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Diagnosing Battery Issue


Tojo

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Hi --

 

'04 R1150RT.

 

Ultimate question is: any alternative explanations to issue being simply a battery that cannot hold any charge.

 

My battery is on the outs and was hoping to get it started today so I could prep it to store for the winter (e.g. - fill up the tank and add some Stabil ). In years (and motorcycles) past, I've jumped a bike with a weak battery by hooking it up to a car with the car engine OFF (key turned on). Today I did the same and had no success (and seemingly minimal difference between it being hooked up to the jumper cables and not hooked up). These were new-ish cables that I've used successfully in the past to jumpstart a car and I verified  multiple times that the cables were hooked up correctly (polarity, sequence, etc.). I could get the starter to churn, but there never was enough juice to turn over the engine. Clock would reset to all zeroes.

 

So, my assumption is that the battery is so far gone that not even the jump was going to help, but I am wondering if there are potential alternative explanations to consider.

 

Thanks in advance for any input you can provide.

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Tojo...attached is the procedure for jumping for my 1200RT.  I don't have the book for the 1150 anymore.  It shouldn't matter how dead your battery is if the donor jumper is strong and your cables are good.  DR or someone else might correct me but it certainly doesn't matter on cars, boats, and airplanes.  

 

If your bike won't start with a good donor and the correct procdure (notice the 1200 says donor vehicle should be running), then it could be a variety of things that DR or others can walk you through step by step.

 

I'm not sure if you took the jumper cables directly to the starter if that might hurt the BMW electronics or not.  Wait for a reply from someone who will know.  If that is ok, it will give you a hint at the health of your starter.

 

Below is for my bike copied out of the manual.

 

Jump-start The wires leading to the power socket do not have a load-capacity rating adequate for jump-starting the engine. Excessively high current can lead to a cable fire or damage to the vehicle electronics. Do not use the socket to jump-start the engine of the motorcycle. A short-circuit can result if the crocodile clips of the jump leads are accidentally brought into contact with the motorcycle. Use only jump leads fitted with fully insulated crocodile clips at both ends. Jump-starting with a donorbattery voltage higher than 12 V can damage the motorcycle electronics. The battery of the donor vehicle must have a voltage of 12 V. Make sure ground is level and firm and park motorcycle. Remove battery cover ( 133). When jump-starting the engine, do not disconnect the battery from the onboard electrical system. Begin by connecting one end of the red jump lead to the positive terminal 2 of the discharged battery and the other end to the positive terminal of the donor battery. Connect the black jump lead to the negative terminal of the donor battery and then to the negative terminal 1 of the discharged battery. Run engine of donor vehicle during jump-starting procedure. Start engine of the vehicle with discharged battery in usual way; if engine does not start, wait a few minutes before repeating attempt in order to protect starter motor and donor battery. Allow both engines to idle for a few minutes before disconnecting jumper cables. Disconnect jump lead from negative terminals first, then disconnect second lead from positive terminals.

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Michaelr11
2 hours ago, Tojo said:

So, my assumption is that the battery is so far gone that not even the jump was going to help, but I am wondering if there are potential alternative explanations to consider.


A battery that has a short or an open internal connection, can easily draw most of the power being donated by an external jump. 
Although the battery is the most likely issue, it could also be a Valeo starter that has had the magnets come loose.

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3 hours ago, Skywagon said:

Tojo...attached is the procedure for jumping for my 1200RT.  I don't have the book for the 1150 anymore.  It shouldn't matter how dead your battery is if the donor jumper is strong and your cables are good.  DR or someone else might correct me but it certainly doesn't matter on cars, boats, and airplanes.  

 

If your bike won't start with a good donor and the correct procdure (notice the 1200 says donor vehicle should be running), then it could be a variety of things that DR or others can walk you through step by step.

 

I'm not sure if you took the jumper cables directly to the starter if that might hurt the BMW electronics or not.  Wait for a reply from someone who will know.  If that is ok, it will give you a hint at the health of your starter.

 

Below is for my bike copied out of the manual.

 

Jump-start The wires leading to the power socket do not have a load-capacity rating adequate for jump-starting the engine. Excessively high current can lead to a cable fire or damage to the vehicle electronics. Do not use the socket to jump-start the engine of the motorcycle. A short-circuit can result if the crocodile clips of the jump leads are accidentally brought into contact with the motorcycle. Use only jump leads fitted with fully insulated crocodile clips at both ends. Jump-starting with a donorbattery voltage higher than 12 V can damage the motorcycle electronics. The battery of the donor vehicle must have a voltage of 12 V. Make sure ground is level and firm and park motorcycle. Remove battery cover ( 133). When jump-starting the engine, do not disconnect the battery from the onboard electrical system. Begin by connecting one end of the red jump lead to the positive terminal 2 of the discharged battery and the other end to the positive terminal of the donor battery. Connect the black jump lead to the negative terminal of the donor battery and then to the negative terminal 1 of the discharged battery. Run engine of donor vehicle during jump-starting procedure. Start engine of the vehicle with discharged battery in usual way; if engine does not start, wait a few minutes before repeating attempt in order to protect starter motor and donor battery. Allow both engines to idle for a few minutes before disconnecting jumper cables. Disconnect jump lead from negative terminals first, then disconnect second lead from positive terminals.

Hi Skywagon --

 

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my question. I ended up trying with the engine running as well after some searching on that topic, and it was pretty much the same result. I may try another set of cables just in case, though the ones I used had no noticeable wear and tear.

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59 minutes ago, Michaelr11 said:


A battery that has a short or an open internal connection, can easily draw most of the power being donated by an external jump. 
Although the battery is the most likely issue, it could also be a Valeo starter that has had the magnets come loose.

Hi Michael,

 

Thanks for taking time to reply.

 

I do suspect, ultimately, that it's the battery itself, but I was a bit surprised to see essentially zero difference between trying without the jump from the car and with the jump from the car.

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szurszewski

It does sound like a dead-dead battery. I don’t think the clock will reset if it’s just the starter acting up. Generally if it’s the starter, getting the starter to turn will “fix” it temporarily - like, enough to start it once so you can have a dead bike at the gas station instead of your driveway. I’ve done this (when it died away from home) by going through the steps to compression start (rolling down a hill, key and kill switch set to run, and then popping the clutch in 3rd gear). It doesn’t start the bike, but the flywheel will sometimes bump the starter enough that it will then work. A way better idea is to put in a new, tested, battery, and then if that doesn’t work think about replacing the starter (easy to do and very cheap if you go aftermarket). 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, szurszewski said:

It does sound like a dead-dead battery. I don’t think the clock will reset if it’s just the starter acting up. Generally if it’s the starter, getting the starter to turn will “fix” it temporarily - like, enough to start it once so you can have a dead bike at the gas station instead of your driveway. I’ve done this (when it died away from home) by going through the steps to compression start (rolling down a hill, key and kill switch set to run, and then popping the clutch in 3rd gear). It doesn’t start the bike, but the flywheel will sometimes bump the starter enough that it will then work. A way better idea is to put in a new, tested, battery, and then if that doesn’t work think about replacing the starter (easy to do and very cheap if you go aftermarket). 

 

 

Hi -- the clock reset does seem to indicate a dead-dead batter or some issue with getting charge to the battery (former explanation is more likely).

 

I will probably go the new battery route -- was just hoping to avoid buying one now just to put it in storage for 6 months. 

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I had a similar problem last week on a bike.  We put TWO jumper batteries on it and it still wouldn't turn over.  I found the relay and it was not making any clicking noises so I went to the side stand, shifter pedal, clutch handle, working those to get any response from something.  No signs of bad connections until I got to the kill switch/starter button on the throttle pod.  Wiggling the kill switch/starter button got some clicking and grunting so I worked on getting it exercised and shot some DeOxIt in the contacts.  A few minutes later it was running like new.  No problems since.

 

You might have bad connections on the battery, or a bad connection on the cround cable, or something else entirely.  

 

I always put a dab of dielectric on connectors whenever I find tem, then coat any exposed connections with battery terminal spray, and put a tiny drop of DeOxIt on switch contacts.  This seems to really help the connections resist water and corrosion that leads to bad electrical connections.  It makes them easier to separate and connect, too.

 

https://www.amazon.com/CRC-Battery-Terminal-Protector-Aerosol/dp/B0013J7RAI/ref=sr_1_1?crid=22RA94UOVEM68&dchild=1&keywords=battery+terminal+spray+protectant&qid=1634004357&sprefix=battery+terminal+spray%2Caps%2C180&sr=8-1

 

https://www.amazon.com/DN5S-2N-Deoxit-Contact-Cleaner-Deoxidizer/dp/B06XP32299/ref=sr_1_6?crid=HCDTSVHMW1B6&dchild=1&keywords=deoxit+d5+spray+contact+cleaner&qid=1634003903&sprefix=deoxit%2Caps%2C184&sr=8-6

 

 

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dirtrider
16 hours ago, Tojo said:

Hi --

 

'04 R1150RT.

 

Ultimate question is: any alternative explanations to issue being simply a battery that cannot hold any charge.

 

My battery is on the outs and was hoping to get it started today so I could prep it to store for the winter (e.g. - fill up the tank and add some Stabil ). In years (and motorcycles) past, I've jumped a bike with a weak battery by hooking it up to a car with the car engine OFF (key turned on). Today I did the same and had no success (and seemingly minimal difference between it being hooked up to the jumper cables and not hooked up). These were new-ish cables that I've used successfully in the past to jumpstart a car and I verified  multiple times that the cables were hooked up correctly (polarity, sequence, etc.). I could get the starter to churn, but there never was enough juice to turn over the engine. Clock would reset to all zeroes.

 

So, my assumption is that the battery is so far gone that not even the jump was going to help, but I am wondering if there are potential alternative explanations to consider.

 

Thanks in advance for any input you can provide.

Morning   Tojo

 

Hopefully you have it started by now.

 

Jumping off of a car or truck sized battery should provide enough current to start that motorcycle even if your motorcycle  battery is completely dead. But that assumes your jumper cables & connections are FULLY  up to the task. 

 

A motorcycle battery that is open will have no effect on the input current (as it is open) so a non player in using or drawing any additional current.

 

A shorted motorcycle battery can sap off some of your jumping current but due to the size difference in the car/truck battery over the motorcycle battery that usually just overpowers the shorted motorcycle battery & either overheats it or explodes it or at least makes it sizzle & out-gas. This will also usually give you nice big spark as you connect the last jumper cable. (you have to be careful with this one as the out-gassing is very explosive Hydrogen gas)  

 

A sulfated motorcycle battery (probably the most common cause of a dead or non performing motorcycle battery) can sap off some of the jumping current but seeing as it is sulfated it won't hold much charge so can't sap off much input current.  On this one then usually allowing the jumper cable connection to remain connected for a short while before trying to start the motorcycle will  allow the sulfated motorcycle battery to somewhat equalize with the donor battery & allow a little more total cranking power. If the donor vehicle is running (therefore charging) that can add  additional charge to the motorcycle battery.

 

So this brings us to your problem, if you are "getting the starter to churn" that tells us that your interlock & power switches are all working  & it is trying to crank.

 

If the clock is resetting at cranking attempt that is telling you that you are either are not getting enough amperage to the motorcycle starter (system)  during cranking, OR that the starter is locked up (usually a loose or detached magnet). 

 

The most common problem of not getting proper starter cranking when jumping off another vehicle is poor quality jumper cables.  If your motorcycle battery is just  a bit low then even poor quality jumper cables can add just enough to allow starting. If your motorcycle battery is completely dead then ALL your starting power must be supplied through the jumper cables & THAT takes decent quality & decent sized   jumper cables with quality attachment clamps. Long, skinny gauge, cables with poor quality attachment clamps are probably not up to the task if your motorcycle battery is completely dead but might work if you leave them on long enough to put some charge into the dead motorcycle battery.

 

If your starter is bad (detached magnet or other problem) that can cause the clock to re-set  same as a bad or low battery as it is lowering the system voltage at (cranking try)  enough to cause the clock re-set due to low voltage.  

 

 

 

        

 

 

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To the op, how long has the battery been "on the outs"? Just buy a battery and be done with it. What does waiting 6 months gain for you? Put it on a maintainer during winter storage. In 3 or 5 years when it dies again, you're not going to say, "if only I'd waited the 6 months to buy it, it would be working right now."

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dirtrider
1 hour ago, Hosstage said:

To the op, how long has the battery been "on the outs"? Just buy a battery and be done with it. What does waiting 6 months gain for you? Put it on a maintainer during winter storage. In 3 or 5 years when it dies again, you're not going to say, "if only I'd waited the 6 months to buy it, it would be working right now."

Morning Hosstage

 

That isn't bad advice IF he has the proper battery maintainer for the battery that he buys. 

 

Problem is; most newer replacement batteries are either AGM or GEL, or some form of sealed hybrid, if all he has is an older battery maintainer then using that for off-season storage it will sulfate the heck out of a new AGM or GEL battery & kill a lot of it's useful life even before he has a chance to really use it.  

 

If the charging algorithms of his maintainer now properly match the battery then not a big deal but if not then why put an additional 5 or 6 months of battery sulfation & reduced life on a new battery.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, dirtrider said:

Morning Hosstage

 

That isn't bad advice IF he has the proper battery maintainer for the battery that he buys. 

 

Problem is; most newer replacement batteries are either AGM or GEL, or some form of sealed hybrid, if all he has is an older battery maintainer then using that for off-season storage it will sulfate the heck out of a new AGM or GEL battery & kill a lot of it's useful life even before he has a chance to really use it.  

 

If the charging algorithms of his maintainer now properly match the battery then not a big deal but if not then why put an additional 5 or 6 months of battery sulfation & reduced life on a new battery.  

 

 

Eventually a proper maintainer will be needed, my thought process is, bite the bullet, get what is needed to make the job easier, and be done with it. If the op hasn't gotten it started yet, look at all the time wasted trying to save money that will need to be spent anyway. Obviously there is an issue if it wouldn't start with a regular jump. It needs a battery.

Come spring, Tojo is going to be anxious to go for a ride, and then think, shoot, I need a battery, and scramble to get one and install it.

Just my thought process. Tojo can certainly fight the old battery, it's his choice.

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The Fabricator

If you are jumping at the battery, try going directly to the power cable to the starter motor AT the starter motor.  Ground to a footpeg bracket or large bare metal lump.

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Great advice all around, and I'm grateful for all who provided input. 

 

I'll try a different set of cables, ones I've used successfully previously (used the one's in wife's car this time...possibly a mistake). But I may have run into the issue dirtrider raised regarding use of an old tender on a gel battery. Sigh.

 

On putting in a new battery and hooking it up to a proper tender, unfortunately I do not have a power source where the moto is stored. 

 

Again, I sincerely appreciate the helpful comments/inputs. 


Tojo

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dirtrider
13 hours ago, Tojo said:

Great advice all around, and I'm grateful for all who provided input. 

 

I'll try a different set of cables, ones I've used successfully previously (used the one's in wife's car this time...possibly a mistake). But I may have run into the issue dirtrider raised regarding use of an old tender on a gel battery. Sigh.

 

On putting in a new battery and hooking it up to a proper tender, unfortunately I do not have a power source where the moto is stored. 

 

Again, I sincerely appreciate the helpful comments/inputs. 


Tojo

Morning  Tojo

 

On putting in a new battery and hooking it up to a proper tender, unfortunately I do not have a power source where the moto is stored. --

 That is going to be a big problem if you install a new battery before off-season storage. It will also be a problem next storage season after you install a new battery in the spring. 

 

If you store in an area with no power then your best bet is to remove the battery & store that in a cool area that does have power so you can top it off a couple of times over the storage period. (not easy on the BMW 1100RT) 

 

If battery removal isn't possible then at the very least remove the fuses from the fuse box & remove the turn-signal  relay (flasher unit) before storage  as that will remove almost all the parasitic drain on the battery over the storage period & prevent a battery killing total run-down.   A good quality AGM battery will store the best (longest) without a top-off charge &  will probably go through a normal winter storage & still allow engine starting in the spring.   

 

One of the (longest storing) batteries without an occasional top-off charge that I have found is the Odyssey  PC 680  but that battery is expensive & the BMW 1100RT charging system output is a little on the  low  side to keep it fully charged during the riding season. 

 

If you have sun light available in the storage area there are solar powered battery chargers available but most of those tend to sulfate a battery during storage due to not having a  proper float charging algorithm unless very expensive & electronically refined for battery storage maintenance.  

 

Or you could try going to a UB 12220 Universal Battery as those are cheap, they are power supply batteries not starting batteries so are designed for long-term lower power output & longer periods of slow run-down without sulfating. They are not designed for peak starting amps but do seem to start the BMW boxer 1100/1150 bikes OK in normal riding weather temperatures.   

 

The down side is UB 12220 series of battery is they are not really designed for rough service usage as a vehicle starting battery but they do seem to work OK for light duty street type motorcycle  usage as long as you are careful with battery cable attachment & use care in taking the load off of the battery cable to battery post area as the UB 12220 batteries have small fragile battery posts. (just keep in mind that on most, if not all,  UB 12220 batteries you usually have to drill the battery cable attachment hole out to 6mm as the hole is too small for the attachment bolts as received) 

 

But the upside is: the UB 12220 type battery usually gives 3 years (or more) of light duty service & they are usually cheap as dirt to replace so not much lost when they fail.  

 

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chrisolson
12 hours ago, dirtrider said:

But the upside is: the UB 12220 type battery usually gives 3 years (or more) of light duty service & they are usually cheap as dirt to replace so not much lost when they fail.  

 

 

I'll second that suggestion ... I've used the UB12220  in an 1100RT and they are exactly as dirtrider describes

 

 

 

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On 10/14/2021 at 7:32 AM, dirtrider said:

Morning  Tojo

 

On putting in a new battery and hooking it up to a proper tender, unfortunately I do not have a power source where the moto is stored. --

 That is going to be a big problem if you install a new battery before off-season storage. It will also be a problem next storage season after you install a new battery in the spring. 

 

If you store in an area with no power then your best bet is to remove the battery & store that in a cool area that does have power so you can top it off a couple of times over the storage period. (not easy on the BMW 1100RT) 

 

If battery removal isn't possible then at the very least remove the fuses from the fuse box & remove the turn-signal  relay (flasher unit) before storage  as that will remove almost all the parasitic drain on the battery over the storage period & prevent a battery killing total run-down.   A good quality AGM battery will store the best (longest) without a top-off charge &  will probably go through a normal winter storage & still allow engine starting in the spring.   

 

One of the (longest storing) batteries without an occasional top-off charge that I have found is the Odyssey  PC 680  but that battery is expensive & the BMW 1100RT charging system output is a little on the  low  side to keep it fully charged during the riding season. 

 

If you have sun light available in the storage area there are solar powered battery chargers available but most of those tend to sulfate a battery during storage due to not having a  proper float charging algorithm unless very expensive & electronically refined for battery storage maintenance.  

 

Or you could try going to a UB 12220 Universal Battery as those are cheap, they are power supply batteries not starting batteries so are designed for long-term lower power output & longer periods of slow run-down without sulfating. They are not designed for peak starting amps but do seem to start the BMW boxer 1100/1150 bikes OK in normal riding weather temperatures.   

 

The down side is UB 12220 series of battery is they are not really designed for rough service usage as a vehicle starting battery but they do seem to work OK for light duty street type motorcycle  usage as long as you are careful with battery cable attachment & use care in taking the load off of the battery cable to battery post area as the UB 12220 batteries have small fragile battery posts. (just keep in mind that on most, if not all,  UB 12220 batteries you usually have to drill the battery cable attachment hole out to 6mm as the hole is too small for the attachment bolts as received) 

 

But the upside is: the UB 12220 type battery usually gives 3 years (or more) of light duty service & they are usually cheap as dirt to replace so not much lost when they fail.  

 

Hi Dirtrider -- 

 

My plan is to see if I can get it running once more this season, if possible, to add some Stabil and run it through the lines and carbs a bit. Then I'll shut it down for the season and remove the old battery. I'll do an install in the spring and remove each time for storage. Pain in the butt, but best way to retain the battery.  On the fuses, previously understood #s 3 and 5 may be all I'd need to remove. Do you suggest removing all? 

 

Thanks again.

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dirtrider
3 minutes ago, Tojo said:

Hi Dirtrider -- 

 

My plan is to see if I can get it running once more this season, if possible, to add some Stabil and run it through the lines and carbs a bit. Then I'll shut it down for the season and remove the old battery. I'll do an install in the spring and remove each time for storage. Pain in the butt, but best way to retain the battery.  On the fuses, previously understood #s 3 and 5 may be all I'd need to remove. Do you suggest removing all? 

 

Thanks again.

Evening Tojo

 

Yes, fuse 5, 3 & (8 if you have a radio)

 

If you have a stock 1100RT motorcycle this should cover you but if you have other accessories installed with internal electronics (like Kisan Signal Minder  or other accessories then remove any fuse that puts power to those. 

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