Leaks and Other Issues

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Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2019 9:46 pm
I ride: 2003 Vulcan 500 LTD

Leaks and Other Issues

Postby viva500 » Sat Jul 06, 2019 9:49 pm

Hello everyone, I have a 2003 Vulcan 500. She's been running fine, but I took her to the shop for an inspection today and here are the issues:

- Left fork seal weeping, needs seal replaced
- Oil and coolant residue under water pump, possible water pump leak
- Sprocket is showing signs of wear
- Front tire has low tread depth, should be replaced soon
- Front brake pads at 1mm

I am new to motorcycles, but I am wondering if any of these issues are fixable by myself. I am not super mechanically knowledgable, nor do I have a jack, but the shop quoted me $1200 for the fork seals, sprocket, and possible fix of the oil leak, so I'd really rather try to fix things myself...

Please let me know what you think is doable! And also if you know of any good jacks for the vulcan 500, I would love to hear about it.

Thanks in advance :D

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Posts: 802
Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:35 pm
I ride: '94 Black Cherry Vulcan 500, '06 Candyfire Red Vulcan 500 LTD
Location: Toledo Ohio

Re: Leaks and Other Issues

Postby Triangles » Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:16 pm

All of these are fixable by the end user. You will need tools and buying a jack is pretty much a prerequisite if you want to do anything that requires you to remove a wheel. These easy cheap DIY jack stands may be helpful. http://www.gz250bike.com/forum/showthread.php?t=61 Using these with a regular floor jack (like this one) is one way to get both wheels off the ground. If you plan to wrench on your own bike you really should pick up both a haynes manual and a factory service manual. Often one has critical info that the other lacks. Probably one of the best purchases I've done is to buy this Harborfreight motorcycle lift. https://www.harborfreight.com/1500-lbs-capacity-atvmotorcycle-lift-60536.html I cut a chunk of 2x4 to fit in front of the exhaust crossover pipe so I'm not trying to lift the bike by the exhaust. If you buy the manuals and tools you need it will still be cheaper than taking it to a shop. Plus you will have the satisfaction of knowing it was done right. Or at least hopefully so... LOL

Fork seals are pretty intimidating due to all the little parts that have to go back together in the right order. There is a write up on this forum to give you an idea of what is involved. The biggest thing is to make sure you keep track of the exact order things came apart so you can reassemble them in the proper order. Some of the needed tools can be made out of cheap stuff such as cheap PVC pipe from the hardware store.

Oil and coolant residue sounds like someone is fishing to get paid to fix a nonexistent problem. Clean this supposed residue off and see if it comes back. Replacing the water pump gasket is easy with basic hand tools and the factory service manual to show you how everything comes apart/goes together. Whatever you do, do not pry or try to use the hose connection point to pull off the pump cover. they are weak and easily broken. Don't ask me how I know. Oil is likely from when the oil was changed. There is nothing with the water pump that could cause oil to leak.

Rear sprockets are pretty easy to replace. The front sprocket can be a little more challenging. You likely will have to buy a large socket to be able to remove it. Generally I like to replace both sprockets and chain all at the same time. Reason being is that chains stretch which won't mesh well with a new sprocket and can potentially wear the new sprocket out very quickly. Also the cost to replace all 3 is relatively low and at least in theory they all should last about the same time, so when one needs replaced the others aren't far behind. Depending on how well you maintain your chain and sprocket somewhere between 20-30k miles is not unreasonable to get out of a set of sprockets/chain. Bikerbill has probably put more miles on a Vulcan 500 than just about anyone so he could better speak to how long they last.

Tires are doable but require you to buy special tools. there's plenty of youtube videos to watch to show you what is involved. The least painful way to get new rubber on is to put your bike on jack stands and a jack or a motorcycle lift to take both wheels off and take them into the shop to have them replaced and balanced with the new tires. Most shops charge a lot in labor just to take the wheels off. One thing I'll add is that I personally wouldn't trust tires that are over about 5 years old. you can read the date code molded into the sidewall to determine the tire age. Google this if you don't know how to read the date code. The reason is that tires harden as they age and become less grippy. Especially losing critical wet traction. My personal experience has been that the tires harden to an unacceptable level somewhere around 5 years old. If your tires are original, REPLACE BOTH immediately if not sooner.

I believe there are write ups on the brakes too. If not the manuals can help you there. It's pretty much a straight forward thing to swap brake pads. It's been a while so I don't remember if the front wheel has to come off but I don't think it does replacing the brake pads is probably the easiest of what you listed.

Also browse the ninja 500 forums for engine related maintenance. The engine is nearly identical to ours except the cams and pistons are different.

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