Alternator Indicator


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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jim34481
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Alternator Indicator

Post by jim34481 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:19 am



I have an alternator idiot light indicator on my 1997 GL 1500 SE to alert me to when the alternator is not charging. Yesterday I went riding for about 2 hours and the alternator indicator performed just as it was designed to, it comes on at idle rpm and as soon as I accelerate above idle rpm, it goes out. I stopped for gas and then when I started the engine the alternator indicator stayed on even though the engine was well above idle rpm as I progressed through the gears. The indicator did go out after a mile or so of running on the road but it did concern me.

I went for a short ride this morning and everything was normal and the idiot light performed as designed. I am thinking the alternator got heat soaked while I filled up with gas and could not produce any energy until running on the road cooled it off enough to start working properly. Have any of you had similar issues? Would this be an indication the alternator is going bad? I have had the bike for 7 months now and the previous owner told me he had replaced the alternator a couple of years ago.

Jim



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hugger-4641
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Re: Alternator Indicator

Post by hugger-4641 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:42 am

Most likely the brushes are sticking, vibration or bump in the road can make them temporarily start working again, but pretty soon they will stay stuck and your light will stay on. Sorry, don't mean to sound pessimistic, but experience tells me this is probably the case. 8-)

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aj1500
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Re: Alternator Indicator

Post by aj1500 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:52 am

Jim it is hard to say exactly what is happening from just a idiot light, what voltage is it set to activate. I have found it is important to be able to know what the alternator is doing at all times. this way you can be prepared and if needed start pulling fuses to reduce battery drain if needed to get home or a safe place to stop. you need to hook a meter to your battery and run the bike and see how the alternator is performing

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Re: Alternator Indicator

Post by cbx4evr » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:56 am

I had a similar issue with my bike. Eventually it left me stranded with a dead battery. Got a boost and was able to ride it home. As hugger-4641 described I found that one of my alternator brushes was hanging up and only making contact occasionally. Cleaned that all up and the alternator was golden again.
"It´s a friggen motorcycle, it´s not supposed to be comfortable, quiet or safe. The wind noise is supposed to hurt your ears, the seat should be hard and riding it should make you s**t your pants every now and then. "

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ct1500
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Re: Alternator Indicator

Post by ct1500 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:18 pm

The heat should have no affect on the alternator. Either the idiot light was lying to you or the alternator itself is going south which will be determined by actual voltage readings
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Mh434
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Re: Alternator Indicator

Post by Mh434 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:48 pm

^^I agree. The first test you should do is check the voltage at the battery posts with the engine running at idle. If it's less than 12.8V, expect your alternator to be toast.

Personally, I don't recommend repairing/rebuilding the stock alternators. Unless your '97 is the Canadian-only version (as far as I can tell, the only ones to still have a Japan-built unit), your alternator was made in China, not Japan. Even when brand new, they're marginal at best. Sure, you could take it to an alternator shop & get it repaired, but for very little extra money you can pick up an aftermarket alternator that's worlds more capable (I bought an LActrical unit out of California - my IDLE voltage is 14.2V, and doesn't go below 13.8V at idle, even running heated grips, lots of extra lights, etc.). All for the princely sum of about $140.

Even if you do get your original repaired, you still have an old, worn, repaired, very marginal alternator, which will be just waiting for the most inopportune possible time to strand you again.

I hate having to do any job more than once, and if it's possible to upgrade at the time to prevent future problems, I do it. Thus, the upgraded alternator.

Just my $.02' worth...

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jim34481
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Re: Alternator Indicator

Post by jim34481 » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:56 am

All
Thanks for the replies. It sounds like I need to find out what brand alternator the previous owner installed and then get the multimeter out to determine the voltage output.
Thanks again
Jim I

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dingdong
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Re: Alternator Indicator

Post by dingdong » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:36 am

Once you determine and solve the problem I suggest that you install a voltage meter to keep track of the alt. output at a glance.
Tom

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hugger-4641
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Re: Alternator Indicator

Post by hugger-4641 » Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:18 am

I installed one similar to this:

https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/ ... gLAk_D_BwE

The three wire hook up is a little more accurate than a two wire, but either should give you an indication of what is happening with your charge system before it runs the battery all the way down and leaves you stranded.

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jim34481
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Re: Alternator Indicator

Post by jim34481 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:36 pm

I did verify that my light was working as it should with a volt meter on the battery terminals. I kept a close eye on my alternator light while I was riding and it continued to warn me the alternator was not working properly. I finally ordered a db electrical 40 amp alternator and installed it with new rubber dampers over the weekend. I have put about 100 miles on the bike since and it is working good so far. I am going to disassemble and repair the old one to use as a spare.
Jim

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MikeB
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Re: Alternator Indicator

Post by MikeB » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:54 pm

I think that you would be better served to install a voltmeter to supplement that idiot light.

The light is doing its job to get your attention and warn that there is a possible problem.

The voltmeter will either confirm or deny that there is a problem.


MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA

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