BMW Luxury Touring Community - Site FAQ: Common Issues
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I hear the shift linkage can break. What's the deal and should I carry a spare?
The shifter on the LT has been a source of problems.  The linkage is comprised of a number of small ball joints and connector rods some of which have been known to fail.  The parts most likely to brake are easy to get to and replace so it is suggested that you carry the following spares in your tool kit:

Retainer Clip 07 11 9 987 611 - $0.16  (Good to Have a few of these) 
Bushing  23 41 7 650 149 - $.38  (Good to have a few of these)
Shift Arm 23 41 2 332 277 - $69.72
Shift Linkage Ball Joint  23 41 1 461 432 - $1.52  (Good to get 3 of these)
Shift Linkage Ball Pin 07 11 9 901 736 - $1.56
Shift Linkage Selector Rod (Short) 23 41 2 332 281 - $15.60
Shift Linkage Selector Rod (Long) 23 41 2 332 282 - $17.68

What's all this talk about rear drives failing?

Yes it's true.  There have been numerous reported incidents of the rear drive failing on the LT.  Current numbers point to a failure rate of 3-4% of all LTs sold since '99.  There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to the failures.  No correlation has been found regarding mileage, load, model year, trailer pulling, etc.  Some rear drives fail at very low mileage, others last more than 100,000 miles.

In most (but not all) cases, the bearing retainer fails which results in the seal being destroyed and a loss of fluid (possibly on to the rear tire!).  There seems to also be no pattern to any warning signs of impending failure.  Some have noted odd vibration or play in the rear wheel (side-to-side motion) but many others have had no warning what so ever.

At this time (late '03), BMW has not made any official comment other than to say they are looking at the issue and that they will consider warranty coverage on a case-by-case basis for those owners that experience a failure out of warranty.

Those experiencing a rear drive failure are strongly encouraged to enter their experience in our survey here and to contact the NHTSA as well.

I hear the mirrors can fall off. Is there a way to attach them?
Ensure each mirror is attached firmly at its three connection points and the gap between the mirror and the bike is consistent (about 1/8").  If a connection point seems loose or the gap is inconsistent, consider shimming the connection balls the mirror attaches to.  To remove a mirror, smack the outside front of the mirror unit, towards the back of the bike, with the palm of your hand, being careful not to drop the mirror when it comes off.

The factory may have taped spare washers on the body side of the mirror (these may be bent "lock" washers).  It's quite common for mirrors to come off when you hit potholes, bumps, other things, etc.  A replacement mirror costs about $200 and you don't want to have one destroyed, especially if you're far from home.  We recommend you firmly connect each mirror to the bike so if (when) it falls off it will stay with the bike.

Many riders use heavy duty wire tie wraps to secure the mirrors but some have reported that the sudden impact of a flying mirror can snap the ties.  Some owners use twisted wire that but that could snap if pulled too hard, depending on the strength of the wire.  Heavy fishing line may work if sufficiently strong (e.g., 100lb. vinyl coated stainless leader line and crimp sleeves).

If you want the very best option, Bob's BMW sells 1/16" aircraft-cable connectors made for this very purpose; they are about $18 a pair and they are very strong. (Call the number listed here)

My speedometer is way off. Is there any way to fix it?
First off, forget the idea of adding a cheap and easy speedometer recalibration unit such as the Yellow Box to the LT, they just WILL NOT WORK for a number of reasons.  Read more about it here.

Vic Agresti posted the following in the 'Hall of Wisdom' on the main board:

Correcting an inaccurate K1200LT speedometer requires access to the back of the speedometer and soldering two tiny jumper wires on specific points.

The speedometer can be accessed by removing the instrument cluster -- then with it sitting on your bench, separate the cluster halves and access the speedometer. OR, you can separate the cluster while itís still in the bike, and remove the speedometer that way.

Randy posted instructions (and photos) on fixing the speedometer without removing the instrument cluster here.

The procedures to access the speedometer by first removing the instrument cluster:

Iíve fixed two K1200LT speedometers after first removing the instrument cluster. I prefer this approach because it seems less likely (to me) to lose or drop something from the (very expensive) cluster. On the 2nd LT where this procedure was used, the very long O ring between the cluster halves came off. Had the instrument cluster not been sitting flat on a bench, it would have been impossible to properly position that O ring to allow reassembly.

It's not difficult to remove the instrument cluster; it just takes time. These procedures assume you have followed the directions in the repair manual to remove/reinstall the cluster. (The odometer reset button unscrews, which the manual doesn't tell you!)

Carefully remove about 25 bulbs/wires from the back of the cluster. The manual has an excellent wiring diagram at page 62.5-- so, you don't have to write down where the bulbs and wires came from. (There is one omission on that page however, the ďextraĒ green/black wire is attached to the terminal just above lights 19 & 20.) Lightly reattach the screws after you remove each wireís terminal, as those screws also hold the instruments into the cluster. Once you have the cluster face down on your workbench (laying on something soft), remove the back panel. There lies the speedometer circuit board (it's quite small, maybe 2.5" square).

WARNING: Be careful when removing and replacing the tiny bulb sockets on the back of the cluster. Several folks have managed to break the filaments in the bulbs and didn't notice until the bike was back together. Replacements from BMW are $2.50! 

To fix the speedometer error, solder a tiny wire jumper between the two points at the JB location on the back of the speedometer, and at the two points at the JC location. After doing that, if you have new Bridgestone BT-020s, the speedometer should then be accurate. With other tires, the speedometer should still be within 1%. Refer to the photos in Randyís post, of the speedometerís circuit board to see the soldered-in jumpers. (This is actually the REAR of the speedometer.) Take a close look at the JB & JC location and you'll see the tiny wires.

Use a 15 watt sharply pointed soldering iron designed for electronic work -- Radio Shack sells them for about $8. A 25 watt iron is TOO HOT and the tip is too large. Cut two 2" lengths of 24 gauge (that's REAL small) solid copper conductor and tape a wire over the JB points. Made sure the wire is actually touching the existing soldered locations so you don't have to hold the wire down while you're soldering. Use a very thin ROSIN core solder. DO NOT USE ACID CORE SOLDER! For soldering tips, refer to: Let the soldering tool heat up completely before you start. Then, very carefully touch one point of the JB terminal with the ironís tip, then barely touch the existing soldered area with the tiny new solder . Should take less than 5 seconds per point. Use a VERY tiny amount of solder per point. MUCH less than a single drop. Once you've soldered each of the 4 points, use a small wire cutter to clip the excess 24 gauge wire. If it doesn't cut all the way through (since it should be touching the circuit board), work the wire back and forth until it breaks off. Lightly push on the wire at each location with a small screwdriver or other tool, to make sure it stuck. That's it, you're done.

If the inside of the cluster face plate is other than perfectly clean, now is the time to clean it. Iíve found that car polish (not wax) can be used to bring plastic back to a clear/clean state.

An optional additional modification is to solder one wire of a two-conductor (small gauge) pair to one point of the JA jumper and the other wire to the other JA jumper point. Then, run this wire THROUGH the back of the instrument cluster (or install a connector, so the wire can be removed). Connect these wires to a SPST micro switch that is accessible with the bike fully assembled. If the JA is jumped (switched closed), that will reduce the speedometer reading by another 1%, giving some flexibility depending on your tires and their wear.

So, are my odometer and trip computer (BC) also way off?
If the speedometer is registering 10-12% above the actual speed, does that mean that the gas mileage is also inflated by the same percentage?  Isn't it calculated utilizing the odometer on the bike divided by the gallons used?  Aren't the speedometer and odometer linked?

NO!  Even though they share the same pickup signal, the odometer (and thus the trip computer) use a different decode method so the odometer and gas mileage calculations are only of 1%-2%

My LT fell off the sidestand! What the heck is going on?
Never park your bike facing downhill and use the sidestand if you can help it!  The bike will roll forward and fall.  When using the sidestand, it is important to leave the bike in 1st gear to prevent it's movement.  Try to find a level spot or slight uphill grade to park.  Roll the bike forward with the engine off, the transmission in 1st, and the clutch out until it stops (6"-8").  Then kick the sidestand hard forward and get off the bike.  This should minimize the chance of a fall. 

One other note:  On a hot day, it is typical for your sidestand to sink in the asphalt and your bike may fall over.  Try a small piece of aluminum plate (or similar) under the sidestand when you park.  Don't forget to pick it up when you leave.  Also, the same sinking problem can occur using the center stand on a hot day.  Beware of parking your bike on the sidestand in heavy winds, the substantial area of this bike could cause a tip over depending on location and slant  If unsure, put the bike near a wall or perhaps pointing into the wind.

OK, I dropped the fat pig, now how do I lift it back up?
A full write up is available here but the basics are:  Ensure key is off, place bike in gear, back up to bike placing your seat on the edge of the bike's seat that is closest to the ground.  Grasp hand grip with one hand and the saddlebag grab rail with the other (or center stand grab handle, if working on that side).  Slowly back up keeping knees bent.  Once bike comes up enough, drop side stand and you're home free.

What is all this talk about a "Brown Wire"?
LTs produced up until July 2000 were equipped with an engine control module (Motronic) that was programmed from the factory with a single fuel/ignition map.  One of the attributes of this map is the ability for the Motronic to react to high ambient air temperature by retarding ignition timing under certain circumstances to avoid pre-ignition (pinging).  Unfortunately, this often occurs in low speed situations such as going around a corner in town and can cause the bike to hesitate or stumble at a critical time.  This most often occurs when the outside temperature is above 85 įF and the engine is hot (such as stop-and-go traffic in the summer).

To address the hesitation problem, BMW modified the Motronic to include an alternate map that eliminates the troublesome feature BUT requires the use of Premium Grade fuel.  This was made as a "running line change" in July of 2000 so any LT manufactured after that date SHOULD have the new Motronic but the only way to know for sure is have your dealer connect the bike to their computer and read out your Motronic's part number.  

If you have the later Motronic, you still need to activate the alternate map to resolve the hesitation problem (more on that in a minute).  BMW has issued a service bulletin to their dealers authorizing them to replace older single-map Motronics if a) your bike is still under warranty and b) you bitch and moan loud enough.  This is really going to depend on how well your dealer works with you but keep trying, and you should get results.

Once you ensure you have the new two-map Motronic, there are two possible ways to activate the alternate fuel map:

1) If your bike is a 2002 or later, look under the seat near the battery along the right side frame rail.  You should find a single exposed loop of brown wire taped to the outside of the wire loom that runs along there.  You can find pictures of this wire in the service bulletin or on the main board by doing a search for "brown wire" (be sure to select "All Posts" and "All Forums" when searching).  Once you identify the correct brown wire, just cut it.  This will activate the alternate map and away you go!

2) If your bike is a 2001 or earlier AND you don't see a brown wire as described above (some 2001's have the wire), you have the older wiring harness that uses something called a Cat Code plug.  The Cat Code plug is located under the top case and is usually yellow in color.  It's a plastic cube about 1" on a side and it just snaps into a socket under the right rear of the top case.  Remove your top case and the black plastic cover underneath to expose the Cat Code (this is an excellent time to do a Canisterectomy as well).  Remove the Cat Code and you're set to go.

NOTE: Many riders report that the alternate fuel map not only removes the hesitation in warm weather but provides a noticeable improvement in the way the bike runs in ALL conditions.  Just remember to use Premium Grade fuel to avoid pinging.

NOTE: More great information in this post by David Shealey

ALTERNATIVE METHOD: Many riders have found relief from hesitation by disconnecting the air temp sensor on top of the left side radiator.  See a full discussion of that method here.

My temperature gauge spikes up almost all the way to the top during stop and go traffic. Is this normal?
Yes.  This is normal behavior.  The temperature gage will rise near the top during stop and go driving in warm weather.  Just when you start to panic, the fans will come on and bring the needle back down to mid-range.  Most LTs operate with the temperature needle just below the half way mark when cruising down the road.  The only time you need worry is when the needle goes into the red and/or the overheat light comes on.

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