Bike overheating & dying - 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 49 Old 08-24-2019, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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Bike overheating & dying

Hi everyone,

I've scoured the internetz for answers on this and basically took my bike apart top to bottom. Not sure what the issue is yet but would def appreciate your thoughts on this issue.

Details: '09 KLR650, recently acquired used (was fine during purchasing, only recently started acting up). Recently, when out riding on city streets, idling at stoplights, etc., my bike temp gauge will start to rapidly move towards the red zone and eventually cut out completely. Like, I can visibly see it moving upwards which makes me die a little inside, lol. I can restart it again while rolling and giving it some choke and gas but it keeps up with the dying every few minutes. It dies while stopped, while moving, doesn't seem to matter. Fan kicks on fine.

So far, I've:
Replaced air filter, oil filter, oil change, topped off coolant in radiator and in overflow, cleaned and rebuilt carb, seafoam in gas tank, new radiator fan and fuse (fan wasn't turning on, I think the motor was bad), new spark plug.

I've ordered a new thermostat water temp sensor, new thermostat, and new radiator fan switch (I think the old one is fine though since the fan turns on, replacing it anyway cuz new parts!) and will replace all those this week. I've burped the radiator and the coolant circles fine.

Tomorrow I'm going to take the cover off the water pump and see if it's moving properly. Does anyone have any other ideas on what to tackle next if the new sensors and thermostat don't fix the overheating and dying issue? TIA! And sorry if this is repetitive. I searched through most of the hundreds of threads here related to overheating and nobody seemed to have the dying issue like I'm having.
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post #2 of 49 Old 08-25-2019, 08:40 AM
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Hi @ladytraute,

Since this bike came to you, recently, used and since you have really covered all the bases very well I will throw out a remote possibility.

On the water pump cover, where the two hoses attach, one of the hose connections is labeled "Cyl". Make sure that the hose in that position goes to the connector on the cylinder.

Does this bike have a Thermo-Bob installed?

Tom [email protected]

“Some days I feel like playing it smooth. Some days I feel like playing it like a waffle iron.” -Philip Marlowe

“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte

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post #3 of 49 Old 08-25-2019, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Tom. I'll check the hose tomorrow. No thermobob, I considered it but since I haven't heard that it really is a "fix" for overheating problems I skipped it for now. Got a new thermostat and figured that might help better. What do you think?
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post #4 of 49 Old 08-25-2019, 01:55 PM
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Now that is a bummer.

Tom's suggestion about the possibility of having the coolant hoses crossed seems unrealistic if the bike ran fine in stop-and-go traffic initially. However, it's certainly easy to verify the correct hose orientation so I endorse Tom's recommendation to check it.

You mentioned that the fan was not working. This is the root cause of your rising coolant temperature in stop-and-go traffic. At highway speeds there is sufficient air flow across the radiator to keep temps from rising into the red zone.

Have you ridden the bike since you got the fan going? And if so, what were the results?

Jason
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post #5 of 49 Old 08-25-2019, 01:58 PM
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The Thermo-Bob is not a fix for overheating, as you say. In fact, it is designed to raise the normal operating temperature. My thought there was that, if the previous owner had installed one, the hoses might have been re-installed backward. It is a known cause of overheating, though usually only a remote possibility.

You should also know that these things will, at a hot idle, get the temperature up almost into the red. That is normal. Temperatures at the head of 230*F are normal. The fan should come on when the coolant at the bottom of the radiator hits around 215*F. Getting into the red and dying is not normal.

Samuel Clemens claimed that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco, so I assume that it is not getting ridiculously hot up there. That said, what are you really seeing on the gauge and at what point is the fan coming on?

If we determine that it is operating normally the dying issue could be something as simple as your idle speed is just a bit low.

On other things...

If the fan is coming on I would not muck about with the fan switch in the bottom of the radiator.
At this time I would not muck about with the coolant temp sensor.

Both of these are in the vein of "Let sleeping dogs lie". You don't need to introduce any drama at this point that a leaking switch or sensor would provide and neither component has a cause/effect on overheating.

If we determine that it is overheating, then I think your plan of pulling the pump cover to make sure the impellor is turning is a good one. If you find the impellor to be loose then torque it down to spec but be very careful. The threads on the end of that shaft are easily broken if mishandled. Replacing the shaft is rather a big job. Torque it only with a properly sized 1/4" torque wrench. The torque spec for that nut is only 87 IN-lbs

Thermostats don't fail all that often, but a replacement is simple and easy to do.

If that doesn't fix it, then consider the following:

Overheating like you are describing would indicate that coolant is either not present or not circulating. One thing you might try is dropping the coolant out, removing the thermostat, undo the hose from the top of the radiator, stick a garden hose in the top of the radiator and turn the hose on to a gentle flow. If water doesn't soon come out of the upper hose then you've got to find out where it is blocked. Messy, but basic.

Tom [email protected]

“Some days I feel like playing it smooth. Some days I feel like playing it like a waffle iron.” -Philip Marlowe

“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte

Sting like a butterfly.
Noli Timere Messorem

Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 08-25-2019 at 02:03 PM.
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post #6 of 49 Old 08-25-2019, 02:29 PM
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I'll suggest that there is a strong possibility that the coolant pump impeller nut may be loose and the impeller is slipping on the shaft. Even though you may see coolant circulating when you had the radiator cap off of a fairly cool & slightly low radiator to look for flow, it may not be a swift as need be.

Also the impeller may be missing the small shim Behind the impeller, which changes the clearance between the impeller vanes and the pump cover. The Impeller has an o-ring inside of it, so the impeller Must Be screwed over the threaded shaft to prevent damage to the o-ring during removal & re-installation to check for the shim.

Impeller nut is ONLY 87 inch pounds, be careful. And is common RH thread.

If you can find coolant threads or postings by @GoMotor, he has posted how to measure flow rates.

Dang it, he never started any flow rate threads, bummer. I when 20 pages Back thru his postings and didn't spot anything that grabbed my attention. So I'll recommend that you start on page 49 and go forward.

pdwestman
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post #7 of 49 Old 08-25-2019, 02:42 PM
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Found it!

https://www.klrforum.com/502866-post17.html

pdwestman
Modify at "YOUR OWN RISK"!

Still riding my 1987 KL650-A1. 85,000+ miles & counting
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post #8 of 49 Old 08-25-2019, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladytraute View Post
It dies while stopped, while moving, doesn't seem to matter. Fan kicks on fine.

So far, I've:
Repalced...new radiator fan and fuse (fan wasn't turning on, I think the motor was bad),... .
Well I re-read the initial post and there seems to be conflicting information. First it was stated that the "Fan kicks on fine" And subsequently the attempted repair included installation of a "...new radiator fan and fuse (fan wasn't turning on...)" So if the fan was indeed "kicking" on fine, why was it replaced?

Also, I took the comment "...while moving, doesn't seem to matter." to mean that the coolant temps were normal when moving. If indeed coolant temps are normal when moving, then there is nothing wrong with the water pump, thermostat or plumbing. But perhaps I've misinterpreted this comment?

Any updates on this problem?

Jason
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post #9 of 49 Old 08-25-2019, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norton 850 View Post

Well I re-read the initial post and there seems to be conflicting information. First it was stated that the "Fan kicks on fine" And subsequently the attempted repair included installation of a "...new radiator fan and fuse (fan wasn't turning on...)" So if the fan was indeed "kicking" on fine, why was it replaced?

Also, I took the comment "...while moving, doesn't seem to matter." to mean that the coolant temps were normal when moving. If indeed coolant temps are normal when moving, then there is nothing wrong with the water pump, thermostat or plumbing. But perhaps I've misinterpreted this comment?

Any updates on this problem?

Jason
Hey Jason-

Sorry if I wrote in a confusing manner! My brain gets ahead of my fingers sometime. The fan wasn't turning on at all when I bought the bike. So, I replaced the fan and now it works fine. My listing of items I've done to the bike included everything I've done so far, including the fan job. My comment of "fan kicks on fine" meant that it works now, sorry to be out of order.

Regarding the coolant movement, I meant that the bike dies regardless of movement - it dies while stopped at lights, dies while cruising in 1st, doesn't matter if it's moving or not, it dies. It's when the bike heats up enough (gauge nears red zone) that it starts to die. Does that make sense? Sorry to be confusing!
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post #10 of 49 Old 08-25-2019, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Schmitz View Post
The Thermo-Bob is not a fix for overheating, as you say. In fact, it is designed to raise the normal operating temperature. My thought there was that, if the previous owner had installed one, the hoses might have been re-installed backward. It is a known cause of overheating, though usually only a remote possibility.

You should also know that these things will, at a hot idle, get the temperature up almost into the red. That is normal. Temperatures at the head of 230*F are normal. The fan should come on when the coolant at the bottom of the radiator hits around 215*F. Getting into the red and dying is not normal.

Samuel Clemens claimed that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco, so I assume that it is not getting ridiculously hot up there. That said, what are you really seeing on the gauge and at what point is the fan coming on?

If we determine that it is operating normally the dying issue could be something as simple as your idle speed is just a bit low.

On other things...

If the fan is coming on I would not muck about with the fan switch in the bottom of the radiator.
At this time I would not muck about with the coolant temp sensor.

Both of these are in the vein of "Let sleeping dogs lie". You don't need to introduce any drama at this point that a leaking switch or sensor would provide and neither component has a cause/effect on overheating.

If we determine that it is overheating, then I think your plan of pulling the pump cover to make sure the impellor is turning is a good one. If you find the impellor to be loose then torque it down to spec but be very careful. The threads on the end of that shaft are easily broken if mishandled. Replacing the shaft is rather a big job. Torque it only with a properly sized 1/4" torque wrench. The torque spec for that nut is only 87 IN-lbs

Thermostats don't fail all that often, but a replacement is simple and easy to do.

If that doesn't fix it, then consider the following:

Overheating like you are describing would indicate that coolant is either not present or not circulating. One thing you might try is dropping the coolant out, removing the thermostat, undo the hose from the top of the radiator, stick a garden hose in the top of the radiator and turn the hose on to a gentle flow. If water doesn't soon come out of the upper hose then you've got to find out where it is blocked. Messy, but basic.
So, I start out riding just fine. I get about 10 mins out (I live in a city so there's lots of stoplights and such) in 1st-3rd gears going maybe top speed 40mph but mostly staying in the 25-30mph range. The temp gauge stays in the bottom 3rd for the first 10 mins and then slowly rises to almost the red zone. I can usually see it moving pretty fast. Fan will kick on at this point but I couldn't tell you exactly when because it's pretty quiet. After about 10 mins, it will start to do it's dying thing, usually when stopped at a light or stop sign. I can restart it while stopped or rolling and it kicks back on again with some choke and gas. Fan still runs fine.

Gauge at this point is firmly upper zone merging with red so I usually pull over and let it cool down. Fan stays on. Sometimes I can smell a faint burning rubbery smell when it gets super hot. I can always get it back home but I'm doing the constant restart thing whenever I'm stopped at a light.

Like you said above, KLRs run hot but this seems to be a bigger problem because they don't usually die, right? Just not sure what to focus on. Seems like there's so many different avenues of what could be wrong.
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