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Tech Tips: Scooter Repair & Maintenance

With more and more scooters on the road racking up miles, there is a greater need for service work on these machines as they cruise most parts of the earth. From the super-simple two-stroke to fuel-injected ABS models, there is a lot of diversity in the scooter market these days. Here we will go over some tips to make the service experience as smooth as the CVT transmissions that move these machines along.

Scooters are usually covered up with bodywork and this can be a real challenge when it comes time for service or repair, especially if it’s the first time working on a particular model. Often there will be built-in maintenance covers for accessing items like carburetors, batteries or spark plugs.

Removing the cargo box under the seat often gives greater access to the engine from above when dealing with smaller scooters. With larger machines you may find regular maintenance items such as a valve inspection/adjustment that will have you fully engaged with the jigsaw puzzle of difficult to remove bodywork.

To avoid stress and damage to your customer’s bodywork, a repair manual with well laid out instructions is a much-needed tool, that way you at least have an idea where to start. Oftentimes you can’t just pick any starting point to get to a particular area on a more complicated scooter, you have to start in one area and work your way to the desired part. Along the way you may find a variety of fasteners such as plastic trim clips, bolts, washers and multiple types of screws. Be sure to keep the fasteners organized as they are removed, using labeled plastic bags if needed. Knowing where all the fasteners go will help greatly when you’re putting it all back together.

After fastener removal comes what can be the greatest challenge, separating the body panels from one another. The hidden tabs, slots, hooks and clips can be very difficult to free, especially without cracking or breaking them. For this we highly recommend a nylon pry bar, this will be your best friend when it comes to starting the separation of body panels.

You may be tempted to use another tool such as a flat blade screwdriver but this will lead to cracks, scratches and damage. Once the desired panels are removed and service is completed, the road to reassembly seems to be much easier than the removal, just make sure everything is in order to avoid removing a panel more than once for a particular job.

Since scooter bodywork is mostly cosmetic, you can test an engine, check for leaks, cycle a cooling system or whatever you want before covering it all back up.

Scooters need oil changes, air filter replacements and valve clearance inspections just like motorcycles, beyond this they also have their own set of specific maintenance needs. Most scooters have some form of CVT transmission and belts that wear. The belt is hidden behind a cover and is usually at the point of failure when the machine comes in. If you deal with the same models frequently, keeping drive belts in stock is a great idea. If a customer brings a scooter in for regular maintenance, make sure to inspect the CVT system to avoid failure if possible, oftentimes there are specifications for minimum belt width and maximum deflection. Pay particular attention to the direction of the belt rotation. Make sure the pulley faces are clean and smooth. Check for oil, water and dirt contamination of the belt and pulleys.

The centrifugal clutches wear over time as well. The clutch shoe linings and drum inside diameter need to be inspected periodically and anytime the clutch is slipping or failing to disengage.

Some scooters require the exhaust be removed for rear tire replacement, to avoid an exhaust leak, keep exhaust gaskets in stock or plan ahead and order a gasket when ordering the tire.

Unlike a motorcycle, scooters often have parking brakes that need periodic adjustment. Linked brakes are very common in scooters, and these systems can have specific air bleeding instructions. Also, scooters have a brake switch to prevent engine starting if a brake is not applied. If the scooter engine refuses to start, this switch should not be overlooked. Consult the service manual for the particular model under brake system inspection and maintenance information.

If you’re new to the scooter scene, remember the CVT on the scooter doesn’t directly drive the rear axle. There is a final reduction gear set that transmits the power from the CVT to the rear axle. This gear set must be lubricated with gear oil and should be changed regularly. Hypoid gear oil is often the specified lubricant for these gear sets. Usually there is a simple drain bolt for removing the oil, but putting the specified oil back in can be trickier, having a syringe with a hose attached is handy both for measuring and filling the final drive.

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