Electrical question on my 2001 Sportster 1200. I had a separate thread but got no replies to the latest problem so figured I'd repost it.
After chasing a bad coil (burned 2 coils) problem and finally finding the issue to be a ground wire that had come off, I reattached said ground wire (with the battery connected, I know im an idiot), fitted yet another new coil and went to start the bike...
1. Turned key on, pressed start, nothing (not even a click).
Note - Before the bike was turning over, just not producing a spark at the plug.
2. Tried everything else and hi/lo, horn, guages, running lights, tail/brake lights all work fine.
3. Checked fuses and they are all fine, figured it must be the starter relay.
4. Replaced starter relay...still exactly the same.
5. Figured the battery must not have enough juice to turn the starter, so charged it on the trickle charger until full.
6. Still no signals, pushed start and got one small "ugh" and then nothing again!?
Is the battery dead? I thought so but the lights a re bright and everything works except the signals!? And I cant see how the lack of signals and lack of starter are connected? Especially when I didnt do anything except reconnect the ground wire I found hanging off.
If anybody has any advice or suggestions Id be grateful. Before anybody asks, I just bought a multi meter but I'm not really sure how to use it properly yet, its my first one .
Your multimeter should have instructions.
I can tell you how to work it, if you post a pic of the one you have.
It sounds like a wiring issue to me.
Since you mentioned a bad coil, how is it connected? One wire should be connected to + (key on), the other should go to your timing sensor in the nose cone. OK?
Next, let's check the battery.
First, disconnect the battery from the bike and remove it, (ground lead first, then the + lead).
Next, take your multimeter and check the battery voltage.
13.2V - 14.4V = fully charged.
Below 11.8V = fully discharged.
Below 10V = battery may be sulfated or cells may be shorted.
If the battery is low, place it on your charger overnight and recheck. If it doesn't fully charge, it's done and you'll need a new battery.
If it charges up above 13.2V, then put it back in the bike and reconnect the leads.
Then remeasure the battery with the leads connected and the key off. It should be about the same voltage as it was when it was out of the bike. If it's lower, then something is on when the key is off which will drain your battery. If it's really low then you may have a short circuit.
If all is good, then flip the key on and measure the battery voltage. It should only drop about a volt with everything on. If it drops below 12v then you may have a damaged component, If it goes way low then you have a short circuit, most likely something's connected incorrectly.
If it's still okay, then hit the starter button and see what the voltage is. If it drops below 11V then your starter may be the culprit. Check the connections. The large power lead should go to the solenoid and the negative big lead should go to the starter mounting bolt, (the best place for ground). If the lead is connected to the frame near the battery, make sure there is a good path from the battery lead to the starter. no paint on the frame where the lead attaches or where the rear of the motor attaches to the frame.
I'll stop there until you come back.
Thanks man so much! Really appreciate the response, and thanks for breaking it down into step by step lamens thats really a big help!
Just an update, in addition to the ground wire i originally found not connected (which looks like it comes from behind the derby cover) i found another broken wire last night!
This one was tucked way behind the motor and looks as if it comes from the positive lead between the battery and starter?...and looks like it should have attached to the motor mount as there is a broken ring terminal on there. A major ground I would assume?
I bought a new ring terminal to reconnect it tonight after work. Could this be the source of the problems?
One thing that i dont get is the connection between the signals and the starter...any ideas?
Also if I just reconnect this broken wire, is there anything else that might have got fucked in the process of it being broken?
Once again thanks for the help! sorry for the bombardment of questions, just trying to get my head round it.
So after re-attaching the broken ground wire to the engine mount last night, I followed the instructions above regarding the battery and found the following...
Charged the battery on the charger until indicated full = 13.03V
Took battery down to the garage to hook it up, tested it again just before putting it on = 12.83V
Put battery back on the bike and tested again once connected = 12.83V
Turn key on = 12.35V
Push Starter = 12.35V (no click, nothing)
Try all lights, horn etc = 12.35V (still no signals and no start)
Turn key off = 12.77V
Checked it again this morning before work = 12.74V
All the fuses in the fuse box are good, and i put a brand new starter relay in. Is there any other fuses or circuit breakers that might be causing the problem that I cant see?
My friend said there should be a ground wire coming off the fender under the seat where there is a grey box mounted? (signal flasher module?) Was the first unnatached ground i found supposed to connect somewhere other than the frame? Is there a difference whether a ground is frame mounted or otherwise?
Also couple things to note that Im not sure if they will help...
When i click the switch on the bars from OFF to RUN, the tach (i have dual clocks) needle jumps slightly.
When i push the signal buttons individually nothing happens, but when i push both signal buttons together the dash lights get brighter and the km reading on the speedo dissapears, no change in the battery voltage though.
Finally, by mistake (it was late, i was tired) i was trying to check if the leads were all tight going to the starter and i touched a wrench on the nut holding the big red +ve lead onto the starter...resulting in a spark shower! So its getting power?
Thanks again for the help, I dont know where else to look now.
You're getting a voltage drop with the bike power off which is a concern. Something's on all the time which is running your battery down. There are no other fuses or circuit breakers other than the ones undr the seat unless someone added one somewhere.
The charged voltage of your battery seems a little low so the battery may be wearing out, (don't buy a new one yet. There's enough power to get you going for now).
I'm almost thinking you have a pinched wire in the hand controls. I suggest removing the switch boxes and inspecting the wires.
Another issue that i see often is that some folks like to remove the ground wire from the triple tree to the handlebars which grounds the hand controls. There should be a wire that screws into the triple tree and goes to a large ring lug under one of the riser bolts.
The little gray box is the turn signal module. I assume you removed it and left the plug or the cut wires dangling? (that's good, just make sure the wires don't touch eachother or anything). There should be a ground wire going back to the taillight.
If your harness is stock, then all the black wires should be grounded, (it's overkill by design but I'm not there to check everything over).
Here's a trick to check your starter:
Take a piece of wire about 2-3 feet long and strip about 1/2" of the insulation off one end and crimp a lug like this onto the other end end.
Pull the green wire out of the starter solenoid, it has a plastic clip thingy on it, (not the big wire) and plug the new wire into it.
Now, make sure the bike is in neutral, key can be off. Then put a glove on and press the bare end of the new wire to the battery +, yes, it'll spark a bit but the starter should spin.
Awesome thanks man. I'll give this all a try tonight.
I did change the bars, but everything has been working fine for about 2 months since i did that. I didnt remove the signals, but I did take them off the big goofy stalks and mount them elsewhere, although I didnt do anything with the wiring other than unplug and replug, which again has been working fine for 2 months.
I'll for sure go over the bars and switched though to make sure!
Even when the bike did die on me, everything still worked and the starter spun, it just wouldnt spark. It seems between me having no spark and trying to get it started, failing and then just re-attaching that ground wire something has gone a miss.
Should I be checking the citcuit breaker? It shows one on the wiring diagram (behind the triangle wiring panel?) can they fail? and if it had failed would it be causing this kind of problem?
There is also a small box with a plug going into it mounted to the side of the battery tray, any idea what thats for?
Oh yeah, check the breakers. They rarely fail but they'll trip if there's a short. I think yours are under the seat in a nice little row. Pull the seat off and listen to them when you turn the key on. if there's a fault, they'll click turing the circuit off.Ii usually put my finger on them to feel which one is clicking. They take a few minutes to reset after the key is switched off.
Did you run the wires through the bars? If the holes have burrs they can cut into the wire insulation which can take a couple months to happen. Check anywhere the wires can get pinched and inside the headlight bucket.
I'm not sure exactly what the small box is for. Could be the infamous bank angle sensor. unplug it and see if it fires up. Your engine light willcome on if it's unplugged but those things suck ass.
So had some more time to play around this weekend and found a few interesting things. Above is the wiring diagram i am working from so i can reference some of these to you.
1. I unplugged the bank angle sensor and tried the bike...nothing.
2. I looked up how to bypass the sensor (green and grey wires to ground)...turned the ignition and pop went the IGN fuse.
3. Figured there must be a break somewhere so scouted around and found that the loose wire with a ring terminal I previously assumed to be a ground was spliced into the green wire between the ignition module and the bank angle sensor (all 3 were stripped and twisted together).
4. I untied this mess, removed the random black wire that had been added and reconnected the green wire.
5. Tried the bike again...nothing.
6. Tried grounding the green to again bypass the BAS now the break was fixed and pop...IGN fuse blew again. I think maybe the previous owner spliced that wire in to ground the green and bypass the BAS? what do you think?
Also I did what you recommended to test the starter with the wire and plug and the starter turned over fine...didnt start the bike (is it supposed to?) but definately turned over.
I also checked all the switch connections inside the housing and they are all fine, as are the connections inside the headlight.
Looking at the diagram, why would the IGN fuse keep blowing with the BAS bypassed just from turning the key?
Thanks again for the input! I feel like im getting closer!
Last edited by Scotty416; 06-04-2012 at 11:25 AM.
Reason: extra detail
You definitely have a short somewhere in your ignition circuit and you may have damaged your odometer. I know a lot of PO's like to fuck with the wiring which can be difficult to track down.
It's very rare that I encounter an electrical issue that takes more than a few days to figure out. In that case I usually tear out he harness and rebuild it, (make it a lot simpler too). However, that may be a lot of work for you but so can pulling every connector apart and tracing out every wire.
My advice here might be to pull all the breakers and connectors to test each circuit one by one. I have a procedure but I'll need some time to write it up.
The starter should still crank at 12.66v but the battery will drain quickly so you may only get a few tries. My guess is that your short circuit is bypassing your starter. When you cranked the starter did you notice any hot or smoking wires at some point? I'm guessing no, but usualy something will heat up when the starter is cranked.
Thanks man appreciate it. I feel like its something really obvious that im missing. Especially with the fuse keep popping when i bypassed the BAS. It must be getting power to that fuse but im not sure how, because shouldnt the starter relay or the circuit breaker have to kick in first for that to happen?
As you say doesnt help tracing a problem when some idiot has gone at it before me and fucked it all up.