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Discussion Starter #1
Just bought my first KLR 3 weeks ago as a commuter to my job in the mountains and was stoked! Until the other day while riding down a back road and there was a big ‘ol kerplunk and the engine died and won’t turn over at all...and wouldn’t ya know it, when I checked the oil, nothing showed, not even when I tipped the bike at about 15 degrees to the right.
It’s a 2008 with 18k miles on it, and I bought it from it’s only owner who took meticulous care of it and even specifically noted it wasn’t an oil burner. I checked the oil when I bought it and was at proper level and owner noted it would need a change in about 1k miles. I will say, I completely neglected to check the oil level after buying it, but I’ve only put around 250 miles on it. Those miles have been mostly +50mph, and the front sprocket is one tooth smaller, BUT is it really likely to have burned through all my oil in that many miles??!

I know in my gut that the engine is likely toast, but I’m grasping at straws in hopes that it’s something else possibly, before taking the time to crack the engine open myself, or pay the $500 for the shop to do it. I feel Iike a total moron for not checking the level and putting a $10 bottle of oil in, but my last bike was a leaky old ‘81 Honda that didn’t go through near as much oil as this thing seems to have, so it just didn’t seem like a concern.

Any tips on where to start are much appreciated. It’s totally my dream bike and I def want to do what it takes to get it alive again!🙏
 

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An '08 will go through oil like corn through a goose, especially at higher RPM.

Do three things yourself and report back before spending any money. First, remove the oil filter and see if it has glitter in it. Second, remove the valve cover and the right-hand exhaust cam cap. Look at the cam cap for smeared metal/ grooves and gouges. Third, drain the oil and measure how much comes out.

Take pictures of the filter and the cam cap and post them up, report back on how much oil came out of it. The hive mind will take it from there.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
An '08 will go through oil like corn through a goose, especially at higher RPM.

Do three things yourself and report back before spending any money. First, remove the oil filter and see if it has glitter in it. Second, remove the valve cover and the right-hand exhaust cam cap. Look at the cam cap for smeared metal/ grooves and gouges. Third, drain the oil and measure how much comes out.

Take pictures of the filter and the cam cap and post them up, report back on how much oil came out of it. The hive mind will take it from there.
Thanks a million for the quick reply and diagnostic starting points! It died 45 minutes up the mountains, so thankfully was able to get it off the mountain today. Guess the previous owner didn’t do much highway driving. 🤦🏻‍♀️
 

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Just bought my first KLR 3 weeks ago as a commuter to my job in the mountains and was stoked! Until the other day while riding down a back road and there was a big ‘ol kerplunk and the engine died and won’t turn over at all...and wouldn’t ya know it, when I checked the oil, nothing showed, not even when I tipped the bike at about 15 degrees to the right.
It’s a 2008 with 18k miles on it, and I bought it from it’s only owner who took meticulous care of it and even specifically noted it wasn’t an oil burner. I checked the oil when I bought it and was at proper level and owner noted it would need a change in about 1k miles. I will say, I completely neglected to check the oil level after buying it, but I’ve only put around 250 miles on it. Those miles have been mostly +50mph, and the front sprocket is one tooth smaller, BUT is it really likely to have burned through all my oil in that many miles??!



I know in my gut that the engine is likely toast, but I’m grasping at straws in hopes that it’s something else possibly, before taking the time to crack the engine open myself, or pay the $500 for the shop to do it. I feel Iike a total moron for not checking the level and putting a $10 bottle of oil in, but my last bike was a leaky old ‘81 Honda that didn’t go through near as much oil as this thing seems to have, so it just didn’t seem like a concern.

Any tips on where to start are much appreciated. It’s totally my dream bike and I def want to do what it takes to get it alive again!🙏
Tom gave you sound advice. I’d let the previous owner know what happened to his non oil burner in three weeks and see if he’ll help with the repair costs once you know exactly what fried.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Take pictures of the filter and the cam cap and post them up, report back on how much oil came out of it. The hive mind will take it from there.
okay okay. Thanks to the Clymer shop manual and my mild-mechanically inclined abilities, we got somewhere. 1. Oil amount: I’d guess around 1/4 of a quart? Didn’t do an official measurement, but it is definitely less than 1/2 quart, which from another current posting from a fellow in seemingly my same position, 1/2 quart is considered “critical” level. See pic below for amount drained.
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2. Oil filter condition: Can’t tell if those are shavings caught in the filter, or if that’s just fibers from the filter itself. Pic below.
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3. Cam cap condition: definitely has grooves/gouges in it. I’m guessing that means theres metal bits floating around in the engine somewhere from potential broken bits, but everything seems intact. pic below.
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should I take the rest of the cam caps off to see if I find any carnage? I’m not familiar with engines, so not sure what “normal” is or what steps to check next. Thanks for the help so far And let me know what other info will help with diagnosis!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Tom gave you sound advice. I’d let the previous owner know what happened to his non oil burner in three weeks and see if he’ll help with the repair costs once you know exactly what fried.
Im actually in pretty frequent contact with him because I was planning to buy his trailer as well. I honestly think it was more a lack of communication and my crazy life causing me to neglect proper research and maintenance. he kept it on a trailer and I believe drove it to trails and did more dirt riding and maybe didn’t often hit high rpms, whereas I was 90% highway driving and kind of treated it like my like sport bike in the mountain twisties, getting some good foot drags. I actually feel pretty crumby that he owned it for 12 years and took fantastic care of it, and I fried it in weeks. 🤦🏻‍♀️
No matter what, I’ll own up to being an idiot and not checking oil level more often. Life lessons I suppose.
 

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Right, then, if your head was a person he would be at room temperature.

You have two good options.

The first is to get a used KLR650 head. Any year will work, but if it is pre-'97 you will need the valve cover that goes with it. e-bay is a good source. The Facebook KLR650 Shop and Swap page might be OK, too. You may have a motorcycle junkyard nearby; worth checking into.

The second is to get in touch with Engine Dynamics in Petaluma, Ca. and ask about having it repaired. Send them some large hi-res pictures of all of the cam journals and the cam caps. They line-bore the bad caps and journals and install Babbit bearings:
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The crankcase will need to be flushed and the filter screen that is upstream of the oil pump will need cleaning. Most of the crappage should have been (and seems to have been, looking at your filter) caught by the screen. You will need to remove the clutch cover to get to the screen and you would be well-served to replace the water pump seals.

The cams are usually OK, especially in your case as only half the journal is wiped out. The stuff on the cams is not scoring but deposited molten aluminum. You can mechanically clean it up or use lye.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Right, then, if your head was a person he would be at room temperature.

You have two good options.

The first is to get a used KLR650 head. Any year will work, but if it is pre-'97 you will need the valve cover that goes with it. e-bay is a good source. The Facebook KLR650 Shop and Swap page might be OK, too. You may have a motorcycle junkyard nearby; worth checking into.

The second is to get in touch with Engine Dynamics in Petaluma, Ca. and ask about having it repaired. Send them some large hi-res pictures of all of the cam journals and the cam caps. They line-bore the bad caps and journals and install Babbit bearings:

The crankcase will need to be flushed and the filter screen that is upstream of the oil pump will need cleaning. Most of the crappage should have been (and seems to have been, looking at your filter) caught by the screen. You will need to remove the clutch cover to get to the screen and you would be well-served to replace the water pump seals.

The cams are usually OK, especially in your case as only half the journal is wiped out. The stuff on the cams is not scoring but deposited molten aluminum. You can mechanically clean it up or use lye.
hmmm alright, that doesn’t sound as bad as I initially thought. But, and maybe this is an ignorant question, what is it that caused the engine to seize? Unless I would find that answer after removing the other cam caps? Is it those molten aluminum deposits that are causing the cams from functioning? Just trying to get a good, solid grasp of what fully went down in the engine.

I’ve been pre-browsing eBay for heads and full engines, and did find this head: 11-18 Kawasaki KLR650 KLR 650 Engine Cylinder Head Valve Cams Cover 6Kmi [BA] | eBay

I have heard great things about the Engine Dynamics guys, and I currently live in a town of 83 people in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, so the ”local” junkyard is 1.5 hours away 😅

my other question is, how do I keep the engine from blowing through so much oil in the future? From what I’ve gathered, this years oil eating problem comes from ill-fitting piston rings? I know Engine Dynamics also does the 686 bore. I know that would add cost, and since I just spent the $$ on the bike weeks ago, I don’t have much spare $$ laying around. But I also plan on keeping this bike for as long as possible, so may be willing to pony up the extra $$ to ensure I don’t have to add 2 qts of oil every gosh darn month. Anything else I might want to look at or change while I’m at It?
 

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The KLR's oiling system starts at the pickup tube in the crankcase, where oil is sucked up and into an internal passageway that contains the filter screen. From there it goes to the oil pump and up into the filter cavity. After the filter it is split in two, one half going to the crankshaft and the other half going to the cams and the transmission.

The cams are the last stop in the oiling system, as once the cams are lubricated the oil drops into the sump and the cycle starts over again.

When your engine ran out of oil the cams became oil-starved. They run in plain aluminum bearings and have a fairly high cyclical load. The cam lobe pushing the valve down pushes back up against the cam cap and that, if there is not a constant flow of replenishing oil, breaks through the oil film and you have metal-on-metal contact. Once there is no oil flow the cam bearings die very quickly. Fortunately, something, probably the seizing of the exhaust cam, caused your engine to quite fairly quickly. If the engine is under heavy throttle and making a good bit of power it can keep spinning causing a frightfully entertaining amount of carnage. This is why looking at the other three cam caps is an indication of not only the amount of damage but how it died. You may have been under light throttle or even coasting when it decided to go belly-up.

$1000 for a head is ridiculous, no matter how nice it is. A brand new bare head is $940.08. A decent used one should be half that. Engine Dynamics will likely be in the range of a decent used head. This is more like what it should cost and it has free shipping from Denver. It is a bare head, but moving your valves and cams over is not a big deal. You might want to add a couple of benjies to get a shop to set the valves up with a new grind on the valve heads and valve seals, and new valve guides and stem seals.

A 685 kit, in this case, is going to run you about $500 because you already have to have the head off and back on. While I normally would point out that the total cost of a 685 will buy a lifetime supply of oil for an oil-burning KLR, it would be a smart move to do it since you are already at least halfway there.

@pdwestman has designed some oiling system mods that move oil from the crankshaft (and the cylinder walls) over to the cams and transmission. This is to help with the oil burning that happens with all KLRs when they get spun up over 5K rpm. It is not designed to fix the '08/'09 issues, but it has been noted that it can help a great deal. There is no guarantee as that was never the intent, but it is a low-buck alternative.
 

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Here is a bit of info on the oiling system and Paul's mods:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Here is a bit of info on the oiling system and Paul's mods:
Thanks for all the info! Makes sense now. One thing that concerns me though, is how you said at high rpm, it would be possible for the cams to keep going, even while oil starved, and cause a lot more damage. The ride right before the last when the engine died was a pretty hard one; about 35 minutes up the mountain, and I was pushing the bike quite a bit at high rpms. I distinctly remember getting off the bike that night and smelling a strong burnt odor. but It was the end of a 16 hour work day and I was in a rush to check on my fiancé who is recovering from a fractured foot, and I thought it might’ve just been because I pushed the bike harder than usual, and I haven’t had the bike long enough to know what “normal”is for it. Then the next day I got on it to ride to work and was only made it about a 1/2 mile going 15 in 2nd gear when the engine seized. So, is it possible that there is damage farther up the oil cycle from that hard ride the day before?

i will definitely hit up engine dynamics to see what they have to say with where I’m at so far and compare my two options.

I will definitely get into the other three cam caps tomorrow to see what else awaits, I may even go ahead and just take the whole head off anyways since that will have to happen either way.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
@pdwestman has designed some oiling system mods that move oil from the crankshaft (and the cylinder walls) over to the cams and transmission. This is to help with the oil burning that happens with all KLRs when they get spun up over 5K rpm. It is not designed to fix the '08/'09 issues, but it has been noted that it can help a great deal. There is no guarantee as that was never the intent, but it is a low-buck alternative.
also just noticed @pdwestman lives in Wyoming where I just moved from and still have a storage i
unit down there. Haha. Might just try and meet up with him about those oil mods!
 

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I bought a 2000 model that had suffered the exact same problem as yours after being ridden hard- in its case the cam had seized completely in the head then smashed it's way out of the bearing. Anyway the rest of the bike was good so I put a second-hand head on it and crossed my fingers. I used it with no further engine work for another 50,000 km and 5-6 years. Only then did it get to the point where in normal riding was the oil consumption excessive - it was then finally treated to a rebore and another 5 or so years later it is still going strong. The bottom end of these motors are strong and resilient.

So whilst doing the piston now is probably a good idea if you can afford it, my experience suggests if $ are a problem you will get away with simply changing the head and in future keeping an eye on the oil.

Good luck - I know these situations are not fun.

Sent from my moto g(8) plus using Tapatalk
 

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...Then the next day I got on it to ride to work and was only made it about a 1/2 mile going 15 in 2nd gear when the engine seized. So, is it possible that there is damage farther up the oil cycle from that hard ride the day before?...
I doubt there is damage from the day before. The burnt odor was probably too little oil being way too hot.

The damage from oil starvation is progressive. It starts with the right side exhaust cam, as it is the last part of the oiling system and loses oil first. If the engine is making enough power to keep the seizing camshaft turning, then the left side exhaust cam journal will go. By this time the cam is almost flopping around in the head like a fish in a basket. The KACR starts whacking the valve cover, sometimes punching right through it. I suppose, though I have never seen, the intake cam journals could become involved if the engine could make enough power to keep going. By that time, though, the exhaust valves are no longer working right and power drops off.

This one was a nasty one. The KACR has had a field day with the valve cover and the exhaust cam has managed to beat the cam cap screws out of the head.
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You were toodling at 15 in second gear; I'd guess that the engine might have been making about as much power as a healthy Briggs and Stratton 2.5. It is possible that the left side exhaust cam journal will look pretty good.
 

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...i will definitely hit up engine dynamics to see what they have to say with where I’m at so far and compare my two options...
They can also refresh your head for you with new valve stem seals, valve guides, and cut new valve seats, grind the valves, and tip them for 270 shims. You should get the price for that as well.
 

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Tom and the others have you well covered. Thoughts/clarifications;

- there is oil burning and there is oil burning; Paul's mods can help the usual (moderate) high rpm burn that most/all KLR's have but can't fix a bad bore/rings - which is the usual cause for severe oil burning. Fix is a 685 or other BB kit.

- while I will defer to Tom and Paul on the intricacies of the KLR oiling system, I will point out that thousands of KLR engines/heads have been destroyed by low oil levels.......and many/most of them had a LOT more than 1/2 quart in them. I'd suggest keeping the oil level at the VERY top of the sight glass and considering half way down LOW. check before every ride and at every fuel stop. Regardless of how cheap oil may be, there is no way I could live with oil consumption anywhere near the 1 quart/1000 mi level that is considered "normal" by Kawi; that kind of consumption (or worse) means something isn't right and I don't like things that aren't right! ;-)

- Personally, I'd do the Engine Dynamics head rebuild and EM's 685 kit. ......I'm still a little mystified about this "seizing" issue and there is a concern that you still have some problem after doing the 685 and head....


Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I doubt there is damage from the day before. The burnt odor was probably too little oil being way too hot.

The damage from oil starvation is progressive. It starts with the right side exhaust cam, as it is the last part of the oiling system and loses oil first. If the engine is making enough power to keep the seizing camshaft turning, then the left side exhaust cam journal will go. By this time the cam is almost flopping around in the head like a fish in a basket. The KACR starts whacking the valve cover, sometimes punching right through it. I suppose, though I have never seen, the intake cam journals could become involved if the engine could make enough power to keep going. By that time, though, the exhaust valves are no longer working right and power drops off.
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Looks like the rest of the cam journals are okay. Maybe a tiny bit of scoring on the right intake?

#14 15 h ago (Edited)
TaylorW said:
...Then the next day I got on it to ride to work and was only made it about a 1/2 mile going 15 in 2nd gear when the engine seized. So, is it possible that there is damage farther up the oil cycle from that hard ride the day before?...
I doubt there is damage from the day before. The burnt odor was probably too little oil being way too hot.

The damage from oil starvation is progressive. It starts with the right side exhaust cam, as it is the last part of the oiling system and loses oil first. If the engine is making enough power to keep the seizing camshaft turning, then the left side exhaust cam journal will go. By this time the cam is almost flopping around in the head like a fish in a basket. The KACR starts whacking the valve cover, sometimes punching right through it. I suppose, though I have never seen, the intake cam journals could become involved if the engine could make enough power to keep going. By that time, though, the exhaust valves are no longer working right and power drops off.

This one was a nasty one. The KACR has had a field day with the valve cover and the exhaust cam has managed to beat the cam cap screws out of the head.
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That is actually crazy scary. I guess I'm at least thankful the cam bearings fried while I was "toodling" rather than the night before when I was wide open around the twisties!

They can also refresh your head for you with new valve stem seals, valve guides, and cut new valve seats, grind the valves, and tip them for 270 shims. You should get the price for that as well.
Thanks for the heads up! Will be sending them an email today!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I bought a 2000 model that had suffered the exact same problem as yours after being ridden hard- in its case the cam had seized completely in the head then smashed it's way out of the bearing. Anyway the rest of the bike was good so I put a second-hand head on it and crossed my fingers. I used it with no further engine work for another 50,000 km and 5-6 years. Only then did it get to the point where in normal riding was the oil consumption excessive - it was then finally treated to a rebore and another 5 or so years later it is still going strong. The bottom end of these motors are strong and resilient.

So whilst doing the piston now is probably a good idea if you can afford it, my experience suggests if $ are a problem you will get away with simply changing the head and in future keeping an eye on the oil.

Good luck - I know these situations are not fun.
Well, it's kind of nice to know I'm at least not alone with this issue and others have had good luck after repairs! Thanks for the little bit of encouragement!
 
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