Author Topic: Tail light failures  (Read 1224 times)

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Offline Jimmy

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Tail light failures
« on: June 05, 2017, 02:01:32 pm »
I am wondering if anyone else has experienced a tail light failure? I have owned a 2010, a 2013 and now I have a 2016 with 6,660 miles and I am on the 3rd tail light on the '16. The first one failed on or about 2,000 miles. My dealer replaced it and it failed within a few hundred miles because the tech routed it incorrectly and it severed the wire from the seat pressure. This past weekend the 3rd tail light failed. The wires that are soldered into the printed circuit board inside the light have broken again. (just like the first failure) I assume that vibration is the culprit. The dealers regional rep says that I am the only case like this that Kawasaki has ever had. I find that hard to believe.
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Offline Gumby

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2017, 02:09:54 pm »
Have not seen other posts about this problem. That in no way means there aren't any, but I peruse this site quite often. :truce:

Offline Harry Martin

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2017, 03:12:54 pm »
Some questions:

1. Is the circuit board loose and moving around?
2. Has it been a crappy solder job done by robot or person?
3. Is there stress or strain on the cable assembly to the circuit board before or after the rubber boot?
4. Can the wires be soldered back on? Looks like the tail light is a sealed assembly.

Just looking at your photo, it looks like there is not enough stress relief. Vibration, even a slight amount, can wiggle the wires enough to break the wires at the solder point on the circuit board. I'll take a look at my light assembly and see how my wires are routed.

Harry in Wild and Windy Casper, WY - 1986 Vintage "Silverdammit" - 2015 "Greendammit"

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2017, 04:07:15 pm »
Some questions:

1. Is the circuit board loose and moving around? No
2. Has it been a crappy solder job done by robot or person? Solder is mint, Wires are broken at the solder joint
3. Is there stress or strain on the cable assembly to the circuit board before or after the rubber boot? None at all, the wires are held in place on the light it's self by a cable tye
4. Can the wires be soldered back on? Looks like the tail light is a sealed assembly. It is a sealed assembly, I'm not saying you can't reach through the hole and repair it but as long as it is under warranty, I'll Kawasaki worry about it

Just looking at your photo, it looks like there is not enough stress relief. Vibration, even a slight amount, can wiggle the wires enough to break the wires at the solder point on the circuit board. I'll take a look at my light assembly and see how my wires are routed. It looks like the wires are glued into the rubber plug in the back of the tail light. When I lifted the plug out of the sealed housing, 2 of the wires were broken at the solder joint. The fact that those wires were semi- coiled, shouldn't have induced any stress on them. Also, the harness is strapped tightly to the tail light housing to keep any stress off of the wires going into the housing. The tail light harness plugs into the main harness just aft of the ECU and there is ample wire to route without any stress on the harness
« Last Edit: June 05, 2017, 04:11:23 pm by Big Dawg »
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Offline TimR

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2017, 04:21:47 pm »
Have not seen other posts about this problem. That in no way means there aren't any, but I peruse this site quite often. :truce:

Like Gumby I have not seen the tail light as a problem. There might have been another report here or on the other forum.
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Offline Harry Martin

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2017, 04:50:03 pm »
Some questions:

1. Is the circuit board loose and moving around? No
2. Has it been a crappy solder job done by robot or person? Solder is mint, Wires are broken at the solder joint
3. Is there stress or strain on the cable assembly to the circuit board before or after the rubber boot? None at all, the wires are held in place on the light it's self by a cable tye
4. Can the wires be soldered back on? Looks like the tail light is a sealed assembly. It is a sealed assembly, I'm not saying you can't reach through the hole and repair it but as long as it is under warranty, I'll Kawasaki worry about it[/color

Just looking at your photo, it looks like there is not enough stress relief. Vibration, even a slight amount, can wiggle the wires enough to break the wires at the solder point on the circuit board. I'll take a look at my light assembly and see how my wires are routed. It looks like the wires are glued into the rubber plug in the back of the tail light. When I lifted the plug out of the sealed housing, 2 of the wires were broken at the solder joint. The fact that those wires were semi- coiled, shouldn't have induced any stress on them. Also, the harness is strapped tightly to the tail light housing to keep any stress off of the wires going into the housing. The tail light harness plugs into the main harness just aft of the ECU and there is ample wire to route without any stress on the harness

Hmmmm...well, if under warranty, I would let big K take care of it.
If out of warranty, then I'd find a way to get into it and solder the connection.
I'd also add hot glue from the circuit board and up the wires to reduce vibration on those wires.

I looked at my tail light and that thing looks to be shock mounted pretty well. I dunno... :(
Harry in Wild and Windy Casper, WY - 1986 Vintage "Silverdammit" - 2015 "Greendammit"

Offline Deltonian

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2017, 11:36:49 pm »
My 2015 did the same thing. the ground wire broke off at the solder joint on the board. The light assembly is protected from shock well and the wires have a strain release loop in them. One observation I made was that the wire was not tinned with solder after the break and  I did not see any wire protruding out of the solder blob on the board so possibly the wire didn't have good strength or support from the beginning. I was able to tin the end of the wire and solder back on the board. Its been around 500 miles so far with no problems. I opted to fix myself just so I wouldn't have to screw around with the dealer taking the bike then ordering the part and waiting till whenever.....

Offline Harry Martin

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2017, 12:22:24 am »
My 2015 did the same thing. the ground wire broke off at the solder joint on the board. The light assembly is protected from shock well and the wires have a strain release loop in them. One observation I made was that the wire was not tinned with solder after the break and  I did not see any wire protruding out of the solder blob on the board so possibly the wire didn't have good strength or support from the beginning. I was able to tin the end of the wire and solder back on the board. Its been around 500 miles so far with no problems. I opted to fix myself just so I wouldn't have to screw around with the dealer taking the bike then ordering the part and waiting till whenever.....

That would do it. Lack of tinning results in cold solder joints that come loose with vibration.
Even though the wire is coiled and looks of suitable gauge, the mass is sufficient enough to allow vibration to back out of a poor connection.

I've seen that happen in many consumer electronics on the cheap. Big K must have farmed that out to a different lowest bidder sweat shop. 

Boils down to poor quality control.  :(
Harry in Wild and Windy Casper, WY - 1986 Vintage "Silverdammit" - 2015 "Greendammit"

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2017, 11:09:48 am »
Come to think of it, the first failure was due to a cold solder joint, the wires just came out of the solder . The last failure, the wires are broken at the solder joint
"I had the right to remain silent, I just didn't have the abliity", Ron White

Offline Harry Martin

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2017, 04:19:45 pm »
Come to think of it, the first failure was due to a cold solder joint, the wires just came out of the solder . The last failure, the wires are broken at the solder joint

Either way, the wire needs to be tinned AND the coiled part needs better stress relief.
Sometimes, the engineers don't get it right. There are times when the choice of wire requires more or less strands to provide more or less flexibility.

Time + vibration or flexing = failure. The wire will just break from fatigue.

I have repaired broken wires in cable runs that fail just from normal use. Copier machines, X-Ray machines, etc. If it has a door or drawer, or any moving cable run, they all fail with time from operation. Our bikes are no different. Based on your report, I will expect the same to happen to my C14. When it does, I will be adding additional stress relief.
Harry in Wild and Windy Casper, WY - 1986 Vintage "Silverdammit" - 2015 "Greendammit"

Offline Deltonian

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2017, 07:22:54 pm »
I am in the habit of looking over the bike quickly like tires and lights while its warming up and that habit is was only strengthened when I found my tail light flickering with the broken ground wire.

Offline Deltonian

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2017, 07:59:36 pm »
UPDATE- it happened again >:(
found the freaking thing flickering again at idle while warming up. Two wires came apart this time, separated from the solder on the board. Made an appointment with the dealer this time and have to wait 4 days to get it in so they can verify it falls under warranty. I ride every day and this pisses me off. Its such a simple fix and that I have to strive not to just fix this myself once and for all. first world problems...

Offline Jorge

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2017, 01:05:20 am »
Simply bad design, I wonder if they made a change in the last year or two. Mine is up to 23,000+, and on original, as I'm sure many other are, with even higher mileage.
Best design practice for anything automotive (especially bikes with high vibration) is to always separate the mechanical connection from the electrical connection, that is, use a clip, a clamp, anything, to keep the wire from flexing due to vibration at the solder connection, and make sure the solder connection carries as little vibration loads as possible... They blew it on this one!
I agree about adding something on the board, small drop off epoxy, or silicone adhesive, to keep the vibration loads off the solder joint.

Offline Saint_Arc

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2017, 02:54:13 am »
I know I'm late on this but I'll add my 2 cents.  I had some issues with my tail light on my 2012 when i first picked it up from the dealer.  I ended up replacing the tail light and went back and used a hot glue gun on the connectors to make sure wires didn't come out.  A couple times now I barely put tension on a wire and it just fell out of the wire connector.  I just make a habit of using the glue gun on those connectors now.   :))
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Offline Deltonian

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Re: Tail light failures
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2017, 07:34:59 pm »
Simply bad design, I wonder if they made a change in the last year or two. Mine is up to 23,000+, and on original, as I'm sure many other are, with even higher mileage.
Best design practice for anything automotive (especially bikes with high vibration) is to always separate the mechanical connection from the electrical connection, that is, use a clip, a clamp, anything, to keep the wire from flexing due to vibration at the solder connection, and make sure the solder connection carries as little vibration loads as possible... They blew it on this one!
I agree about adding something on the board, small drop off epoxy, or silicone adhesive, to keep the vibration loads off the solder joint.
[/quote

I agree 100% bad design. there should be a connector especially since the wire gauge is so small. 
I hope they cover it but skeptical since I repaired it once already but very "neatly" with my solder. Thinking back this winter when a mouse chewed through the wire insulation at the other end of the harness under the seat.....I know how manufactures will look for any excuse not to payout...