Starter Problem
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Thread: Starter Problem

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tjmay's Avatar
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    Starter Problem

    Just as I’ve resolved most of my other issues, another one popped up.

    My starter will sometimes work but mostly now just clicks.

    The battery is fully charged, the terminals at the battery are tight and the safety switches are all doing what they should or it wouldnt click.

    So, what am I missing..
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  2. #2
    Junior Member jshaw0102's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tjmay View Post
    Just as I’ve resolved most of my other issues, another one popped up.

    My starter will sometimes work but mostly now just clicks.

    The battery is fully charged, the terminals at the battery are tight and the safety switches are all doing what they should or it wouldnt click.

    So, what am I missing..
    Sounds like the classic symptoms of a failing solenoid.

    Sent from my SM-J327R4 using Tapatalk
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  3. #3
    Junior Member Prairierider's Avatar
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    Just to confirm a good battery, put a voltmeter on it when you push the start button. It should not drop much below 10 volts.
    1999 TW200, 2001 KAWASAKI KLR650, 1980 HONDA XR200, HONDA1982 XR200 IN CR250 FRAME, HONDA ATC200X, 1975 HONDA CT90

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Tjmay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prairierider View Post
    Just to confirm a good battery, put a voltmeter on it when you push the start button. It should not drop much below 10 volts.
    Would it register any drop if the starter motor did not engage?
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  6. #5
    Super Moderator Purple's Avatar
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    The starter motor relies on carbon brushes - cheap as chips - check first .....
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  7. #6
    Junior Member Prairierider's Avatar
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    If your starter was locked up or shorted it could show a large voltage drop.
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    1999 TW200, 2001 KAWASAKI KLR650, 1980 HONDA XR200, HONDA1982 XR200 IN CR250 FRAME, HONDA ATC200X, 1975 HONDA CT90

  8. #7
    Senior Member Tjmay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prairierider View Post
    If your starter was locked up or shorted it could show a large voltage drop.
    Got it...
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  9. #8
    Senior Member SportsterDoc's Avatar
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    Every M/C rider should have a voltmeter/ohmmeter (multimeter) and post voltage values when asking about a problem:

    1. KEY OFF battery voltage, at the battery: Normal is 12.8 (AGM battery), or 12.6 (standard lead acid battery) for no load. If just taken off a charger, voltage may be 13 point something. The battery needs to sit for a while before a reading is useful, or turn on key for a few seconds for headlight load to settle battery voltage. In the case of a bad cell, the other cells overcharge and give an almost normal overall reading, until load is applied.
    • If lower, then battery is discharged and needs charging or
    • Battery has a bad cell

    2. KEY ON battery voltage (headlight on): Normal is not under about 12.5 initially, but will decline the longer that the headlight is on, without the motor running. Under no load, 12.5 volts indicates 50% discharge, but under load, it is just voltage drop.
    • If lower, then battery is discharged and needs charging or
    • Battery has a bad cell

    3. KEY ON battery voltage while cranking: Normal is not under 10.5 volts
    • If lower, then battery is discharged and needs charging or
    • Battery has a bad cell or
    • Battery cable(s) have high resistance or
    • Starter draws too much current or
    • Solenoid contacts have high resistance

    4. If the bike is running, battery voltage at about 2,000 RPMs should be 13.8 to 14.8 volts
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  10. #9
    Senior Member Fred's Avatar
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    +1 on the above. Certainly follow Sportsterdoc's info paying attention that for every symptom ( like the voltage drop ) there are usually several possible causes like noted in his item #3. Always test your assumptions and the conclusions drawn therein before moving on.
    For example every cable has two ends. Just because the terminal on end passes inspection why would you assume other end is good and tight, corrosion free without broken wires, etc unless you test/inspect it somehow. Multimeter can tell you voltage drop across cable, line impedance, etc to help evaluate health of that but one element of the starter system. Each element under suspicion can be similarly evaluated from battery to starter motor brushes and commutator conductivity.
    Multimeter is extremely good at helping test one's assumptions and identifying problems.
    Smitty Blackstone likes this.
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  11. #10
    Senior Member Smitty Blackstone's Avatar
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    +2 on SportsterDoc's excellent explanation.

    Thank you for sharing this in a clear manner.

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