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Old 12-10-2012, 10:28 AM   #1
Harsh
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Default Starter Issue?

OK, I have a possible doosy here. My friend has an 03 Kawasaki Vulcan Classic 1600 that might have a starter issue. Up to this point he has done all of the troubleshooting himself so I might not include a few pieces of information initially, but just ask and I will do my best to get the required data.

He went out one day and his bike wouldn't start. He is an aircraft electrician so he has a working knowledge of power. He fiddle farts around with it and narrows it down to what he believed is a bad starter. He took it to a local guy to have it checked out and was told it was good. They guy showed him by hooking it up to a power source and (hold on to your knickers for this) pressed the gear into a 2X4 and watched as it chewed through it.

So my buddy throws it back into the bike (after cleaning the gear teeth) and gets the same result. So he wonders if his battery is dying under the load. Nope that checks good. He then moves to using a car battery directly hooked up to the starter. He first tests the starter outside of the bike and it spins up so he installs it. When he puts power to the starter he can physically see it move just a tiny bit taking up the slack in the gears, but that is all it does. It won’t turn the engine over. He doesn’t leave the power connected for long in this state for fear of burning it up.

He decides to take the side covers off to see if he can manually turn the engine over. He can, but it is tough due to the cylinder compression. So he pulls the plugs to make it easier and tries again. Much easier so he decides to try the starter again, but with the plugs out. He gets somewhat the same results. The starter still won’t turn the engine over on its own. He decides to help it along and turn the motor manually with power applied to the starter. The engine will slowly turn over a revolution and that is it. He assists again and it does the same thing.

Through my limited searching I have noticed two things. That the starters on these bikes rarely have problems and that they are amazingly expensive. We are both of the mindset that we don’t like to just throw parts, especially expensive ones, at a problem in hopes it solves it. We would rather methodically troubleshoot down to the failed component.

So if you read through all of that hopefully you are willing to help lend some knowledge on where else to look, check, or do. It would be fantastic if there was a member close that would be willing to help up troubleshoot this problem. Having a working bike to take readings from can make life simple sometimes.

Last edited by Harsh; 12-10-2012 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:46 AM   #2
sfair
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If he has a meter and knows how to use it, we can start the troubleshooting procedure.
If not, we can help there too.

Post back.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:47 AM   #3
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As an add, starters do give little to no trouble.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:07 AM   #4
Harsh
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He has a meter and knows how to use it. From what I understand he has read everything out and has good power. What kind of amperage should he be seeing at the starter in an unloaded and loaded state? Regardless, I feel we should start at the beginning to try and track down the issue.

Last edited by Harsh; 12-10-2012 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:49 PM   #5
sfair
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OK, let the games begin. If he could do the following:

1. Take voltage reading across battery.
2. Turn on key, take another reading.
3. Leave key on for five minutes, take another reading.

Post back with 3 readings.
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:46 PM   #6
squeaks
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Could the starter relay be bad?
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:10 PM   #7
Busboy
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A good test would be to check the voltage at each end of the starter cable from the battery through the starter relay down to the starter.
Sounds like he's got a bad connection in that circuit.
Also check the voltage from the starter button that energizes the starter relay. With ignition on, if he got a jumper wire and jumps it straight to the relay, will it turn the engine over or will it have the same problem?
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:05 PM   #8
Harsh
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I will try to get back with you guys tomorrow. I gave him a call to have him start checking things and he tells me that he drained his battery trying to test it previously. I dropped off my battery charger so hopefully tomorrow his battery will have a full charge to it.

Now if he hooked up his cars battery directly to the starter (which I believe he is doing) wouldn't that by pass all of the other electrical circuits thereby (somewhat) confirming that they aren't the problem?

Thanks for the help so far.
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:54 PM   #9
sfair
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I do not recommend battery boosting except in emergency situations as it can put the ECU at risk. I do not recommend jumper wires either unless absolutely necessary. Just to easy to have a mix-up which can result in two problems...then the real tail chasing begins.
Correct diagnostic procedures with a meter will spot the problem every time and results in the least cost and effort.
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harsh View Post
I will try to get back with you guys tomorrow. I gave him a call to have him start checking things and he tells me that he drained his battery trying to test it previously. I dropped off my battery charger so hopefully tomorrow his battery will have a full charge to it.

Now if he hooked up his cars battery directly to the starter (which I believe he is doing) wouldn't that by pass all of the other electrical circuits thereby (somewhat) confirming that they aren't the problem?

Thanks for the help so far.
Listen to SFair dude. Seriously.

I personally do not use anything but motorcycle batteries to troubleshoot any motorcycle off the fly like that because there is the possibility of burning something up with surging. As long as he's careful and knows what he's doing then it should be fine to troubleshoot that way but the extreme differences in spike and peak surging is what can cause you serious problems.

If you use a battery charger do not try to start the bike with the charger hooked up unless it is a very small trickle charger and you are showing at least 12.8 on the charger. Larger battery chargers that have crank settings can do some serious damage to electrical systems on computer controlled cars and bikes because the voltage can spike so easy.

Warning: If your bike's electrical system goes over its max charging capacity for any amount of time it can easily take out anything on line including the ecu, lights, cluster, etc.
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Last edited by Comanche; 12-10-2012 at 08:40 PM.
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