Weird Starting Issue - **Solved**


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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Mh434
Posts: 1524
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:24 pm
Location: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Motorcycle: 1997 gl1500 SE
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1981 GL1100I
1989 Kawasaki Concours

Weird Starting Issue - **Solved**

Post by Mh434 »



Okay, so I’m moving to Mexico & had made arrangement to store my ‘Wing here in Canada. Lots of complicated arrangements they were, requiring me to be on the bike at 6:00 am & riding away.

Got the bike loaded up (raining, despite the “clear, sunny & warm forecast), geared up, turned the key and…nothing. Just a bunch of soft clicking from the “main” relay in the relay panel. I checked the battery voltage - 12.8 volts, so that wasn’t it. I had bought several spare relays from our illustrious forum leader & kept them in the bike, so I began tearing the bike apart to get to the relays (ALL of my tools are packed & en route to Mexico, so all I had was the stock GoldWing tool kit). Changed out the buzzing relay - no change. Removed ALL of the relays, one at a time, trying to find the problem, with zero success.

Since I had just bought a membership in BCAA (a local branch of AAA), I had them attend to try a jumpstart. They did, and the bike fired right up. I let it run for a half hour to charge up (voltmeter was at 14.2V, indicating good charging). Shut the bike off, turned the ignition on - all good, all lights & indicators working. Touched the starter button, everything went out & I was back to the buzzing/clicking relay.

Checked the battery voltage, and had 12.75V. Turned the ignition just to on…and battery voltage dropped to 3.9V!!! What the…?

Decided to try a new battery, and was lucky enough to find one locally. Had them charge it up for me, and I drove the 40 minutes to get it. I had the guy test my old battery (in case that wasn’t my problem). Guy said it was at 12.8Vv static, very good indeed. I asked him to load test it - when he did, it bottomed out the meter on the load tester.

While it APPEARED to be a good battery with good voltage, in reality it was stone dead - no amperage available at all (not even enough to run the bike’s clock display).

The moral of the story is this: if you’re having starting or other electrical issues, do NOT assume that good voltage alone is a reliable indicator of battery health. If you do, it can lead you on a wild (and potentially expensive) goose chase. If you’re having these kinds of troubles, get a free load test done, before you start throwing money at other issues.


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MaineStreet
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Location: New Gloucester, Maine
Motorcycle: 1999 Gold Wing GL1500 SE
2014 Yamaha Super Tenere ES
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Re: Weird Starting Issue - **Solved**

Post by MaineStreet »

Glad you're back up and running (or in storage), and it's a good word that you posted. One way to load check the battery while it's still on the bike is to check voltage while hitting the starter button. Voltage will drop but should go down more than a few volts if adequate current is available. If voltage drops significantly, then it's time for an upgrade.
User avatar
Mh434
Posts: 1524
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:24 pm
Location: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Motorcycle: 1997 gl1500 SE
Previous:
1981 GL1100I
1989 Kawasaki Concours

Re: Weird Starting Issue - **Solved**

Post by Mh434 »

MaineStreet wrote: Sat Sep 09, 2023 6:12 am Glad you're back up and running (or in storage), and it's a good word that you posted. One way to load check the battery while it's still on the bike is to check voltage while hitting the starter button. Voltage will drop but should go down more than a few volts if adequate current is available. If voltage drops significantly, then it's time for an upgrade.
Yup - that was exactly the test that confirmed for me that the battery was done. In my case, with ignition was on, voltage was at 12.7-12.8V. As soon as I touched the starter button, it dropped to 3V and falling. Weird, though - as soon as I shut it all off, the battery was back to 12.6-12.7V at rest….but (it appears) not enough amperage to run an electric toothbrush. In my 55 years of wrenching, I’ve never come across that before.
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