'94 starter/electrical issues - Ex-500.com - The home of the Kawasaki EX500 / Ninja 500R
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 4-22-2019, 4:42 PM Thread Starter
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'94 starter/electrical issues

Hey all! My 94 EX was hit by a car last year, ripping up the front faring but causing no real mechanical damage. It sat for about 6 months (battery on a tender, fuel stabilizer in the tank) while we fought the other driver's insurance company to pay out (they did, eventually) and now I'm putting work into it to get it on the road again, but it's having difficulty starting for the first time ever.

Turning the key turns on the neutral and oil temp lights. Horn, turn signals work, but no headlight illumination or high beam light when i flip that switch. Thumbing the starter only yields a single click from the solenoid.

Things I've tried thus far:\
  • Testing battery voltage - it's in a good range and the auto parts store gave it a clean bill of health
  • Brushed the everloving heck out of the leads and terminal heads on both the battery and the solenoid
  • Replaced the solenoid - I had a spare lying around and it yields the same single click.
  • Checked the fuses both in the junction box and the 30A one in the solenoid lead. All good.

Next step I guess is the starter motor but I'd be surprised if that just died randomly from sitting for a few months? I can't remember if the headlight stays off before the bike starts or not but the high beam indicator AND the lamp not working makes me think there might be some electrical somethin goin on elsewhere. Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 4-23-2019, 12:38 PM
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The battery might have the voltage, but it takes amperage to operate the starter. Did the store load test the battery? If the bike is rideable, try push or "bump" starting it. In gear, key on, clutch in, bike in gear. Start it rolling and then pop the clutch out so that the rear wheel spins the engine - just as the starter would. Once it fires up, you can let it warm up for a bit then shut it off and try the starter. If it is still a fail, then it looks like a battery is in your future. Tender or not, some batteries just die with age.

Could also try jump starting it using a friend's bike battery and cables, if you have them.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 4-23-2019, 8:00 PM
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Your head light won't come on until the bike is started.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 7-7-2019, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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Okay finally had time to get back to this! Picked up a new battery just to rule that out - tested with mult and I'm getting a solid 12.6v and it only dips to 12.5 when I thumb the starter.

I tried a bump start and while popping the clutch out didn't start the bike, I held in the clutch while in first and thumbed the starter and it tried turning over! Then I put her in neutral and put the side stand down to apply choke and try a start in earnest and.....CLICK. I'm gonna swap out the chain/sprockets tomorrow (at which point all the maintenance/repairs will be done other than getting it started) and give the bump start another try.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 7-8-2019, 10:14 AM
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Make sure the small yellow and black wire is pklugged in for the negative side of the battery, the large terminal is only for the starter. If the ground is no good the relay does not always close correctly when the button is pressed. Check your neutral switch is functioning s well.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 7-8-2019, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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SHE RUNS. I think a few bump start attempts must have helped dislodge whatever gremlin was keeping things from working. Reliably starting and running now with a new chain/sprockets. Got a fuel leak from the carbs that I suspect is a gasket that's given up the ghost but that's an easy enough fix.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 7-9-2019, 6:14 PM Thread Starter
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Spoke too soon

This morning she started to turn over but only once. On second attempt with the choke in it just did the single click again. So after work I double checked and re-scrubbed/tightened all the leads - even the secondary ground up front by the radiator - and it started again! Then I fixed the leaky gasket in the carb and when I reassembled....the dang click again.

Really at a loss here. Anything else I should check? I can't imagine it's a starter motor issue since it has NO problem turning over once it engages. Like, it cranks HARD.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 7-9-2019, 6:55 PM
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Sounds to me like you have a wiring issue. I've had the positive cable off the battery corrode internally before, causing a poor connection.

Check voltage at the starter when cranking. If it goes really low when you hit the starter button, you've more than likely got a connection problem. If it stays good but you still only get a click, your starter might be in need of a rebuild or replacement, it happens. I had to replace my starter clutch sprocket last year and not two days later the starter up and died, sheer coincidence.

Also, try jumping the solenoid terminals with a screwdriver, which will eliminate the solenoid connection as part of the problem.

Don't forget to check the ground wire coming off the battery and starter housing.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 7-9-2019, 8:54 PM Thread Starter
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Scrubbed the terminals on the starter housing and she fired right up. Looked clean as a whistle, but I guess something wasn't connecting right. Checked w my meter and the terminals dove real low on crank so I'm hoping that was it. Fingers crossed.

Now on to realigning the front end, rebuilding the front faring, etc. Thanks for the help!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 7-13-2019, 5:34 PM
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Good job finding problem and fixing it!

Yeah, humans are not able to see electrons flowing in wires. So really needs instruments that can measure electricity in order to really troubleshoot electrical problems. If I had a penny for everytime someone says fuse "looks OK"... but actually doesn't conduct electricity....
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