The Seasoned Wrench


Road King Years To Avoid (A Mechanic Tells All)

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As a motorcycle aficionado, you’d likely be familiar with Harley-Davidson’s Road King. Known for its perfect blend of vintage aesthetics and comfortable touring capabilities, it’s a popular choice among cruiser bike enthusiasts. However, not all Road Kings are created equal. Over the decades, some models have garnered a less-than-stellar reputation due to various issues. Here, we delve into the worst Road King Years to avoid and why:

What Are The Worst Road King Years You Should Avoid?

Based on my previous mechanical experience and extensive reviews from Harley-Davidson riders, here are the Harley Road King years to avoid if you know what’s good for you:

  • 2000 Harley Road King
  • 2003 Harley Road King
  • 2004 Harley Road King
  • 2006 Harley Road King
  • 2014 Harley Road King

While these bikes are still Harley-Davidsons, they have been reported to have significant problems that can affect their performance and reliability. Let’s dive in deeper, shall we?

Related: Harley Death Wobble Model Years, Causes, Signs and More

What Problems Do These Models Suffer?

Blue and White Harley Road King in A Mechanic's Shop

Each of these troubled Road King models has its own set of issues. Here’s a rundown:

2000 Harley Road King

The main problem with the 2000 Road King model is engine noise. An unsettling ticking or rattling sound can be heard from the engine, particularly between 1500 and 2000 RPM. Additionally, several owners have faced issues with the throttle position sensor.

Related: Harley Davidson Engine Rebuild Cost

2003 Harley Road King

Riders of the 2003 Road King often complain about a faulty fuel system, specifically a recurring case of faulty fuel injectors. Many have noted unexpected shutdowns of their motorcycles and leaks in the fuel system. Oil leaks have also been a significant concern, particularly when the oil pan is sitting on the jiffy stand.

example of a common oil leak location with an 88ci twin cam engine used as the exhibitor

2004 Harley Road King

The 2004 Road King model, also known as Dyna Superglide, is infamous for its faulty transmission system and incompatible engine. Also, there were plastic parts found in the motorcycle’s main structure, which could easily break away and cause dangers to riders.

Related: Harley Clutch Replacement Cost

2006 Harley Road King

The 2006 Road King, also known as Harley Electra Glide, is one of the worst models, with hundreds of complaints filed against it. The model had issues with multiple parts that were incredibly challenging to separate for proper maintenance and repairs.

2014 Harley Road King

The 2014 Road King model had issues with defective engine parts. There were at least 19 reported cases of accidents with this model. It also had problems with its hydraulic mechanism. The hydraulic system did not perform as expected, which could cause the bike to break down without any alert.

> Road King vs Electra Glide

Which Happen Most Frequently?

Among these models, the most frequently reported problems are related to the transmission, engine, and fuel system. These key components play a major role in a motorcycle’s performance and reliability, so any issues with them can seriously affect the riding experience.

Can These Issues Be Corrected At Home?

While some minor issues, like oil leaks, might be manageable at home with basic mechanical skills, most of the problems mentioned above are complex and require professional attention. For instance, issues with the transmission, engine, or fuel system often involve intricate parts and systems that should be handled by skilled mechanics.

Out Of All These Issues, Were There Any Good Road King Years?

Lets talk about it:

Despite the Road King years to avoid, there are still plenty of Road King models that have proven to be reliable and satisfying to ride. The 1999, 2005, and 2016 models, in particular, have received positive feedback for their performance, design, and overall quality.

Related: Road King vs Street Glide

Brief of The Best Road King Years

Trust me, not all hope is lost. The Road King is a storied motorcycle that has had it’s ups and downs, but still holds a strong place in Harley history. Here are the Road Kings you should scoop up at your next opportunity:

a gunmetal gray harley davidson road king with ape hanger handlebars and hard side cases

1999 Harley Road King

The 1999 Road Kings are praised for their classic design, robust performance, and reliability. The Twin Cam 88 engine provides ample power, making highway cruising a breeze.

Related: Harley Davidson Twin Cam 88 Cam Chain Tensioner Upgrade Cost

2005 Harley Road King

The 2005 Road Kings boasted a Twin Cam 88 engine known for its robust performance and reliability. The bike’s design and aesthetics were also well-received, with chrome detailing and a two-tone paint option being a hit among fans.

2016 Harley Road King

The 2016 Road Kings are lauded for their High Output Twin Cam 103 engine, which offers increased power and low-end torque. These models also features a dual halogen headlamp and a retractable windshield, adding to its safety features.

Related articles:
> Harley 96 vs 103
> Harley 103 vs 107

What Made These Models So Much Better?

These Road Kings stood out because of their improved engines, design upgrades, and attention to rider comfort. They underwent significant improvements from previous models and didn’t exhibit the same issues that plagued the problematic years.

Did They Still Have Problems? If So, What?

Despite being better models, they aren’t without their own issues. For instance, some owners of the 1999 Road King have reported minor oil leaks. The 2005 model, while generally reliable, may require regular maintenance to prevent potential issues. As for the 2016 model, some owners have noted that it runs hot, which could lead to discomfort on long rides.

Would I Buy A Road King? Yes and No (Here’s Why)

As a mechanic, I can appreciate the quality and performance that Harley-Davidson typically delivers with their Road King models. The best years of the Road King certainly lived up to Harley’s reputation for producing reliable, powerful, and stylish motorcycles.

This is a picture of my favorite model Road King, with some very tasteful upgrades. Of these, an aftermarket performance exhaust, rear seat delete, and windshield removal are included.

However, the problematic models highlight that even renowned manufacturers like Harley-Davidson can have off years. If you’re considering buying a used Road King, I would advise against choosing models from the years 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2014. Instead, consider models from 1999, 2005, or 2016.

Read next: Whats Considered High Mileage For A Harley Davidson?


Harley-Davidson’s Road King is a timeless machine that offers a unique riding experience. However, it’s essential to be aware of the worst years to avoid potential issues and disappointments. By doing your research and choosing the right model year, you can enjoy the best that the Road Kings have to offer.

Here’s a recap of everything you need to know:

Which Harley-Davidson Road King years should potential buyers be cautious of?

Based on extensive reviews and mechanical experiences, the Road Kings from the years 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2014 have been identified as having significant problems affecting their performance and reliability.

What are the primary issues associated with the 2004 and 2006 Road King models?

The 2004 Road Kings, also known as the Dyna Superglide, are notorious for its faulty transmission system, incompatible engine, and the presence of breakable plastic parts in its main structure. The 2006 Road King, known as Harley Electra Glide, had issues with multiple parts that were difficult to separate for maintenance and repairs.

Are there any Road King models that have been positively received by riders?

Yes, the Road Kings from the years 1999, 2005, and 2016 have been praised for their performance, design, and overall quality. These models underwent significant improvements and did not exhibit the same issues as the problematic years.

Can the issues with the problematic Road King models be fixed at home?

While minor issues like oil leaks might be addressed at home with basic mechanical skills, most of the problems, especially those related to the engine, transmission, or fuel system, are complex and should be handled by professional mechanics.

Why are the 1999, 2005, and 2016 Road King models considered better than the others?

These models are distinguished by their enhanced engines, design upgrades, and focus on rider comfort. They underwent significant improvements and did not have the same issues as the problematic models. However, they still had minor issues, like the 1999 model’s minor oil leaks and the 2016 model running hot on long rides.