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Old 12-06-2007, 06:35 PM   #1
jigdog OP
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WHat Happens When Your Brake Fluid Gets Low?

It shuts off the ABS feature on your BMW motorcycle, thats what. A K1200LT owner found this out the hard way and, according to his article he wrote in the latest issue of ON magazine, he had a crash because of it. It seems he was out riding in pouring rain and had his ABS failure light come on. Not a good time for that to happen. He got into a situation where he lowsided shortly after that. Luckily neither he nor his machine were seriously dammaged. Now whether or not having ABS was a factor could be called into question. (although he clearly thinks it was) But one fact stands out. He brought the machine to BMW and was told the ABS cut out because of low brake fluid levels. Adding brake fluid restored the ABS to functionality. He apparently checked the fluid level, but was told by the dealer there were OTHER brake fluid resevoirs added to his late in 05 model he didnt know about.
Personally I would not think that a low level brake fluid should disable the ABS feature. Its clear that the computer sensed the level and shut off the ABS. It wasnt a case of the low level itself causing the ABS not to work. If you have ABS on your BMW motorcycle you might want to get a hold of this article and read it.
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Old 12-06-2007, 07:09 PM   #2
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abs

I took a fall in my pasture about a year ago and thought it would be no big deal. Well the ground was as hard as a rock and when I hit, I hit hard ended up breaking a rib. What a stupid thing!
Anyway, the bike was on its side('05 GS) for a few seconds and when I picked it up it was flashing "brake failure". I still had brakes, but the light wouldn't go away. I took it to the dealer and he asked me if it had been on its side. I said yes and he told me the reserviour under the seat lost fluid during that spill and needed to be topped off. I was going to have to wait a long time for him to get to it that day and I live 100 miles away, so I took the tank off and did it myself. It fixed the problem.
I read that same article you are talking about in ON. The guy was lucky and smart for wearing the right clothing. The servo assist brakes are the only ones with additional reserviours, I think. I am thinking of trading to get rid of this technology, however I really like my bike. The warranty is about to run out and it is a good excuse to trade. Have a good day, Brenter.
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Old 12-06-2007, 07:47 PM   #3
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Yes he made some good points about how to survive a slide after a crash. Like trying to stand up before you stop moving can break your leg(s). You will roll (causing further dammage) if the lenth of your body gets to right angles with your direction of travel.
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Old 12-06-2007, 07:48 PM   #4
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My question is, why did the fellow NOT stop to investigate the brake warning lamp on? Have not read the article sited, but would think that if a big red warning light started to flash, on any vehicle that I was operating, I would stop to investigate. Just seems like common sense to me. Red and flashing usually means danger!

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Old 12-06-2007, 07:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big adv
My question is, why did the fellow NOT stop to investigate the brake warning lamp on? Have not read the article sited, but would think that if a big red warning light started to flash, on any vehicle that I was operating, I would stop to investigate. Just seems like common sense to me. Red and flashing usually means danger!

Earl
Good question, his ABS light comes on indicating an ABS failure, and he keeps riding like nothing happened? Stupid to blame the bike for his bad judgement.

ABS is not designed to protect the rider from doing something dumb!

Jim

PS You can even lowside WITH ABS working. ABS doesn't work in a turn.
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Old 12-06-2007, 07:57 PM   #6
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Far from home with no detectable change and no descernable reason for warning (known reservoirs and brakes fine) would you call road service? Or assume false light?
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ctfz1
Far from home with no detectable change and no descernable reason for warning (known reservoirs and brakes fine) would you call road service? Or assume false light?
I would assume the brakes are not working as normal, and slow down!

If I could feel the brakes are working normally, I would assume ABS isn't working, and might slow down a little. However, any time the bike is telling you it has a problem, and you ride it anyhow, YOU are responsible for the consequences!

Jim
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:02 PM   #8
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Any hydraulic brakes can and will fail if the fluid gets too low. ABS has nothing to do with it.
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimVonBaden
Good question, his ABS light comes on indicating an ABS failure, and he keeps riding like nothing happened? Stupid to blame the bike for his bad judgement.

ABS is not designed to protect the rider from doing something dumb!

Jim

PS You can even lowside WITH ABS working. ABS doesn't work in a turn.
Yes he could have stopped. But there was no ABS failure. There was only a low level of brake fluid. The machine is programmed to cut off the ABS in that situation. Its like the common low battery voltage fault. We know from experience when that happens if you shut down and restart a few moments later you get your ABS back. And it works fine. Low battery voltage after startup does not affect the ABS function. But the machine disables the ABS if it sees it.
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jigdog
Yes he could have stopped. But there was no ABS failure. There was only a low level of brake fluid. The machine is programmed to cut off the ABS in that situation. Its like the common low battery voltage fault. We know from experience when that happens if you shut down and restart a few moments later you get your ABS back. And it works fine. Low battery voltage after startup does not affect the ABS function. But the machine disables the ABS if it sees it.
That doesn't change the fact that he crashed with a known issue with his bike, then blames the bike!

Jim
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Old 12-06-2007, 09:48 PM   #11
big adv
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Why do you think that the ABS funtion shuts down if the brake fluid is low? (cars with ABS do this too) Its because when the pump is activated and the acumulators are open the system draws alot of fluid in from the resivor, if the level is low, then air can be drawn in, causing a complete failure.

I dont quit follow on the 'no failure' thing? just because something seems to be working fine, does not mean that there is not a 'real' problem. Otherwize why have the light come on?


The next question is why was the fluid low? The resivor in question is the ones on the modulator, these are the wheel curcuits, was there a leak? Was the pads worn below the min. spec.? Lack of maint.? ( With the I-ABS II the fluid level in the upper resivors should not change) Did the rider also not read his riders manual to familurize him self with the bike he was riding?

This seems like a situation that need not have happened, barring a sudden and complete braking system failure. Seems to me that it was a rider failure.

Earl
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Old 12-07-2007, 03:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctfz1
Far from home with no detectable change and no descernable reason for warning (known reservoirs and brakes fine) would you call road service? Or assume false light?
Funnily enough, the warning light is to warn of low fluid in the servo unit.

The name - WARNING LIGHT- is a sort of clue

His decision to ignore it.
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Old 12-07-2007, 03:38 AM   #13
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Just friggen wonderful; neither my 1150GS Adv Sport nor my HP2 have ABS and up until now I thought they could be ridden safely. I guess I should park them before I die.

Edit: "Now knocking wood and praying for good Juju..............I hate it when I'm stupid"
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Tabasco screwed with this post 12-07-2007 at 03:51 AM
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Old 12-07-2007, 06:58 AM   #14
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Same thing happened to me a while ago. After dropping the bike several times over a few months, I finally got a brake failure light. Was left with residual brakes for 400 miles, until I made it to Salt Lake and they topped off my reservoirs under the tank. I knew I had 50% brakes and rode accordingly.
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Old 12-07-2007, 07:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jigdog
He brought the machine to BMW and was told the ABS cut out because of low brake fluid levels. Adding brake fluid restored the ABS to functionality. He apparently checked the fluid level, but was told by the dealer there were OTHER brake fluid resevoirs added to his late in 05 model he didnt know about.
That happened to me. My brake light would pop on after an hour's riding but there didn't appear to be any affect the brakes. I checked the brake fluid resevoirs and they were fine. But, the dealership said it was the low fluid level in the additional bladders or resevoirs that did it, and they fixed the problem. I'm still not sure how it happens that the level in the resevoirs looks perfect, but it somehow doesn't translate to the levels in the various bladders or resevoirs in the bike. They said that all they had to do was add fluid, but I don't get how they added fluid to those other resevoirs since the ones you're supposed to check looked perfect. It remains a mystery.
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