Intermittent HID? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 35 Old Dec 23rd, 2005, 12:13 am Thread Starter
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Intermittent HID?

My HID low beam will occasionally not ignite, no flash or glow, nothing! After riding a while it will sometimes work if I stop the bike and restart it. This is a brand new bulb with the original transformer (almost 3 years old).

When I had the bike in for its 150k service I told the tech and he was able to replicate it. He discovered and tightened a loose connection and thought it was fixed. Not! The bike being hot or cold doesn't seem to make any difference.

At a recent HDDC dinner I was parked next to Scotty Dawg who seemed to have a similar problem. Did it rub off onto my LT?

Anyone have any experience with this or educated guesses? Troubleshooting methodology? I have a new transformer that I got with the replacement bulb so I could try substituting it if anyone thinks the transformer could be at fault.

Thanks in advance!

Bob Bacon
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post #2 of 35 Old Dec 23rd, 2005, 3:58 am
 
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Bob

Assuming you are still using your bike's stock wiring/headlight connector for your HID's power and ground (as per your survey response), I would advise you to check the wiring insulation, particularly of the ground wire. As I wrote: "the current passing through the single small gauge ground wire can be high enough to start overloading it and melting the insulation". That was the cause of my intermittent HID problems.
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post #3 of 35 Old Dec 23rd, 2005, 6:54 am
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And then check the ding dang fuse with a meter or one of those leetle check lights. I tore the bike down after looking at the fuse and relays (another common prob due to corrosion) to check the wiring, which was taped and loomed. After no love there, I started over. The fuse had a hairline crack in it.



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post #4 of 35 Old Dec 23rd, 2005, 7:03 am
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sI have to agree with Dave here. Both of my recent HID failure to ignite issues have been with the relays. AutoZone carries a 30A heavy duty relay that works with HID-Online kit.

OBTW, that will teach you to park next to ScottyDawg.

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post #5 of 35 Old Dec 23rd, 2005, 1:00 pm
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I've also had HID relay problems. One relay died completely, and another developed loose connections. Easily fixed once you know where to look.

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post #6 of 35 Old Dec 23rd, 2005, 6:31 pm
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...and where to buy the water proof relays.



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post #7 of 35 Old Dec 23rd, 2005, 6:36 pm
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I sent a note to HID-Online regarding water-proof relays, but I haven't back from them yet.

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post #8 of 35 Old Dec 23rd, 2005, 7:23 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grifscoots
...and where to buy the water proof relays.
NAPA and/or maybe Autozone. Davey bought some heavy duty ones while we were wrenching on GCP once - gott'em at NAPA, I'm pretty sure. He wuzn't gone from the storage unit long enough to make the Autozone trip!!
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post #9 of 35 Old Dec 23rd, 2005, 10:44 pm
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post #10 of 35 Old Dec 24th, 2005, 1:35 am
 
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I have read so many times that moisture does a capilary action up the legs of the relay and into the housing.
maybe some silicone around the base of the legs perhaps...

failing this..

jb weld ;-)
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post #11 of 35 Old Dec 24th, 2005, 7:19 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dezrae
failing this..

jb weld ;-)
I love a kid with a new toy! Did you know that the feller who invented JB Weld now lives high on the hog on a beeg ol' ranch.

I've swore by the stuff for years, that and hydraulic cement. If it won't fix it, it can't be fixed.

Back to topic: just encase the relay in JB Weld, millions of years from some alien anthropologist will ponder just what the hell it be.



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post #12 of 35 Old Dec 24th, 2005, 10:20 am
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Way before JB Weld, Devcon was making metal filled epoxy compounds for industrial use, and it was very popular with plant maintenance and tool room departments. I was using it in the early 1960s when I was a Tool and Die maker for General Electric. It will fix just about anything, was used to re-line chutes, fix pump housings, built up worn shafting, and make molds and tooling parts. Still the largest industrial supplier of the compounds, available with different metal fillers, and in pourable liquids, pastes, and putties.

Bet they wished they had thought of selling to the public sales channel before JB Weld did!

If you need a larger quantity of something than you can get from JB Weld, or different properties, Devcon can be purchased from many industrial supply companies. If interested, McMaster Carr has the line. Go to www.mcmaster.com, look for metal filled epoxy. It is available with ceramic, aluminum, bronze, steel, stainless steel, and even titanium filler. Better than JB Weld, just not as readily available to the general public.

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post #13 of 35 Old Dec 26th, 2005, 3:48 pm Thread Starter
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David - YOU have a great memory! That survey was two years ago but, in fact, I did change the ground. The HID has been grounded to [gasp!] the frame for the past 100k miles and that was working okay.

The other variables worth checking might be the relay and the fuse. I can hear a relay when I turn the key in the ignition but I can't seem to find it. I don't have a special relay for the HID so we must be talking about a stock relay. Where is it?

As for the fuse, I thought I read a while back that the headlamp wasn't fused and I can vouch for the fact that there is no in line fuse in my HID installation. Is there a fuse for the stock headlamp and where is it?

Bob Bacon
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'00 LTC+ in CR "Weave" 240k miles before it was totaled
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post #14 of 35 Old Dec 26th, 2005, 4:19 pm
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There is no fuse in the headlight circuits, strange as that may seem. One would think that there would be a fusible link or something, but there is not.

All this talk about problems with the relays makes me glad I never used a relay for my HID headlight. I did have one installed for my two HID driving lights though. I put in the electronics box under the tank with all the other relays.

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post #15 of 35 Old Dec 27th, 2005, 1:00 am
 
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Bob - Your gasp shows that you are probably aware that the gurus recommend NOT to ground to the frame [see the HoW (d.3)]. You could easily check if this is the cause of your current problem (ho ho) by temporarily disconnecting your HID's ground from the frame and (using an extension wire if necessary), running it back to your battery's negative terminal. If your HID works - voila.

Some of us wired inline fuses into our headlight circuits. I felt this was prudent, despite also connecting relays in both high and low HID circuits, which means I only use the bike's headlight power circuits as 'triggers' for the relays, with much lower consequential current draws. However, you didn't wire any fuses into your HID power wire, so that can't be the cause of your problem. Same goes for relay corrosion causing your problem: you didn't use one, so scratch that from your troubleshooting list.

Despite some people's success wiring up HID(s) to their bikes without the use of relays, I would still recommend their use. Particularly for those wanting both high and low beam HID's. The survey seemed to bear this out, last time I analysed the results. The only time I've had a problem with a relay was due to it being mounted (through necessity) upside-down, making water ingress much more likely. As long as relays are mounted right-way-up, preferably in a dry location, they should continue to work fine. As added security, some people buy sealed relays or just seal their relays themselves, using silicone, JB Weld etc.

Last edited by beemerlt; Dec 27th, 2005 at 1:31 am.
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post #16 of 35 Old Jan 4th, 2006, 9:01 am Thread Starter
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Unhappy Intermittent HID

The quest for consistent ignition of the HID continues...

I ran a new ground wire and removed the ground to chassis wire. No joy.

Scotty Dawg told me there was a relay under the seat and, although I can hear it, I can't seem to find it. Does anyone know a) where this relay is, and b) is this relay only tasked with power to the headlight or are other items powered from it? If there are other items effected by this relay's performance isolating the relay as the fault would be easier.

Remember, this is an intermittent problem. 2 out of 3 times the HID lights fine and never goes off before the bike is turned off. If it doesn't light when the key is turned I've found that sitting there and turning the key off and on doesn't help. I have to ride the bike for a few minutes, stop, wait a few seconds and try again. Also it doesn't seem to matter if the bike is hot or cold, I get the same failure frequency.

Anyone have any more ideas? I"m about ready to wire up a 12v light to the supply going to the transformer just to see if it's a power issue.

Cheers!

Bob Bacon
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'09 LT in Blk "Weave II" 120k miles before it was totaled
'00 LTC+ in CR "Weave" 240k miles before it was totaled
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post #17 of 35 Old Jan 4th, 2006, 9:04 am
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Bob:

If you are free Saturday morning (around 10 am) and it's not raining, come up and I'll take a look. I will be working on another bike with an HID problem.



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post #18 of 35 Old Jan 4th, 2006, 9:27 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RaffyK
Bob:

If you are free Saturday morning (around 10 am) and it's not raining,
Rain? In sunny California?

Fortunately we only got the tail end of that storm here in San Diego, still quite a bit of water though. Sounds like you people in central CA got hit pretty hard this time.

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post #19 of 35 Old Jan 4th, 2006, 11:09 am
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Yup. A lot of places flooded. My garage had 1-2" of water due to wind aided rain that squeaked under the rear roll up door. After cleaning up, I traped that door and all is well now.



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post #20 of 35 Old Jan 5th, 2006, 1:00 am
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcommuter
Scotty Dawg told me there was a relay under the seat and, although I can hear it, I can't seem to find it.
I'm cornfused. Did you buy your bike from him? Who did the HID installation?
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post #21 of 35 Old Jan 5th, 2006, 1:25 am
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post #22 of 35 Old Jan 5th, 2006, 8:53 am Thread Starter
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David - I've been known to occasionally hang out and drink with the "Dawg" but no relationship other than that.

I originally bought the HID from Raffy about three years ago. When the bulb went south in November I had to buy a replacement from Janet at Hids-on-line in the UK since Raffy's no longer in the HID business.

Again this morning I had a hard time getting the bulb to light. I raised the seat and can clearly hear the relay (under there somewhere) clicking each time I turned the key on.

Today I plan to have my dealer (since I don't have time anymore) tap in leads just on the 12v power side of the transformer to see what's going on there when I turn the key and it doesn't light.

Stay tuned...

Cheers!

Bob Bacon
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'00 LTC+ in CR "Weave" 240k miles before it was totaled
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post #23 of 35 Old Jan 5th, 2006, 9:16 am
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Bob:

One more thing. If you ever disconnected the connector from the ballast, please check that you reconnected it with the correct polarity. The securing tab on the connector that slides over the nipple on the ballast should be facing to the outside and not inside.



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post #24 of 35 Old Jan 5th, 2006, 9:18 am
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Bob,

Are you sure that the relay you hearing under the seat is not for full power to the bike. If you and Raffy installed your HID, then I'll bet there is a relay up in the nose cone area that you're looking for. I've got on on the low and high beams up there. Just another log on the fire.

Cheers.

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post #25 of 35 Old Jan 5th, 2006, 9:22 am
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Steve:

The HID kits from HIDs4Less did not have relays. They were direct connections. Not sure if Bob just replaced the bulb or got a bulb and wiring harness with relay and fuse from HID-Online.com.



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post #26 of 35 Old Jan 5th, 2006, 2:50 pm
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A relay can make noise and not make connection. You should see some of the corrosion that I've seen in them boogers!



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post #27 of 35 Old Jan 5th, 2006, 6:29 pm
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HID Intermittment

My problem may be the same. When I turn on the ignition key to start the bike. the HID's do not come on. I try re-cycling the key and after about two or three time, the HID comes on..

Question: do I have a bad relay or something else.

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post #28 of 35 Old Jan 5th, 2006, 11:45 pm Thread Starter
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Raffy - The replacement kit included a relay and fuse on the harness. I thought about it a minute (OK, meebe only about 5 seconds) and the harness and stuff hit the trash. For the kind of riding I do, it's just one less thing to go wrong!

Cheers!

Bob Bacon
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'15 GTL-E in White
'09 LT in Blk "Weave II" 120k miles before it was totaled
'00 LTC+ in CR "Weave" 240k miles before it was totaled
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Last edited by ltcommuter; Jan 6th, 2006 at 12:05 am.
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post #29 of 35 Old Jan 6th, 2006, 12:03 am Thread Starter
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Unhappy Wow, that stock lighting sucks!

Here's the daily update on my plight...

This morning it took five trys to get the HID to ignite. I almost wasn't able to ride to work!

I took the bike to SJBMW and asked them to install a test lead on the 12v lines to the ballast. When we tested it we had 12.8v power and the HID didn't ignite. I think that eliminates any issues with cracked fuses or rusted relays.

The tech tried to check each of the connections while reaching under the cowling and it still didn't ignite. We pulled the fairings and the nose cone to get better access to the wiring. Checked all the connections again and we never got the HID to ignite!

It seems that now the problem is no longer intermittent, it's permanent!

I had them pull the HID and put in a stock bulb. Wow, I forgot how bad the stock lighting is! Tomorrow I will talk to Janet at HIDs on-line to see how well they stand behind their product! I'm expecting good things...

OBTW: In the process of troubleshooting I find that the little external ground wire from the base to the top of the HID bulb has a broken ceramic (?) insulator. The wire itself is intact with 0 ohms resistance. I know the intermittent issues were there before the insulator broke but if the ballast is the problem does the broken insulator mean the bulb is toast?

Raffy - I appreciate the offer to help troubleshoot it on Saturday but the holidaze be over, the family be gone and all KPs are cancelled pending completion of the downstairs entertainment room. (except for special dispensation on Jan 27-30 for White Stag!)

Cheers!

Bob Bacon
El Cerrito, (Northern) CA
'15 GTL-E in White
'09 LT in Blk "Weave II" 120k miles before it was totaled
'00 LTC+ in CR "Weave" 240k miles before it was totaled
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post #30 of 35 Old Jan 6th, 2006, 4:09 am
 
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Bob

My confusion was with Scott's comment about there being "a relay under the seat" for the HID. The standard lighting certainly has no such relay, so I wondered if you or he had installed one there. You now say you didn't, so I think that's a red herring. Don't know what the clicking is that you are hearing. Maybe the ABS pump behind the left battery cover?

Hopefully you get to the bottom of your problem soon. Maybe it is due to a faulty ballast, in which case I trust Janet will help you out.

Good luck.
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post #31 of 35 Old Jan 6th, 2006, 7:47 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcommuter

OBTW: In the process of troubleshooting I find that the little external ground wire from the base to the top of the HID bulb has a broken ceramic (?) insulator. The wire itself is intact with 0 ohms resistance. I know the intermittent issues were there before the insulator broke but if the ballast is the problem does the broken insulator mean the bulb is toast?

Cheers!
No, I had one in my 525i that I got used on eBay that had a broken ceramic sleeve, It worked for a year, then something else failed. I replaced both bulbs with a set of new ones.

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Dandridge, TN
EX: '01 Black LT, BAT BYKE (Totaled at 110,000 miles)
IBA SS, BB, BBG, 10/10ths.
No bike now, but maybe in the future.
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post #32 of 35 Old Jan 6th, 2006, 10:26 am
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Location: Hyvinkää, , Finland
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Bob,

my experience with HID (bought from a Finnish company xenonvalot.com) goes as follows:

* I wired my HID ballast to the bikes stock wires
* after a year I started getting similar symptoms as you. The HID would not fire up and required several tries.
* the dealer told me that sometimes the ballast is very picky of proper voltage. So what I did, I added one external switch to the bikes light circuit. This way I could have the bike running and then give power to the ballast thus guaranteeing proper voltage.
* after while things got worse. I had to make up to ten tries in order to get HID working.
* took the bike to the HID dealer and he was convinced that the problem was the ballast.
* he gave me a new one and now the problem is gone.

I tried to follow this thread but was not sure if your ballast was changed or not.

Regards

Ari "the Farkle-Freak-Finn" Ignatius

Hyvinkää, Finland
2004 ('05) LT, Dark Graphite, "Sunset Cruiser II"

Bike trip from Finland to USA:

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post #33 of 35 Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 11:09 pm Thread Starter
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Location: El Cerrito, CA, USA
Posts: 1,544
The Answer...

To make a long story shorter, the problem was not the bulb or the ballast.

Janet from HIDs Online advised me that the warranty on their products was only valid if the entire kit was used. Well, I never installed the wiring harness with a relay and direct to battery power source. Since my last HID worked fine for years using the power to the OEM headlight, no reason to think this set up would be any different. WRONG!

Janet was right. I wired in a Blue Sea fuse block under the right side faring, connected the harness and the light now works fine. Who knew the harness could make that much difference?

Cheers!

Bob Bacon
El Cerrito, (Northern) CA
'15 GTL-E in White
'09 LT in Blk "Weave II" 120k miles before it was totaled
'00 LTC+ in CR "Weave" 240k miles before it was totaled
MOA IBA HDDC CRS
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.


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post #34 of 35 Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 12:51 am
 
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Originally Posted by ltcommuter
Who knew the harness could make that much difference?!
Rhetorical question, right? Glad you got your problem sorted eventually.
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post #35 of 35 Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 2:00 pm
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Intermittent problems

I had the same problem until this week when I replaced the relay, now it works each and every time. I live in the Seattle area and we've been getting dumped on with rain. The replacement relay was siliconed really good and should be waterproof.

Tim
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