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How to remove speedo condensation

Instrument condensation speedometer

Speedometer condensation used to be a common thing on motorcycles and even in some cars, but today’s instruments are much better sealed against moisture.

While modern cars have air-conditioning to keep the humidity level down, motorcycle instruments are still exposed to the weather, so they can still be vulnerable.

Heavy rain, prolonged high humidity such as we are currently experiencing in Queensland or careless washing can lead to condensation.

For example, NEVER use a high-pressure washer directly on your instruments. in fact, whenever you wash your bike keep water away from the instruments. You can even tape some plastic over them. while you wash your bike.

Click here for our top 10 tips on washing your motorcycle.

Washing freight export import transport condensation
Never use a high pressure washer on instruments

How to fix condensation

There are many methods suggested for fixing instrument condensation – some are good and some are not.

A bit of condensation is not a huge problem and may even clear after a while, so don’t panic and do anything drastic.

However, if left to sit for a long time, it can cause corrosion and in digital instruments it can cause the display to malfunction.

If it’s a particularly bad problem and you can’t fix it, take it to your dealer.

Don’t let them tell you it is “normal”!

It’s not. You paid good money for your bike and, unless you caused the problem by using a high-pressure washer, it is not your fault and should be replaced under warranty as a  workmanship or component defect.

There was some condensation in a Harley test bike’s instruments and Harley said they would simply replace the unit.

Bad ideas

Ok, let’s start with what you shouldn’t do.

Don’t put rice on it. No, it doesn’t soak up the moisture from outside the casing and no, Japanese techs won’t come along over night, eat the rice and fix it!

Similarly anti-moisture gel packs from packaging won’t work. Besides, they will have already sucked most of the moisture out of the air, so they have limited absorption left!

You can buy the gel, but how do you pack it around the instruments to work effectively?

Don’t spray pure alcohol on the instruments. Unless you know where the water got in, this is just a waste of good alcohol.

Avoid opening instruments or drilling a hole to let the moisture out as you are likely to make the instruments even more vulnerable to moisture getting in.

If you do this with old instruments, treat the inside of the glass with an anti-fog solution that you use on your helmet visor. Be careful to reseal properly with silicone or a new gasket.

Old instruments may be easy to open, but modern instruments are “sealed for life” by the manufacturer. Trying to prise then open can cause damage.

On some old instruments you can also disconnect the cable and leave the instruments to sit in the sun for a day or two.

Illegal tampering

Yamaha R1 condensation

Modern instruments are not meant to be easily opened to stop people illegally tampering with the speedo.

Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone boasted that he once sold a Roller to a fellow rogue Cockney dealer after winding back the clock and later buying it back from him with even fewer miles than when he sold it.

Very funny, but in most countries it’s a serious offence. In Australia, if you “wind the clock back” you face up to two years’ jail and fines of up to $60,000. Dealers face fines of about $200,000.

Hair dryer method

I had a 1957 Morris Major that had condensation in the instruments and fixed it by blowing hot, dry air on to it with a hair dryer.

However, you should be very careful using a hair dryer as your instruments may be surrounded by plastic painted with fake chrome. 

Hot air can cause this chrome to lift and then you have a bigger problem than a bit of condensation.

The old Morris instruments had metal surrounds, so they were not damaged by the heat.

If you use as hair dryer, don’t get too close and don’t start off with the highest heat setting.

Good ideas10 reasons you should ride to Save the Oxley condensation

Go for a long ride.

The cool wind may just dry it out. After all, if water got in, it can also get out.

If the problem persists after a long ride, you may need to heat the instruments to dry them out.

Instead of using a hair dryer, put a light globe close to where the moisture is and leave it on over night or for a couple of days, depending on how bad the condensation is.

Or place your bike next to an air-conditioner over night to blow dry air on to the bike.

  • How do you fix instrument condensation? Leave your comments below.

  1. Speedometer condemnation – a Freudian slip perhaps? Sorry officer, the speedo, err the bike, made me do it!

  2. It’s a very difficult problem. Repeated heating and cooling and purging in a low humidity environment is about the only real solution. You will need access to dry nitrogen and a heated sealed container for guaranteed results. You can emulate the process to a lesser degree by mildly heating the instrument on a low humidity day, then if your lucky and it dries out seal it up.

  3. Tie a RAT to it and leave it in the hot sun – the RAT will nore its way into where the water is and drink it – Critical time is when the RAT has to Urinate – Untie him before he needs wewe ok ….
    Problem Solved …

  4. A bike I recently acquired has a Smith’s digital speedo on it., looks exactly like the orig.
    After 2 rides in rain I washed it with bucket and water. Big mistake! The speedo hasn’t worked since. After contact with the manufacturer I am still none the wiser.
    I have tested it as per their instructions, all seems ok. It just doesn’t meas distance or velocity. When I connect it back up to the bike still no go!
    What I have noticed is several of the wires soldered to the board inside have broken off.
    I have had to reconnect 4 of the 9 wires! This wire is crap! Surely they could use a better grade wire and mount it so it doesn’t break when man handled a couple of times.
    The 5v signal returns via the reed switch on the back wheel. With this return wire off the board I noticed ~4.5v at the board! Is this right, or has the original ingress of water caused the malfunction?
    Before we unscrewed the bezel we noticed an unevenness between rim and glass. Could the water be getting in here?
    Not good enough for a 100k+ bike! And yes the 1yr warranty period has passed, albeit with
    1695kms on the speedo!
    Smith’s and Godet?
    Ciao Trevor.

  5. I live in Rio de Janeiro. The dealer sad it’s normal… I think they confuse what is normal with what is common. It is common and shameful. Such an expensive bike with such a ridiculous problem. In my case the problem is even greater: I can not see the speed after it fogs. The display is in lcd …

    🙁 🙁 🙁

    1. Same here. 2018 FLS. Instrument fogged up almost immediately. It comes and goes but there seems to be a film on the inside rendering the instrument utterly unreadable. I live in southeast Texas 100% humidity is the norm around here during the summer. Dealer said HD will probably warranty it once. Total corporate greedy bullshit not to address this issuse.

        1. I was told the same form my FHLC 2020 with 320 miles on it. This BS. HD doesn’t care of its customers base anymore. Its all about the money. HD has lost its way in quality and customers.

  6. I pulled my Interceptor gauges apart dried out the casing with a hairdryer and cleaned the inside with a micro fibre cloth. Then re assembled but put small o-ring washers on the screws to help seal. Also where the cables plug in I used a very thin smear of silicone lubricant, to help the rubber cover seal. So far so good.

  7. If I could put the speedometer in a vacuum chamber, the moisture inside the speedometer would vaporize and exit the instrument along with the air. Next critical step would be to insure the instrument is in very dry air when it is removed from the vacuum.

  8. I have a 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan, I put 6000 miles on it so far. Same issue with the speedo, fuel gauge (EFI) and compass (useless in any case). The analogue speedo is readable but the LED odo and trip meters are unreadable as are the remaining instruments in the cluster. I have 3 months left on my warranty so I’m going to take it in. It’s happened before and does clear up on its own but this is an adventure bike! I love the Himmi but this is not acceptable – imagine if I took the bike across a few streams rather than just riding in New York City rain. Interesting to read that Harley has the same issue. Sorry guys, it does suck.

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