Goldwing owners asking for technical advice
about Goldwings. I have posted some of the questions and my subsequent
answers on this page. I will add more as time permits. I have shortened most of
the questions by cutting out the small talk from the e-mails and
posting the text relevant to each Goldwing related question.
Please do not contact me to ask for technical advice or other information about your Goldwing problems. Check out the FAQ & Tips pages or post your question on the Message board. If you e-mail me looking for technical advice I will either not reply or just send you an auto-response which won't answer your question either. You can visit my Goldwing Message Board at www.goldwingfacts.com/forums
Q. I just got a used trunk remote from a crashed GL1800. How do I program it to work on my GL1800?
A. Here you go;
1. Turn the ignition switch on - between one and four seconds and press the trunk "Pop-Up" button on the transmitter while aiming the transmitter at the trunk. Between one and four seconds, turn the ignition switch off. Note: keep the timing between one and four seconds, too fast or too slow will cause the control unit to lose the stored codes.
2. Between one and four seconds, turn the ignition switch on. Between one and four seconds, press the trunk " Pop-Up " button on the transmitter while aiming the transmitter at the trunk. Between one and four seconds, turn the ignition switch off.
3. Between one and four seconds, turn the ignition switch on. Between one and four seconds, press the trunk " Pop-Up " button on the original transmitter while aiming the transmitter at the trunk. Between one and four seconds, turn the ignition switch off.
4. Between one and four seconds, turn the ignition switch on. Between one and four seconds, press the trunk " Pop-Up " button on the original transmitter while aiming the transmitter at the trunk. Leave the ignition switch on.
5. Within 15 seconds, aim the transmitter (up to three) whose codes you want to store at the trunk and press the " Pop-Up " button once on each transmitter.
6. Between one and four seconds, turn the ignition switch off.
7. Confirm proper operation with the new code(s).
"press the trunk Pop-Up button" means to press this button and hold
it until the little light on the transmitter comes on.
You can use the same procedure with the Honda CRV remote as well (1997-99 models, not sure about later ones). Make sure the remote has FCC ID E4EG8DJ on the back.
Q. Hey, Steve can you tell how to remove the seat on my 1982 Goldwing. I am trying to put on a backrest. I can't seem to be able to get the seat off. I am sure its something simple, I have removed the battery compartments and still can't get it off.
A. Two Allen bolts, one each side of the pillion part of the saddle. If you have an Interstate or Aspencade, remove the lids and you will see the cutouts to allow the Allen key easier access. Remove the bolts and pull the saddle backward.
Q. The forks on my 1800 Goldwing (2001) have suddenly gone very stiff and I can't get them to depress, even if I lean on the handlebars with all my 18 stones weight! This problem just happened suddenly without warning. Any Ideas what to look for? Thanks in advance.
A. A new GL1800 should depress up to about 2" when you pump the bars so the anti-dive unit would be a prime suspect here. It's mounted on the left fork leg and on some GL1800s a rubber "O" ring starts to break up and the main plunger gets stuck and the unit won't work properly. It's an easy job to strip and clean and you lose very little fluid.
Q. The trunk on my new GL1800 keeps locking itself and I then need to use the key or the remote to unlock it, it won't stay unlocked itself.
A. Just use the "unlock" button on your remote, instead of the "trunk unlock" button. Then leave the trunk open for a few minutes and it will be reset to normal, for a while anyway!
Q. I recently took possession of a 1981 GL1100 Interstate. It belonged to my brother who bought it in 1992. He hardly ever used it and has given it to me. I had it fully serviced before I took it out and I've just discovered it won't do more than about 70mph. My brother said it never did but that didn't bother him too much. The speedometer reading only goes to 80mph as well, is this related? The bike was imported from the USA in 1992 and only has 28,000 miles on it.
A. The GL1100 your brother gave you is probably a California model, many of them from that period had the limited clock and also a restrictor in the shape of a washer spot welded into the exhaust downpipes. The washer has a hole smaller than the diameter of the downpipe and this restricts the engine (common practice on mopeds and other restricted machines). Get someone to knock out the washers and fit a clock from a non-California or later year GL1100 and you will be sorted.
Q. How can I check if the low fuel warning light is working on my GL1200?
A. Well, draining the tank is one way, but I assume you don't want to do that. The other way is to remove the saddle, then disconnect the connector block from the sender unit and short the green wire to the blue/white wire. The fuel light will come on if it is working.
Q. How can I check if the low fuel warning light is working on my GL1500?
A. Disconnect the connector from the sender and ground the white/blue wire (ignition on) and the warning light should come on.
Q. I've been told that some GL1100 parts are the same as those fitted to the GL1000. Is this true and if so how many parts are like this please?
A. Yes, quite a few parts are interchangeable between the GL1100 & GL1000. The GL1200 in comparison uses very few bits from the parts bin. Some of the parts shared between the GL1000 & GL1100 are; Front & rear engine cover gaskets, valves & valve springs (up to 1981), valve seals, rocker cover gaskets & sealing washers, timing belts, timing belt cover gaskets, oil filter & drain plug, clutch springs, exhaust gaskets, ignition switch assembly (1978, serial no. 4104123 & up), starter motor brushes, starter clutch rollers, front & rear wheel bearings, front brake master cylinder & reservoir repair kits (up to 1981), front brake pads (78-81) front brake pads on the 75-77 GL1000 are the same as rear pads on 80-81 GL1100, brake lever 79-81, clutch lever 78-81, rear lamp unit lens 79-83. Heavy duty aftermarket replacement stators will fit either model as well. I've probably omitted plenty of other items, but you get the general idea.
Q. The trunk and pannier lids on my GL1800 stick in frosty weather. They just won't open (even when I use the remote to pop the trunk) and I have to wait until later in the day for the frost to go away before I can access the storage. I live in Germany and the 1800 is kept outside but under a cover. Is there any adjustment that will stop this?
A. Adjusting the lids will not fix this, but buying a tin of Teflon spray and spraying it on the lid rubber sealing strips will. This is what car dealers do with cars that are left out in the frost for weeks without the doors being opened, the Teflon stops the rubbers sticking to the door frames (or trunk & saddlebag bases on the Goldwing). You will only need to spray the rubbers perhaps twice during the winter as Teflon is quite long-lasting.
Q. I have a UK GL1500 SE (1995) and want to fit the Hondaline cornering lights to the lower front cowl. I took the cowl off but there is nowhere to screw the lights into. Honda said they only do one cornering light kit and all the hardware is in the box, but I can't see how I can fit them with the screws provided.
A. The Hondaline cornering light kit is for the US market SE only up to 1997 (this applies to the fog lights from 1998-2000 as well). The cowl on the US machine has mounting lugs for the lights to mount onto, these lugs are not fitted to the UK models and this is why there are aftermarket cornering light kits available for the UK bikes. The aftermarket kits require holes to be drilled in the cowl so that you can fit locating springs that hold the lights in place. Seeing as you went to the trouble and expense of buying the Honda items, you can either buy a cowl for a US model or fit the lights without the mounting hardware by simply using silicone to hold them in place. Plenty of silicone around the inside contact areas will give good adhesion and will last for many years and the silicone will not be visible from the outside of the cowl. I did this with the aftermarket cornering lights on my 1989 GL1500 and later on with my 1997 SE and I know for a fact that the silicone is still doing the business all these years later.
Q. Do you know where the optional GL1800 speakers plug into on the bike? Mine came with no instructions. Also, do I need to remove the trunk lid for this job? I read on another web site that the lid has to come off and this doesn't look easy.
A. The speakers plug into a black 4-pin connector under the saddle, in the middle just over the relay box. You can't miss it. Some aftermarket speaker kits don't give you the wire to go from the speakers to the connector. You don't need to remove the trunk lid to fit the speakers, in spite of what Honda and the aftermarket crowd say. After you remove the speaker pods, you need to drill a hole each side for the wires to go through. The X marks for the holes are on the wrong side and you can't get a drill in from that side (because the trunk bas is in the way) which is why you are told to remove the trunk lid, so that you can remove the speaker pod bases and get to the X mark. If you look at the base on the side opposite to where the X is, you will see a faint outline and this is where to drill the hole from the top side of the pod base. No need to remove the lid. You will see what I mean when you do the job.
Q. I want to convert my GL1500 to use DOT 5 brake fluid. Honda don't recommend DOT 5, is there a valid reason for this or can I use DOT 5 anyway?
A. Honda don't say why you can't use DOT 5 fluid, perhaps they want to keep any reasons secret? More likely they just haven't tested it on Goldwings and won't endorse a product they haven't tested. In any event, I know lots of people who use DOT 5 in their Goldwings. I used it in my 1983 GL1100 for three years and 30,000 miles without any problems or brake performance loss. The fact that DOT 5 doesn't absorb moisture or go off-colour was good enough reason for me to change. Before I changed, I drained out all of the old fluid and pumped plenty of DOT 5 through the system until I was sure no old fluid remained. this is important as DOT 5 is not compatible with older brake fluid.
Q. I read your article on Buying a used GL1500. I just bought a 1989 with 20,000 and am experiencing surging problems when warming up and a in 1st or 2nd gear at idle (when warm or cold). You mentioned that 1988 -1989 models had to have their carburettors overhauled at a Honda dealer. Do the dealers do this as part of a defect in the product (i.e. recall)? Is this a repeating problem, meaning once fixed the problem will not reoccur? I am pretty sure this bike did not have this done to it.
A. On an 89 machine you will have to pay for any repairs, the recalls typically only last a few of years and yours is way past that time.
Q. A friend and I are going to change out the fork oil on our 1800's this weekend. At the same time we are installing the Progressive front fork springs. Was curious if you had any input as to whether to put in the Pro Honda Suspension Fluid SS-8 (which I believe is 10 weight), or to use another brand/weight. Called Progressive and they simply said to use whatever the service manual called for - which, not surprisingly, is Honda's.
A. If you were just using the standard Honda springs, I would say use 15-20 (medium) weight oil. Using Progressives, just use the 10 weight like Progressive said. The Progressives are very stiff and using too heavy a fork oil will make things too hard. You will be impressed at the difference with the Progressives installed.
Q. I was wondering if you or anyone else have ever converted the GL1500 Aspencade front forks over to air forks like the SE version has. I would really appreciate some feedback.
A. Yes, I did it with my 1997 SE (UK model). The US Interstate & Aspencade and the European spec SE (which doesn't have the air forks) can be fitted with the air caps from a US model. You only need the new fork cap and air valve, or you can get your own fork cap drilled & tapped to take the air valve (hardly worth it though, as the replacement caps are cheap from Honda), all of the other fork internals are identical.
Q. Hi Steve greetings from Wisconsin USA. We just bought a Honda Goldwing 1100 there was no key so had locksmith make one bought a new battery and still can't get bike to do anything, lights will come on horn will honk but trying to start it will not even make a sound. Is there any security buttons or anything to push to get a Goldwing started? Love your site lots of info thanks for any help.
A. Could be anything, web diagnosis is not always the most effective way to get help. Duff starter switch, solenoid or starter motor could be the cause. You will have to get someone to press the starter button while you check for a feed at the solenoid (battery side of bike) with a meter. If there is a feed and no click sound from the solenoid then it's dead (no feed means a duff starter button or break in the wire from it). If there is a click from solenoid then the starter is dead. All this assumes you've checked for loose wires, good battery etc.
Q. I have a small oil leak coming from the gear shift shaft seal on my GL1500 Aspencade, 1995. Do I need to remove lots of stuff to get at it? Also, there is play in the shaft, is this normal or would this have caused the leak? Thanks in advance.
A. The play is normal. You will need to remove the exhaust covers and manifold nuts to drop the exhaust enough. A thin screwdriver or awl will pick the old seal out (or you can punch a hole in the seal and pry it out), then put some tape over the splines on the shaft and oil the new seal before putting it in. You will be able to press it home by hand.
Q. During my research, I stumbled onto your web-site and am enjoying it immensely. I am somewhat short in stature (5'5"), so I am wondering if you have any information, regarding lowering the bike. I've sat on a couple of bikes, to try the height, and can touch the ground, just barely.
A. At 5'5" you may need to get at least an inch taken from the saddle of a GL1500. Having said that, lots of 1500 owners that I know are the same height as you and can get their feet down (toes anyway) without saddle modifications. You can take up to 2.5" out of the saddle and still be comfortable. Your best bet is to throw your leg over some Goldwings and see for yourself if you need to perform surgery on the saddle. Your height is less relevant than your inside leg measurement and this is more important. Plenty of ladies around your height can get both feet down because they have longer legs than most men of similar height. Bearing this in mind, getting some foam taken from the width of the saddle at the very front might be more useful than simply reducing the height.
Q. Steve, I'm going to have a look at a 2002 GL1800 (UK machine) next week. Can the bottom saddlebag lights be wired for working as brake and tail lights?
A. You can wire the bottom lights, but the bulb holder holes in the light units are blanked off on UK machines, so you have to drill & file out the holes to accept a bulb holder. The top inner panel of the saddlebags has to be removed to get at the relevant wires for splicing into. About two hours should do it.
Q. Hi Steve. Can you steer me in the right direction, I own a 1993 GL1500, and have just bought fairing side markers to replace the stock reflectors also a harness to illuminate the saddle bag sides. Can you tell me where to wire them to as the instruction say plug them into the spare socket on the harness and I cant find any!!! not as simple as I had imagined. Help.
A. If the 93 you have is a UK or European spec machine, the plug-ins are not there and you will have to wire the fairing lights in manually, the saddlebag lights have to be spliced into the wiring under the saddlebag corner pieces on any spec machine. If however you have a US spec machine, the fairing marker sockets can be found by removing the fairing pockets, the connectors are easy enough to see. On a UK/Euro machine, the fairing sockets are not there but you can easily splice into the wires going to the front indicators.
Q. I am in the process of draining and cleaning out the cooling system on my GL1200. Lots of talk about silicate-free coolant, is this really needed?
A. I did the system flush job on my GL1100 around 1994. There wasn't a lot of info then (no Internet to speak of) about what coolant to use and I just put in the coolant that I always use in my cars without trouble. I had fitted a new water pump to the bike at the time and within a year the pump was leaking coolant. The coolant was not silicate free and this is what causes Honda pumps to fail. Better to play it safe and buy silicate free.
Q. Steve, my left front brake calliper always seems to be hotter than the right one on my 1800 Goldwing. Why is this, is there a possibility they are seizing? The bike only gets dry weather use and is stored indoors.
A. Don't worry about it. The LF calliper gets more use than the right side because it's the one that is linked to the back brake. Every time you toe the brake pedal the rear brake and the left front one come on together, so obviously the left front will get hotter than the right front. Oddly enough, the pads in the left one never seem to wear out unduly faster than the right side.
Q. The back brakes on my GL1800 (2001) are squeaking. I had new pads fitted only a few months ago for this reason and now it's started again. I would appreciate any light you may shed on this.
A. Some early GL1800's had this problem. It was caused by brake discs that were too soft! A recall wasn't issued for this, but dealers will have replaced the discs under warranty anyway. Models after 2002 seem to be immune from this problem.
Q. The wheels on my GL1800 seem to be pitting and it's a real pain trying to clean them. I use a wheel cleaner and the cloth goes black when cleaning the wheels. Is this normal? Is there no clear coating on the wheels?
A. Some GL1800's have a lacquer on the wheels and some don't (the front wheel on my 03 doesn't have a coating but the back one does). However, I personally think that the coating is a lot thinner (or cheap & low quality stuff) on the 1800 as lots of people complain about pitting at low mileage even on coated wheels. If your cloth is going black when cleaning, then the lacquer is rubbed through or non-existent in the first place. This doesn't bother some people as polishing the wheels with the lacquer removed will give a very much better shine, only problem is you will need to do it regularly to prevent pitting. The other alternative is to remove the wheels and have them re-lacquered.
Q. When I started my 1995 GL1500 today which had been laid up unused for a few weeks, drops of water came out of the bottoms of the two exhaust mufflers. I looked under them and there is a small hole in the same place on each muffler. Is this normal or are they rust holes? I only have the 1500 a few months but I have never noticed this before and I am wondering if the holes might have had rivets or screws in them that since fell out.
A. The two holes are drain holes. Just leave them alone as they allow the condensation to drain out. Putting screws or rivets in will just trap the water and rot the exhausts much quicker than usual.
Q. I have a 1997 GL1500SE and the mufflers have rusted through. Can I fit the later mufflers (98 onwards)? They are the same price from the Honda dealer and I like the look as they will look good with the rear lower spoiler.
A. Yes, the newer type mufflers will fit. Lots of folks did the reverse and fitted the older type mufflers to their 98-2000 models as they didn't like the visible open end of the newer exhausts.
Q. I have a 1977 GL1000 and I'm having terrible trouble with the carburettors. Can I use the carbs off a buddies 1982 GL1100 that is being broke for parts? I know those cars are fine.
A. Yes you can! Anyone with dodgy GL1000 carbs would be better off fitting the GL1100 ones if they can get their hands on them. The 1100 carbs each have a shut-off valve and there is an accelerator pump. The '77 carbs have only one shut-off valve and no accelerator pump. Any of the typical lag and stutter of the GL1000 carbs will disappear with an 1100 set.
Q. I can't get the false tank off my 1983 Aspencade 1100. I took off the seat and the bolts at the rear but the tank won't budge. Does it not slip off rubbers at the front like other bikes? I just can't see any more bolts.
A. Remove the two lower fairing panels and look at the very front lower part of the dummy tank, you will see a bolt at this point on both sides. Get your glasses out if you still can't see them!
Q. I have a GL1000 Goldwing, 1976. The spoked wheels are almost rotted through and I know of a later (78 or 79) model with the aluminium wheels, laying in a breakers yard. Will they fit my bike?
A. They would be the Comstars fitted to the 1978 & 1979 models and yes they will bolt straight onto your machine.
Q. I have a 1982 GL1100 Standard and I overhauled the front brakes, fitting new pads, caliper seals and dust covers etc. The master cylinder has what looks like two very small holes in the base, but I'm not sure if one of them is a hole clogged with dirt or if its a blanked off hole. I'm nervous about poking at this "hole" until I'm sure.
A. Should be two holes, get cleaning!
Q. Hi Steve. I bought a 1981 gl1100 Interstate (American import) and the speedo only goes to 80mph. I have a chance of a speedo from a UK model that goes to 130 or 150mph (hard to tell from the photo). Will this do for my bike?
A. Yes, it's a straight swap. You will find that the speedo cable won't need replacing as often with the new speedo either.
Q. My 1998 GL1500SE fell over recently. I had it on the side stand on a slope and as I walked off it just rolled forward and fell on it's left side. After I got help to lift it up the engine started up okay but I noticed gasoline spilling from the exhaust, mostly on the left side. It really pours out fast as the engine is ticking over, but I can't see where the actual leak is. Is there a hidden fuel hose somewhere that I should be looking for Steve?
A. Sounds like a jammed float in one of the carburettors (probably the left one). The petrol is literally getting dumped straight into the exhausts, out through the joints and onto the deck. You will need to remove the air filter housing and perhaps the shelter sides and tap on the carbs, you would be surprised at how often this dislodges the jammed float. If this doesn't work then the carbs will need to be removed and stripped. the sooner the better too, or the bike might end up toasted.
Q. Should I change the spark plugs on my 1997 GL1500 Goldwing for different grade ones in winter?
A. Changing to a hotter or cooler spark plug Goldwing because of the climate isn't the correct way to decide. The big liquid-cooled engine operates in a much narrower temperature range than an air-cooled engine and changing the plugs with the seasons on a Goldwing isn't going to make a performance difference. Assuming that fitting hotter plugs in cold weather is needed because the air/fuel mixture going into the cylinders is cooler, is not really true these days with liquid-cooled lumps. However, your riding style is very much a deciding factor in what heat range of plugs to fit. If you are a city rider, stuck all day in traffic on low throttle, a warmer spark plug will prevent fouling. If you ride on the open motorway most of the time and/or accelerate sharply on a regular basis, a cooler plug will help to prevent pre-ignition.
changing the timing belts on my 1980 GL1100. You know the centre bolt that holds
the two drives right in the middle of the timing belt assembly. The workshop
manual says tap it sharply with a ratchet to jar it loose and the weight of the
parts should keep everything else from moving. Well that's not happening, the
bolt is not coming loose and everything else moves out of line.
A. Don't bother with this, you don't need to remove the crankshaft centre bolt or sprockets to remove the belts (just think about it for a minute instead of blindly following the book). I never remove the sprockets to do belts and I don't know of anyone else who does either. Just mark the position of the sprocket with Tippex or paint before removing the belts and clean any crud off the sprockets with thinners or petrol before fitting the new belts.
Q. I have a GL1100 Interstate (1982) and the radiator fan stays on all the time. The moment I turn on the ignition the fan starts running and won't turn off until I switch off the ignition. Hot or cold doesn't make any difference.
A. The thermo switch (on the thermostat housing behind the radiator) is faulty. Buy a new one asap, before the fan bearings pack in from running continuously.
Q. I had to fit a new Clutch Master Cylinder on my GL1200 Goldwing as I dropped the bike and cracked the old one. Problem is I can't get it to bleed properly. I've filled it with fluid and tried to bleed from the slave cylinder on the rear of the engine with help from a friend but all to no avail. I've done this on other bikes before without trouble. Help!
A. This is a common occurrence when bleeding the GL1200 & GL1500 Goldwings. My solution is to get hold of a big syringe and attach a length of vacuum hose (the stuff they use on fish tank air-pumps will do fine) to it. About 8" (200mm) will do nicely. Use a cable tie to make sure the tube is tight on the narrow end of the syringe. Open the 12mm banjo bolt that connects the main fluid hose to the master cylinder on the handlebar (first cover the fairing area with heavy plastic bags to stop brake fluid ruining the panels), then loosen the bleed nipple on the slave cylinder at the rear of the engine. Fill the syringe with brake fluid, attach the syringe tubing to the bleed nipple and inject the clean fluid into the nipple. Have someone ready with a spanner at the handlebars and when the fluid comes out of the banjo bolt (free of air bubbles), tell them to quickly tighten the banjo bolt, he or she should also be keeping the fluid reservoir at least half-full of brake fluid at this point. Then quickly tighten the bleed nipple. You will now have a solid feel to the clutch lever. I can usually get this to work first time because I've done it lots of times, it might take a couple of tries if you haven't done this before.
Q. How much fork oil should I put in my 1976 GL1000 please? I drained all the old fluid out but it only measures about 80cc in each fork, is this right?
A. The correct amount is 205cc in each leg. Measuring the old fluid to determine the correct amount is daft. The old fluid turns to mush after a few years, so even if none leaks out it will have literally turned to water and will measure less than when it was new.
Q. I have a mechanic overhauling the carburettors on my GL1000 (1976). He reckons that fitting different jets will cure the stuttering at idle but doesn't know what sizes to use. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
A. Replacing the secondary jets with 60 or 62's makes a huge difference here.