The Yamaha Vision XZ550 was introduced in 1982 and 1983, making these bikes nearly 20 years old. Many V's recently purchased have sat for a number of years, and as such will require new owner maintenance to bring them up to par. The investment in supplies and tools is relatively inexpensive considering this is a fairly rare bike.
In a general order of importance follows a list of common items to look at separated into 2 sections: Before the sale and after the sale.
BEFORE THE SALE:
visual inspection (static)
--take a general look over the bike, has it been cared for, does it show signs of abuse? look at the fluids, is there coolant in the overflow tank or is it all water, do the brakes operate. try pumping the front end a few times, is there a ring of oil left on the fork tubes indicating leaking seals? put the bike in neutral, does it roll, if not the clutch pack may be frozen (mine was) consider the general overall condition of the bike, but note that these bikes clean up amazingly well.
items to check:
general condition, are the tabs broken off or corroded? it may need to be replaced, this is common.
remove the gas cap, look inside the tank for signs of rust, check the corners of the tank for pinholes or repair work. V tanks commonly rust out at these low points due to water collecting there.
carefully run your hand underneath the right muffler. this is usually the first place the system starts to rot out.
-- Stator check.
remove the left side cover and find the 3 white wires going from the regulator/rectifier to the case. there should be a 3 wire white connector (to the stator) here, visually inspect the connector for signs of heat and/or corrosion damage. if there is no connector and the wires look to be soldered together, this is a good thing. this connector is a very common cause of stator failure, and should be eliminated.
if the connector is there, do a continuity check, if you can, between each white wire on the stator side, and ground. there should be no continuity. if there is, plan on spending $130 or so on a new stator.
Start the bike, the seller may have to assist you here as these bikes do not seem to follow a standard rule for starting procedure. some Visionary's report never having to touch the throttle, some do a twist or two and partial choke, etc. this seems to be a personality trait with the bike
if the bike cranks slowly: ask the seller if they know if the starter seal has been replaced, they commonly leak, allowing oil into the starter. this is also repairable
Vision carbs need to be CLEAN. most common problems associated with the XZ550 can be traced back to dirt in the carbs. Having said that, a poorly running bike with a carb problem can show symptoms that seem totally unrelated, (note that the same is true with a poor charging system) symptoms such as uneven idle, stalling upon acceleration, hi revs, even backfire, etc can all be cured 90% of the time
--Engine Knock below 2500 rpm
What sounds like a lower end death rap from the engine may not be as bad as it sounds. another common Vision problem is that the factory starter clutch bolts work loose and cause this "lower end rapping" noise. The telltale is if the noise goes away above 2500-2700 rpm, it is most likely in need a starter clutch repair. again not a big investment in tools or parts, better to repair this sooner rather than later though.
--Charging system check-running
Standard test here is to place a voltmeter across the battery terminals and observe that the charging voltage is in the range of 13.7-14.2 Volts. in all rpm ranges. (you did check the connector right?)
There isn't really anything thing different here than any other bike, check that the speedometer works, turn signals should self-cancel after about a block or so. tires feel ok, no knocking or looseness in the steering head bearings, brakes work, etc.
AFTER THE SALE:
Continue the visual inspection, look the bike over carefully, Make a note of any items needing attention, BUY A HAYNES MANUAL. Post questions on the Riders of Vision Forum, read all the old posts you can, and thoroughly go thru this site and it's related links.
this is a tedious but nessacary task: unplug and clean EVERY electrical connection on the bike. Corrosion is a major factor in Vision problems. You want to get all the connectors shiny bright, and tight fitting. It is a good idea to coat the connectors at this time with dialectic grease. Replace the fuse box with waterproof inline blade fuses at this time also. Clean and fill the battery, charge or replace if needed. Remove the 4 black screws holding the back cover of the TCI on and SOAK the TCI in WD-40 or similar waterproof spray. (note: do not try to remove the TCI from it's case you'll destroy it if you try.)
Remove and leak test the YICS unit, replace the hoses if needed, they take a lot of abuse. Check all fuel and vacuume hoses, replace if needed.
If the petcock leaks, there are rebuild kits available.
I'm not going to go into carbs here, there is ample info on this site and ROV forum.
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