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Electric starter problems

15854 Views 35 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  n2o2diver
Hello there, I bought a 1990 TW200 two months ago. I took it apart to powder coat the frame and then put all new plastics on it. So here is the issue: I put the key in the ignition then turn it to "ON" and you can hear the starter turn over for a second. Next I will press the starter button and here rrrrrrrrrrrreeeerrrr. I was thinking it was the starter relay so I bypassed it and then I heard the same thing; rrrrreeeerrrrrr. The electric starter system was not turning over the motor. I figured it must be the starter clutch, so $94 and 2 hours later it was fixed. NOT the case. I kick started the bike on Saturday and road it 75 miles thru the mountains--wow, it was a great ride. I got to my destination and let the bike sit for 2hrs. I put the key in, turned it on, and then I heard the starter run nonstop, but it never turned over the motor. Is it the starter? The relay? Or did I mess something up when I put the bike back together? Hope you can help. Thanks
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If it's always running, the starter relay may be stuck in its energized state or it's getting 12 volts from somewhere it shouldn't or your start switch is sticking/wires get shorted together. When you turned the key on and the starter spun, were you in neutral? Was the clutch pulled in? Will it spin when you aren't in neutral? How about if you don't pull the clutch in?

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***Sorry, I think I read your post wrong. I was thinking the starter never stopped spinning. If it's just making a funny noise or not spinning fast enough to engage its teeth on the starter clutch, then go with the below post's recommendation about the battery.

The starter relay could be sticking or the starter button could be sticking. The starter button on the handlebar could just have a piece of debris inside of it that makes it stick when pushed and never allowing the starter to stop, until bumped or knocked loose. Or the starter relay itself is sticking and preventing the starter from stopping.

If it were the starter button stuck, then putting the bike in 1st gear and no hands on the clutch should stop the starter (the neutral and clutch safety switches would not allow voltage through the "starting ckt cutoff relay"...if you still have these safety switches intact). Or turning the key to OFF would stop it. Or if the R/W wire going to the starter button is grounding out then it'd fire off the starter.

If it were the starter relay sticking, turning the key to OFF would do nothing to stop the starter.
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Yep, give the manual a shot so you don't throw too many parts at it....although, you could have peace of mind those other parts are now fixed for quite some time

I don't believe it's the relay. If the starter spins when you press the starter button, the relay is good. But, you never know!

You could try taking out the starter and make sure the gear on the end of it moves along the starter shaft, if it's stuck in place it won't engage the starter idler gear (#1 below) which then won't engage the starter clutch. Could just be gummed up. Pop the starter out and give that gear and the shaft it rides on a good cleaning with a tooth brush and WD40.

When you put the starter clutch in, was the idler (part #1 below) in there?? You may not have a connection between the starter gear and the starter clutch.

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You have two issues going on here:

1) There is something going on with your wiring. The starter should not spin with the key in the ON position and the stop switch on RUN. With the key ON and stop switch on RUN, the starter will spin only if you press the starter button. That's how it should be.

Either your starter push button wires are shorted together, the starter button is frozen, or the wire leaving the starter relay is grounding out somewhere on the frame/engine/etc (talking about the R/W wire, red wire with white stripe).

Try this for us....turn the gas on, turn the key to ON but leave the stop switch to OFF. What happens? No starter spin? Keeping the key to ON turn the stop switch to ON, does it start spinning? Then turn the stop switch to OFF again, stop spinning? Let us know. If it does that, your starter switch is stuck. If it spins no matter what, then...

The R/W (red with white stripe leaving the starter relay) wire is grounding out somewhere. To check this, use a multimeter with the diode/continuity setting and put one probe on the R/W wire right at the starter relay and the other probe on the negative terminal on the battery. Do you have continuity? If so, that wire is shorting out between the starter relay and the starter button.

2) When the starter is spinning it's not spinning over the engine. You charged the battery, but it could still be bad. Otherwise, your starter gear is not protruding out when the starter spins and therefore the gear isn't engaging the idler gear and you get a no-start situation even though the starter is spinning.
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YOUR ?: The R/W (red with white stripe leaving the starter relay) wire is grounding out somewhere. To check this, use a multimeter with the diode/continuity setting and put one probe on the R/W wire right at the starter relay and the other probe on the negative terminal on the battery. Do you have continuity?

ANS: I used my multimeter to check for "diode" a number 1 showed up on the multimeter display. I put the black lead on the ( - ) side of my battery & the red on the ( + ) side of my relay. The #1 on the multimeter display disappeared. So do I have a short?

Put the red probe on the little red wire that has a white stripe....NOT the large red wire. Confirm you put it on the little red/white wire. I say this because you said you put the red on the (+) side of your relay....that leads me to believe you put it on the large red cable running from the battery/to the starter.

There's no diode we're measuring, we're just using that setting to see if the wire is shorted to ground.

An alternative to using the diode setting is putting the multimeter on the ohm/resistance setting and measuring how much resistance it has between those two points (put the multimeter on the lowest ohm setting (~20 or 200)). A number will display or not. If it a number displays, you have a short.
Your relay should look something like this. Don't measure at the copper terminals with the thread on them, those are the large red wires. We need to check the red/white wire that goes into the plug that fits in the socket on the relay (where those 4 little terminals are on the back of the relay)...

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The R/W wire circled in yellow is the wire we want to measure continuity to the ground terminal on your battery. When the key is ON and stop switch is on RUN and you press the start button this wire gets grounded and allows the starter to spin. When you release the starter button this wire is no longer grounded therefore no longer allowing the starter to spin. Since you have a constant-spin issue happening, I believe this wire is grounding somewhere it shouldn't.

The bold wires below are the heavy gauge wire running from the battery to the starter relay and from the relay to the starter. They connect to the copper threaded terminals on the starter relay. These, again, are not what we want when measuring continuity.

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I'm on a roll here haha sorry! But if you can snap pictures of your relay and the plug that goes into it, you could email me them and I'll see if I see anything!

The way the starter circuit is wired the only other way for your problem to occur would be for the R/W and L/W wires to have become shorted together. The only way for that to occur is if they melted together through the insulation. Highly unlikely on an early bike with a 10A main fuse (very easy to do on a later bike with a 20A fuse), but possible if you really leaned on the button when the starter relay coil was shorted.


Even if the R/W and L/W shorted together then flipping the stop switch from RUN to OFF would stop the starter. But he tried that in post #21 and said it kept spinning. The stop switch in the RUN position is providing ground to the circuit. My bet is the R/W wire is shorted against the frame and providing that ground. Little insulation rubbed off the R/W wire and is resting against the frame/weld/bolt/etc. or the R/W wire came off the starter button and is resting on the handlebar.
The picture of your start button, see that red wire going into it? Get out your multimeter, put it on the diode setting, put one probe on that wire (pierce the insulation if you have to) and the other probe on your neg battery terminal. What does the multimeter say?
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