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Author Topic: Finicky starting  (Read 786 times)

Supesguy

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Finicky starting
« on: April 30, 2013, 12:33:33 PM »
I had some troubles the past couple days with my 2009 C5.  It has about 900 miles on it.  So far, been mostly trouble free.  On Sunday, I was headed out on a short ride.  The bike started fine.  I pulled out of the driveway and didn't get 600 ft. down the street when it died.  The starter seems to turn fine, but it would not start up (plenty of fuel).  The odd thing is, the red engine light indicating the fuel pump was initializing kept coming on and off (as did the actual fuel pump noise).  Sometimes, when I was holding the starter button, the whole thing would kind of die (indicator lights would go out, I assume headlight went off too, but can't be sure). 

I pushed it back to the garage and started tinkering.  I opened the fuse/electrics compartment and pushed on the fuses to ensure they were in all the way.  I removed one of the square relays (I think that's what they are) out of curiosity and put it back in firmly.  I checked the battery on a charger.  It had room to charge, but said it was otherwise OK.  I put the battery back on the bike.  Turned the key to on, and it fired right up. Problem fixed? Not quite.  Yesterday, I went out for a short ride to ensure the symptoms were resolved.  I went for a leisurely 20 mile ride.  Noticed the fuel indicator was coming on at hard stops, so I decided I'd top off the tank.  After I filled up (and still at the pump), I had the same starting problems as before.  Again, the red engine indicator light would sometimes come on for a pre-start, but when I pushed the starter button, everything went dead for a second.  Again, I opened the electrics compartment and fiddled, but didn't find anything loose. Went to start it up, and it first it didn't start.  Played with the headlights, tried again.  Voila!  It started, at which I promptly drove home and parked it in the garage.

So...thoughts? I don't use the sidestand much due to reports of the finicky cut-off switch.  I put the battery on the charger this morning to top it off.  It is a new battery as of November.  I didn't trickle charge the battery over the winter and only rode once every couple weeks (sometimes as much as 3-4 weeks between rides).   

I'd really like to be commuting on it now that the weather is improving, but am afraid I'll get stranded somewhere less than convenient.  I plan to disconnect the wiring for the sidestand switch to eliminate that possibility, but right now I doubt that's the problem. I'll probably be getting a battery tender or something to monitor the charging and battery state.  What baffles me more is the fact that it started fine, but died 600 ft. down the street. 

wildbill

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2013, 12:42:43 PM »
maybe a bad/partly broken neg earth lead or the battery  OR both
2011 C5 black/chrome
2012 C5 maroon/chrome 
2013 B5 black
2014 Continental gt
2014 C5 tan/cheery - upgrades and work in progress

2004 mazda-speed miata
2001 bmw z3 2.2

Rich Mintz

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2013, 12:45:22 PM »
Read through this thread for ideas:

http://www.enfieldmotorcycles.com/forum/index.php/topic,16170.0.html

When my bike died in motion, the problem turned out to be simple: the ground lead from the fuel system had come loose. It's the small black wire that connects into the thick negative lead right near the negative battery terminal. It's held together by a small white plastic connector that simply came apart.

barenekd

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2013, 04:39:08 PM »
If the leads are OK, then replace the battery. Get a good AGM. I use a DEKA, others are available.
Bare
2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer
2011 Black Classic G5 (RIP)
I refuse to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death
http://www.controllineplans.com

Supesguy

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2013, 05:24:37 PM »
Rich Mintz - I'll have to investigate that wire.  I know the one you are speaking about.  Will I have to peel back the electrical tape or shrink wrap on it to get to the white connector that failed on yours? Or should I be able to trace the wire back to an accessible connector? I did charge the battery fully, so it should be happy. I started it up over lunch and then tried wiggling some of the problem connectors/wires in your link.  I was hoping I could get the bike to stop running, hence discovering where the bad connection is.  Alas, no dice.  It'll take more than my lunch break to investigate under the gauges/headlight. I tried wiggling the kill switch a bit to see if symptoms came about.  Nothing. I'll peak into the tail light housing and look at that wiring group too. 

Just wishing I could hop on the bike in full confidence that I can get from point A to B without getting stranded.

Bare - The battery is non-descript.  It was replaced by the dealer when I bought it b/c the original had gone bad. Like I said, that was in November. I can even seem to find a brand on the battery. Wonder what kind of junk/generic brand it is. 

Supesguy

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2013, 05:28:01 PM »
Oh, and Rich, I feel your pain with proximity to dealer.  Mine is 177 miles away.  Fortunately, I can borrow a trailer and drive my bike down to be serviced if necessary. It would still be a major inconvenience.  And I have no idea as to their mechanical proficiencies with RE.

Rich Mintz

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2013, 05:31:10 PM »
The white connector is in the open. Just follow the thin black wire a few inches up from that messy electrical-tape join to the thick ground lead (at the negative terminal) and you should come to it.

barenekd

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2013, 08:14:39 PM »
Quote
The battery is non-descript.  It was replaced by the dealer when I bought it b/c the original had gone bad.

It's probably the same as the stock one...junk. That's why the first one croaked.
Get an AGM, you will be quite pleased!
bare
2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer
2011 Black Classic G5 (RIP)
I refuse to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death
http://www.controllineplans.com

shamelin

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2013, 12:06:10 AM »
Sounds like you're getting intermittent power failure.  I would absolutely check the battery cables- I had the exact problem at around the exact mile mark.

Don't just eyeball them either.  Take the cables off the battery and give the cable lugs a gentle pull.  My bet is that one of them falls off in your hand.

Replacements are easy to find.  I picked up some heavy duty copper ones from NAPA parts, crimped and soldered them on, and I haven't had a problem yet.

mattsz

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2013, 01:27:53 AM »
Sounds like you're getting intermittent power failure.  I would absolutely check the battery cables- I had the exact problem at around the exact mile mark.

Don't just eyeball them either.  Take the cables off the battery and give the cable lugs a gentle pull.  My bet is that one of them falls off in your hand.

Replacements are easy to find.  I picked up some heavy duty copper ones from NAPA parts, crimped and soldered them on, and I haven't had a problem yet.

+1!!!  I had the same problem.  Intermittent at first, but the final straw was when the whole system would shut down when I pushed the starter button.  Negative battery cable end, broken inside the heat-shrink insulation...

Supesguy

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2013, 01:32:44 PM »
UPDATE:

I think I'm getting to the bottom of this problem.  I discovered a few things last night with a quick looksie. 

1.) As I was pondering how I'd go about replacing the spark plug to an NGK, I discovered the plug connector/cap was just sitting on the top of the plug.  It wasn't snapped down on top of the spark plug at all. It's a miracle the bike even fired up intermittently.  So, following installation of the new NGK spark plug, I ensured the connector was properly snapped down and the tightening ring snugged around cap.  I took it out for a two mile ride.  Idle is greatly improved and I had no troubles.

However...
2.) This morning, I was bold enough to drive the bike 35 miles out to a place I workout. It drove like a champ, and felt much better overall.  I was happily cruising down the interstate when about 2 miles from home when the sputtering began. My heart sunk and began racing all in the same moment as I planned my freeway exit and hoped I could get to a safe spot to trouble shoot. I double checked the spark plug cap, it was still snug.  Not that.  I opened the fuse box and checked the fuses and quickly determined one of the square relays was so loose it about fell out.  Pushed it in, closed things up and the bike roared back to life.

So, I think I had two problems going on.  First, the spark plug cap no doubt was contributing to the power loss/engine cut-out problems.  I feel like I remedied that problem with the replacement.  Second, despite pinching two of the connector prongs, one of those square relays keeps wiggling loose.  I'm gonna have to put a zip tie around the relays to keep them snug in their sockets. 

I will still double-check the battery cable connectors, but all three times I've had trouble, the problem was temporarily remedied by pushing on those square relays in the fuse box. I'm surprised, but can conceive of how the bike's vibrations wiggle them loose.

It's still a frustrating situation. I was really happy last night thinking I'd cured the problem, and then I was heart broken this morning when it happened again.  The only silver lining is that I have been able to get myself back on the road within a minute or two.

wildbill

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2013, 11:49:17 PM »
must admit though- if you strike a problem and manage to fix it all by yourself..........you feel good.
it's when you can't figure out what it is - the pressure is on.
once i didn't like going to a gas station in case it failed to start. a few long trips and some no choice fuel stops solved that problem.
strange part about it i never had reason to be concerned .....it was all in the mind ::)
2011 C5 black/chrome
2012 C5 maroon/chrome 
2013 B5 black
2014 Continental gt
2014 C5 tan/cheery - upgrades and work in progress

2004 mazda-speed miata
2001 bmw z3 2.2

Arizoni

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2013, 11:52:38 PM »
While your poking around in those places with wires, look for any place where the wiring comes close to sharp metal edges.  I found at least 4 places like that on my G5.

The black electrical tape "armor" RE uses on their harnesses won't do squat to protect the wires if some sharp metal edge decides to attack it while your riding so I suggest you get some 1/4" and 5/16" vinyl tubing.
Cut off a piece to suit the location and slit it from end to end. 
After doing this you can open the tube up and stuff the wires inside.
This does a great job of giving the sharp metal edges something to munch on while it protects the wires. :)
Jim
2011 G5 Deluxe
1999 Miata 10th Anniversary

Gypsyjon

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2013, 02:32:15 AM »
When I slit the tube I try to sort make the slit in spiral. Makes it a bit harder to get on, but stays on better. I also put vinyl tube over the fuel line where it crosses the electrical box edge. Looks way better than that piece of cardboard I had shoved in there.
I've gone back to my roots. British 1 lunger, stump puller.

Rich Mintz

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Re: Finicky starting
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2013, 09:45:43 PM »
This thread is great, thank you. The electrical nest in my headlight recess is a tangled mess, so I'm going to make untangling it a long term project (once I get the bike running again on Sunday).

Re the relays - mine are in so tight I can barely get them out. Are you sure you don't have a defect in either the prongs or the receptacle?