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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This little problem has been getting more annoying recently with the cold weather. In normal conditions the bike will usually (but not always) start first time, but far too often pressing the button does nothing. Try again and perhaps one might get a half-hearted attempt to kick in and then we're off.

Usually in the morning I will go to the bike outside in the cold, and get it going before returning in house for 10 minutes or more, just to let it warm up and then go back turn it off and go back to it later when I need to go to work.

A replacement starter was recommended by BMW Stroud on my last service in September and I would tend to agree based on this evidence but yet to ask how much fearing £100 including labour.

Does anyone have any experience of a starter problem like this? How easy is it to get one and fit or is this a BMW job only or perhaps recomended? :think:

The bike is a 2004 GS.

Marky
 

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Hi
I presume if a dealer made the conclusion that it requires a starter it won't be a bad battery or a loose terminal or bad connection. It might even be possible to recondition the starter or even cheaper to buy one second hand. I would check the voltage drop also when pressing the starter button. Just put a voltmeter over the battery terminals and start it and see what happens to the voltage. You don't want it dropping to below 9.5 /10 Volts.
I would also not have the motorbike warming up while not riding it as it isn't very healthy for your engine anyway.

Ton
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The battery was replaced in March this year. I did ask BMW to look at it during the service last a few weeks back. Unsure of they did but very unlikely to be battery I think.
 

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Hi

If you are having a starter problem it may well be worth just getting a replacement brush kit. I have seen them on motorworks. The job is realtively straight forward to do and if you are good with the spanners yourself you will save a few quid. Just ensure if you do it that the armeteur is in good condition and its shimmed correctly. To replace the brushes use a little zippy tie to hold them in the slot and when you push through the armeteur it will push the ties off and the brushes will slot into place.

Hope it helps.

Mikie
 

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Cold starting can be an issue with these bikes. If it's turning over but not firing then that's about normal in my experience. My 04 GS twinspark rarely starts on the first attempt from cold. I try it for a few seconds, wait a couple of seconds and try again and it normally starts.
 

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If absolutely nothing is happening and your bike is out in the weather then you might also check out the starter switch too. It can become intermittent.

Check your battery voltage during starting too. Cold weather diminished a battery's capacity i.e. it won't have the same oomph when it is cold.

If the level of electrolyte falls below the marks then you battery capacity will be poor even if it is a new battery. So make sure to top it up with distilled water and give it a good charge.

Also, as a aside, if the battery voltage is low during start-up the computer can have trouble thinking! thus leading to weird problems. I have found that when funnies happen, it is always useful to restart the engine and observing the start-up procedure strictly.

BMW recommend not leaving the engine idling when you start it. Start and ride!
 

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Cheers Ton - yeah they are the puppies.

It is a fiddly job ( if needed) but a damn sight cheaper than a starter if you are prepared to get amongst it.

Thanks

Mikie
 

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I had starting trouble a while ago and went to a mechanic to get my battery checked. Battery checked out fine. The mechanic reckoned it was dirt in the starter switch and sold me some switch cleaner. It definitely seemed to help.

Gar
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
garr said:
I had starting trouble a while ago and went to a mechanic to get my battery checked. Battery checked out fine. The mechanic reckoned it was dirt in the starter switch and sold me some switch cleaner. It definitely seemed to help.

Gar
What is the switch cleaner? Where does one get it from and how is it used?

Today I had to keep pressing my starter buton for 5-6 minutes on and off until it kicked it and it was a warm day. This problem has only started happening to me since the summer.
 

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Have you done the other test as mentioned before? Switch cleaner is called contact spray also and you spray it on the internal parts of the switch. What is most important that when you press the starter button you get (enough) power to the starter. Usually on the starter you will find a very thick battery lead and a small one which should become live when you press the starter button. If you get a good voltage reading here when you press the button your switch is okay. Or if the starter relay is somewhere else you will find these two leads on the relay.
But if that is to hard just check over the battery terminals what the voltage is before and during a starting attempt.

Ton
 

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I had this problem recently. I disassembled the starter switch unit (only 2 screws) until I could see the back of the switch membrane (no need to disconnect any wiring) and just used a 1/4 inch paint brush soaked in white spirit to flush and clean between the switch contacts as best I could and left it to dry. Since then: no problem, Starts first time every time. There was a good amount of road grit and grime in there, so it's worth a look as it's an easy fix.

timmo.
 

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It might be possible to clean the switch interior without even removing the screws, if you're feeling lazy: Contact Cleaner is the stuff - just squirt it into the switch. :riding:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well the problem "appears" to have been identified. Tried to start the bike this lunchtime and just receive the word 'bat' on the display.

Battery should have a two year warrenty and this one has given up after a few months. I use each day so no excuse for it not being charged.

Perhaps this is a coincidence but hoping to borrow a friend's battery charger today or tomorrow and plug it in overnight. If that fails then it's a bus journey with it to BMW in Stroud to get it replaced.
:-(
 

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markrich said:
Well the problem "appears" to have been identified. Battery should have a two year warrenty and this one has given up after a few months. I use each day so no excuse for it not being charged.


:-(
Have you tried cleaning or tightening the battery contacts?

Gar
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'll do that tomorrow. I am borrowing a charger from a friend and will take the battery out to recharge overnight. Hopefully it'll be back to normal in the morning before work, however refitting the battery at 06.30 in the cold morning is not something I am looking forward to.
 

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Make sure that you check the electrolyte level if it is not a sealed battery. This will cause it to not charge fully or properly. So it won't have nearly enough ooomph after a short time.

Also, be aware that if you are doing only short journeys, your battery may not be charging up long enough to replace the charge used in startups.

Also also, if you have lots of accessories attached (heated grips, lights etc etc) -and are using them of course!- then the alternator may not be able to supply any current to the battery so it may not be charging or indeed could even be discharging when riding along. As an extension to this, if there is a short in your wiring then your battery will suffer the same fate.

I would suggest checking the electrolyte level, charge the battery and then check the voltage during startup and idle. It should be around 12V during startup and perhaps 13-14V when the engine is running.

If the problem is still there, the faultfinding becomes a little more involved and depending on your tools and skills, it may be worth getting an autoelectrician to give it the once over -or your BMW guy if you prefer that route.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well the battery was removed and charged up. Weirdly the charger reported 3 amps when connected and 1.5 amps after a few hours on the mains. Don't claim to understand that. However the charge did the job and I popped it into the bike this morning in the dark with cold dumb fingers...LOL!

Anyway, bike started first time and all the lights came on.

You may be right about the heated grips. The first F560GS I had would drain the battery very fast when the heated grips were used. I have used them a few times recently on the way to work but herein lies another problem. What's the point in heated grips when the drain the battery faster than it can charge and why hasn't this been an issue in the past two years I have been riding this bike?

If this is not the problem then it could be the altenator or perhaps the battery itself? It's a genuine BMW one and the BVM in Stroud tell me it has a two year warranty so if it's faulty it can be swapped.

I'll see how the bike is in the morning. Evening seems quite calm and warm so hopefully no frost tomorrow.

Marky
 
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