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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,


My 1990 GL1500 bike has experienced some kind of power issue/failure.

I wanted to take it for one last ride before putting it away for the winter... I turned the key and all the lights came on nice and bright like they always do, pressed the start button and everything went out and now the power is completely dead.

Cycled the key off/on but still nothing at all. Checked the battery and all seems OK with it. Checked the main fuse (dog bone) located next to the battery and it looks fine and also checked all the fuses in the fuse block on opposite side of battery and didn't find any blown fuses there either.

The next day I tried turning the key again to see if anything had changed but still nothing. :frown2: I did notice on the second day that the back light for the LCD display and stereo knobs comes on... but nothing else. I cycled the key off and on a few times and started getting a noise I would describe as a relay buzzing and trying to energize... almost like the sound the air pump makes when it is running.

I know there is a block of 10A & 20A relays next to the fuse block but I haven't taken the time yet to remove the side saddle to get access to them and check those and see if the "buzzing" sound comes from there. I did Google around a bit and found some comments that were somewhat similar but not exactly the same as my issue/symptoms related to those relays.

So... my question is, am I looking in the right area and suspecting one of those relays or should I be looking somewhere else?


Thanks for any guidance provided.




Tim
 

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It aint rocket science
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Remove the battery terminals sandpaper clean and reattach.
 

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First thing I'd check is battery terminal connections, they can corrode and still look good.

With key "on", measure voltage between dogbone fuse and a ground on the frame, if not around 12v the battery connections are most likely culprit.
 

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JD and Denver are probably correct. If you have no volt ohm meter you might want to buy one. Harbor Freight has them for about $5. Free with purchase at certain times. If you had?have a voltmeter check battery voltage by pushing the black probe on the actual negative lug of the battery. Not the cables or cable ends. Then do the same with the red probe on the battery positive lug. If you have 12 volts or so with the key on the battery is probably not the issue. If you see less than 10 volts the battery is the issue. Might be dead or junk. If you see good voltage at the battery now move both meter probes to the crimped on battery cable ends to check voltage there with the key on. If the battery lug reading is good the cable reading should be the same. If it is not the same (which I think will be the case) you know there is a poor connection between the battery and the battery cable connection. Make sense? Good voltage at the battery, poor voltage at the cables. Where did it go? Bad connection!
They really can look nice and not connect at all. Other times the are all corroded and work just fine. The voltmeter will help a lot once you learn how to use it around vehicles and the house. Plus if you buy at the right time it is free. You can skip all this and just go clean your connections as JD and Denver said if you want to take the easy way out.:wink2:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks all for the responses.


Battery is about 2½ years old, I usually replace every 3 years just to avoid issues out on the road so was planning to replace it next spring. I rode it last a few weeks ago, all systems normal than.

I took my volt meter and first measured with the key in the off position... like I did when this first happened... I get around 11.80 volts measuring from the battery's neg/pos lugs, and same when measured from battery's neg/pos terminal connections, dog bone & neg lug and dog bone & frame ground. No change in voltage reading after cleaning terminal connections either.

With the key in the on position voltage drops to around 5 - 5.25 ish volts when measured from same locations as above.

Does this info help narrow down what my issue might be? I was a bit shocked the voltage dropped so much with key in the on position, especially considering all the lights are out.

Never had anything like this happen before in the 26+ years owning this bike. I actually feel pretty lucky as the only real mechanical issue its ever had was an alternator going bad many years ago.... knock on WOOD!! LOL
 

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You might want to try removing the battery and taking it to an auto parts store that can load test it for you. You may have a shorted out or dead cell.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I may just purchase a new battery now since I would have been replacing it next spring anyhow. This way the battery itself can be eliminated as the possible cause. I normally like to purchase a new battery in the spring after the "stresses" of winter/cold temps have passed.

If it does turn out to be the battery itself I've never had a battery go instantly bad before... at the moment this happened I turned the key to the ON position, everything lit up nice and bright like normal, and then I pressed the start button and it was at that point that everything went out and won't come back on. Is it usually so instantly that a battery can short or get a dead cell?
 

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I may just purchase a new battery now since I would have been replacing it next spring anyhow. This way the battery itself can be eliminated as the possible cause. I normally like to purchase a new battery in the spring after the "stresses" of winter/cold temps have passed.

If it does turn out to be the battery itself I've never had a battery go instantly bad before... at the moment this happened I turned the key to the ON position, everything lit up nice and bright like normal, and then I pressed the start button and it was at that point that everything went out and won't come back on. Is it usually so instantly that a battery can short or get a dead cell?
Try to charge the battery first before you give up on the battery. Do you have an AGM battery? Many batteries run 5 plus years. To change a battery at 2 1/2 years is a waste. You might have an alternator issue and it is not charging the battery. Or did you leave something on? Charge the battery to see if it comes back to life. 11.8 volts with the key off is way low. Should be more like 12.8 volts. You have narrowed it down some. It is either the battery or charging system. (alternator etc.)
EDIT: One more thought. Have you noticed any anomalies last ride? Usually when the alternator fails the engine will idle a couple of hundred RPM faster. An easy test for the alternator is to hook up your voltmeter to the battery. Start the bike and watch the trend on your voltmeter. If it is steady at 13.5 plus or rising then the alternator is working. If it is slowly counting down you need to check the charging system. Might well be an alternator. Might need cleaning, repair or replace.
 

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These Goldwings require a lot if power to crank and start. If you dont have at least 10 or more volts with just the key on, you have found your problem. There is no way your bike will even try to start at around 5 volts.


Just to add, by letting it sit for a couple weeks, it has lost some voltage. Couple that in with colder weather and the battery will really run out of juixe.
 

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Its not just about the voltage. You need the amperage as well. This is where a simple load test comes in. Basic load test devices have a resistance coil, much the same as you would find in an electric space heater. You hook it up to your battery and turn the "heater" on for about 15 seconds. A strong battery, in terms of amperage, will heat that coil up and give you a reading on the meter that shows it has sufficient "juice" in reserve to keep the needle in the good part of the dial. With a weak or faulty battery, the needle on the meter will drop and read into the weak area on the dial. That's a load test.



One other experiment to try, just for grins. Try jumping off the wing with a known good 12v battery such as a car battery. But, Caution! Do this without the car engine running! If she starts right up, then you probably have a bad battery.
 

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Its not just about the voltage. You need the amperage as well. This is where a simple load test comes in. Basic load test devices have a resistance coil, much the same as you would find in an electric space heater. You hook it up to your battery and turn the "heater" on for about 15 seconds. A strong battery, in terms of amperage, will heat that coil up and give you a reading on the meter that shows it has sufficient "juice" in reserve to keep the needle in the good part of the dial. With a weak or faulty battery, the needle on the meter will drop and read into the weak area on the dial. That's a load test.



One other experiment to try, just for grins. Try jumping off the wing with a known good 12v battery such as a car battery. But, Caution! Do this without the car engine running! If she starts right up, then you probably have a bad battery.
Or you can do a shade tree load test that many have used on this forum. Charge the battery full. It should have at least 12.5 volts with the charger off. For the load test hook the volt meter to the battery. While you crank the engine with the starter the voltage can not drop below 10 volts. :wink2:
 

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you should always keep the battery on a Battery Tender.
it will last you 7+ years if you do...

several have commented on getting 10+ years from their battery.

all of the batteries not in everyday use on this place, have dedicated Battery Tenders on them.
  • Piaggio MP3 scooter
  • Bad Boy Zero Turn mower
  • GL1800
  • our big Toy Hauler trailer's main battery, and the standby Deep Cycle battery, each has a dedicated Battery Tender.
  • the EZ Go Golf car we use for a yard tractor, has a specially designed battery tender for 36 volt battery pack
Batteries are too expensive to let them stagnate and ruin.
 

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But, I don't have a shade tree. Just a money tree, and it doesn't have enough "leaves" to make much shade! :laugh:
At least you have a tree. I have to squeeze a nickel so hard I make the indian ride the buffalo!:wink2:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks all for responding.


I've experienced low battery issues before, many times in fact over the years for different reasons/causes... and a few times the battery was so low the starter wouldn't engage at all... the issue I'm having now is NOT that problem.


When this all began on the day I last attempted to start the bike a few days ago ALL lights were bright and normal when I first turned the key to the ON position... I then pressed the start button and instantly EVERYTHING went out/dark and the engine didn't even make a crank. So no headlights, no dash lights, no marker/tail lights... nothing. I turn the key off and on and still no lights at all... zip. With 10.80 volts in the battery and the key in the ON position I should still get dash lights, headlights, etc... obviously not as bright as a fully charged battery but I should still get something for lights and yet I do not.

About the only thing I do get now after this happened is when I turn the key to the ON position, if lighting is low enough for me to see it, is the back lighting on the LCD display and stereo knobs... no dash lights, no headlights, no marker/tail lights, not even a little bit.


I am starting to suspect more and more that my issue is most likely relay failure related. Is anyone familiar with the group of relays located on the left side of the bike near the fuse block and what role each of those relays play? I suspect one of those relays is energized when the key is turned to the ON position and plays a key role in distributing power to the rest of the bike.
 

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My money is on a bad battery. Second choice is the alternator not charging it properly. Your lower voltage reading at the battery with the switch turned on, thus putting a load on the battery, is a classic symptom of the battery not having enough power to keep the voltage up with the load.
 

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I see that you did clean the post but see no mention of charging the battery or taking the charged battery to have it tested. You must start with a fully charged and tested battery before moving on to troubleshooting fuses, relays, alternator or parasitic drain.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Its not just about the voltage. You need the amperage as well.
Agree, to crank the engine the battery needs an adequate amount of "cranking amps" but you need very little amps/voltage to just light the lights... I get zilch for lights.


One other experiment to try, just for grins. Try jumping off the wing with a known good 12v battery such as a car battery. But, Caution! Do this without the car engine running! If she starts right up, then you probably have a bad battery.
I was thinking of doing this as well. I may not try to actually start the bike this way but if I get normal lights when I turn the key to the ON position with it jumped then it's gotta be a bad battery.


I've just never had a battery fail so instantly and completely like this.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
you should always keep the battery on a Battery Tender.
it will last you 7+ years if you do...

several have commented on getting 10+ years from their battery.

all of the batteries not in everyday use on this place, have dedicated Battery Tenders on them.
  • Piaggio MP3 scooter
  • Bad Boy Zero Turn mower
  • GL1800
  • our big Toy Hauler trailer's main battery, and the standby Deep Cycle battery, each has a dedicated Battery Tender.
  • the EZ Go Golf car we use for a yard tractor, has a specially designed battery tender for 36 volt battery pack
Batteries are too expensive to let them stagnate and ruin.
I always put the battery tender on when I store my bike for the long winter months.


Over the 26+ years owning this bike it has been my experience that after 3-4 years my batteries just don't have the same cranking duration they did when they were younger. My carbureted 1990 GL1500 is a very very cold blooded girl... ALWAYS has been. On cool/cold early spring/late fall days it takes quiet a bit of cranking to get the old girl to fire up and I just don't get that kind of extended cranking duration on a 3-4+ year old battery... again, my experience.



Perhaps I don't get the longevity others get because I tend to purchase a more economical battery these days. Everstart ES50N18LA3 runs me about $55. In the past I've tried the "$$$high performance$$$"/costly batteries but it has been my experience that those batteries didn't perform all that much better for me than the more economical batteries do... at least for the high/low temp conditions my bike experiences.
 
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