Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 18 Old Dec 13th, 2008, 9:19 am Thread Starter
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Question Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

I have reviewed all the various battery threads out there and these symptoms - while common to some threads - are a little different.

Background: 2005 LT w/68k miles. New in September 2005; in August 2007 installed a new Odyssey PC680 battery @ 38.5k miles, equalling 15 months and approx. 30k miles on this replacement battery to date. Bike is ridden to work (75 miles RT) year-round except when ice/snow are present or forecast. The bike is on a Battery Tender in an unheated garage whenever it's not being ridden. Battery Tender is connected via the 12v outlet on the bike's port side. Bike faces south when parked.

Symptoms: The past few months the battery has become unreliable. I have been carrying jumper cables with me and have had to be jump-started several times. It started weakly (which I define as the battery sounding like it's barely going to get it started). I have babied the battery when two-up by turning off heated gear, accessories, radio, etc. when approaching an interstate exit, as it seemed to need the extra power to restart after refueling, for example.

The headlight dims noticeably when at idle, and returns to normal intensity at higher RPMs.

The bike has not been ridden for 4 weeks due to weather. I have not been able to start it for the last 2 weeks, whether the temps were in the teens or 50F. The cockpit lights come on, the charge light comes on (thanks, David Shealey), and it cranks weakly several times but runs out of juice very quickly and fails to start. Two episodes of that and thene there is not enough power to crank. The Battery Tender light shows green - a full charge - during all of this. One thing I have not tried is pulling the clutch lever while cranking.

If all of this points to replacing the battery, that's fine - I can do that. I've read all your recommendations. Do I need to be concerned with CCA (for Ohio winters) or amp-hours (battery capacity)? With the amount of additional lighting I have, plus radio, GPS, and heated gear X 2 it seems amp-hours is more important to me.

Is there something else causing these problems other than a weak/dying/dead battery?

Howard Schisler
2015 BMW K1600GTL
2009 BMW K1200LT - 60k miles
2012 BMW F650GS (sold)
2005 BMW K1200LT - "Gray Ghost", traded at 120k miles
2005 Honda Shadow 650 (sold)
AMA, IBA, BMW MOA. CCRs: Braselton 2006, Osage Beach 2007, Duluth 2012


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post #2 of 18 Old Dec 13th, 2008, 10:12 am
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

I would replace the battery. My way of attacking the problem, do the simple thing first.

My Gel cel is finally starting to show signs, slow cranking, but hasn't failed yet. Now at 50K miles and three years old. I'll be looking for a new one this spring.

Good luck.

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post #3 of 18 Old Dec 13th, 2008, 10:18 am
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Sounds like you may have a loose or corroded electrical connection somewhere. You probably have but......have you checked the integrity of the connections at the battery and the alternator? It's possible a ground connection is loose or corroded. It almost sounds like it could be the voltage regulator going south as well.

After all is said and done I'd have the battery load tested to make sure it hasn't dropped a cell from lack of charging.

Matt
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post #4 of 18 Old Dec 13th, 2008, 11:00 am
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Hi Howard,

As you know, I installed my Odyssey about the same time as you. I have no problems, and believe it or not, the morning temps here are in the high 20's to low 30's. I have 20w50 Castrol in the crankcase and the bike is stored outside. I also only ride 3-5 miles one way so not much of a on-the-road charge. On the colder days the bike will crank verrry slow, but always starts. I put a charger on when I am out of town for more than a couple days. With a full charge the bike cranks very fast for a couple weeks with daily usage and temps in the 30's.

The Odyssey is designed to handle deep cycles. If your charger shows green and full charge and you are getting a slow crank, I think your battery is defective, with at least one bad cell. The battery has a 3 year warranty - use it.

There is a chance of weak starter, loose connection, etc - but, most likely a dead cell as mentioned in the earlier posts.

Odyssey should handle this for you.


BTW - I would stick with the Odyssey brand. It has plenty of power for your application including CCA. Your commute distance easily enables the charging system to do its job, which appears to be working fine.

John

2004 - LT - Anthracite

Last edited by bowlesj; Dec 13th, 2008 at 11:05 am. Reason: added BTW
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post #5 of 18 Old Dec 13th, 2008, 2:31 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Update: I tried starting it while engaging the clutch. No difference.

Howard Schisler
2015 BMW K1600GTL
2009 BMW K1200LT - 60k miles
2012 BMW F650GS (sold)
2005 BMW K1200LT - "Gray Ghost", traded at 120k miles
2005 Honda Shadow 650 (sold)
AMA, IBA, BMW MOA. CCRs: Braselton 2006, Osage Beach 2007, Duluth 2012


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post #6 of 18 Old Dec 13th, 2008, 2:41 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bowlesj
... The Odyssey is designed to handle deep cycles. If your charger shows green and full charge and you are getting a slow crank, I think your battery is defective, with at least one bad cell. The battery has a 3 year warranty - use it...
Excellent idea, John. I called Batteries Plus (Columbus - where I bought it); the battery has a two-year free replacement. I will take it in Monday after work. If it is defective they will exchange mine for a new one.

We'll see how it goes Monday. Thanks!

Howard Schisler
2015 BMW K1600GTL
2009 BMW K1200LT - 60k miles
2012 BMW F650GS (sold)
2005 BMW K1200LT - "Gray Ghost", traded at 120k miles
2005 Honda Shadow 650 (sold)
AMA, IBA, BMW MOA. CCRs: Braselton 2006, Osage Beach 2007, Duluth 2012


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post #7 of 18 Old Dec 14th, 2008, 7:02 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Update: Batteries Plus was open today (Sunday) so I picked up the new battery. They tested the old battery; it showed 12.9 volts, which is < 1 volt less than the minimum float charge value printed on the battery. It also showed 10 amps. ??

After some initial hesitancy they swapped batteries and I left with a new one. I installed the new battery, which provided much better cranking power but the LT still wouldn't start. I spent several minutes off-and-on trying to start it. Lots of cranking power but it wouldn't turn over. Eventually there was some sputtering and it fired up. We took a little ride into town and back, filling the fuel tank and adding some Sta-Bil (more bad weather on the way, and it could be awhile).

No further issues. The new battery starts the bike RIGHT NOW.

So... we can say the battery was weak and needed replacing, but what caused the poor starting? It has been sitting for 4 weeks, with half a tank of gas (fill-up on Nov. 10) and no Sta-Bil. Could that be it?

Howard Schisler
2015 BMW K1600GTL
2009 BMW K1200LT - 60k miles
2012 BMW F650GS (sold)
2005 BMW K1200LT - "Gray Ghost", traded at 120k miles
2005 Honda Shadow 650 (sold)
AMA, IBA, BMW MOA. CCRs: Braselton 2006, Osage Beach 2007, Duluth 2012


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post #8 of 18 Old Dec 14th, 2008, 7:16 pm
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Is it possible you had condensation in the gas? Water is heavier than gas and will sink to the feed tube.

DJF
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post #9 of 18 Old Dec 14th, 2008, 8:40 pm
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by djfalkenstein
Is it possible you had condensation in the gas? Water is heavier than gas and will sink to the feed tube.
I concur, half a tank of gas is just asking for condensation to form in the tank sitting around in this weather for a month.

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post #10 of 18 Old Dec 14th, 2008, 9:00 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by djfalkenstein
Is it possible you had condensation in the gas? Water is heavier than gas and will sink to the feed tube.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mwnahas
I concur, half a tank of gas is just asking for condensation to form in the tank sitting around in this weather for a month.
OK then; lesson learned!

So, if it sits for a month with a full tank of gas should I still add the appropriate amount of Sta-Bil?

Howard Schisler
2015 BMW K1600GTL
2009 BMW K1200LT - 60k miles
2012 BMW F650GS (sold)
2005 BMW K1200LT - "Gray Ghost", traded at 120k miles
2005 Honda Shadow 650 (sold)
AMA, IBA, BMW MOA. CCRs: Braselton 2006, Osage Beach 2007, Duluth 2012


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post #11 of 18 Old Dec 14th, 2008, 11:51 pm
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hschisler
Update: So... we can say the battery was weak and needed replacing, but what caused the poor starting? It has been sitting for 4 weeks, with half a tank of gas (fill-up on Nov. 10) and no Sta-Bil. Could that be it?
I think the problem was you had the engine flooded from all the slow cranking you did on the old battery.

Once, I disconnected my battery so when I reconnected it I did the computer reset (twisting the throttle twice with the key on and engine not started). I then hit the starter and she started right up. Since I was in the closed garage, I only let it run for a couple of seconds and shut her down. The next day she would not start. It was 2 days later after someone on this board suggested that I had her flooded because I didn't let her run long enough to use up the rich mixture that is used for a cold start. I tried again with the throttle twisted all the way (to give it as much air as possible) and she started with a lot of sputtering until she cleared out all that fuel that was sitting for 2 days in the induction system, then she ran fine and has ever since.

I use an odyssey battery also. I've had the same one for 5 years and it still works great! I even made the mistake of leaving the light turned on it the top case for 2 weeks while I was on vacation last winter. Jump starting the bike and riding for about 45 minutes didn't put enough charge in that dead odyssey to turn the engine over even once! It took 2 days charge from an automotive 2 amp charger to bring her back to being good (the only time the battery has ever seen a charger).

I think that your using the battery tender all the time may have caused your battery's early demise. BTW is it a battery tender plus?

Mike Kiesel

Medina, Ohio
2000 K1200LT (Katerina)
"She's big and graceful - most of the time"
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post #12 of 18 Old Dec 15th, 2008, 8:55 am
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Yes, always use Stabil when the cycle is not ridden for extended periods which I define as one month. Normally fuel is good for at least two or three months from when you purchase it but because premium fuel is only 4 percent of total sales in the U.S. I am always cautious because logic tells me that it's more likely to get old fuel when buying premium.
Old fuel will "varnish" when it goes bad. It forms small dark colored particles which wreak havoc with carburetor jets and fuel injectors. The fuel also has a fairly distinct sour smell to it. If that's not bad enough the flashpoint gets higher too, so on top of clogging the injectors it burns poorly if the engine will start at all. To me Stabil is pretty cheap insurance when purchased in the large bottles.
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post #13 of 18 Old Dec 15th, 2008, 7:20 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mkiesel
..I think that your using the battery tender all the time may have caused your battery's early demise. BTW is it a battery tender plus?
Wow. I've never heard that before. IIRC there are many people here who keep their bikes on Battery Tenders when not in use. Can this be confirmed?

If that's true, then what is the standard practice for battery tender usage? (i.e., when should it be used and when should it not be used?)

It is a Battery Tender plus. 3 years old.

Howard Schisler
2015 BMW K1600GTL
2009 BMW K1200LT - 60k miles
2012 BMW F650GS (sold)
2005 BMW K1200LT - "Gray Ghost", traded at 120k miles
2005 Honda Shadow 650 (sold)
AMA, IBA, BMW MOA. CCRs: Braselton 2006, Osage Beach 2007, Duluth 2012


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post #14 of 18 Old Dec 15th, 2008, 8:20 pm
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

When not riding, I've kept my LT on the BC since replacing the battery 2.5 years ago. It starts great.. and the LT is an '05 also.

...............
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Dcn Channing

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post #15 of 18 Old Dec 15th, 2008, 8:40 pm
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hschisler
Wow. I've never heard that before. IIRC there are many people here who keep their bikes on Battery Tenders when not in use. Can this be confirmed?

If that's true, then what is the standard practice for battery tender usage? (i.e., when should it be used and when should it not be used?)

It is a Battery Tender plus. 3 years old.
Howard if you are using the right battery charger "gel cell" and its a smart charger "BMW" it is designed to be constantly connected but it is programed to monitor the battery condidtion and even let the battery rest. Yes, I leave mine on all winter, and check on it once in a while. It is better to keep it on maintenance, rather than let it discharge and recharge many times. My bike is put away for a long winter's nap. Under cover, full tank with stabil, and the charger plugged in. C ya next spring.

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post #16 of 18 Old Dec 16th, 2008, 7:01 am
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hschisler
Wow. I've never heard that before. IIRC there are many people here who keep their bikes on Battery Tenders when not in use. Can this be confirmed?

If that's true, then what is the standard practice for battery tender usage? (i.e., when should it be used and when should it not be used?)

It is a Battery Tender plus. 3 years old.
Howard, I keep my battery plugged into my Battery Tender Plus all the time, whenever I park it in the garage I plug it in. I'm also running an Odyssey PC 680 and have had no problems in the last 4 yrs. So I doubt having it plugged in all the time hurt the battery, that being said I did have a Battery Tender go bad, the green light would come on but was not charging the battery, sent it back to the company and they repaired it for me. It was only 2yrs. old at the time so I would keep an eye on the BT, if it continues to be slow cranking after a couple of days it maybe the BT. Also make sure when you plug in the BT that both lights come on for just a second, if they don't you probably have a bad BT.

Pat Rourke
White Lake,MI.
2002 K1200 LTC, Champange

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post #17 of 18 Old Dec 16th, 2008, 7:48 am
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hschisler
Wow. I've never heard that before. IIRC there are many people here who keep their bikes on Battery Tenders when not in use. Can this be confirmed?

If that's true, then what is the standard practice for battery tender usage? (i.e., when should it be used and when should it not be used?)

It is a Battery Tender plus. 3 years old.
Obviously since his odyssey battery only lasted 3 years, something was wrong. It was either a bad battery, a bad charging system on his LT, a bad battery tender, or he was using the wrong battery tender. If he wasn't using a battery tender + that is recommended for glass mat batteries, then that could be the problem. I could also be that his battery tender is defective; putting out the wrong voltage or charging for an inappropriate amount of time. Anyway, since he uses the BT so much, if the BT was the culprit, then that's why the battery failed so soon. If he had used it less, then his battery would have lasted longer. Odyssey claims that there battery if left with an initial full charge and without a draining load will have 80% of it's charge left after two years of sitting. Odyssey batteries do not have a significant didcharge every month from inactivity like lead acid batteries do. Although our LTs do have a considerable parisitical drain, that drain cam be minimised by utillizing the second off or the locked fork (third off) position of the ignition key. I've had no problems leaving my LT sit that way for at least a month at a time. If I took the time to disconnect the battery, I'd have no fears in leaving it that way for a year! By not using a charger, I've eliminated one possible cause of early battery failure.

Mike Kiesel

Medina, Ohio
2000 K1200LT (Katerina)
"She's big and graceful - most of the time"
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post #18 of 18 Old Dec 16th, 2008, 9:20 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Poor Cranking, Won't Start - Symptoms; Suggestions?

OK - understanding a little better now. Thanks.

If you are referring to my battery, it only lasted 15 months.

Howard Schisler
2015 BMW K1600GTL
2009 BMW K1200LT - 60k miles
2012 BMW F650GS (sold)
2005 BMW K1200LT - "Gray Ghost", traded at 120k miles
2005 Honda Shadow 650 (sold)
AMA, IBA, BMW MOA. CCRs: Braselton 2006, Osage Beach 2007, Duluth 2012


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