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HOW TO: Test your starter circuit

Discussion in 'XJ DIY How-To Instructions' started by Gamuru, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. Gamuru

    Gamuru Guest

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    Start with the bike on the center stand with side stand up and the transmission in neutral. You will also want the ignition switch turned to on and the kill switch turned to on. The numbers in the picture coincide with the steps listed below.

    [​IMG]

    1. Test the voltage at the battery. It should read at least 12.5 volts. Charge and retest as needed.

    2. Using an old screwdriver, short across the two large terminals at the starter solenoid. This will bypass the solenoid and allow the starter to crank the engine. If the starter doesn't crank, perform a continuity test between the negative battery terminal and the engine case. If you read no resistance (or almost no resistance), repair or replace the starter. Otherwise, repair or replace the ground cables and retest.

    [​IMG]

    3. Locate the pigtail from the starter solenoid and unplug it. Using a jumper lead, hook the Red/White wire from the solenoid to the battery's positive terminal. Using another jumper lead, hook one end to the solenoid's Blue/White wire. Momentarily touch the other end of this lead to the battery's negative terminal. If the solenoid is functioning properly, the solenoid should click and the starter should begin cranking the engine. Repeat this step several times to ensure the integrity of the solenoid. If nothing happens, repair or replace the starter solenoid.

    [​IMG]
    (h/t the bap3826)​

    4. If the solenoid checks out, hook your continuity tester between the battery's ground terminal and the Blue/White wire coming from the bike's wiring harness for the starter solenoid (solenoid pigtail unplugged). It should read an open state while the starter button is not pressed. When you push in the starter button, the tester should then read a closed state. If there's no change, inspect, clean, or replace the starter button switch and its ground and retest.

    5. Using your voltmeter, hook its ground wire to the battery's negative terminal and its positive wire to the Red/White wire coming from the bike's wiring harness for the starter solenoid (solenoid pigtail unplugged). The meter should read 12 volts (approx.) if the bike is in neutral, and/or the clutch lever is squeezed and side stand is up with the key on and the kill switch on. If not, inspect the wire coming from the starter circuit cut-off relay for any breaks or chaffing. If the wire looks good, go to the next step.

    6. Remove the left-hand side cover to gain access to the starter circuit cut-off relay (NOTE: your relay's location may be located elsewhere such as under the fuel tank). Using your voltmeter, hook its ground wire to the battery's negative terminal and its positive wire to the Red/White wire coming from the kill switch (starter circuit cut-off relay pigtail unplugged). The meter should read 12 volts (approx.) if the ignition switch is on and the kill switch is on. If not, you will need to inspect, clean or replace the 20A Main fuse, the ignition switch, the kill switch, or the wiring between them. If you measure 12 volts (approx.), go to the next step.

    [​IMG]
    (h/t the bap3826)​

    7. Hook your continuity tester between the battery's ground terminal and the Sky Blue wire coming from the bike's wiring harness for the starter circuit cut-off relay (relay pigtail unplugged). It should read an open state while the transmission is in gear. When you shift into neutral, the tester should then read a closed state. If there's no change, inspect, clean, or replace the neutral switch and its ground and retest. If it checks out, proceed to the next step.

    8. Hook your continuity tester between the battery's ground terminal and the Black/Yellow wire coming from the bike's wiring harness for the starter circuit cut-off relay (relay pigtail unplugged). It should read an open state while the clutch lever is released and/or the side stand is down. When you squeeze the clutch lever and the side stand is up, the tester should then read a closed state. If there's no change, inspect, clean, or replace the clutch and side stand switches and their grounds and retest. If they check out, proceed to the next step. (Note: some models may not have a side stand switch.)

    9. If all previous tests have passed, replace the starter circuit cut-off relay and try to start the bike again. If it still doesn't start, have your bike exorcised of demons by a Catholic priest and retest as there's really nothing else that would keep your bike from cranking over.
     
  2. MUTT

    MUTT Member

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    as you wrote...."
    4. If the solenoid checks out, hook your continuity tester between the battery's ground terminal and the Blue/White wire coming from the bike's wiring harness for the starter solenoid (solenoid pigtail unplugged). It should read an open state while the starter button is not pressed. When you push in the starter button, the tester should then read a closed state. If there's no change, inspect, clean, or replace the starter button switch and its ground and retest.

    Solenoid checks out. The solenoid pig tail on the harness side, with ig. "on", in neutral, KS up, I get a couple volts shy of batt voltage- 10.5 at r/w, the SAME at the blue/w wire, but it made my test light dimmer than r/w. Putting my analog ohm meter on it, I get about 60 ohms between blue/w and earth, which DOSNT change when I push the starter button.... I have taken the starter button out of the casing & cleaned it w/ contact cleaner, & the contacts are bright & shiney. does this ring any bells? If it were me, Id just run the push button leads directly to the solenoid, cutting out all the "safties"- managed toride 35 years without them. But its not my bike, & is getting sold, & its endless idiot "features" have to be intact.....
     
  3. schmuckaholic

    schmuckaholic Well-Known Member

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    ...except the Dark Side of the Force.
     

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  4. MUTT

    MUTT Member

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    I unplugged the relay under the left side cover. r/w- batt voltage. in neutral, kickstand up, clutch pulled in or out, zero volts on the blue wire with black trace (the other two wires are all black or all white)
    To see if indeed its the relay, I made a jumper wire & commected the r/w & the blu/w wire on the harness side. Turn on ignition: headlight came on. Push button- nothing, nothing at all......
    the harness on the bike is in good shape, not ratty or oil soaked.
    going back into the switch, Im getting only about 7 volts at the blue/w soldered terminal....i had before just checked it with a light. it goes to zero when I push the button.
    So, low voltage at the button, AND voltage on both legs of the starter solenoid pig tail, with the ground leg showing 60 ohms.....
    Imbeginning to fear its some internal short in the charging system or something else dangerously expensive.
     
  5. Gamuru

    Gamuru Guest

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    That sounds like the headlight relay wires. I think you're looking at the wrong harness.
     
  6. MUTT

    MUTT Member

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    its the one mounted under the ignitor, as per the pic...but its not a Maxim, so there may be a difference there.
    the machine has the cylindrical starter relay, next to the starter, the one I mentioned, under the ignitor, & an identicle one on top of the frame, under the rear of the tank. i deduced the under-tank one was tied to the ks & clutch lever. I think.
    I guess the next step is getting under the instrument cluster, to .........what?
    I dunno.
    see why the push button hot wire only got 6 volts.....the lead goes under there....i dread opening that up....
    way back when she bought the bike in the first place, I was doing a bunch of service & put a on/off switch in the headlamp ground lead, so you have a way of turning off the headlight in case of some low voltage situation- you can get home by killing the headlamp.
    this thing is giving me a headache. Its a damn favor, too: no $ execpt for parts. You'd think Id have that "never volunteer" thing down after the Army, but noooooooo.
     
  7. MUTT

    MUTT Member

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    and I just found another identicle relay, next to the coils, under the frame backbone. This one clicks when I cycle the kill switch.
     
  8. MUTT

    MUTT Member

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    OK- I see why the blue/w wire at the start button shows 6-7 volts- the current is passing thru a relay coil. As you said, the starter button is the tip of the tail, not the snout....so Im thinkin the problem lies in the odd reading I get at the starter solenoid proper: I get batt voltage (minus a tad) on the r/w wire, but voltage is ALSO present at what should be the ground wire, with 60 odd Ohms of resistance between the ostensible ground wire & ground, which dosnt change when I push the button.

    When I/we suss this out, itll make a dandy addition to your starter FAQ......
     
  9. MiCarl

    MiCarl Active Member

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    Relays are in different positions on different models. My factory manual incorrectly identifies them.

    On my 82 650 Maxim that relay just behind the coils is the sidestand relay, and it does indeed give a healthy click.

    There will be a connector where the wire from the start button plugs into the harness (likely behind the headlamp). Based on your readings (and assuming the switch itself is in good shape) I bet you find a problem near that connector. Maybe the thing is unplugged and laying up against the housing giving you that ground with 60 ohms resistance. Or maybe it is corroded and you have an additional short somewhere.

    MUTT, which Maxim do you have? Please put the info in your signature line.
     
  10. MUTT

    MUTT Member

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    its not a Maxim, its the Seca, which I THINK has a different frame. Its a short run factory cafe bike, with rear sets & low bars.
    Aint got the chops to figure out how to post a sig line.....
    Next stop: headlight bucket........
     
  11. MiCarl

    MiCarl Active Member

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    While you're in there use your meter to check the wire up to the start button. Infinite resistance without pressing the button, 0 ohms when button is pressed.

    You're not using an auto ranging meter are you? If so, you might be mistaken about that 60 ohm reading.
     
  12. MUTT

    MUTT Member

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    dont know what you mean by "auto ranging". Its an analogue (dial) type, served me well some 20 years. I take the ohms to be a ballpark figure....plus minus a few %
    The start push button has been cleaned w/ contac points cleaner, its got a zero ohm ground side.
     
  13. Gamuru

    Gamuru Guest

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    MUTT, did you perform step three? And, if so, what happened?

    1. If the starter solenoid did nothing, it's toast. Replace it and retest.

    2. If the starter engaged and cranked the engine, then we'll set up to check the starter button.

    3. To test the starter button, hook a jumper wire between the solenoid pigtail's Red/White wire and the battery's positive terminal. Hook another jumper wire between the solenoid pigtail's Blue/White wire and the bike's Blue/White wire that the solenoid pigtail would normally plug into. Making sure the bike is in neutral, press the starter button.

    The starter should crank the engine over as we've bypassed all the safety features except the starter button. If the starter doesn't crank, you've got a problem with your starter button, its wiring, or its grounds.
     
  14. RickCoMatic

    RickCoMatic Active Member

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    Those are two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT Relays.
    One is a Standard Relay for a High Amp Open-Closed Circuit.
    The other is the SAFETY Relay.

    The Contacts on the Safety Relay are not the same configuration as a Power Relay.

    I did the Comparison on these two a long time ago when I had the pattern saved on my PC. I don't have much of anything saved on the PC on this MAC.

    Search: "Safety Relay"
    Author: "Rickcomatic"

    You'll see the patterns are different and why they test differently with the Multimeter.

    (As you look at the relay's spade connections ... with the locking slot at the top ... there's four HORIZONTAL spades. Two rows of two.

    The generic relay gets its low-voltage triggering current -- across the TOP two. Those two are Side-by-side.

    The Safety relay, viewed the same way, gets the low volts across the two spades on the LEFT. Both LEFT side ones. Over and under.)
     
  15. MUTT

    MUTT Member

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    yup- I did Step 3, & the engine turned over every time.
    Im gonna bypass all this stuff & run a wire between the blue & w wire at the cylindrical starter relay, and the blue/w lead in the headlamp bucket that goes to the start button. I guess whatever the problem is will remain a mystery.....
     
  16. Gamuru

    Gamuru Guest

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    MUTT, don't give up now! Success is just around the corner.

    Did you do this next step?
    Likewise, if you don't want to bother with all that, you could hook a test light between the battery's positve terminal and the bike's Blue/White wire that the solenoid pigtail would normally plug into. The test light should not be on until you press the starter button. If it is, then you've got a short somewhere. If it never turns on or turns on but it's real dim, you've got issues with your switch/wires/grounds.

    Bypassing the wire from the solenoid to the headlight bucket connection may work--as long as the problem is in that piece of wire running between those two points. If the problem is in the switch or its ground, you've wasted your time. Remember, at this point, we're still looking for problems; not solutions. Solutions can only be had once the problem has been correctly identified. Doing it your way only results in throwing money, time, and parts at the bike in the hopes that something will fix it.

    Saying, "The bike won't start" may be factually correct, but it involves way too many details to accurately diagnose the problem. Therefore, we must break that larger problem down into more manageable sizes. In this case, we're looking at a starter circuit comprised of several separate parts. We can further break down that problem by testing at some halfway point in the circuit. In our case, that would be the starter solenoid. If we can determine the problem exists either before or after the solenoid, we've effectively eliminated half the potential culprits. In other words, we're breaking our problem down through the process of elimination.

    We've only got a finite number of pieces that can cause our problem. By eliminating each piece, we'll eventually run into the offending part(s). We can either find them by starting at the battery and sequentually checking every piece along the circuit--which would be very time consuming--or we can divide the circuit up and eliminate whole sections through testing. Using the evidence given by you (having to stab the starter button repeatedly), I suspect that the problem is with the starter button or at least on that side of the starter solenoid.

    You've tested the solenoid and you said it tested good. That means we've got but two directions to go. Either the starter solenoid isn't getting power on the Red/White wire from the starter circuit cut-off relay, or the problem is with the starter button/wiring/ground. From your original complaint, I would chose to look in this direction first. To confirm this direction, we would complete Step 5 from above. Power on the Red/White wire? Yes? Look at the starter button, etc. No? Look at the starter circuit cut-off relay, etc.

    Yeah, it's just that easy. A big problem broken into smaller and smaller problems until you find the culprit. Once the culprit is found, you can come up with a solution and get back to riding.
     
  17. Oldgoat

    Oldgoat Member

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    I do/have belonged to many m/c forums.

    This one is the BEES KNEES :D :D :D

    So many helpful, knowledgeable folks willing to help someone with a problem.
     
  18. RickCoMatic

    RickCoMatic Active Member

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    Also, rule-out a couple of Gremlins that bite these Bikes in particular.

    The Clutch Safety Switch can suddenly go bad or become intermittent. The Switch can either hang-up and send a signal to the Safety Circuit that the Clutch Lever isn't pulled ... or, it can "Shift" from being loose in there and not be operating as it should at all.

    Likewise, the Side Stand Switch often gets hung-up; too. The Switch is dependent on the Activating Rod which can become stuck in its travel and keep the Side Stand Switch OPEN ... even though the Side Stand is UP.

    The Rod protrudes through a drilled passage above the Side Stand Pivot Bolt. The passage sometimes gets closed-off with dirt and debris that the Rod does not have its full travel to let the Switch Close.

    In BOTH Cases, the Safety Circuit is fooled and the Bike will fail to Start and/or the Starter Motor is disabled until those two switches are working properly.
     
  19. MUTT

    MUTT Member

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    Oh fer jeezum crow.
    The bright, shiney, cleaned with contact cleaner, blown with air, dry, push button contacts pass just enough juice to read on my multimeter do not, actually, conduct enough electricity to catch the solenoids attention. .
    jeez. i cant make these any brighter or shiner, so i need another button.
    Dealer sez every warehouse in the Republic has a few in stock, attached to the housing- 91 bucks.
    Think ill try to fix this one, or find some generic replacement (hah!)
    Thanks for all the heavy duty noodling.....
     
  20. bap3826

    bap3826 Member

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    Has anyone tried these guys for parts? PartsNMore

    I haven't myself; but a friend has and says they're good. They have starter switches for $6.00 (for a 650 anyway). Of course, there is a minimum order of $35.00 so you'd have to order some other items.

    Bruce
     

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