Ignition System Troubleshooting - Ex-500.com - The home of the Kawasaki EX500 / Ninja 500R
 
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 4-4-2007, 7:01 PM Thread Starter
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Ignition System Troubleshooting

ive noticed there have been a few threads asking similar questions about the ignition system. most have been answered, but i figured, id condense those responses here, and we can make this the penultimate thread on ignition system troublshooting.

its been said that a 4 stroke engine needs 3 things to run: air, fuel and a spark at the right moment. i would say FOG is the resident expert on the first two. i am NOT claiming to be an expert on the ignition system of our bikes by ANY stretch of the imagination. in fact, much of what ive written here comes directly from the haynes or chilton manuals. that said, i have done pretty much everything described herein. its not very hard at all. i think that the ignition system is less complicated than the fuel/air delivery systems, and can easily be serviced by novices and beginners alike with little to no experience turning wrenches on their bike.

so... on we go.

tools you will need

a multimeter. buy one, or borrow one from a friend. you can get them at autozone, wal mart, ebay... pretty much anywhere that sells tools should have these. they are not very expensive. for what you will be doing on the bike, one that costs 20 bucks should do the trick. if you have an advanced degree in electrical engineering, you can buy ones that cost upwards of 1500 US dollars. the 20-30 dollar range ones will work great here.

an 18mm deep well thin wall socket to get the spark plug out. i got mine at craftsman (i think its part number 44423... at least thats the number stamped on it.). i didnt have to modify it to get it to fit, it fit like a glove the first time i think it was like 4 bucks?

a spark gap tester. for this, you can just use a spark plug, but i think its better to build this one. reason being, the spark plug gap is .6 to .7mm. a healthy system should be capable of jumping 6 -8 mm (1000% more distance) depending on your model. makes it much easier to see. also, you can have a weak spark that will jump half a mil, but not 6 mm. you can see the color of the spark better too. it costs 30 cents and takes 15 minutes. you may be able to build it with parts you already have in your garage.

Spark Gap Tester Instructions
take piece of wood about 3"x3"x1" or so. size isnt really important, but you dont need it to be huge. drill a hole about 1" in diameter in the middle. screw an alligator clip onto one corner. take two nails and put them in across from each other, such that the tips of both screws meet in the center of the hole you drilled. make the gap between the two tips as specified below for your model. you can use small carpeting nails or something like that. cut off the head of one of the nails so that it is flush with the wood, and make sure the other one sticks out a bit. it needs to stick out far enough that it will get all the way up into the spark plug cap.




gap should be 6mm for EX500D models, 7mm for EX500A models and 8mm for ER models.

now to the troubleshooting:

Spark test

step one is make sure that you are getting a spark to your plugs.take the spark gap tester i described above, and clip the alligator clip onto a good ground. i find a valve cover bolt works well. take the spark plug cap off of the plug on whichever cylinder you are working on, and stick it onto the longer nail.

if you are just using a regular spark plug for whatever reason, just take the cap off, and use another plug.

whatever you use LEAVE THE PLUG IN THE CYLINDER HEAD . if you take the plug out of the head and just let it dangle there, when you crank the engine, gasoline will spray out of the plug hole, and combined with the sparking from the plug, you could cause a major fire. if you leave the one in there, you alleviate this potential hazard. make sure the tip of the plug is not touching any metal as well, because you wont get any spark that way, it just goes straight to ground.


another caveat: do not shock yourself please. when doing these tests dont touch the spark plug wire. dont touch the spark plug. dont touch the gap tester. its best if you do not even touch the bike, except for the start button. if you touch the wire, plug, gap tester, etc you could, at worst, BE KILLED (as in no more! ceased to be. expired and gone to meet your maker. a stiff. bereft of life. rest in peace. if you hadnt been nailed to the seat, youd be pushing up the dasies. your metabolic processes are now history. off the twig. kicked the bucket. shuffled off your mortal coil. run down the curtan and joined the bloody choir invisible. AN EX PERSON ) and, at very least, be knocked on your a$$ and your arm tingle for an hour (ask me how i know). just use common sense and dont electrocute yourself.


now whichever option you've chosen, you got your plug wire connected to either the gap tester, or another plug and are ready to check the spark. push the start button. the bike may start and run on the other cylinder. you should see a fat blue spark jump between the gap of the tester you built. now turn your bike off.

if you see the spark, then your ignition system is working correctly. consider renewing your plugs, and look into fuel and air delivery, because your problem, most likely, does not reside in the ignition system.

if your spark is weak (orange) skip down to the ignition coil section. if you get NO SPARK AT ALL then you need to check for poor contact at the plug cap and ignition connectors. repair any that are damaged and recheck for spark.

if contact is fine then unscrew the plug cap from the plug wire and check the resistance with your multimeter. set the meter to k-ohms (k Ω). stick one prong in where the wire went in and stick the other prong in where the plug goes. if the multimeter reads infinity, get a new spark plug cap.

the cap resistance should be 3.75 to 6.25 K-ohms on EX500D (94+) models. my manual says that the information for the pre 94 models is
not available.

next thing to check is make sure all the other connections are clean and tight. (coil to lead, coil terminals, etc) check wires for fraying, burning, shorts etc.

if everything checks out and you still have no spark, check the operation of the following switches: a) neutral b) ignition c)engine kill

if they are broken, replace and retest. if they are fine, continue on to the...

Ignition Coils

you need to check the primary and secondary resistance of your ignition coils. with the bike off (key and switch), here is how to do it:



M is your multimeter
1 is the primary resistance
2 is the secondary resistance

you want your multimeter in the ohm setting for the primary.

if the primary is as specified, then check the secondary. put the multimeter in K-ohms for the secondary.

if the secondary is not as specified, unscrew the spark plug lead and retainer from the coil, detach the lead and check it again. if it is now within specs, the lead is broken internally. if not within spec, the coil is probalby defective and should be renewed.

SPECS:
EX500A:
primary: 2.2 to 3.9 ohms
secondary: 10 to 16 K-ohms

EX500D and ER:
primary 2.3 to 3.5 ohms
secondary 12 to 18 K-ohms.

if everything here checks out you move on to:

Pickup Coil

the pickup coil wiring harness is located here:

https://www.ex-500.com/gallery/241_04_04_07_4_51_44.JPG

you need to take off the front sprocket cover to access it.

follow the pick up coil wiring harness from the point where it leaves the alternator cover to the electrical connector, then disconnect the connector for the pick up coils. 500A models have two pickup coils and the connector will have four wires, whereas 500D and ER models have a single pick up coil with two wires leading to the connector.

set your multimeter to ohms. measure the resistance on the engine side of the wire connector. on A models, connect the meter probes between the black and yellow wire terminals of the connctor for one coil, then between blue and black/white wire terminals for the other coil. on D and ER models, you only have black and yellow.

SPECS:

500A: 400-490 ohms
500D and ER models: 360-540 ohms

now set the ohmmeter on the highest resistance range. measure the resistance between a good ground and each terminal in the connector. the meter should read infinity.

if either test fails the coils need replaced. although check that the fault is not caused by corrosion in the connector, or a broken wire

if both tests pass, and all connections are clean and tight, all wires are in good condition, then you can be fairly safe in saying that all components are good. at this point you can consider the IC igniter defective by process of elimination


the IC igniter is not servicable, and must be replaced as a unit. i recommend you take it to a kawa dealer to be checked. it is a very expensive unit which could be damaged by inadvertently applying the wrong test connections. oftenthe best way to test it is to swap another one out from a running bike.

it is rare for the IC igniter to fail and it should last the life of the motorcycle. check all other ignition components before having the igniter tested.


thats it! feel free to add any information, or ask any questions if you something isnt clear. remember, ASKING QUESTIONS IS NOT AN ADMITTANCE OF IGNORANCE. IT IS AN ATTACK ON IGNORANCE.

cheers!
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 7-2-2007, 5:34 AM
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Re: the *OFFICIAL* ignition system troubleshooting thread

I think what should be added on this guide that is the wires that attach to the ignition coils one green and one black on my bike or one red and one black should be checked where they were crimped for signs of stress. I spent months trying to figure out the problem with my bike and when I finally got comfortable and was messing around with the coils I thought one of them was bad. I realized that they were not right left specific so I took the "good" one off and swapped it where the "bad" coil was. It did not work when I went to take the wires off of it I saw that the crimp had damaged a wire and the intermittent response I got from the cylinder was actually the wire and crimp bouncing around in the plastic covering and occasionally making contact for a period of time.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 7-2-2007, 11:14 AM
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Re: the *OFFICIAL* ignition system troubleshooting thread

That's a very good point. I to have found several cases where the wire was broken at the clip but the insulation was intact. This can drive you nuts.

FOG

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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 4-30-2008, 1:40 PM
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Re: the *OFFICIAL* ignition system troubleshooting thread

So... why isnt this a sticky....


post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 4-30-2008, 9:52 PM
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Re: the *OFFICIAL* ignition system troubleshooting thread

Alrighty, this is lots of fun.

Ive got 0 spark from my plugs.

Plug caps are cleaned and test out fine. Grabbed new spark plugs.

Ignition Coils test out fine.

The pickup coil passes the first test. "now set the ohmmeter on the highest resistance range. measure the resistance between a good ground and each terminal in the connector. the meter should read infinity." When i attempt this i get no change out of the ohmmeter. It stays on 1.



***When i pulled my carbs the other day, I accidentily dropped them because they were still attatched to the throttle cables and the gas just poured down into underneath the carbs. Prior to this i had no problems, bike started first try. Once i got the carbs back in the and the bike together it wouldnt start. So i checked for spark and i aint got none now... Any ideas or suggestions. Why cant i get that final test to work I get no change out of the meter at all.


Also, call me really stupid, but when in the article it says that i need to check my neutral switch, my ignition switch, and my engine kill switch.

How do I test these switches? The bike turns on fine and tries to turn over. The neutral light comes on when I put it in neutral. I also did it with the kill switch unplugged as well as with the switch bypassed and no go still.

THanks
post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 4-30-2008, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
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Re: the *OFFICIAL* ignition system troubleshooting thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheatchex1
Forgive me for being stupid, why is there no wire from the short nail to the ground clip on the tester? I would think you need that for the spark to jump. Am I missing something?

Brian
there should be, i just forgot to draw it on there
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 7-11-2008, 10:29 PM
 
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Re: How to: Ignition System Troubleshooting

hmm both of my coils read a 1.... so I guess that's not good lol... so if they are both operating on the same level does that mean it's something else?
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 7-12-2008, 1:07 AM
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Re: How to: Ignition System Troubleshooting

just the connecting wires unless you are testing directly across the coils in which case replace.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 9-24-2008, 2:40 AM
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Re: How to: Ignition System Troubleshooting

So I am having a problem with my ignition, too. I'm not getting any spark, I checked the wires leading to the coil. They read ~12.5 volts. The primary and secondary coil resistances are within spec, when I check the wiring harness to the pickup coil the resistance reads correctly, but when I do the second test for the pickup coil where one test lead goes into the engine-side of the pickup coil harness and the other test lead to a ground, the multimeter displays a number 1 and does not change. There is no 0.L display indicating infinity. Does this mean my pickup coil is shot?

I almost want to take the bike to a dealership but I can't see spending too much money on the bike since I only payed 900 dollars for it. I'd rather not get a 500 dollar bill from a dealership. Anyone have any input??
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 9-24-2008, 8:07 PM
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Re: How to: Ignition System Troubleshooting

Add 2 more switches to your list. The side stand switch and starter lockout switch (aka clutch lever switch). An open in either of these switches will cause the engine to stop running (at least in a gen 1).

For those that didn't know...
If the side stand is down, clutch lever out and bike is in gear then the engine dies.
For the engine to run at least one of the following must be true, side stand up, clutch lever in or bike in neutral. Assuming everything else is ok.

Dean.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 9-26-2008, 7:29 AM
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Re: How to: Ignition System Troubleshooting

Quote:
Originally Posted by $200ex500
Add 2 more switches to your list. The side stand switch and starter lockout switch (aka clutch lever switch). An open in either of these switches will cause the engine to stop running (at least in a gen 1).

Dean.
I will definitely check these out tomorrow night when I'm over at my buddies house (where the EX is currently rotting away until further notice... a.k.a. I develop a case of sparking ignition components).


btw I'm about to go check the forum for a place where I can find parts for the bike, but anyone have any hints?? ebay is not at the top of my list. I'm going to go check out the sponsors of the site now.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 9-18-2009, 8:19 PM
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Re: Ignition System Troubleshooting

I like this thread but it's not quite "operaflute" friendly in that I don't know how to do some of the things it says to do.

No spark (BTW, why doesn't Clymer tell you not to leave the plug out of the cylinder head?? Sheesh. It tells you to do quite the opposite.)

Anyway, I have no spark.
Step one according to the original post
Quote:
if you get NO SPARK AT ALL then you need to check for poor contact at the plug cap and ignition connectors. repair any that are damaged and recheck for spark.
How? Plug cap, that's the part you cram on to the top of the spark plug, right?. How do I actually check it?
Where are "ignition connectors?"
How exactly do I check the safety switches (clutch lever, side stand, neutral switch.) I betting on one of those, and I know they should be "checked" but I have no idea how to do so.

Sigh. I wish my bike would start.


'99 red EX500.&nbsp; Completely stock, and proud of it!, <br />'09 DucM696, '03 Yamaha XT225<br />http://operaflute.blogspot.com/
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 2-22-2010, 6:26 PM
 
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Re: Ignition System Troubleshooting

i like the monty python refrence
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 8-22-2011, 11:22 AM
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Re: Ignition System Troubleshooting

do you have pictures or video cus i dont understand very well the english please
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 8-22-2011, 11:24 AM
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Re: Ignition System Troubleshooting

what parts do you need help with? Whats your native language? Someone else on the site may speak it and could help translate for you.
post #16 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 5:38 AM
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Re: Ignition System Troubleshooting

im having trouble starting my bike too, the starter doesnt seem to be getting voltage. It was turning over fine earlier today, checked all my fuses and they seem to be fine. the magnetic switch just clicks alot now. kinda sounds like the battery maybe dead, i just want to see if there are any other possibilities i might be having trouble with?

Update: battery tender says that its fully charged. sooo what are the next options?
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post #17 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 8:20 AM
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Re: Ignition System Troubleshooting

Have battery load tested. Stand alone voltage readings don't count. I use the free one at the auto parts store.
Really guys the first step in any electrical troubleshooting is to have the battery load tested before any other work is performed.
I must have said this 1000 times.



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post #18 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 2:22 PM
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Re: Ignition System Troubleshooting

i was thinking about doing that, but its not a stock battery, its a MOTY battery that is 4 a123 cells. and i dont know the CA's or the CCA's on it or anything specific.

and i mustve not heard you the first 999 times, im a bad listener. Thank you though for the help, much appreciated!
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post #19 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 3:43 PM
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Re: Ignition System Troubleshooting

Sorry to sound like such a dick but that's what electricians are- dicks.



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post #20 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 5:47 PM
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Re: Ignition System Troubleshooting

its cool bro, i know a thing or two about some electronics, such as solar panels and turbines. but when it comes to cars and bikes and shit like that i always seem to over think stuff. i really appreciate the help
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