Kawasaki Vulcan Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Most of the time, my 500 turns over fine. Every once in a while, I'll press the starter, hear the relay click but nothing happens. The lights don't dim, no relay chatter, no nothing. If I "bump" the engine by rolling it forward and popping the clutch, the starter will turn it over 95% of the time. It usually happens on a first cold start or after the engine is hot and has been sitting (think lunch). Some days the starter works every time, others, not so much.

I've verified all the connections are clean, voltage gets to the starter when I hit the button, put a new AGM battery less than 6 months ago, moving the kickstand seems to do nothing.... I just went to put it into the garage after a long ride and nope, just click. Bumped it forward, hit the starter and it fired up.

The battery voltage after the ride is about 13.2, after a start it drops to 12.5 and slowly climbs up while idleing and with the engine revving, it pegs at and maintains exactly 14.6V. The alternator is clearly fine (though that V seems a bit high).

I can say the problems seems to have cropped up after the bike went down on its left late side last year. Gunk got on the starter brushes? Bad brushes (15k miles)? Dead coil? I'm perplexed by this one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,756 Posts
If you get 12v on the starter side of the solenoid when you push the button and have no starter, then starter may have a dead spot.

The other possibility is that the starter is actually running but not turning the engine.
That would mean a bad spot in the starter clutch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
The starter is definitely not turning. I wouldn't think the brushes or starter itself would be bad at 14K, but I suppose there's only one way to find out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,756 Posts
Starters give little to no trouble.

You mentioned something about dirt in the starter. Did you have it apart?

Did you check the solenoid voltage as I mentioned? Do not take starter apart until this is done.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
A few months back my bike had similar issues. Hit the starter button and all I got was a click. Then if I put it in gear and let the clutch out while I rolled the bike forward to bump the engine over, that would usually, but not always, do the trick, and the starter would work.

I checked everything out, all connections, voltages, etc. No problems. Then one morning when I hit the starter button and got the infamous click, instead of doing the bump routine, I took a short piece of wood dowel, put one end against the starter body, and tapped on the other end with a small mallet. Tried the starter button again and it worked right away.

So, took out the starter and when I disassembled it, saw that one of the brushes was worn down quite a bit, but the other wasn't. And the commutator was heavily discolored and covered with residue. It looked like one brush wasn't sliding freely in its brush plate slot, and the bumping or hitting with the wood dowel was freeing it up to make contact with the commutator and make the starter spin.

So I replaced the brush plate assembly and cleaned up the commutator. Put it back together and, much to my relief, it worked perfectly. That was nearly a year ago and the starter has worked flawlessly ever since.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Sfair. I've already tested it all the way down the the starter itself. All of the grounds are clean and tight as are the connections on the solenoid and I get 12v at the starter itself when I hit the button. My problem is identical to PI Robert's.

I mentioned "dirt" in that the bike went down on it's left side last November or so. I'm wondering if some oil didn't work its way up to the starter brushes (if it's possible). Perhaps I'll try the mallet trick next time it acts up.

Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,756 Posts
12v (meaning battery voltage) at starter when button pushed means starter has to come apart. Normally, the voltage at starter drops to less than 12v when button pushed.
Hammer will not fix it and it could quit on you permanently at any time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
12v (meaning battery voltage) at starter when button pushed means starter has to come apart. Normally, the voltage at starter drops to less than 12v when button pushed.
Hammer will not fix it and it could quit on you permanently at any time.
Right, I know tapping it won't fix it, but it's a good clue that the brushes are worn or sticky. I need to order parts anyway, so I'll toss in basic starter rebuild parts while I'm at it. I'll need 'em sooner or later anyway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,756 Posts
I would not order any parts just yet. Your bike has low miles and it is a good chance that the problem is brush/commutator/both contamination.
I would check it out first.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I was thinking that brushes were cheap. Holy mother of dying pocketbook! $64 (Bike Bandit) for a couple of carbon blocks and a piece of stamped steel?!? What the hell?

EDIT

I keep forgetting to plug in "EX500R" for basic parts. Ricks Motorsport Electrics doesn't list brushes for the Vulcan, but does for the Ninja 500R (same year) for about $20. Is it safe to say same year EX500 starter parts should fit? Should I need to replace parts...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
Yeah, they want an arm and a leg for those OEM parts. I agree with sfair, check it out first. The reason I ordered a new brush plate was that one of the brushes had worn down below the lower limit given in the shop manual. If your brushes are still within tolerance lengthwise, then cleaning everything up (there was a lot of carbon dust in mine), especially the commutator, might do the trick.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,756 Posts
Go to an online Kawasaki parts vendor and check the part numbers of the two brush sets in question. If they are EXACTLY the same, then the parts are interchangeable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I haven't had a chance to pull the starter and I'm actually kind of glad, I'm really thinking there's no problem with the starter at all. I had my bike on the BT+ for about a week, went to start it and it sounded pretty sluggish. Rode up to the store to get my prescription (keeping revs kind of high), and wouldn't you know, click when I hit the button. I push started it, rode home and just barely got it restarted to turn it around in my yard. I clicked the starter a few more times and if the engine's in the wrong spot, I did see the lights flicker as it turned over slowly. Other times, it seems to fire up fine.

Here's what I think is happening. CRAP battery, just can't produce the amps to turn over the cold bike. I'm used to lights dimming in this situation (in a car), but the vulcan doesn't seem to do this, I had the EXACT same symptoms when the old battery was nearly boiled dry. Voltage was fine, but nothing but click when I hit the starter. I'm guessing since a moto starter doesn't have a big gear solenoid to actuate like a car, there can be enough voltage to engage the relay, but not actually turn the engine over. My best guess as to why it seems to start after really warmed up is A), the oil is thinner and B) the battery is hot.

I think the icing on the cake is after even long rides, the BT+ still takes forever to get to float. I think I got a dud battery (sealed, AGM, no levels to check).

Does my theory sound plausible?

Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
I replaced my battery this spring. My old battery would sit on the charger for a day or so then start the bike on the crank. I would ride down to the gas station to fill up, then no start! At first I would hear the starter trying to engage "ClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClick" but as the battery drained I would only hear the relay "Click". If I remember correctly the headlight flickered when the starter was trying to engage, but was out completely when the battery drain down further.

After I replaced the battery with a Yuasa lead acid, I can sit there an crank the engine for minutes on end :p

I think the icing on the cake is after even long rides, the BT+ still takes forever to get to float. I think I got a dud battery (sealed, AGM, no levels to check).
You might have mentioned this, but did your new battery get left out and freeze? 6 months ago was right in middle of winter...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I should follow up - the battery is fine, I was overthinking it. I gave the starter a good thwack with a hammer and stick and it has been fine ever since. I'm actually packing those items in my saddlebag for the time being. I'll take the starter out clean it up when I do the valves, tune up, etc. later in the summer if the issue doesn't immediately crop back up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,756 Posts
If hammer blows get you going, but do not forget that there are permanent magnets inside there and the use of the hammer may do them no good.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
I'm not beating the bejesus out of it. Just a wooden rod to the back of the housing with a smart smack from a hammer to the dowel. The starter remains problem free. Perhaps the brushes were just a little sticky.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top