Electrolyte Check... - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
2008+ KLR650 Wrenching & Mod Questions For repair, maintaining or modifying discussions related to the newly updated 2008 and beyond, Generation 2 KLR650 Motorcycle.

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post #1 of 15 Old 04-19-2012, 02:39 AM Thread Starter
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Electrolyte Check...

I've had my '08 since August, and have put about 6000 miles on top of the 4000 it came with. I've checked the electrolyte levels on the battery a total of 0 times, and now it's bone dry. Not sure how long it's been dry either. Total newb oversight, I know.

Would this possibly prevent the bike from starting even if the battery has a full charge?

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post #2 of 15 Old 04-19-2012, 04:17 AM
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Yes, The yb14l-a2 yuasa battey needs to be periodically checked every 4-6 months. Refill with distilled water. That is all. Yes, low acid will act like dead battery.

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post #3 of 15 Old 04-19-2012, 09:29 AM
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Like you, I neglected my battery and shortened its life by doing so. Mine was still functional, but I noticed the starter was getting kind of weak. When I hooked it up to the Battery Tender after refilling the cells, it wouldn't take a full charge. I replaced it with another cheap Walmart lead-acid battery.

Some report that they've filled a nearly-dry battery and it charged and they were able to continue using it. That didn't work for me.

It's not like the battery's hard to get to, but it's kind of a pain in the ass and one of those things where you think about checking it, but then pawn it off and go riding, thinking, "I'll check it tomorrow." I guess I did that one too many times.

Thanks for the reminder. I've had mine on the road for three months now after working on it this Winter and despite my vows that I'd check the battery at least every couple of months or so, I haven't.

Maybe I should go online and order a custom sticker that says "CHECK ME" or something and put it on my left side plastic where the battery is.

I suppose for somebody like me, a sealed, no maintenance-type battery might be the way to go. They cost a lot more, but there's no point in saving money on the purchase of a low-end LA battery if you don't take care of it to ensure maximum service life.

I did a lot of reading about batteries when I replaced mine and noted that even though the design is relatively simple and has been around a long time, lead-acid batteries are complex creatures and no two are alike depending on the way they're used/stored, etc. Even two identical batteries exposed to the same "life cycle" won't perform or last the same.




Last edited by planalp; 04-19-2012 at 09:39 AM.
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post #4 of 15 Old 04-19-2012, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input planalp.

This all comes after I did the doo and a valve adjustment. Got them both done, buttoned the bike back up, and suddenly, bike no start. Quadruple checked my work, thinking my cam timing was, nope, perfect the first, second, third, and fourth time I checked it.

The plug was a bit carbon-fouled, so I swapped it out with a clean one, thinking that would help. It did to the point of starting for about a half second or so then immediately dying again.

So I went the fuel and air route, cleaning the air filter spic n' span, and removing the carb for an inspection/clean. Carb was good, no clogs, nothing stuck.

Still no start. At this point I was draining the battery trying to start the bike. It showed an 11.5v charge, but it wasn't acting like it.

Then I remembered the electrolyte level having been low for a LONG time. Pulled the battery last night and every cell was way below the low electrolyte mark. So I refilled them and put the battery on my charger/tender last night. Hopefully I'll see some sort of change.

Even if it doesn't start, I'm hoping to find out that it is in fact the battery. Thoughts?

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post #5 of 15 Old 04-19-2012, 11:03 AM
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I'm no master KLR troubleshooter/mechanic, but I would hazard a guess that the battery is likely your problem, especially if you drained it with repeated use of the starter.

I'm sure you'll receive more expert advice from others.

I don't know what role the battery plays once the bike is started and running, but my instinct is that perhaps a low battery would have enough oomph to spin the starter and momentarily start the engine, but be so depleted after that it wouldn't allow the bike to continue to run?

I would wait and see if your battery tender proclaims the battery fully charged. If it won't fully charge, the first thing I'd do (at that point you know you need one anyway) is get a new battery, charge it according to the included instructions before use and see what happens when you put it in.

When I was prepping my new battery to go in, the included chart said it would take about 16 hours to fully charge it but it took more like 24. I kept watching the Battery Tender indicator light and it seemed like it would never stop flashing green and I thought I'd gotten a bad battery, but after I gave it a few extra hours, it was finally charged.

You can put the water right in a new battery and let it sit for an hour and put it in the bike and it will probably function, but that's probably the worst thing you can do. If you get a new battery, follow the instructions and make sure it's peaked out before you install and use it for the first time.



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post #6 of 15 Old 04-19-2012, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
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I don't know what role the battery plays once the bike is started and running, but my instinct is that perhaps a low battery would have enough oomph to spin the starter and momentarily start the engine, but be so depleted after that it wouldn't allow the bike to continue to run?
Absolutely NOT on your Generation 1 KLR650, planalp, because on those models, the ignition circuit is ENTIRELY SEPARATE from the alternator power generation/battery storage circuit.

In Mr. Junior's Generation 2 KLR, however . . . the battery is connected directly across the ignition coil's primary windings when the coil is "saturating" in preperation to delivering a spark . . .

Thus, if a battery is sufficiently deficient, producing a great-enough electrical load to the rectified alternator voltage in a Generation 2 KLR, the bad battery may compromise an engine's ability to run (battery would have to be in pretty terrible shape).

Again, not possible on your AC-powered, CDI-equipped Generation 1 KLR.
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post #7 of 15 Old 04-19-2012, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
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...

Still no start. At this point I was draining the battery trying to start the bike. It showed an 11.5v charge, but it wasn't acting like it.

Then I remembered the electrolyte level having been low for a LONG time. Pulled the battery last night and every cell was way below the low electrolyte mark. So I refilled them and put the battery on my charger/tender last night. Hopefully I'll see some sort of change.

Even if it doesn't start, I'm hoping to find out that it is in fact the battery. Thoughts?

A fully charged battery will read close to 13 volts, 11.5 volts is a dead battery (WIKI) If the cells get below a minimum fluid level the plates hard sulfate and they're done. Adding more water won't revive them long. Get a maintance free sealed AGM (DEKA EXT15L)

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Last edited by Spec; 04-19-2012 at 12:04 PM.
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post #8 of 15 Old 04-19-2012, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
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If the cells get below a minimum fluid level the plates hard sulfate and they're done. Adding more water won't revive them long.
Good to know. Mine's toast then. I'll be scooping up a new one today or tomorrow.

I have no idea how long the cells have been dried out. What's strange though is that when I first started having these problems, I checked voltage, and I still had a charge of 12.3 or so. Now I know all these incessant starting attempts drained the battery. However, since I started with a decent charge, could hard-sulfated cells hold a charge but still render the battery useless?

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post #9 of 15 Old 04-19-2012, 12:45 PM
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Good to know. Mine's toast then. I'll be scooping up a new one today or tomorrow.
While I wouldn't dare question Wiki's authority, I would remark a battery's voltage VARIES in its service spectrum, depending upon degree of charge/discharge; would be hard to put an absolute and general PASS/FAIL value on a given battery, IMHO.

As a test, Mr. Junion, why not JUMP your battery to a known hot automobile battery? Clip some jumper cables between the family bus and your KLR battery terminals, and see if it runs . . .

Only a suggestion, before you jettison you battery.

In your case, I'd be inclined to fill cells to the indicated electrolyte level, charge decently, and see what happens, if the jumped-bike starts and runs normally.

If your "wet" and charged battery won't do the same, make an exchange at your local "Batteries 'R" Us" franchise, for a sealed, maintenance-free model.
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post #10 of 15 Old 04-19-2012, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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As a test, Mr. Junior, why not JUMP your battery to a known hot automobile battery? Clip some jumper cables between the family bus and your KLR battery terminals, and see if it runs . . .

Only a suggestion, before you jettison you battery.

Good call LoneRider. I'll give 'er a jump when I get home. I let it charge overnight last night, and came downstairs this morning only to find out that it was still charging, which leads me to believe it's not taking the charge. Perhaps it'll take a jump though?

Like a defibrillator for a bike

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