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Greetings, first post.

I have a 2002 Softail FXST Custom with around 14k miles. I have had the bike since 2009. During that time the speedometer has been on again, off again intermittent. An annoyance that I never got around to addressing until recently when it went out again and did not resume working after a few rides. So I ordered a new VSS cable and installed it this evening.Works great now.

However — when I pulled the old VSS magnetic sensor unit from the crankcase I saw it was covered with metal shards magnetically adhering to the sensor unit. A lot of metal shards - see picture. Probably explains the intermittent behavior and possibly the complete failure that motivated me to replace it.

I am concerned about why I have so much loose metal floating around in the crankcase. I know this is not unheard of in the case of the magnetic oil drain plug but the VSS sensor?

I did have an aftermarket starter gear installed a few years ago. Done by a HD certified independent mechanic. Thinking that may be one possible explanation.

wanted to check and see if this is a common issue or indicative of something else.

BTW, bike starts, shifts and runs great 👍🏻
Dog Water Dog breed Carnivore Feather
 

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While it's not uncommon to see a little metallic dust on the sensor,, that is quite a LOT, I would drain and flush the tranny to see what else may come out. I would even go as far as pull the tranny end cover for inspection. The starter gears are in the primary, any crud from that would be in there, not the tranny.
 

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That sensor isn't in the crankcase, its in the transmission. A little debris isn't unusual but HDfatbagger is right, that's a bit much. On the other hand, that magnet probably has been in the case since new.
Don't worry unless you start seeing that kind of build up on the drain plug magnet.
 

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That's bad.

You might get lucky and find that it was left over from a previous failure. Or not.

Drain the trans and see what comes out. Warm the fluid up and pour it through a coffee filter, see what you catch. Then put a quart of 10/40 motor oil in it and run it for 30 min. Drain it again and see what come out. If the drained oil is more or less free of metal, fill it with gear oil and run it. If you see additional metal, then it should have the cassette pulled for inspection.
 

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BTW, bike starts, shifts and runs great 👍🏻
Not wishing to offend the experience of anyone here, but I think some of the responses are being overly 'nice'... to what end I don't know.

If I saw that much metal on a VSS -or- a drain plug magnet, I would be prepared to yank the tranny apart now at home rather than waiting for it to grenade on the road. Your time and wallet will be grateful.
 

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I've had an '02FXSTi since new and have done all mntc/repairs/upgrades myself. I never saw anything close to that much debris on ANY drain plug/sensor with a magnet on it. Any debris was more like 'paste' with very tiny particles that you could barely feel when running it between thumb/fingers. I like the advice to flush the hell out of tranny then keep a very close eye on it...maybe flush again in 1000 miles to see what you get? Something is going on...
 
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