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What to do when the temp gauge creeps up?


JayW

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Last weekend I was on a trip and got stuck in a traffic jam on the interstate. For about 40 minutes it was stop and go with maximim speeds of about 2mph. The ambient temp was in the low 50s, so I was surprised to see the temp gauge creeping up. It got up to a little above 3/4, whereas up 'til now I had never seen it more than a tick above half. The engine seemed to be running fine. What is the right thing to do in this situation?:

 

1. Rev the engine a bit to circulate more oil through the radiator, thereby cooling the engine.

2. Don't rev the engine because that will only burn more fuel and generate even more heat.

3. Don't worry about it unless the temp gauge gets all the way to the top because the engine is designed to withstand such temperatures - after all BMW tested these engines for hours at idle in supra-100 degree temps, didn't they?

4. Pull over for 20-30 minutes and let the engine cool, thereby further delaying my trip but preventing engine damage.

 

Any comments are welcome.

 

Jay

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1. Rev the engine a bit to circulate more oil through the radiator, thereby cooling the engine.

2. Don't rev the engine because that will only burn more fuel and generate even more heat.

 

1 No, 2 Yes.

 

There's gotta be a reason BMW put a sticker on my tank warning not to idle with the fast idle lever engaged for an extended time, due to risk of overheating and fire. Idling fast using your throttle hand should have the same effect.

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5. Do nothing.

 

The boxer engine can take a tremendous amount of heat without concern. Things would have to get so hot you''d be forced to get off of the thing before the engine would care.

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This is my impression too, but I don't have any independent confirmation that this is true. Do you? Maybe this a situation where synthetic oil may justify its higher price, since it is designed to perform better than conventional oils at extreme temperatures.

 

Jay

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There's gotta be a reason BMW put a sticker on my tank warning not to idle with the fast idle lever engaged for an extended time,

If the 12RT is anything like the 12GS, there is no fast idle lever.

I'm of the philosophy that the bike is WAY more capable than I am (Quiet, peanut gallery!), so I figure, like Ken said, I'll be the one boiling over before the bike.

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The engine temp went right down once I was up to cruising speed again, but I can't help but wonder what would have happened if the traffic had not cleared, or if it had not been so cool.

 

The temp gauge is there for a reason - I just don't know at what point the engine really is too hot and to take action. The only thing I know to do, provided the radiator is not clogged with bugs or something, is to shut off the engine for a while. I would hope this would never be necessary though.

 

My Honda Shadow had a thermostatically controlled radiator fan that would turn itself on in traffic as needed, but BMW apparently does not think the Hexheads need such a thing.

 

Jay

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Here's the real deal, Jay...

 

I was coming back from Canada and had to endure the long line to get into Washington State. Over the course of 40 minutes or so, just like you, the bike got hotter. It took about that long for the red triangle to start blinking. I could feel the heat around my boots... it wasn't that bad, but I could tell the bike was hot.

 

I simply pulled over and let her cool for about 10 minutes. I moved the last twenty yards to the checkpoint guy, who said "why were you stopped?" I told him my bike was getting too hot and he looked at me, then the bike, then said very well, carry on. Later, I called my dealership and they told me not to worry... don't even worry about changing the oil. I looked at the oil when I pulled over, it looked the same BTW.

 

You have absolutely nothing to worry about, Jay. These engines are designed to run in competitions with weather that makes the United States look like a joke. Don't sweat it (excuse the pun)

 

If the red light starts to blink, let the bike cool a little and get back on and go!! Ride safe.

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