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Old 07-07-2018, 12:14 PM   #1
ThreeSpore
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Sudden battery drain troubleshooting

Hey all, a few months back I took my vrod out of mothballs, whacked in a new lithium battery I had, hit start and all hell broke loose. The magic smoke escaped from the battery, the starter kept going even when I did not have the button pressed and then it all died. I put it aside to work on it, and tried another battery a few weeks later which I got click-click-click out of the starter and it drained the battery quick smart. This morning, I did the same thing with my car click-click-click again and battery drained.

While I can built the hell out of any engine, auto-electrics are my downfall. Before I ship it off to someone, any quick ideas - could it be the starter motor, regulator or something that I can troubleshoot before seeking help?

thanks
Michael
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Old 07-08-2018, 07:23 PM   #2
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Hate to say it, but that doesn't sound good... Fixing what WAS wrong and fixing what is NOW wrong are two different things. I would be willing to guess that one or more components may have been a bit fried in the process. Diagnosis probably won't actually be all that difficult, but it's one of those things that is really helped by being there. Electrical diagnostics is all about what I like to call "left or right" tests, and there are a lot of them. Each test doesn't usually take very long, but at the end of each and every test you've got 1 of 2 entirely different directions to proceed. It's hard to create a full flow chart for someone to follow long distance for even a simple single component problem, and your problem is a bit more complicated. One guess that I can make is that there is some sort of short in the starter circuit. Starters generally have 2 hot leads. One lead has 12V all the time, and the other lead has a switched 12V which actually activates it. A short in the switched lead is likely the culprit of the constantly spinning starter pinion gear. Beyond unintentionally causing the starter to activate, a shorted starter circuit can cause some nasty problems. To begin with, the pinion gear is not designed to spin anywhere near as quickly as the flywheel once the engine is started. Doing so can damage it. More importantly, however, a starter circuit normally draws a LOT of current. A shorted starter circuit can draw a LOT MORE current. 400-500 Amps can do a lot of damage to all kinds of systems. It can fry wires, relays, batteries, components, and metal finishes... It can also be pretty dangerous.

Sadly, my advice is to bring it in to a technician. You already mentioned that you're not much of an electrical person, so there is a good chance that you'll be doing that anyways. No sense risking further damage to expensive batteries or components.
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Old 07-09-2018, 12:59 PM   #3
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My initial thoughts on this is that the starter is shorted out. Passing enough current through the starter solenoid (which would occur if the starter were shorted) is enough to cause an arc and physically weld the terminals together that would normally release after the starter switch is released. Any battery would heat up and smoke if it were forced to pass more current than it could handle (such as a short).

If you're wondering why a fuse didn't blow first, the starter power is actually fed to the starter solenoid BEFORE it goes through the maxi fuse, so you're not protected.

Don't connect any more batteries until you get this figured out. Batteries aren't meant to drain that fast. You could cause injury to yourself or your bike.

Get to the wiring at the starter and check the resistance across the motor. If it is unusually low, replace the starter and solenoid.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Secretsather View Post
Don't connect any more batteries until you get this figured out. Batteries aren't meant to drain that fast. You could cause injury to yourself or your bike.
Lithium Ion batteries, in particular, are touchy like that. I'd remove that lithium ion battery altogether, even though the potential has very likely already passed.

Probably for a different thread, but the charge profiles on lead acid, AGM and Lithium Ion are all very different and the charge controller/voltage regulator handles that. What I don't know (and I've looked around a lot for the answer) is if LI batteries are constructed to assume the charge profile will be that of a lead acid.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
If you're wondering why a fuse didn't blow first, the starter power is actually fed to the starter solenoid BEFORE it goes through the maxi fuse, so you're not protected.
Lol...yeah I haven't seen too many 300-500 Amp maxi fuses for running the starter feed, and that's about what you'd need.

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Old 07-09-2018, 05:16 PM   #6
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Yes, Please absolutely do not go putting another battery in there until you or a technician does a little digging around. You'll just end up blowing up the battery at best, and frying something or someone else is an equally likely outcome.

You could do more damage to circuits, wiring, connectors, components, plastic parts, chrome and other materials... and don't forget that even at 12V a couple hundred amps hurts! If you were here in the South on a nice hot summer day with a bit of perspiration going on...your body's internal resistance would be down to like 500 Ohms between the sweat and high current effects. You might actually manage to kill yourself... At the very least I wouldn't want to test it, and it damn sure would HURT!

As for the diagnostics, it sounds like you're going to need to replace at least a section of the starter wires, although that's really just a guess without being there. Either way, that just gets us maybe 1/3 of the way done. I'd still want to see if there was a problem with any of the other circuits from before, and if the surges through the starter caused any other problems with circuits, terminals, or components. You may very well have blown a rectifier/regulator, stator, or any of a number of other components.

It's absolutely something that you could do on your own; but if you're not going to diagnose the whole bike from start to finish, then I'd just let the technician handle it. They will likely:

1. Check the starter wires for open and short circuits, and likely replace at least some of it.

2. Install A New Battery

3. Test the major likely components and other components on the relevant circuit(s).

4. Finally, go back through, and check for any shorts to hot, shorts to ground, open circuits, voltage drop, or parasitic draw from any of the other circuits. Just make sure that everything's good to go after such a nasty little thing. Hopefully, you didn't fry any of the control modules or the ECU/ECM!
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Old 07-09-2018, 06:36 PM   #7
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There is a start relay that may be stuck. I would swap it with the fan relay and see what happens. If it is bad the fans should come on without ever hitting the start button.
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Old 07-10-2018, 01:03 AM   #8
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Thanks all. I did some quick testing to help troubleshoot so I could exhaust some options before bringing in help (mainly seeing if something was obvious). Here is what I know after a quick test

- I removed the solenoid starter switch and tested the resistance between + and - battery cables (no battery with the ignition key on. That bounced a lot but read mid to high double digit ohms
- I checked the starter relay, this was all working fine
- I checked the resistance of the isolated cable to the starter motor and ground, that was 0.3 ohms
- as the resistance looked ok with the starter circuit isolated, I connected up the bike to a battery to check drain. There was no issue with this, and basic circuits worked as expected - lights, indicators etc. Voltage remained steady, and amp draw was as expected

So, the starter circuit is definitely suspect. The cable from battery to solenoid switch looks fine (as does the able to the starter). No issues there for the moment (may replace them anyways but for now in testing they look ok).


Testing on the solenoid switch, the main terminals show good with 100% resistance. The smaller (ignition switch terminals are showing 7.6 ohms which I expect is normal as these are engaged when the ignition switch is pressed). My current thinking is I need to replace both the solenoid switch and starter moto, as this is the circuit that is the main suspect?? thoughts?

Last edited by ThreeSpore; 07-10-2018 at 02:40 AM. Reason: Updated
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Old 07-16-2018, 09:56 PM   #9
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Hi all, happy to say after a starter motor and solenoid switch change, I am all up and running. Looks to be no damage to anything else other than that circuit. I am going to swap some cables as they look a little worse for wear but looks like I got lucky.

thanks all for helping out
Michael
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