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Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased a 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom with just under 10k miles. I got a great deal on it, and the bike overall is in good shape. The downside is that it sat for about 3 years.

The tank had approximately 2 gallons in it (no more than that) when parked 3 years ago. At one point about a year ago, the fuel was "cleaned", which I think means they put an additive in it. A couple of weeks ago when I bought the bike, I put an additional 1 gallon of new fuel it, and the bike ran very well. I rode it home about 10 miles and didn't experience any stalling or hesitation, though I rode slowly and carefully because the tires desperately need to be replaced, along with who knows what other potential problems. I parked it in my garage and at this point it was still running fine.

I then did the following over the last 2 weekends:
- Changed oil and filter (warmed engine up first - ran a tiny bit rough but was ok)
- Siphoned gas and removed the tank (a bit of old gas I couldn't get out, a few cups worth)
- Changed spark plugs (checked gap - all should be well)
- Changed coolant
- Inspected air filter (a little dirty but not bad)
- Reinstalled gas tank and added 2 gallons new fuel, along with several ounces of Seafoam

Once everything was reassembled I was able to start the bike, but noticed it was running rough. Any attempt to give it throttle caused a stall. After a few restarts it got noticeably worse, with the bike stalling at idle after a few seconds. Now it will not start at all (cranks strong, but shows no sign of actually starting).

I'm thinking that I was too overconfident with the old fuel, and now I've clogged either the injectors or the fuel pump, or both. I'm going to take things back apart and double check to make sure there's nothing else causing the issue, but it sounds like the engine isn't getting fuel.

My questions are:
1. Is there anything else I should check first?
2. Which order should I check things in? i.e. can I check the fuel pump first, or skip straight to the injectors?
3. Is there a cheap way I can clean the injectors with them potentially clogged like this?

Like most people I'm on a budget and my goal was to fix this bike up myself to save a few coins. If I have to replace expensive items then I will do it, but it will delay the project pretty significantly. Any advice is appreciated!
 

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If you get it started again I'd dump an entire bottle of sea foam in there and cycle as much as possible. Then I'd fill it up and run another full can through there. Is the battery good?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Unfortunately it now will not start at all. I think I've totally plugged something up so it's not getting fuel. I'm probably beyond the point of using Seafoam to fix it.

To check the fuel pump flow, can I simply disconnect the fuel line, run a hose into a gas can or suitable container, and turn the key with the kill switch on? I hear the fuel pump whine like normal so I know it's getting power, I'm just not sure if that will make it pump or if I have to push the starter.
 

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If the problem is a blocked fuel filter, it is integrated into the fuel pump and supposedly isn't replaceable, although some owners apparently have devised a workaround. If the pump has to be replaced the OEM -type pump is pricey (something like $400, if I recall), but less expensive ones sometimes are available on Ebay.
 

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while bike is cranking over see if it will start with starting fluid. If so, you have a fuel problem. If not you have a spark problem. Are you sure you plugged everything back in>
 

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Discussion Starter #7
If the problem is a blocked fuel filter, it is integrated into the fuel pump and supposedly isn't replaceable, although some owners apparently have devised a workaround. If the pump has to be replaced the OEM -type pump is pricey (something like $400, if I recall), but less expensive ones sometimes are available on Ebay.
I've seen one online from High Flow Fuel for $70. From the diagram on their site it looks like it only replaces a few key parts. I searched the forums here but didn't find many references to that pump, so it might be a bit of a gamble. Still a lot cheaper than OEM though.

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Discussion Starter #8
while bike is cranking over see if it will start with starting fluid. If so, you have a fuel problem. If not you have a spark problem. Are you sure you plugged everything back in>
I haven't used starting fluid before so that didn't occur to me. It looks like I simply remove the air filter, spray into the intake for a couple of seconds, replace the air filter, then try to start?

I'm pretty sure I put everything back together correctly, but there's always room for error. The bike did briefly start and run (roughly) after I did the spark plugs so I feel like it's more of a fuel issue, but I will definitely pull the plugs and check them. When I do that should I also put a bit of starter fluid directly in the cylinders, or is that overkill?

Thanks again to everyone for the help! I only got to ride this bike briefly and now I've got the itch! A totally different powerband than my Ninja 300.

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Starter button and throttle is on the right side. As you stand there, keep your face away from the intake. Get engine cranking, twist the grip just a bit, like just enough to crack open the throttle body, and give it a quick spray. It should start, run, then stall out. Limit this to just a few times like two or three times.

The secret to starting fluid is for it to reach the engine as a vapor. That is where people make the mistake is using too much. Short quick blasts into the throttle body is what you want. In the cylinder will remove all traces of oil film from the walls. Not really good unless engine is extremely flooded and needed as a last resort.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ok, so I spray in the fluid with the air filter off, as I crank the starter. Let's say I luck out and it does start and idles correctly. Should I reattach the air filter as its running? Or just let it run for a minute and then shut it down?

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The air filter can be left off for diagnostic purposes. Just keep your face away from the throttle body throat in case it spits at you.
 

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I do not recommend starting fluid. Troubleshoot instead. The risk is to high.

Disconnect fuel line.
Key on, should get about 50ml in 3-4 seconds.

Starting fluid is for old worn out Clatterpillars!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
What is the risk with using starting fluid? Other than potentially starting a fire, is there significant danger of damaging engine components?

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Other than potentially starting a fire,

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Is that not enough reason?

Also, it is uncontrolled combustion and can make your engine knock like crazy.

If it starts, what do you now know...plugged filter, etc? You do not know any more than before.

Do the flow test and that will advance the knowledge of the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Is that not enough reason?

Also, it is uncontrolled combustion and can make your engine knock like crazy.

If it starts, what do you now know...plugged filter, etc? You do not know any more than before.

Do the flow test and that will advance the knowledge of the issue.
True. If there's really minimal benefit then I don't think it's worth trying that first. I think I'll make sure the fuel pump is working, and go from there.

If the pump is working, it's probably either the injectors, or the spark plugs. The plugs I can check easy enough, but the injectors are a bit trickier. I'd rather not have the bike towed to a shop to have the injectors cleaned. Is it something I can reasonably do myself? If not, do you think I can take the injectors out and take them to a shop, or would they need to be cleaned in the bike?

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Discussion Starter #17
how much Seafoam did you use? too much and it will run rough, no more than 1 oz. per gallon, just my experience.
I put in maybe 3-4 oz. Maybe a bit too much, but not egregious. I don't think it would be the thing preventing the engine from running.

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Is that not enough reason?

Also, it is uncontrolled combustion and can make your engine knock like crazy.

If it starts, what do you now know...plugged filter, etc? You do not know any more than before.

Do the flow test and that will advance the knowledge of the issue.
Ultimately if engine starts, runs, then stalls on the starting fluid, he can rule out the ignition system and focus completely on the fuel system. Or if the engine still refuses to start, then maybe the new plugs got wet fouled, plugs were damaged during the gapping process, spark plug wires got broken internally, or a wire got pinched when tank was put back on. I put a brand new NGK plug in my power washer and it would not start. After hours of messing around, I tried another, the plug was faulty. Rare but happens.

Starting fluid is not an issue when used properly. That said, 90% of people I have watched use it, overdid it.

I have never had a close call with it, ever!
 

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Sitting = fuel system fouling.
Do flow test and go from there.
Injectors give little to no trouble on these units, so they are waaay down the list of suspects.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
That makes sense, sfair. Seems like the fuel filter would likely be clogged before the injectors - I suppose that's actually its purpose. I'll test the fuel pump first to see if anything is coming out. If there's nothing, that must be the problem. If there is fuel flowing, I'll check the plugs and make sure I didn't screw up anything obvious.

At that point, do you think I should A) put things back together and try the starter fluid, or B) pull the injectors and get ready to clean them?

Sorry for all the hypotheticals. Unfortunately I can't really work on this during the week due to my schedule, so I am trying to come up with a plan for this weekend so I'm not just sitting on my hands.
 
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