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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello KLR Community,

I have a 2009 KLR650 all stock (no doohickey) with approximately 15,000 miles on it and it is currently cranking but not starting. Upfront, I’ll say the symptoms and a few things I’ve tried. I tried cleaning the carb and putting on a new spark plug with no luck. The carb is refilling after trying to start, all of the vacuum lines look attached and in decent health. I’m getting good spark, have tried starter fluid in the spark plug hole and it backfired. It will now ocasssionally putter a bit but usually I get popping and hissing coming from the exhaust. I’ll give more info below, because I’m new to the innnerworkings of an engine and don’t know what piece of info is useful to more experienced mechanics. These threads have taught me that fuel, air, spark and compression are the keys so I’ll break it down into those categories.

Failure: I was riding the bike for a week after storage (with fuel stabilizer and carb drained). It was running great and then just died on when coming to an intersection. Seemed like a hard death and not the lurching one you get from fuel starvation. I was stranded for a while and then tried several of the push starts and was able to get the engine popping. But killed the battery trying to start, and had to jump it with a car and eventually was able to drive it home. Worked fine the next day, but had the same issue the day after.

Fuel: I did put in half a can of “heet” which is a water remover and half a can of sea foam to try and avoid cracking into the carb but they didn’t help. I thought that a piece of crud was cloggging the carb so then I broke that down sprayed thoroughly with carb cleaner. All the jets looked clear, and there was a few pieces of crud in the float bowl that could clog it up. After I installed a sintered brass fuel filter with new Tygon fuel lines and fuel filled the carb nicely, although there is a bit of air near the petcock gas line. First carb breakdown so it’s possible I messed something up but I was pretty careful. It also wouldn’t start with the gas cap open. And I didn’t touch the petcock. But starter fluid didn’t cause it to fire up when sprayed in air intake or down spark plug hole.

Spark: Installed a new iridium spark plug and it has a nice bright blue spark that seems to have good timing to it. Old plug had some carbon build up and the timing of that seemed a bit irregular. Battery is relatively new AGM, and all the lights come on nicely. Also won’t start now even when being jumped by a car.

Air: I removed the air filter and tried starting but it had no change. I hear a kind of sucking sound coming out of the air intake with the filter off. I assume this is the diaphragm at work, and not acting improperly.

Compression: I’m trying to rule out everything else before this because I‘m working outdoors on gravel without a proper garage and also haven’t opened an engine up before. I know you have to remove the top end to properly test compression by deactivating the KACR. But I read a thread on reddit that instructed to hold a piece of paper near the exhaust while starting. If it blows out and is sucked back in that could be an indicator of something going on with the valves. But their bike issue was a bit different citing fuel starvation-like symptoms. I haven’t checked my valve clearance yet and it’s about time according to the Clymer I also noticed something that may be unrelated, but the bike wouldn’t push forward in first gear when the clutch was engaged. I could push it forward with some hesitation in second with clutch pulled. And then when I try to start (in neutral) seems to fire a bit more properly but not start.

Sorry for the long list of troubleshooting steps, I’m a few weekends in to this and would appreciate the help.
 

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2013 KLR 650/692, 2017 HD Electraglide Ultra
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Sounds like you’ve ruled out the obvious stuff so move to valve clearances, then compression test.

You don’t have to completely remove the cam cover to check valves or compression. Sometimes they can be a PITA to remove. You can do it by just tilting the cover up out of the way to get feeler gauges in there, and to disable the KACR.
 

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Yes, check/bypass your side stand switch AND clutch safety switch.

 

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Perform a Wide Open Throttle, Cold Cranking Compression test BEFORE you do anything else! Report here!

Is the air filter oily? Is the flame arrestor screen ahead of the air filter dusty?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hello everyone,
Thanks so much for the replies. I appreciate the ideas to check the kill, clutch and side stand switches. I had assumed since the bike was turning over, and I was getting spark, that I didn‘t need to look at the electrical system. But these are some great things to try. I like the linked walkthrough Thumper23.

PDwestman, I intended to do a compression test but the kit I had rented from autozone didn’t have the correct hookup to the KLR650 spark plug. I agree that this is an important thing to test. I’ll get one off of amazon and try and test this. For the wide open throttle cold cranking test does the KACR need to be disabled like a normal compression test? I’m new to the technical terms for these tests. Also the air filter is nice and oily, with a clean grating behind it. I removed the filter and it didn’t start. And congrats on the 86K miles on the KLR, super impressive.

And thanks peteK, I took a look at a few good video’s for the valve check and adjustments. I was a big fan of the Tim2Wheels videos that does a really nice job explaining the process. I’m going to give the other things a shot but am mentally preparing for this task.

Thanks again everyone for the great comments, I’ll keep you up to date on how the testing goes.
 

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For the wide open throttle cold cranking test does the KACR need to be disabled like a normal compression test?
No.
The KLR's need to start with the compression ALLOWED by the KACR. The Specs with a fully operational KACR are the only specs in the manuals. 77 - 124 PSI.
If less than minimum spec, something else is suspect.
 

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Rusty, you are correct about the electrical system. It would not crank nor provide spark if the side stand or clutch switches were open.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No.
The KLR's need to start with the compression ALLOWED by the KACR. The Specs with a fully operational KACR are the only specs in the manuals. 77 - 124 PSI.
If less than minimum spec, something else is suspect.
Okay great, I just ordered a compression kit and read though the Clymer section. I will give that a try late this week when it arrives. I had to search a while for the correct adapter for the spark plugs because it's not posted in the Clymer or anywhere I could find. But using this spark plug chart (Spark Plug Guide) the KLR has a NGK DPR8EA-9 which should have a 12 mm X 1.25 sized threads. So I reasoned the M12 would be a good adapter. Thought this might be useful to anyone who is new at this, like myself. Of course, I'll give an update if I was wrong and the adapter doesn't work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Okay the compression kit came in and I feel like we have some good diagnostic information to work with. It failed the compression test coming in at 56 PSI. I then did the second diagnostic step according to the Clymer and put some engine oil in the spark plug hole and retested the compression. It then came in at 90 PSI with passing compression. The Clymer indicates that if this is the case, then the piston rings are likely damaged (a scary thing for me to hear). I wanted to get your guys’ opinions before ordering parts and going forward. I’ve read a few other great posts you did on compression PDWestman, and read that tight valves or low clearance can also cause a compression drop. So if I’m getting in the engine I’ll also check those. I did notice that the right exhaust side cover bolt was pretty oily. Not sure if that is relevant info but I attached a pic. Also just for kicks, I reattached the tank after the passing compression test, due to the oil, and tried to start the bike up. And it actually fired and ended up idling, but fumed a ton of white smoke. Likely burning up the oil in the combustion chamber, I assume, and then it died. I think this evidence suggests that I have some internal engine work to do.

Here’s a little more info in case someone is at home banging their heads against the wall like I was. I bought a compression kit off of amazon for about 20 bucks with the 12 M adapter and it worked great. (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00SKSAB8U/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). They all seem about the same. I disconnected the spark plug with the KLR tool kit and hand tightened the adapter and screwed in the hose. I needed a needle nose channel lock to loosen this because of my fat fingers. The manual then suggested reattaching the spark plug and grounding it to the engine, and opening the throttle fully. Then starting the engine until the compression rose to a maximum level. Mine topped at about 55 PSI. I had a slightly loose exhaust manifold, a common problem from what I was reading. My dog found the screw in our gravel drive way, and I tightened them but this didn’t change the compression. I then detached the compression kit and used a serological pipette (benefit of being a scientist) to put 15 mL (cc) of engine oil (15W-50) Into the spark plug hole. This is also 1/2 an oz in non metric. I then pressed the starter several times with no plug, a bit of oil flew out of the hole. Then performed the spark plug test again and the compression rose to 90 PSI. These were all performed without the choke engaged, but I’m not sure if that’s the correct way to do it. I then reattached the tank and did the start up test with the choke on and petcock to reserve. This might be a nice quick test if you don’t have a compression kit and have already ruled out the carb and spark plug.
29498
 

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Do you have a wall tent for camping purposes? It is best to NOT be opening the valve cover or other interior engine components 'in the great outdoors', TOO Much dust.

You can now remove the fan, AIS & valve cover and insert a piece of fuel hose between the KACR weights and perform a De-Activated KACR WOT Cold Cranking Compression test.

Next up, you need to measure & record all valve tappet clearances in Thousands of an inch please!
Record them as < (less than) .xxx" (can wiggle feeler back & forth to make it go in) / .xxx" (perfect lightly snug fit of feeler gauge) / > (greater than) .xxx" (but can't even come close to wiggling next up feeler in).
 
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