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Old 12-03-2012, 02:00 AM   #1
sekerbs OP
Scottie Everett
 
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Strange electrical issue

Wondering if anyone has experienced anything like this and can help point me in the right diagnostic direction... I have a 2005 1200GS with 54k+ miles. I put a Westco battery in it a couple of years ago that I got from an online BMW dealer when it started cranking slowly in the cold. I've been keeping the bike plugged in to a Battery Tender Plus for the last year when I'm not riding since I don't ride everyday anymore. The ABS unit was replaced under warranty last March because it kept shutting itself off mid-ride at random times. The only other electrical items that have been changed are both headlight bulbs and the taillight bulb. The problem didn't come immediately after any of the "electrical" changes. What is happening is this: when first starting the bike fresh off the charger, everything is fine. The problem comes after I've stopped the bike for a few minutes when I'm out for a ride. It cranks and starts back up fine, but the LCD "headlight bulb out" indicator comes on and the headlights are not working. It takes from 30 seconds to 2 minutes for the indicator to go out and for the headlights to come on. This isn't too much of a problem during the day, but it is a pain at night. My BMW dealer and a local battery shop say that my battery tests fine. The other day a meter reading showed 12+ volts before starting when the bike was fresh off the charger, during cranking the reading dropped to about 9.5 volts, and a couple seconds after the bike was running it was reading 14+ volts. I haven't taken readings mid-ride when the problem happens but I'm going to do that tomorrow. My gut tells me it is the battery despite what the dealer and battery shop say, but I certainly don't want to buy a new battery if that isn't the problem. Any ideas? Thanks so much for any input.
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:13 PM   #2
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Anyone?
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:08 PM   #3
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The readings you took do look reasonable, but I agree with your suspicions, it does seem to be battery related. Especially considering the off-charger reading: my batteries run 12.7 to 13.1V immediately after charging. Is your charger OK?

If it was me, I'd change the battery - especially since yours is a couple of years old, so that you are throwing away only a little more of possible lifetime. Any other repair or diagnostics that you would attempt can easily cost much more than a replacement battery.
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:15 PM   #4
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Strange electrical issue

Are you, by chance, using HID headlights?

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Old 12-03-2012, 07:48 PM   #5
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They are a hybrid that is supposed to mimic the HID look. I can't remember which online retailer I got them from, but they are Japanese and the package has mostly Japanese writing on it. I think the brand is Polarg, and the package says B1 Hybrid Halogen Two. The website listed on the package is www.nissei-polarg.co.jp but the language is Japanese. The advertising from the site I bought them from said that the 55w bulbs perform like a 110w, and I must say that they are much better than the stock bulbs. These CANBUS systems are finicky and maybe it doesn't like these bulbs? I do know that these symptoms surfaced about 8 months after I put the bulbs in, not right away.
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:28 AM   #6
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Strange electrical issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by sekerbs View Post
They are a hybrid that is supposed to mimic the HID look. I can't remember which online retailer I got them from, but they are Japanese and the package has mostly Japanese writing on it. I think the brand is Polarg, and the package says B1 Hybrid Halogen Two. The website listed on the package is www.nissei-polarg.co.jp but the language is Japanese. The advertising from the site I bought them from said that the 55w bulbs perform like a 110w, and I must say that they are much better than the stock bulbs. These CANBUS systems are finicky and maybe it doesn't like these bulbs? I do know that these symptoms surfaced about 8 months after I put the bulbs in, not right away.
They're halogen bulbs from the look of them on the supplied website. My '09 GSA exhibited the same symptoms after I changed from halogen to HID. Changing the ballast from 55W to 35W cured my problems. Sorry I cannot help.

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Old 12-04-2012, 08:24 AM   #7
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Just a thought, but your battery voltage readings sound quite normal to me and you have had the battery tested, so my first choice would not be to replace the battery without better evidence.

You can do a basic check of the battery yourself by taking it off the charger and leaving it sit for an hour. Then take a voltage reading to see if the voltage has dropped much. You should have around 12.6 to 12.9 volts. But from what you have said, it wouldn't be my first choice. Not ruling it out but perhaps start elsewhere.

I would be inclined to swap out a $5 bulb before a $100 battery. A spare bulb never hurts to have. Just a basic bulb, nothing fancy or super bright. ( They never last very long anyway )
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Old 12-04-2012, 09:08 AM   #8
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I doubt that a battery with a good cranking power would cause weird electrical problems. Try hitting the headlight housing and see if the light will come on. Change the bulb.
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Old 12-04-2012, 09:31 AM   #9
Pete O Static
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Was thinking some more about this. Another thing you can try which wont cost anything at all is to disconnect the headlight bulb and put a voltmeter on the headlight socket. Read the voltage at the bulb socket and see if there is any delay or difference in voltage. If no issue, then definitely try another "basic OEM" bulb before replacing battery.
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