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post #1 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 12:20 am Thread Starter
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Worrisome smell

Hello, everyone:

I had my 12000 mile service done about 700 miles ago and the day I picked up the bike, I found some transmission oil on the underside of the bike when I brought it home. It had dripped on the floor of my trailer on my way home (no one to give me a ride to the dealer, so used trailer.) I made a frantic call to the service manager at the dealer, who sent the mechanic to my home to check what the problem was. As he suspected, when he removed the old fluid from the transmission using a large syringe, some of it dripped onto the plastic cover that surrounds the underside of the transmission. He assured me there was no leak from the transmission, and indeed, there has never been any evidence on the garage floor. Now, at 13200 miles, I have begun smelling what seems like hot coolant after I ride the bike. The temp gauge remains in the normal range, and the fans only come on in stop and go traffic, as expected. I don't hear any "boiling" sounds coming from the radiators and there again is no evidence of a leak. However, I'm mighty worried, as this has never happened before, and I have a trip to Niagara Falls coming up in July. Do these symptoms (sorry, I'm a doc) bring anything to mind? Please help.

Joe
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post #2 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 6:20 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neodoc
Hello, everyone:

I had my 12000 mile service done about 700 miles ago and the day I picked up the bike, I found some transmission oil on the underside of the bike when I brought it home. It had dripped on the floor of my trailer on my way home (no one to give me a ride to the dealer, so used trailer.) I made a frantic call to the service manager at the dealer, who sent the mechanic to my home to check what the problem was. As he suspected, when he removed the old fluid from the transmission using a large syringe, some of it dripped onto the plastic cover that surrounds the underside of the transmission. He assured me there was no leak from the transmission, and indeed, there has never been any evidence on the garage floor. Now, at 13200 miles, I have begun smelling what seems like hot coolant after I ride the bike. The temp gauge remains in the normal range, and the fans only come on in stop and go traffic, as expected. I don't hear any "boiling" sounds coming from the radiators and there again is no evidence of a leak. However, I'm mighty worried, as this has never happened before, and I have a trip to Niagara Falls coming up in July. Do these symptoms (sorry, I'm a doc) bring anything to mind? Please help.
Joe the syringe technique is not good, b/c you can't remove the sediment.
The coolant smell could have been residual coolant spill from topping off the system. Ask them if they did so.
When the radiators leak they do so at the junction of the plastic top or bottom to the core, unlikely but if leaking the blue coolant will be blown out the radiator fan ducts.
Good Luck .

Pete Murray
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post #3 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 8:21 am
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Man, I'll second that non syringe thang. No bueno por nada.



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post #4 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 10:03 am
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Sending a mechanic to your house is exceptional customer service, but....
And I'll third what has been said regarding the syringe method,
that don't make any sense to me,
might save maybe 15 to 30 minutes moving/replacing the muffler bracket
and removing/replacing the drain plug
but it doesn't remove the sediment or shavings (if there are any)
so the "new" fluid is immediately contaminated.
It's a shortcut and not a good practice, you most likely paid "a flat rate"
for however long the book says it should take to change the transmission fluid.


Hans
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post #5 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 10:10 am Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input so far. I'm going to get under the bike and take a look for any tell-tale signs of a leak. I don't agree with the syringe technique, but I didn't know it had been done that way until after I got it home and blew my gasket upon seeing the floor of the trailer. Had I known beforehand that this was a possibility, I would have insisted the technician remove the centerstand and drain it from below. Oh, well, what's done is done. Now I'll just have one more thing to worry about. I just HATE going to the dealer for anything other than a social visit. They're very nice people, and the service department staff is courteous, but unless I do something myself, I can't ever trust it will be done right by someone else. It's the same with my patients when I delegate a task to a resident (doc in training) I'm supervising. I always go back and check that what they did was correct. Case in point: I once asked a resident to draw some blood on a baby for a blood culture. This is a test in which at LEAST one mL of blood needs to be drawn and placed in a bottle that has a special liquid inside that will feed bacteria if they happen to be present in that sample. The bigger the sample, the higher the likelyhood of getting results. If I had not asked her how much blood she had drawn, I would never have known she had drawn 0.1 mL ! Honestly, the baby would have had to have been on death's door with nothing but rivers of bacteria flowing through its veins for there to have been any possibility of growing an organism from 0.1 mL (a drop) of blood. Needless to say, after I put my eyes back in their sockets, I politely told her that she was mistaken and that a much larger sample of blood would be required. I think she got the point. But enough rambling. Thanks again and wish me luck.

Joe
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post #6 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 11:25 am
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post #7 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 3:28 pm
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Ditto, Morley, Grif, Hans.

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post #8 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 4:36 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neodoc
... Now, at 13200 miles, I have begun smelling what seems like hot coolant after I ride the bike. The temp gauge remains in the normal range, and the fans only come on in stop and go traffic, as expected. ...
I had a similar experience last year on my 'RS. For a few weeks, it was smelling of coolant after riding. Finally, one of the radiators did let go - luckily not completely, allowing me to limp back home.

I'd suggest that you inspect the radiators (best if you pull the tupperware) for the tell-tale deposits from coolant venting through pinholes. While the joints between the aluminum core and plastic covers are most suspect, mine failed about one-third up in the core.

Of course, something as simple as a loose clamp could be the problem as well - retighten everything in sight.

In any case, you will need to find the leak ('cause smell = escaping coolant) before your trip. You can force your hand a bit by stressing the engine: any hills around where you live? Nicely warmed-up motor pulling hard uphill will create high pressure in the system - could be useful for troubleshooting.

BTW, prepare for nice chunk of change: each of the radiators costs about $250 by mailorder.

Good luck hunting!

Robert in Northern NJ

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Last edited by rdwalker; May 19th, 2007 at 4:42 pm.
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post #9 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 9:05 pm Thread Starter
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Looked underneath the bike today and up inside the nosecone with the engine cold. No signs of a leak below or around the radiator parts I could see, but one concerning finding was that the coolant reservoir tank by the left saddlebag was empty. I haven't experienced overheating, but now I'm seriously worried. Meinbyk will be paying a visit to the shop ASAP, and I'm sure I'll be "paying" as well. More news when I have more to tell. Thanks to all for your input.

Joe
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post #10 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 9:09 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neodoc
, I would have insisted the technician remove the centerstand and drain it from below.
It's not necessary to remove the centerstand,
only the 2 bolts of muffler bracket (pic 1) (in place pic 2)
to access the drain plug.

Gear oil has a very distinct smell, even more so when it gets hot,
I don't know if you're familiar with it or not,
but I wonder if that's what you're smelling rather than coolant?
Or maybe they just accidently pulled the hose of the reservoir tank?

Edit: Just re-read your post and realized there's been 1200 miles since the service,
between the smell of coolant and the emptyness of the reservoir there's little doubt it's going somewhere although a blown radiator seems a little extreme to me,
I'd look for the simple things (like a loose hose clamp) first.
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Hans
St. Petersburg FL

2002 K1200LTE
"Silver Buffalo" Totaled 5/06
2005 LT
"Esperanza"
BushtecGenesisTrailer
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Last edited by SilverBuffalo; May 19th, 2007 at 9:24 pm.
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post #11 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 9:15 pm
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Have you noticed a drop in the level of the coolant in the overflow tank?

Bill
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post #12 of 17 Old May 19th, 2007, 10:13 pm
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Just thinking out loud, but since it sounds like you do have a leak of some sort, check your oil right away, if it is not the color of dark amber but looks sort of "milky", stop running the engine right away and trailer it to the dealer. Just a thought. Usually if you've lost enough fluid to drain the reservoir, but it hasn't dripped all over the floor or over the side of the bike, it's going into the engine (not good) through a blown head gasket. Good luck and let us know what you find, 13k is way too little mileage for a serious problem hopefully!

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post #13 of 17 Old May 20th, 2007, 10:28 am Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMC1
Just thinking out loud, but since it sounds like you do have a leak of some sort, check your oil right away, if it is not the color of dark amber but looks sort of "milky", stop running the engine right away and trailer it to the dealer. Just a thought. Usually if you've lost enough fluid to drain the reservoir, but it hasn't dripped all over the floor or over the side of the bike, it's going into the engine (not good) through a blown head gasket. Good luck and let us know what you find, 13k is way too little mileage for a serious problem hopefully!
I checked the coolant level yesterday, and as I posted, the reservoir was almost empty. Today, I added enough with the engine cold to reach the Min line. Upon starting the engine and letting it warm up, the level rose to the Max line, but no overflow. Next, I checked the oil and saw what appeared to be a milky line on the top of the oil level at about two o'clock. I've included a picture to see if this is what you're talking about. If at first I was worried, now I'm in a panic.

Joe
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post #14 of 17 Old May 20th, 2007, 12:21 pm
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Doc, it's really hard to see the film that you are seeing from the picture - BUT my knee jerk reaction is that there isn't a leak into the engine - the color of the oil is nice and dark and not milky. In the picture the engine had just been run correct? If so, the oil would be mixed up (homogenized) enough that it would all be milky and not just a film - IF the engine sat though while you set up for the picture it would of course seperate quickly. Judgement call there. Also the fact that the reservoir filled up when you ran the engine means you haven't lost as much as you originally thought, so it sounds more like a fine leak, probably a loose hose clamp would be my first guess. As a double check, you could also try to run the engine for a minute and then put a clean dipstick into the oil through the filler opening to pull some back out for you to look at closely. Any bubbly looking or milky looking oil is not good.

Hope this helps, and sorry to panic you, but if it were a headgasket that was causing this, it will lead to catastrophic engine failure, so I thought it best I mention it right away. You're probably going to have to pull all the panels, and get the bike nice and hot while looking for leaks. From the sounds of it, it's a small one.

Let us know what you find though and good luck - I feel your pain!

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post #15 of 17 Old May 20th, 2007, 6:13 pm Thread Starter
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Thanks, KMC1 and everyone else for your help. The little whitish top film you see on the picture I posted is exactly the same as when the engine was cold. When I have a few days off next weekend, I will pull the panels off and run the engine to check the hoses and radiators for small leaks. I'll let you know what I find. Hopefully it will be as Hans said, the smell of hot transmission fluid from the syringe technique used by the service man, and not anything worse. Although, it does smell like coolant to me. We'll see.

Joe
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post #16 of 17 Old May 24th, 2007, 8:58 pm Thread Starter
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I don't think it's coolant

I filled the coolant tank a few days ago as I posted and had run the bike in the garage to get it up to operating temp. Inspected everywhere I could see and found no signs of a coolant leak. Tonight I rode to Fuddrucker's bike nite and when I got home, I smelled the same strong smell as I described before. Coolant overflow tank was full and bike was at normal operating temp. Inspected for leaks with a flashlight and none were evident. I then uncapped the coolant tank and inhaled (no wise cracks, please). Hardly any smell at all from the hot coolant. Now I'm worried it may be transmission fluid as Hans mentioned. I'll be taking the bike in next week for an inspection at the dealer to see what the problem is. Hopefuly it's just some of the remaining dripped transmission oil that was suctioned out when I did the 12000 mile service. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Joe
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post #17 of 17 Old May 25th, 2007, 11:36 am
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So that's good news and you've ruled out one possibility. When you take the bike back to the dealer and the service manager says "Well, it's probably just a little residue on the tranny case that gets hot, no big deal," I'd tell him that there should not be any residue on the tranny case, that the tech not only used the wrong procedure to drain the oil, he did a shoddy job with the wrong procedure, and that at the very least I want the fairing to be removed and cleaned and the whole underside of the engine/tranny to be power washed, and that this is on their dime, not mine. Good luck.

Bill
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