How to Troubleshoot the Yamaha XV 535

One of Yamaha's early responses to the American chopper, the XV 535 cruiser featured the power and style to give companies like Harley-Davidson some solid competition. Also known as the Virago 535, the cruiser lasted from 1988 to 2000. On motorcycle rankings website, professional reviewers rated the 535 quite well, giving the motorcycle four out of five stars when it came to reliability. Still, like most vehicles, XV 535 still needed regular repairs. Yamaha includes a number of troubleshooting tips and minor repair instructions in its owner's manual.

Check for fuel in the fuel tank if the XV 535's engine stalls, misfires or will not start. If the fuel tank is empty, refill with unleaded gasoline and restart the engine.

Check the condition of fuel in the tank if fuel levels are adequate. If the gasoline appears gummy or watery, it may be stale or contaminated. Take the bike to a Yamaha dealer to have the tank drained and refill with fresh gasoline.

Check engine oil levels by keeping the motorcycle on a level surface and examining the window into the oil tank located at the lower section of the left side crankcase cover. Levels should be between the minimum and maximum marks. Refill with SAE 10W30 or 15W40 viscosity engine oil so that it is at recommended levels.

Restart the engine. Move on to the next section if it still does not work.

Check the compression in each cylinder if the engine still won't start or run properly. Begin by removing the screws on the front left and rear right cylinder covers using a standard wrench. Carefully pull and remove the cylinder head covers.

Remove the spark plug caps for the spark plug in each cylinder. Using a spark plug wrench, twist each spark plug counterclockwise and remove from its cylinder.

Insert a compression gauge into one of the cylinders and operate the electric starter. The gauge should read between 63.5 and 72.6kg. of pressure. Repeat for the second cylinder.

Take the XV535 to the shop if the compression reading for either valve was significantly less than 63.5kg. If compression readings were normal, move to the next section.

Inspect the electrodes on each spark plug to check the ignition system.

Dry with a cloth if the electrodes are wet.

Replace with NGK BP7ES or DENSO W22EP-U spark plugs if the originals are black in colour or cracked.

Set the spark plug gap between 0.028 and 0.031 inches.

Reinstall the spark plugs with the spark plug wrench and return the spark plug caps and cylinder head covers.

Open the throttle halfway and restart the engine. Move to the battery check if the engine still doesn't run correctly.

Use the electric starter, taking care to listen to the engine turn over. If it turns over quickly, the battery is working properly.

Remove the battery from the XV535 and inspect the condition of the battery connections. Tighten with a wrench if they are loose and scrape away any corrosion using a wire-bristle brush.

Fully charge the battery to 12 volts with a separately-powered battery charger.

Reinstall the battery and try the engine again. If the engine continues to turn over slowly, take the Virago 535 to the shop.


Only a Yamaha-certified dealer or a skilled mechanic should attempt major repairs in the event that troubleshooting fails.


Batteries and gasoline release explosive fumes, so do not smoke or work near an open flame while troubleshooting these systems. Wear eye protection and gloves to prevent burns from battery acid.

Things You'll Need

  • Gasoline (unleaded)
  • SAE 10W30 or 15W40 engine oil
  • Spark plug wrench
  • Dry cloth
  • NGK BP7ES or DENSO W22EP-U spark plugs
  • Wire-bristle brush
  • 12-volt battery charger
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About the Author

Brianna has been writing professionally since 2009. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and is excited to be part of a community that contributes to the free sharing of information and ideas.