Honda VTX1800 Problems: 4 Known Issues (Explained)

Honda debuted the VTX 1800 in 2001 as a 2002 model. At the time the launch went down, a 1800cc production motor was unheard of.
Honda may only have worn the crown for the biggest motor for two or so years before the other brands followed suit, but the VTX1800 cranked out a quicker quarter-mile and an unmatched 0-60 as far as V-Twins go.
Whether you’re looking for a hot-rod cruiser or a big-bad-bagger for a road trip, the VTX1800 is a reliable choice, but what are some of the common problems with the VTX1800?
Hit the kill switch and read on to find out!

1. Premature Wheel Bearing Failure

One of the common problems even the Honda-enthusiasts vent about VTX1800 is the premature wear of the bike’s wheel bearings. Before we go any further, let’s get the PSA out of the way—checking your wheel bearings and servicing them per Honda’s spec instructions l is part of the regular upkeep of all bikes. 
If you catch a wearing bearing before it’s shot, you’ll save yourself time, money, and gloom at the thought of your precious steed stuck in the stable when it should be galloping highways. 
Here’re four signs of worn wheel bearings on a Honda VTX1800:
  1. The wheels generate a peculiar whirring feeling during rides. 
  2. A hyperactive humming vibration comes up through the handlebars from the wheels.
  3. A buzzing humming sound while riding resonates from the VTX’s wheelbase.
  4. Damage to your VTX1800’s wheel hubs and axels.
If you encounter any of the symptoms, examine your 1800’s wheel bearings ASAP.
Warning: Failing wheel bearing can lead to more in-depth motorcycle impairment, including the potential for collision.
  • If you find that the wheel bearings on your VTX1800 are failing, waste no time replacing them.
  • A decent home mechanic should have no problem knocking out a wheel bearing replacement in a couple of hours if they’ve got the proper tools for the job, of course. 
  • Remember, there’s no shame in seeking a Honda-literate mechanic for the job.
There are numerous walk-throughs online for a wheel-bearing swap-out on a Honda VTX1800.
If you’re determined to take the wrench into your own hands on this and you’re having trouble finding an instructional guide, let us know in the comments.
Pro-Tip: Snap some photos for each step as you remove the damaged bearings; reverse the process during new-bearing installation to ensure your order is on point.
If nothing else, you’ll need a wheel puller to get your VTX’s wheels off. There are various wheel puller assembles you can build yourself for cheap—your call on whether to trust their integrity. 

2. Loose Headlight Vibration

Another unfortunate trend the VTX1800 follows regards its headlight and its tendency to buzz loose. As someone who avoids riding at night when I’m in new places, the idea of a loose headlight scares me. Luckily, though. More than a handful of riders isolated the problem and took to the forums. 
  • To find out where the buzz is coming from on their Honda VTX1800, some riders place their fingers on the headlight while riding.
  • I’ve encountered reports from said VTX1800 owners that claim the headlight rattles and vibrations stop once you apply pressure to the headlight.
  • We suggest you honor the brave souls that risked their lives pressing on their headlight while ripping their VTX one-handed by keeping both hands on the bars and taking their word that the rattling headlight indeed stops buzzing when you hold it down. 
VTX1800 riders discovered that the cause of the buzz was loose wiring in the headlight. The flexible wires shudder against the headlight bucket, especially obvious at highway speeds. These vibrating headlight wires seem to be the source of the VTX1800’s dreaded loose-headlight rattle. 
If any of our readers encounter this issue, wrap up the loose wires in electrical tape to prevent them from rubbing against the headlight’s bucket in fierce winds or at high speeds.
To find out if loose lamp wires cause your VTX’s headlight vibration:
  1. Remove the two Philips head screws.
  2. Pop off your headlight; it’ll roll down towards you as you remove it.
  3. Let it hang forward while you’re working if it doesn’t bother you. If you feel it will interfere with your focus, though—no shame in removing it all the way while minding the wiring.
  4. You can either let the headlight hang forward or remove it all the way. 
  5. In the headlight bucket, you’ll find a cluster of wires connected. You’ll encounter a bunch of wires in the headlight bucket. 
  6. Gracefully, as not to meddle with the wires’ connectivity, apply that electrical tape or a velcro strap in a way that prevents the wiring from interfering with the headlight bucket.
  7. Some testimonies point to riders gluing foam to the bottom of the VTX headlight’s housing for padding, further enhancing the resistance factor of the stabilized wiring.  
  8. Other riders rip off a piece of double-sided tape, about an inch and a half long, and stick it to the bottom of the headlight’s seat. You’ll have to slit the tape so the headlight can slide into the slot if you go this route. 
There you have it; cheap, quick, and easy solution to the dreaded VTX1800 headlight rattle; don’t let this common issue stop you from getting a good deal on a used VTX1800!

 3. Battery Terminals Disconnect Easily

This next common issue frustrated riders seem to take with the VTX1800 in the forums is the claim of battery terminals disconnecting while riding. Now, we’re not picking on the VTX1800 here—this is a common problem on countless Big Twin bikes thanks to the inherent vibration in the engine’s design. 
An insufficient battery terminal connection will cause your VTX’s starter solenoid to quit holding a charge as the starter motor draws its power load from the now-loose terminals. The result is a failing starter that clicks instead of igniting your VTX.

7 Typical Signs of a Bad Battery Connection on a Honda VTX1800: 

  1. The VTX doesn’t start
  2. Heat generates from terminal connections while the battery is at work
  3. Smoke, burning, or the general smell of hotness floats up from the battery while riding
  4. Displays are less defined and fainter than normal
  5. Power loss, either while attempting to start the bike or while riding
  6. Lights dim while your VTX is running or turn off during startup
  7. Clock display resets itself
When encountering signs of power loss similar to the seven mentioned above, I always check my battery terminals first. I’ve seen some knowledgeable motorcycle buddies of mine pulling their hair out on the side of the road, trying to figure out why their bike’s power keeps dipping. Turns out to be a loose battery terminal they could’ve fixed with a few quarters turns long before they started yanking at their heads.

4. Water Pump Leaks Coolant

The VTX1800 changed the definition of Big Twin with its liquid-cooled v-twin. How’d they got away with such a monster of a motor before anyone else had it like that? Keywords—liquid-cooled.
The VTX1800 uses a liquid coolant to hold the engine below hazardous heat levels. One of the common issues we’ve encountered with the VTX1800 is water pump failure, developing a coolant leak. 
Now let’s clarify something real quick—while there are many claims about VTX1800s leaking coolant in the forums, owner negligence is the common denominator. 
Honda specifies which coolant the masterpiece of a VTX1800 engine requires for it to monster-mash down the highway as intended. I encountered multiple reporters of VTX water pump failure admitting they were using car coolant in the VTX1800 motor. 
  • Most car coolants integrate an ingredient called silicate. 
  • The VTX1800 specifically suggests coolants that don’t contain silicates.
  • If you ignore the Honda suggestion, your VTX1800 will develop a coolant leak. 
  • If you try to extend coolant longevity by topping it off with water, as some riders have admitted to doing, you must distill the water. The minerals in undistilled water in your coolant can corrode certain motor parts. 
To be clear, not all the water pump failures we found resulted from poor ownership—a busted thermostat can also cause coolant leaks on a VTX1800. If your thermostat gets stuck closed, you’ll hear hot water gurgling and backing up when it tries to flow through. Next up, in this unfortunate sequence of events, the coolant gets forced back and leaks out of your VTX’s water pump. 
Replace your VTX1800’s broken thermostat asap, or it will break the water pump too, which has the potential to cause even more severe engine damage. Replacing your VTX 1800’s thermostat includes the replacement of the thermostat itself, but also the therm’s:
  • Housing
  • O-Rings
  • Hoses
  • Clamps
Replacing the entire setup ensures the leak is solved once and for all. 

General Pros and Cons for Honda VTX1800

Here’re some pros and cons of the Honda VTX1800:


  • Accessible Power via Snappy Throttle Response
  • Convenient Heel/Toe shifter design
  • Heavy Torque
  • Comfortable and Ergonomic
  • Generous Storage Space on Touring Models


  • Premature Wheel Bearing Failure
  • Loose Headlight Vibration
  • Battery Terminals Disconnect Easily

  • Water Pump Leaks Coolant

What Do the Reviews Say?

There are plenty of large-displacement V-twin cruisers on the market these days, and until this launch, Honda was conspicuously missing from the scene. Sure, life rumbled on, but we often paused to wonder when the most respected manufacturer of high-efficiency vehicles would join the party; never doubting that knock on the door eventually would come. And, of course, we speculated about the effect Honda’s mystery dish would have on the potlatch. For years we’d heard rumors of a monstrously large displacement V-twin brewing in that burrow. And given the Jones effect in the cruiser market, bigger was certainly going to stir things up.

Well, after several years of marketplace chatter, and more than five years of closed-door development at Honda, the cruiser world has its enormous new entry. A street rod-styled bike, more bruiser than cruiser, driven by a dynamic 1795cc 52-degree, liquid-cooled and injection-fed V-twin — a motor that dwarfs Yamaha’s 1600cc push-rod design, previously the hot-ticket for those inclined toward the big at heart. With impressive horsepower (we got 88.9 at 5250 rpm) and enough torque to pull trees — 100.3 foot-pounds at 3000 rpm (by God) — we’re talking about cutting into a new dish of mustard here folks.


What’s the Resale Value of a Honda VTX 1800?

Year Mileage Price
2002 34,700 $5,900
2003 8,178 $7,995
2005 23,964 $5,495
2006 37,500 $3,950
2007 16,146 $6,950


Road Test: Honda VTX1800C Motorcycle |

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.