Cleaning V Star 650 Carburetors

Its that time of year again, I let the bike sit too long over winter without first putting Seafoam in the gas and now the pilot jets in my carbs are clogged up and the bike won’t run off choke.    I thought about doing a post on how to clean out the carbs but since someone already went through the trouble of doing some fairly nice videos of the process I’ll just use those instead.  Parts of these videos are wrong here and there and while the guy looks like he knows what he’s doing its apparent he hasn’t done much with this particular carb or bike before, but overall they are ok.  Enjoy.

Most of the time you would not need to fully disassemble the carbs to clean them, however if you do so be sure to use Ziv’s stainless replacement screws as it makes future maintenance a breeze. If the bike has only been sitting a short while and will not start or will not idle off of choke then 90% of the time the pilot jets are clogged and just need to be cleaned not the entire carb.  If you happen to have Ziv’s screws already on your carbs you can very easily clean out the pilot jets (or swap main jets) in about 5 to 15 minutes without taking the tank off.  Maybe I’ll do a future post on that process.

This one is a good example of the differences between a California model V Star (in the video) vs a 49 state model (mine).  Most likely you would not have to deal with the extra gas tank vent lines.

I also wouldn’t even bother with the fuel catch jar.  What are you saving? 5 drops?   Just hold a rag under the petcock when you pull off the fuel line and call it good as the numerous pics of me on this blog doing the same have shown:

Again, the extra hoses on the carb that go to the front of the bike that may be confusing you are only on the California model V Stars and the things he calls sensors are the carb heaters.

The throttle position sensor can be a bit difficult to unhook from the wiring harness if you don’t know the trick.  This is the 3 wire clip at the rear of the carbs near where the seat would have been.  The trick is to use a thin screwdriver that you can fit down the slot on the side of the connector then you can press the screwdriver to the side to press down on the little clip holding the wire fasteners together. The wires will then pull free with little effort, easy peasy.

I don’t know why he took off the elbows with the carbs.  TIP:  Its much easier to remove the carbs themselves and leave those attached to the bike. The carbs can then be pulled up through the frame without removing the air cleaner assembly instead of going through the side of the frame.  Plus when putting the carbs back in you don’t have to worry about getting all pieces to line up together at the same time, carb, and elbows.  The elbows will already be on there meaning you just have to squish the carbs down on them.

Another note:  If you do need to remove the fuel cutoff solenoids like he does in this video, make sure you unclip the wires first! The wires that attach these are very very fragile and will twist off with very little pressure and a replacement is very expensive!  Be extra careful guys.  If you do break a wire even if you have aftermarket pipes and don’t need the solenoids anymore it will keep the check engine light lit on your dash and its very annoying.

Most likely you’ll not need to pull the floats completely off, try to only do this if the floats are sticking open and there may be some debris in the needle valve or the carbs are really mucked up.  The tang on the floats is very easy to get bent accidentally and then it is a huge pain in the ass to reset the float levels.  You have to attach a clear hose to the drain ports with the carb back together and on the bike, then you can measure the fuel level in the bowels. Too high or too low and you have to take the whole thing apart again bend the float one way or the other, reassemble and recheck and repeat the process as many times as necessary.  Like I said a huge amount of work for one easy to make accident.     If you do screw up your floats fuel level here is the process to fix them.

Another tip:  The wire inside the twist tie off a loaf of bread is the perfect size for cleaning out pilot jets and most likely everyone already has one of these inside their house.  If its already clogged shooting carb cleaner or air through it will not work, just trust me on this.

For the main jet its better to not remove the standoff tube unless you really want to fully take apart everything.  Just use a standard screwdriver inside the standoff tube if your carbs have the solenoids like the video otherwise they’ll be on the end of the tube.  Its much easier just to remove the jet than the tube and all the other parts that go with it that could get lost.

Ahh yes the shitty brass OEM carb screws.  The best way to remove these is to use the vice grips like he did. However, don’t bother with the screwdriver. Heres what you do, get the vice grips as tight as you think you can. Then unclamp them turn the knob just a bit more and clamp down as with all your might. Then it’ll just click free after which you can just remove them with your fingers. Once and a while using this method the head will snap off, not to fear, there are no threads in the float bowel cover or the diaphragm cover.  Get the rest of the screws out and the covers will come right off, then you’ll have more room to use the vice grips on the shaft of the screw.     You did buy Ziv’s awesome replacement carb screws anyway didn’t you?

When reassembling make sure the slides move freely before closing everything up.

If you still have the stock air box on top of the carbs make damn sure that thing is attached correctly!  The air box causes headaches for many V Star owners. If it has any air leaks with the tops of the carbs the bike will start acting up and running like shit and you have no idea why.  Its very easy to over tighten the clamps to where they pop off and cause an air leak. Just snug them up but not too tightly and make sure the box is seated good.  Many people use a bazillion zip ties to hold the things down just in case.


14 comments to Cleaning V Star 650 Carburetors

  • Cece Ericson

    WOW! This is a huge job to do. Hope the Yamaha V-star will run alot better now. YAY!

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  • Zodiac


    First this is the best source I have ever found for anything VSTAR. I have a 99 VSTAR 650 that backfires and burns the eyes out when at idle. Can you please give step by step instructions with photos to adjust the damn carbs before I go blind.


  • Joshua Garza

    So I took apart and cleaned my carb on a 2010 vstar 650 custom. I actually used this same video. When I put it all together again and tried to start up the how’s that T’s off in the middle and goes down and hooks to a holder looking thing is spitting out fuel when I roll the throttle. What did I do wrong???

    • Lynx

      You have a stuck float. Either there is a bit of dirt on the float needle that is preventing a seal or your floats are not working properly. When holding the carb in the right orientation with them apart make sure the floats move with your finger.

      It is possible you may have accidentally bent the tang that sets the float level, I doubt that is the case in this instance as I don’t think it can be set high enough to flood out that line.

    • Andre Alexandre

      Hi. Same issue here too. just took the bowls off to do a clean in the carb and put it back together. Now I have fuel coming out that line also. Did you get it fixed from flooding the fuel out? I’m going to take the bowls back off and check it out.
      And that’s for all this. Great write up.

  • Anselmo

    Never heard of anyone else having this problem: I have two Yamaha V-Stars, a 650 and an 1100. I was riding the 650 and bought the 1100 from a guy who had in in storage for 3 years. The throttle on the 11 is “frozen.” That is, it won’t move. I removed the cable from the carburetor and it is OK. Something is frozen inside of the carb.

    But now get this: I had to store my 650 for a year and when I went to get back on, the throttle is frozen exactly like the 1100!

    I’ve sqquirted WD40 everywhere I could think of to no avail.

    Any idea what this problem could be?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Lynx

      Wow, I’ve seen some really old and crusty carbs that were frozen from 30+ years of water condensation and “white rust” but not after sitting for a short time. You don’t happen to live by the ocean do you? I’ve also seen mice store a bunch of dog food inside a carburetor once on a car that jammed up the butterflies.

      Regardless I think you need to open them up and have a look. If the cables aren’t binding then it is something physically blocking the butterflies or binding the shaft or something jamming the the sync screw and keeping it from turning. Unhook the cables from the carb first and try with your hand to see if it is the carb or the cables.

  • andy ngo

    i followed all these steps and my bike still shuts off when i accelerate… i bought the rebuild kit and replace gaskets and jets and still the same….any advice?

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  • Diania Allred

    bike has been sitting for two years, got it started only firing on one cylinder replaced spark plugs now it is flooding when I turn it on and pushing gas out of the air intake side of carburetors. it is a v-star 650. if you can help me I would really appreciate it very much.

  • Diania Allred

    v star 650 Yamaha, when I turn on ignition key, and engine is not running, the fuel pump starts to pump, and fuel begins to come out of the overflow. any ideas what the problem is or if this is normal

    • Lynx

      Your floats are stuck or if it has been sitting for a while you may have varnish or gummed up fuel preventing the float valve from sealing. Sometimes tapping on the carb body can knock loose a bit of dirt and stop floats from sticking but as yours has sat for an extended time you’ll be better off taking them apart and giving them a good cleaning.

  • Diania Allred

    we will try that. appreciate it very much. let you know later if it works.

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