Author Topic: dreaded click, but starter won't spin  (Read 1759 times)

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Offline batboy

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dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« on: May 20, 2019, 01:54:57 am »
I know this isn't uncommon after letting the bike sit for 6 months. But, I can't  get my bike to start (starter won't crank). The battery was 3 or 4 years old when I parked the bike last November. So, I was not surprised when it wouldn't take a charge. So, I bought a new battery. When I turn on the key, I hear a soft click that sounds like it's coming from the J-box relay. The headlight comes on along with the neutral and oil gauge lights. I hear a medium click that sounds like it's coming from the solenoid when I press the starter button. Just the single click and the headlight dims a little while the button is pushed.

I took the starter button apart and cleaned it like was suggested here on the forum. But, that didn't help. I tried jumping it with my lawn mower. I've heard the starter rarely goes bad on these bikes, but I have seen a few threads where the starter had to be replaced. I took the solenoid off and it looks clean and rust-free (bike is from low humidity Denver area). The bike had a cover on it while it was in a shed for all of the last half a year. The shed is not climate controlled. Additionally, the J-Box was sent off and redone not too long ago (last owner was a COG guy).Battery wires (cables) look like new (no rust). I cleaned the main ground, but it didn't really need cleaned. That leaves the solenoid or starter. I haven't tried shorting the two solenoid terminals yet to see if the starter turns over. Guess that's the next thing to do. What else am I missing?
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Offline WillyP

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2019, 02:16:19 am »
What is the battery voltage? You probably just need to charge it. Also, battery wires can look clean, but still need to be cleaned, and make sure they are tight.
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Offline JPD

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2019, 03:06:39 am »
I am going to go to the I hope not reason. Is it hydrolocked? Cylinder full of fuel and can 't turn over. Also the headlight should not be on until the starter button is pushed the first time.

Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2019, 11:14:19 am »
Old battery did not have enough volts and would not charge up. I have a new Duralast AGM that is currently at 13.02 volts (had it charged up to 13.2 volts at one time). I followed MOB's guide to charging up a new battery and also tried to jump start it with my lawn mower.

As for hydrolock, I never saw any gasoline puddles under the bike and the petcock was changed out fairly recently (Kawasaki part was used). I had planned to pulled the spark plugs in order to turn over the engine by hand, but it looks impossible to pull the middle plugs without taking the gas tank off.

Okay, when the key switch is turned to the on position, the amber parking lights on the fairing light up. JPD was correct, the headlight doesn't pop on until the starter button is pressed. I have tried holding the clutch lever in, but no joy there either.

From searching the forum posts, the usual suspects are: battery, starter button, corroded wires, solenoid, J-box, and/or starter. At this point, I'm hoping it's the solenoid. I have one in my Amazon shopping cart.

However, there is one more thing I forgot to mention. One of the last things I did last fall before I parked it was to lower the bike and install a shorter kickstand. I know the kickstand has a safety switch. I have tried manually pushing the kickstand switch in and out, but still no start. I might bypass this switch, since it seems silly to have a kickstand safety switch.
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Bike has the usual accessories and modifications

Offline JPD

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2019, 11:32:19 am »
Use a meter on both sides of the starter solenoid. One should have 12 v from the battery and the other will have 12v when the starter button is pushed. The small wire should get 12v when the button is pushed also.  It will let you know if all of the starter safety switches are working. No power and it is in the control side of the system. If the starter solenoid is working then keep going down the starter lead and see what you have at the starter connection.

2 parts to the starter circuit. Control and power to the starter.

Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2019, 12:30:53 pm »
Ok, the main solenoid terminal has 13v on the meter and when the starter button is pressed, the other large solenoid terminal has nothing (zero voltage). That explains why it's not starting. But, is it the solenoid that's bad or one of the safety switches (neutral, clutch, kickstand)?
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Offline SteveJ.

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2019, 02:40:34 pm »
Ok, the main solenoid terminal has 13v on the meter and when the starter button is pressed, the other large solenoid terminal has nothing (zero voltage). That explains why it's not starting. But, is it the solenoid that's bad or one of the safety switches (neutral, clutch, kickstand)?

Did you measure the small wire on the solenoid? That will narrow things down a bit. It would seem your starter is not the issue.
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Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2019, 04:15:11 pm »
Which small wire do you mean? There is a large and a small wire on both of the main solenoid terminals and then there are two small wires that plug into the solenoid in a separate 2 wire connector.

EDIT: I read in another thread that the small wire to check is Y/R (presumably yellow/red). If that is the wire I'm supposed to check, it's only about 9v with the start button pushed. So, this is starting to sound like the starter button or J-box  relay, right???
« Last Edit: May 20, 2019, 05:03:49 pm by batboy »
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Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2019, 05:30:13 pm »
I did a bit more testing and the Y/R wire that is in the 2-wire connector on the starter solenoid only has 9.79v when the starter button on the handlebars is pushed. That should be at least 12v. So, that's a problem.

Where is connector 11 on the J-Box? Or, I can just get voltages from the kill switch and starter button?

I borrowed wiring schematics from another thread.

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Offline connie_rider

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2019, 08:25:57 pm »
I suspect you found your problem, but I suggest you eliminate the possibility of hydro;
Put the bike on the center stand, put it in gear, and see if you can turn the engine from the rear wheel.

Ride safe, Ted
« Last Edit: May 20, 2019, 11:51:40 pm by connie_rider »
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Offline kkja13

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2019, 09:28:29 pm »
FYI,
Putting the bike in 6th gear makes it easier to turn the engine on the center stand.
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Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2019, 12:35:12 am »
I'll finish troubleshooting this tomorrow and hopefully get it fixed on Wednesday. Even though I cleaned it once already, I'm going to try recleaning the starter button. I want to clean the kill switch too (didn't the first time because if it ain't broke don't fix it mentality). Instead, I should be doing preventive maintenance whenever things are apart. A lot of evidence is pointing toward the starter button. The only other thing it might be is the J-box starter relay. This is clearly an electrical issue, not a hydrolock problem, but y'all are scaring me, so I will check to see if the engine will turn by hand (or maybe I should say, by tire).
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Offline JPD

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2019, 03:07:51 am »
Starter control, battery to ignition, to kill switch, to start button, to relay box pin 11. Ground for start relay is pin 12 to clutch switch to ground with clutch lever pulled in, and through neutral switch with the clutch lever out. The relay will provide 12v on pin 13 to the start solinoid.
From dia. You provided, lower right is the pin position pic. Pin 11 is upper lh position. Check voltage on both pin 11 and 13 with starter button pushed if the same the relay is good. And the ground path is good. I would start at the kill switch and work my way to the relay box checking voltages and see where it drops low.

Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2019, 04:20:34 pm »
Ok, I finally got a chance to work on the bike some more. J-box connectors 11 and 13 are both about 9.7v with the key on and starter button pressed. Both should be at least 12v. The only thing left is the starter button. I'll take it apart and clean again. Hopefully there is a place to get my meter probe in there to measure voltage before and after the switch.

EDIT: I cleaned the switch real good and reassembled it. Now I get 11.8v instead of 9.8v, but the battery has 12.8v, so I'm still missing a volt. Looks like I'll be cleaning the starter button one more time. Getting closer though.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2019, 05:46:41 pm by batboy »
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Offline MAN OF BLUES

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2019, 07:59:01 pm »
Ok, I finally got a chance to work on the bike some more. J-box connectors 11 and 13 are both about 9.7v with the key on and starter button pressed. Both should be at least 12v. The only thing left is the starter button. I'll take it apart and clean again. Hopefully there is a place to get my meter probe in there to measure voltage before and after the switch.

EDIT: I cleaned the switch real good and reassembled it. Now I get 11.8v instead of 9.8v, but the battery has 12.8v, so I'm still missing a volt. Looks like I'll be cleaning the starter button one more time. Getting closer though.

when you are cleaning that button, make sure to also clean the ends of that bronze spring in there, along with the hat shaped copper part, and also the point it contacts on the housing, the solder blob thing... use some fine sandpaper, and make then shiny.. spritze the after with some wd-40, and dry them before installing..

also, you can do a simple Ohm reading of that button, by unplugging that harness connector, (it's actually not shown on the schematic you borrowed above, but it does exist..also note that is a gen II schematic '94-'06.) and checking resistance between the 2 blk/orang wires on the switch side... press the button and you should have 0 (zero) resistance, release the button it should be Infinate resistance..  do a check now before you clean it again, and then after... if the cleaning helped, you will see the result.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2019, 08:29:45 pm by MAN OF BLUES »

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Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2019, 09:02:31 pm »
Thanks for the info. I used a small piece of 400 grit emery paper this time and lightly touched up the spring (which I hadn't messed with before). Now I have right at 12v at the Y/R wire on the solenoid. I also have ~12v at the 11 and 13 J-box connectors which should be enough to activate the starter relay and solenoid.

I put things back together and my thumb hovered over the starter button for a moment. I finally decided to check to see if the engine would turn over first. It was already jacked up, so I dropped the shifter into gear and tried to turn the tire. I felt a fair amount of resistance, so I ceased my efforts in case there was a hydrolock issue. I didn't want to force it or else I could damage it. Tomorrow I'll pull the gas tank and spark plugs, then check to see if the engine will turn. I'm assuming as long as the plugs are removed, it should be safe to turn the motor over?
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Bike has the usual accessories and modifications

Offline MAN OF BLUES

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2019, 09:25:01 pm »
Thanks for the info. I used a small piece of 400 grit emery paper this time and lightly touched up the spring (which I hadn't messed with before). Now I have right at 12v at the Y/R wire on the solenoid. I also have ~12v at the 11 and 13 J-box connectors which should be enough to activate the starter relay and solenoid.

I put things back together and my thumb hovered over the starter button for a moment. I finally decided to check to see if the engine would turn over first. It was already jacked up, so I dropped the shifter into gear and tried to turn the tire. I felt a fair amount of resistance, so I ceased my efforts in case there was a hydrolock issue. I didn't want to force it or else I could damage it. Tomorrow I'll pull the gas tank and spark plugs, then check to see if the engine will turn. I'm assuming as long as the plugs are removed, it should be safe to turn the motor over?

YES...
(toss a towel over the top of the engine tho, first....  you don't want a gas shower... but then, I don't think you will get one... as you really never had a fuel issue... I mean, you never pulled the tank, and fuel lines, and it ain't pouring out fuel yet... correct?)
 :great: :great: :great:

that little button has caused so many hours of insanity, on so many bikes.. it would nice to hear of another "Yahoooooooo" moment.

fingers crossed. :great: :great: :beerchug: :motonoises:


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Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2019, 11:03:57 am »
I told myself the same thing, this was an electrical problem, not a fuel issue. But, it did sit for 6 months and it's not impossible to have 2 unrelated problems. Just for peace of mind, I'm going to pull the plugs out. Ted would never let me live it down if I bent a rod after he told me to check for hydrolock.
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Offline connie_rider

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2019, 02:37:10 pm »
Yupp…..…..    :nananana:

Ride safe, Ted
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Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2019, 05:23:00 pm »
Ok, even though the spark plugs are a pain in the hinny to remove, I pulled all four out and they reeked of gasoline. The #1 plug seemed a bit wet and smelled like gas the worst. But, I snagged a long plastic drinking straw and stuck it down into the #1 cylinder. Nothing, it came back out dry. I tried again until I was sure I was hitting the top of the piston. Still dry. I tried the other cylinders, no wetness. I'm not sure what this means. Hopefully it means there was no hydrolock. I guess now I should drain the oil to make sure no gasoline got down into the lower end. The engine turns over freely now.

But, I still can't get the starter to work. Last night I got 11.8v after cleaning the starter button twice and finally right at 12v at the Y/R wire (plus J-box connectors 11 and 13) after a third cleaning. Today, I'm back to 9.7v at these spots, which is where I was when I first started.   >:(
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Offline smithr1

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2019, 05:39:49 pm »
Just in case.  Put the voltmeter on the battery when you are trying to start the bike.  If it is not over 12.3 when key is on and over 10 when the starter should be turning it still could be a bad battery.  Would not the fist time a new battery was no good. 

If voltage is good then proceed in seeing if the engine will turn by hand.  You do have to be in a higher gear to make it turn from the back wheel easy.
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Offline Daytona_Mike

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2019, 06:46:44 pm »
The contacts on the starter relay need to be cleaned. Did you already do that??
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Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2019, 02:17:43 pm »
Voltage at the battery is usually at least 12.8v and generally at 13v. I tested voltage on the battery dozens of times, but I never load tested it. When I press the start button, battery drops to 12.2v and slowly rebounds after the button is released. I did rotate the engine by spinning the tire after I pulled the plugs out. The engine turns over no problem.

I've done more testing with my multi-meter. Still only 9.75v to the Y/R wire on the solenoid. I took the kill switch and start button clamshell off the handlebars again. It's definitely in the start button. Using my meter, I'm seeing 12+ volts going into the switch, but only 9.75v coming out. I had more voltage after I cleaned the switches, but now it's back to what it was the first time I checked it.

Perhaps I need a new switch? I suppose the switches are no longer available, when I googled it I see mostly eBay used parts (maybe worse than what I have).

Daytona Mike, I have not touched the starter relay (in the J-box). Connector 11 and connector 13 give me the same 9.75v, so the problem is before the J-box relays (if I'm reading those schematics right).

The issue just about has to be the starter button, I will once again take it apart and clean it. I found a guide to cleaning it from searching the forum threads. I'll report back after I work on it some more.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 02:41:45 pm by batboy »
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Offline m in sc

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2019, 02:41:06 pm »
have you jumped the connections as a test to see if the starter and relay are actually working?

Offline batboy

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Re: dreaded click, but starter won't spin
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2019, 02:54:41 pm »
Now that's an excellent question. I had not tried that yet, because I wanted to check for hydrolock before cranking the starter. Now that the spark plugs are out, that should be tested. I went out and laid a screwdriver across the two large terminals on the solenoid. After a spark or two, the starter cranked and spun the engine over. So, the starter motor definitely works and new battery does spin the starter. I'm back to the starter button. Here I go to clean it again.
1988 Kawasaki Concours ZG1000 - Ninja Edition
Bike has the usual accessories and modifications