Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

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Snowflake
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Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by Snowflake » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:15 am

A few weeks ago my 2014 was exhibiting classic weak battery symptoms: slow turn over and almost no turn over. When running the battery voltage was about 12.8 at idle and ~13.5 at 3K rpm. The battery is at least 4 years old so I replaced it.

This weekend, I had the slow(er) engine cranking speed and a couple times I thought it wasn't going to turn at all. Both times it turned over really 'weakly' was after a short time off (gas stops) one of those time was with a relatively cool engine , 2 miles after first start of the day. The other one was with a very warm engine (sitting in traffic, temp at 220, the shut off for fuel stop, 3 minutes off).

I've never experienced this type behavior before on either of my FJRs (2005 and 2014). I'm wondering if I have a crappy battery or if there's something else going on.

Any ideas?

Thanks

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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by FJRoss » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:18 am

First thing to check is the current draw when you are attempting to start. High current draw (greater than 80 amps) is indicative of a starter going south. By all means, get the battery load tested as well or try the bike with a known good battery.
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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by John d » Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:28 am

I went through this as well.
viewtopic.php?f=60&t=3609

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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by ionbeam » Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:47 am

A slow spinning starter is always because of low voltage. The problem is finding the cause. The first, best tool is a current tester, the results will be either too much current or too little.

Too little -- Weak battery, weak battery due to a charging problem, bad wire connections, bad starter relay contacts.

Too much -- almost always a bad starter. If the current draw is high, plan to repair or replace the starter. There are other things like mechanical drag that could make it hard for the starter to spin. One cause could be a clutch which doesn't fully disengage.

The charging is easy to check, a few minutes after starting the battery voltage on the battery posts (not the battery wire terminals) should be >13.1 volts and never go below this with normal electrical loads. The only exception may be when the cooling fans come on.

The bad wire connections are easy to check but may be a PITA to access the terminals. Take a DMM and connect the red lead to the + battery terminal and the black lead to the starter motor + terminal (yes, plus to plus). Crank the engine and watch the voltage (or, if the DMM has a Peak Voltage Hold, use it). The voltage should be <1.5 volts. This is a measurement of voltage drop during cranking. Do the same from the battery - terminal to the engine block. The voltage should be < 1.0 volts. This checks all the wiring as well as the starter relay contacts.

Have clamp-on current meter. Have mask, will travel. I still haven't started looking for work so scheduling isn't a problem.
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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by raYzerman » Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:19 pm

I'd first ask what is the resting voltage of the new battery. Then, what is the charging voltage at idle... should be near 14V. We've not heard of regulator failures on FJR's in general.
I'd refresh the connections at the regulator by unplugging and re-plugging just to ensure that is good.
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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by Snowflake » Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:40 pm

After reading through john d's linked thread, it does seems likely I have a starter issue. Thank you Mr. Beam for your typical thorough explanation and offer to help diagnose. Perhaps we'll have a more in depth discussion soon. :D
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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by raYzerman » Mon Sep 14, 2020 5:17 pm

It could be a starter, but before drawing that conclusion, I'd still want to know charging voltage and battery resting voltage, how many miles on this 2014, etc. You could have a starter relay issue. Diving into the starter is a big job, so I'd want to check everything else before going there.
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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by ionbeam » Mon Sep 14, 2020 5:47 pm

raYzerman wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 5:17 pm
It could be a starter, but before drawing that conclusion, I'd still want to know charging voltage and battery resting voltage, how many miles on this 2014, etc. You could have a starter relay issue. Diving into the starter is a big job, so I'd want to check everything else before going there.
I did offer other diagnostics first before going at the starter . Snow' is a neighbor and a *very smart* guy so I don't expect a knee jerk solution.
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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by Snowflake » Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:13 pm

with bike not running battery voltage is 12.8 v, which seems pretty normal.

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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by FJRoss » Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:38 pm

Snowflake wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:13 pm
with bike not running battery voltage is 12.8 v, which seems pretty normal.
Pretty normal, yes. Might or might not be a good indicator. What you need is a "load test" where the voltage drop is measured with a known load place on the battery. Batteries may have a decent resting voltage but shit the bed when they are asked to supply some amps. Some shops will do the test for free...

The starter is suspect so measuring the voltage while cranking does no good. In the absence of a proper load test, if you shut the bike off using the kill switch (lights stay on), what is the voltage reading with the modest load of the incandescent lights? Do the lights dim significantly when the engine is killed?

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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by NTXFJR » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:10 pm

Since you already replaced the battery, I would tend to doubt that it's gone south so soon. The next phase I would think is to identify where the excess loading is coming from, starter circuit, or parasitic losses from a short somewhere else on the bike's harness. Battery standing voltage with key off is one thing, but there may be some undue phantom draining that could be seen with with key on / engine off and circuits active including any any added aftermarket items. You can measure the standing voltage at this point to see if there's any appreciable drop, if so then start isolating circuits. If you don't find an appreciable amount of parasitic draining with key on / engine off, then it seems the next step would be to measure the amp draw on the starter circuit. If you decide that the starter is the issue, I'd recommend also replacing the starter relay because the contacts in it get stressed and overheated when feeding a bad starter.
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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by Snowflake » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:47 am

thanks NTX, all helpful info.

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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by SkooterG » Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:45 pm

To me, your voltages given while engine running are low. Out of the many FJRs I have had, they all read 13.9 - 14.1 volts while running. Be that at idle or at elevated rpm. The only time I had an FJR where the voltage at the battery while running dropped was on my '09. It exhibited similar symptoms as yours. A connector on the main wire from the stator to the R/R was going bad. Once I bypassed it all has been good for 60k miles or so.
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Re: Diagnosing starting trouble, battery?

Post by Snowflake » Tue Sep 22, 2020 7:48 pm

Oh that bike? The one with the CT on it that I rode in New Hampshire? I put some boogers on your wires, that was the cause.

I checked the battery voltage again and it was 13.8-14.0 with engine running. I did a charging circuit test IAW Prof. 'Beams instruction. No issue.

Looks like I'll be digging into the starter this week. I'll post any interesting findings.

When you coming back to NE, Skoot?
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