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Thread: '08 XB12Ss: No start

  1. #1
    Senior Member Mesozoic's Avatar
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    '08 XB12Ss: No start

    I've had to park my bike in my covered patio for a few weeks because I'm finishing up construction on my garage. Today, as I went to fire up the machine to head to work, I got nothing when I flicked the switch to enable the ignition (a click, potentially from the relay is all I heard, but no yellow light illuminating). No fuel pump and no starter either. I checked all the fuses and everything looks fine there. I pulled all the relays and swapped them around - was able to get the yellow light from the ignition enable to light up and the fuel pump is back in action. Still, no start. Any ideas where I might go from here? The battery voltage is 12.3V.

  2. #2
    Senior Member 34nineteen's Avatar
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    That voltage means nothing. You need amperage to turn the motor. Have you taken the battery to an actual battery shop to have it load tested? If the battery is the issue, all the relay switching and whatever voodoo you are doing is for nothing.


    Did you check the battery terminals and ground connections?
    Did you actually check the relays to make sure they are actuating?
    What happens when you jumper the contacts of the relay socket to manually make the connections?
    Have you checked the starter switch to make sure you are getting a good contact? Did you try to bypass it?
    Have you checked the ignition switch to make sure it is working properly?
    Have you connected the starter directly to the battery to verify it is working?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Mesozoic's Avatar
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    Did you check the battery terminals and ground connections? Yes
    Did you actually check the relays to make sure they are actuating? Yes
    What happens when you jumper the contacts of the relay socket to manually make the connections? Have not tried that one
    Have you checked the starter switch to make sure you are getting a good contact? Did you try to bypass it? Assuming the switch is functioning because the starter relay is activating
    Have you checked the ignition switch to make sure it is working properly? Yellow light illuminates when ignition switch is in ON position and enabled
    Have you connected the starter directly to the battery to verify it is working? Nope, not done that either

    She's got about 40,000 miles on the original starter - not sure what the typical life expectancy of one is.

  4. #4
    Senior Member 34nineteen's Avatar
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    Did you have the battery load checked to make sure it is putting out enough amperage to turn over the starter?

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mesozoic's Avatar
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    No, I've got nothing in my garage to test that - I'd have to pull the cell out and take it in somewhere. The battery is relatively new and I was riding just a few days ago, but I don't think parking it outside has ever been a good idea. The fact that I was able to restore the ignition switch function by swapping relays would seem to indicate that something unusual is occurring, but not sure what yet.

    What's the easiest way to check the starter motor for function directly? Assuming that its body being mounted to the engine creates the ground path and a direct cable connection from the main power lead to the battery + terminal might work? Bike in neutral, of course... or on the stand.

  6. #6
    Senior Member 34nineteen's Avatar
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    The fact that it’s “relatively new” and you were just riding it around a few days ago doesn’t indicate anything about the condition of the battery. People start their cars, drive them to the store just to come out and find the battery is now dead.

    If you’re troubleshooting the electrical system with a faulty battery you are just wasting your time. Have it checked, guarantee it’s ok before moving on to the next step. It comes out by removing two screws and a strap.

    If you don’t want to do that, have you checked for voltage at or even jumpered the terminals across the socket that the starter relay plugs into? That is practically free and only require a small piece of wire. Hell even a piece of romex will work.

  7. #7
    Senior Member 34nineteen's Avatar
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    And be sure you have verified it isn’t a grounding issue.

    I like how 50dro suggested using a jumper cable between the negative terminal and engine to act as a “auxiliary ground”. I thought that was my original idea.

    https://youtu.be/l6q5awGrJq8


    Even he points at the ground and claims how he already “cleaned all that”.
    Last edited by 34nineteen; 09-16-2020 at 05:46 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mesozoic's Avatar
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    It's a very new situation (earlier this afternoon), so haven't removed the battery yet. I'll bring it to my friend's shop where he's got a load tester and other equipment tomorrow morning.

    I'll need to educate myself on the starter circuit and where all the terminals and connections are. I've never had to deal with a starter issue on the Buell, but will check the battery condition first, as suggested.

  9. #9
    Senior Member 34nineteen's Avatar
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    Or put a voltmeter across the battery terminals, try to start it and watch the reading. If the battery is faulty, it will likely drop the voltage very low when the starter button is pressed, as the starter motor will be acting as a makeshift load tester. If there is little or no drop, the issue likely is in the wiring/switches/relays etc.

    Also, that jumper cable ground trick is very effective for bringing a grounding issue to light. My dad taught me that one back when I was a teenager with my ‘66 VW Bug chasing a really weird electrical problem. Turns out I neglected to attach the ground strap to the transmission and the electrical system was trying to complete the circuit through the clutch cable, accelerator cable and other parts.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mesozoic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 34nineteen View Post
    Or put a voltmeter across the battery terminals, try to start it and watch the reading. If the battery is faulty, it will likely drop the voltage very low when the starter button is pressed, as the starter motor will be acting as a makeshift load tester. If there is little or no drop, the issue likely is in the wiring/switches/relays etc.

    Also, that jumper cable ground trick is very effective for bringing a grounding issue to light. My dad taught me that one back when I was a teenager with my ‘66 VW Bug chasing a really weird electrical problem. Turns out I neglected to attach the ground strap to the transmission and the electrical system was trying to complete the circuit through the clutch cable, accelerator cable and other parts.
    Ok, this morning after mountain biking I put the meter across the battery with power on and see 12.13V. After attempting to cycle the starter, I can hear the relay clicking, but the voltage does not drop a bit (remains at 12.13V). I had bolstered all the grounds throughout the bike as I've had some grounding problems before, conducted some voltage drop tests, and added some new straps, but at this point probably need to check all of it out again. What would be the next diagnostic step after performing the battery load test?

    Many thanks.



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