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2003 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey all I have a project 2003 Vulcan 1500 classic that I’m redoing. Right now I’m just trying to diagnose why it won’t start.

I just replaced the starter relay, and it finally has the headlights turn on and attempt to crank over.

it won’t turn over and will just crank, there’s also a single popping sound coming from the carburetor side/exhaust side. I currently have the radiator off as well as the exhaust, carb cover, air filter, both wheels and some other parts.

I can’t figure out what’s causing the popping sound and why it won’t turn over.

any suggestions would be appreciated
 

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2010 Vulcan 2000 Classic Lt
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Hey all I have a project 2003 Vulcan 1500 classic that I’m redoing. Right now I’m just trying to diagnose why it won’t start.

I just replaced the starter relay, and it finally has the headlights turn on and attempt to crank over.

it won’t turn over and will just crank, there’s also a single popping sound coming from the carburetor side/exhaust side. I currently have the radiator off as well as the exhaust, carb cover, air filter, both wheels and some other parts.

I can’t figure out what’s causing the popping sound and why it won’t turn over.
The terminology in bold in the quote is throwing me off. I will assume you are meaning the starter is now rolling the engine over but, it is not starting.....? You need 4 conditions to make a motor run with air, fuel, spark, and exhaust. As long as nothing is blocking the carb/whatever from sucking air and exhaust ports are machined into the head at the least (joke), you know you are meeting half of them. Are you getting spark and fuel is the things to check if I am assuming this correctly. Hope it helps!
 

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2003 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah sorry for the terminology, the starter is rolling the engine and it sounds like it’s trying to start but just won’t and then will make a popping noise from either the carb or exhaust. I can’t tell which one due to the exhaust being off.
I just put about 6 liters of new fuel into the fuel tank. I’ll check the fuel pump and replace the spark plugs and see if that fixes it.
 

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2010 Vulcan 2000 Classic Lt
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Whooo, slow down my friend. No need to crunch the wallet yet! Pull the plugs see if they are wet first, firing second, and verify the gap last. Do you hear the pump priming? If so and plugs are wet most likely it is working. Popping noise......does not sound like you have any back pressure from exhaust pipes on if I read correctly. Even if it starts and runs you will not want to run it long or you will burn up the valves. At this point in your rebuild you should just be verifying if it will fire and run for a few seconds only! You need to play with it longer at least put the header pipes on. If it starts it is going to be loud and run like crap so do not be surprised, meaning at least without the header pipes.

Edit: Wouldn't hurt to clean the plugs while you got them out if they are still firing. Verify the gap after though too!
 

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popping back out thru the carb is a sign of air/fuel mixture being lean, try doing this, put some gas in a spray bottle and with your air cover and air filter off, try turning over the motor while spraying some gas from the spray bottle directly into the carb throat opening, if the mix is lean then with the added gas from the bottle the motor might start
 

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2010 Vulcan 2000 Classic Lt
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popping back out thru the carb is a sign of air/fuel mixture being lean, try doing this, put some gas in a spray bottle and with your air cover and air filter off, try turning over the motor while spraying some gas from the spray bottle directly into the carb throat opening, if the mix is lean then with the added gas from the bottle the motor might start
Actually, popping out the carb is a sign of a timing issue. If the poster's very first thread was read, it would have been noticed that.......
there’s also a single popping sound coming from the carburetor side/exhaust side
..........and are hearing it through both. Which the poster also stated..........
I currently have the radiator off as well as the exhaust, carb cover, air filter, both wheels and some other parts.
.........so, there is no air filter, air cover, or anything of an exhaust on. This popping noise very well could just be the piston and valves working and with no air filter or air cover, yes, most likely it is running lean then, obviously. With no exhaust on they also have no back pressure to balance the process.

They will be best served verifying the motor is getting spark and fuel first. I was waiting for a confirmation on the two before I got into the "tricks" of making it run in its current condition. With completely open exhaust ports, and most likely them spitting sparks, not completely burned fuel, etc it might be a little dangerous spraying gas. The very same affect could be recreated by covering a good portion of the intakes with cardboard, etc.
 

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2003 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sorry Trinity still haven’t confirmed if the motor is getting spark and fuel, had to work all day and have life getting in the way of working on the bike atm. I’ll reply once I get around to checking.
 

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Sorry Trinity still haven’t confirmed if the motor is getting spark and fuel, had to work all day and have life getting in the way of working on the bike atm. I’ll reply once I get around to checking.
No worries, I just wanted to respond before you referred off on a different tangent is all. I been there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Haven’t checked the spark plugs yet but fuel will only pass through the fuel pump if I shake it. I’m going to clean it out this weekend sometime and see if that works. If not I will check the plugs
 

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Sloooow down a bit again. See following good troubleshooting techniques will save you a lot of needless work and expenses! I am no mechanic I just grew up doing all this because I was poor, ok sometimes cheap but, I'll stick with the first. I am just very educated in my trade and that includes all areas of this stuff but, the tech classes specifically given to a mechanic. These basic troubleshooting steps exist for all combustion type engines from a lawn mower to a diesel. Only thing that changes is how technical the systems making up the air, fuel, spark/ignition, and exhaust are.

We needed to check exactly what is involved with that fuel pump system first and as I have never owned your bike model I looked it up and will give you the link below. I like using this site because it gives me a quick reference break down of the sections making up the systems. There is a fuel filter before that pump and logically and financially it is the easiest to rule out first before messing with a component that might be good. If you turn the key on and hear the pump prime/run, most likely you can "assume", for now, it is good. Now you pull the hose off the end of the pump from the filter, turn on the petcock to RES, just to be safe, and a good amount of fuel comes running out, then we are on to the pump.

Why the plugs are so vital is they are the end of the ignition system. Just by seeing that spark you pretty much ruled out that whole system from plugs, wires, coils, etc on up to the key being correct. That is one very quick and easy check to rule out an entire system such as that, something like the exhaust is far less with possibilities. Plus if you roll the bike over good, if its been sitting, and the plugs are wet you know it is getting gas before you even had to take the time to check the filter.

I have an active mind so to keep rains on that I always force myself to remember the KISS theory, meaning Keep It Simple Stupid! Not you stupid, but myself. As in thinking "hey stupid, keep it simple and do those first basic checks to know, rather than assume", which there is another old saying for assuming but, I'll spare from it here now. Some people prefer to use it as KIS too, trying to save the last but, I am human and know I am prone to stupid doings from time to time so, it fits, lol.

Oops, forgot the link. See the fuel pump section
2003 Kawasaki VULCAN 1500 CLASSIC (VN1500-E6) OEM Parts, Babbitts Kawasaki Partshouse
 

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2003 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So tested the plugs and it looks like the problem is gonna be something along the chain. No spark from any plug on any of the 4 wires…
 

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So tested the plugs and it looks like the problem is gonna be something along the chain. No spark from any plug on any of the 4 wires…
Ugh, I was hoping it was the fuel for you as it would have been easier! Troubleshooting the ignition system can be a PITA. Start from the simplest and work up. Here is some simple checks and ideas for thought. Is the engine in neutral? Yes, really! Did you try the same plug in all four wires or did you try a couple of them. How do all the plugs look. Do they look like they would fire or are the electrode and contact all burned out. When you say....
I currently have the radiator off as well as the exhaust, carb cover, air filter, both wheels and some other parts.
Are any of the "other parts" ignition or electrical related. Did you maybe have to unplug a connector to remove one of those parts. Once all that is verified.....Check the fuses. Check out the condition of the flywheel magnets. They maybe rusted or corroded.

After those you will have to make checks on components that will require you to have the service manual and a multi-meter. Verify the pickup and ignition coils and IC igniter ohms resistance on each. After those checks and before looking for broken wires, check out the switch on the kick stand. If the trans is in neutral that switch should not be a problem but, it could be malfunctioning. It is unlikely that both ignition coils went bad at the same time, but not impossible. I will post a link to the service manual for your bike below and the owner's manual is available on that site too.

KAWASAKI VN1500 SERVICE MANUAL Pdf Download | ManualsLib
 

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2009 Vulcan 500
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I wonder if the plugs are firing at the wrong time...are the coils wired to the correct cylinders ?
Sine you have both intake and exhaust pops..could be a possibility.
Slipped timing chain could do it as well.
Its free and easy to check the coils are going to the correct cylinders ..I would almost place a bet on it if I was a gambling man.



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The plugs could only be firing once in a while that would be why he gets the different pops at different times. I would start at the stator and work my way to the plugs checking everything as i go. when that's done he should have spark again.
 

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2003 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just found some wires that the previous owner had tucked down and hidden near the engine.

The first pic is wiring coming from the stator side and I believe also the one ignition coil

The second pic the wiring is definitely coming from the other ignition coil. I'm not sure how these are supposed to connect to the battery and haven't been able to find any photos or diagrams of this. The service manual isn't of any help with the wiring of these
 

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Just found some wires that the previous owner had tucked down and hidden near the engine.

The first pic is wiring coming from the stator side and I believe also the one ignition coil

The second pic the wiring is definitely coming from the other ignition coil.
Those are manufacturer's connectors. They will sometimes add them so we have a quick plug in for power, ground, etc. The rectangular black ones are probably for techs to plug in some evaluation tool or accessory. With ones that look like those, and there are no male or female mating connectors in the immediate area that would reach, I believe you are fine.
I'm not sure how these are supposed to connect to the battery and haven't been able to find any photos or diagrams of this. The service manual isn't of any help with the wiring of these
This is what makes electrical a PITA. You have to read the schematic for the wiring. There it will show every color and strip on every wire and any sensors, connections, components those wires run to. Which usually means unwrapping a portions of the harnesses. If there is no male/female mating connectors that would reach I will assume you are safe with those as is. I am wrenching on one of my bikes too, but maybe tonight or tomorrow night I'll look at your schematic and see what I can find on them just to verify. That is unless you can make sense of it. Is good to know the basics on them anyways if you are going to do your own mechanic work. Post if you have any questions on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Started going through my electrical which Trinity your right is a PITA. Found a few things that are probably contributing to my non starting... First off their is 0 electrical current going through my ignition coils. I had the multimeter on the positive and negative terminals and the ohms set to 20k and 200 both times got a 0. Also decided to test my spark plug wires since they were easy to remove at this point and found a couple of them need to be replaced.

Second I found some interesting looking connections right at the stator as seen below which I will have to fix, the one looks melted and the other is completely corroded and rusted.
 

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Started going through my electrical which Trinity your right is a PITA. Found a few things that are probably contributing to my non starting...

Second I found some interesting looking connections right at the stator as seen below which I will have to fix, the one looks melted and the other is completely corroded and rusted.
Those connectors do not look good. I would remove a good section of the harness wrap above them and make sure it did not fry the wire insulation. If up that section of the harness you find it branching I would unwrap that and verify it did not fry something at the branch point. If the insulation is melted make sure it is not able to ground out while you move through other checks. Yes it will have to be fixed in the end.

Next I will post a link to the ignition coil wiring diagram from the service manual. This is most the system for the ignition coils. Start from the battery and check voltages at each component until you find where it stops. The page before the diagram shows how to check the ECU portion controlling the coils when you get to it. Notice that there are two fuses in this system. As one is the main fuse and your bike is rolling over I do not see that being a problem but, in the junction box there is an ignition fuse. Be sure to verify that as you pass it. I get some more time tonight I will look up those burnt connectors.
Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic Fi Service Manual (Page 189 of 568) | ManualsLib

Edit: To keep the perception the glass is half full when the PITA part gets to you, just think that every hour you spend on it is $125 to $175 you saved from paying a mechanic. With electrical this can add up very fast!
 

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Started going through my electrical......
I should have gotten a little more detailed just in case you are not aware. When you follow the lines representing the wires in the diagram just because the line crosses another line does not mean they connect. If they intersect/connect there will be a dot like a round bullet point usually solid black. When you look at the diagram you will see the positive coming off the battery first goes to the main fuse then the starter relay. Then it goes to the junction box and through the ignition fuse and over to the engine kill switch. After that you will see an "intersection" of the wire to go to both coils. That is what I am meaning in case you was not already aware.
 
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