Who ya gonna call?

Who ya gonna call?

This is one of my favorites, but it was a while ago... so the details are hazy. Actually, I just can't remember the year/model. It was a Harley. Its always a Harley. Everything else is a bit too memorable to forget. Try your best to suspend your disbelief until the end.

A customer brought a motorcycle to a shop. The owner of the bike was pretty vague about the problem. Something to do with it "intermittently not starting". Not thinking much of it, the motorcycle was wheeled into the shop and put into the queue.


When the shop contacted me about it, they were installing and activating a new TSSM (Turn Signal Security Module) without success. 2007+ HD TSSMs and Fobs are not complicated. TSSM is taught a fob code via software like CenturionFobs broadcast unique codes. The TSSM looks for broadcasts via its antenna. If it finds a broadcasting fob that matches, it allows activation of the starting relay of the bike. TSSM encodedAntenna Fob. That's it.

We try another Fob (known good). No change.

We check antenna. No change.

TSSM? New.

Watching the Security light, we know its not disarming. I have found the following chart to be super helpful:

Lamp Behavior


No flashing

No security/Not armed

A flash every 1 second

Failed entry timeout activated, must wait 2-10 minutes before another attempt can be made.

A flash every 2.5 seconds


Very fast flashing (multiple times a second)

Enter PIN

Solid with IGN OFF

5-30s until system is armed

Solid for more than 4 seconds after IGN ON

There is an active (current) DTC


So, why does it not work?? What is special about this bike? What is special about this shop? If you have ever talked to me in one of these situations, I probably asked you: "What is the bikes story?" 

What I've found is that a quick synopsis about WHY a motorcycle is in a shop can answer or invoke a ton of questions. And this bike, with "intermittent starting issues", had a story.


Apparently, for as long as the owner had had this motorcycle, weird stuff would happen around it. Things far stranger than the no-start. For example, the owner would park it at the bar and, afterwards, others around him wouldn't be able to start their motorcycles either.  They took it in stride, because who would think they are the reason all the motorcycles in the area are misbehaving.

The owner also spoke of being woken up in the middle of the night by the garage door opening and closing. Upon investigation, there was nobody else around. The only thing they saw was the motorcycle, sitting quietly like parked motorcycles tend to do.

To make the shops situation worse, the owner didn't mention any of this until much later. The techs just willingly plopped this motorcycle in the middle of their shop without a clue. At first, I didn't fault the owner for not saying anything. But I changed my mind. You definitely have a social obligation to warn people before unloading a haunt... phantasmally-challenged motorcycle on them. Even if you fear its retaliation

The shop only knew the basic issue. So, the happenstance that motorcycles in for service were getting dropped off with "bad key-fobs", just struck them as a plague of coincidences.  Apparently, somehow, they figured out that bikes a certain distance from the shop started just fine. They drew a line a good distance outside of the shop that seemed to be the thresh-hold. Probably made the line with salt.  After a while, the odd issues with other bikes just stopped. The line was forgotten. Things got back to normal.


Until they put a new battery in the phantasmally-challenged motorcycle and it wouldn't start! So, what's special about this bike!  After poking around and a few back and forth conversations about this motorcycle... the shop guy tells me there is this "odd THING" attached to it. I don't know what that means. They don't know what it is. "Send me a picture of the odd thing!", I say.

And they did:



Crazy right?



Yeah, that's not what they sent me. That's a picture from a ghost movie.


It was actually this:

the "thing"

I cant say there ISN'T a ghost in that machine, but devoid of battery power, everything worked fine in the shop and on the bike. Its removal solved everything. It's a strange part though. Not something we would regularly see on these motorcycles.

My best guess:  it is an old siren or GPS locator type thing. UPDATE: Mr . Bever in the comments said that "That is HDs accy siren/pager."  Once it started to fail, it hit a RF that drowned out everything. All RF in the area suffered or was polluted. It interfered with the motorcycles key-fobs. It messed up other motorcycles in its proximity. It even triggered a garage door opener. I'm not sure the chances of hitting a frequency that's going to do all those things, but I'm going to estimate those chances at approximately... "low".


Hope you found this as funny as I did. I think the shop is still traumatized. I bring it up every once and a while and all I get from them is a quiet and sad "That one was crazy".



Chad @ TechnoResearch


  • That is HDs accy siren/pager. It can sure mess up the security system. Its not a gps locator.

    Howard Bever
  • Craziest issue I’ve ever encountered.

    Mark Ward

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