Alternator or battery?

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Alternator or battery?

Postby Pieter Huizinga » 01 Dec 2015, 23:11

My "new" C1 has a starting issue.
After a night on the Optimate, it starts immediately. The Optimate 4 indicates the battery is fine.

But after a few days standing, it won't start again. How do I find out if it needs a new battery or a new alternator?
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Re: Alternator or battery?

Postby alans1100 » 02 Dec 2015, 01:57

Sounds like the battery isn't holding the charge because you should be able to start after a few weeks.

The only sure way is to get the battery and alternator tested. If you can't do it yourself then maybe your local bike dealer or auto electrician.

Another clue to alternator/regulator failure is what happens when you ride with your headlight on. Without getting a charge the headlight plus all the other in use electrics will cause the battery to go flat within a few hours.
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Re: Alternator or battery?

Postby Pieter Huizinga » 02 Dec 2015, 09:48

Thanks Alan, the Optimate diagnosed the battery as OK.
And this morning the C1 started immediately even if it had been unused for about a week (due to very poor weather).
I'll keep an eye on it but I do not suspect the alternator, for the reason you gave.
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Re: Alternator or battery?

Postby mbrST1100 » 02 Dec 2015, 13:14

+1 on the battery, but also check for possible parasitic drains, may that be (aftermarket) accessories draining (i.e. active GPS-cradle hooked to battery terminals/permanent hot lead...), or wiring issues/corrosion that "shunt" current from a live wire onto ground/chassis...
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Re: Alternator or battery?

Postby Uncle Phil » 02 Dec 2015, 13:22

You might also check the battery connections for corrosion or looseness.
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Re: Alternator or battery?

Postby BB08 MCN » 02 Dec 2015, 19:59

I've replaced batteries on 3 different bikes (Varadero and my last 2 ST1300's) over the last few years as they 'lost' the charge over a few days, and the optimate said they were ok. If its an AGM(sealed) battery, and in its past life someone has tried to start it when its charge was already low, it can warp the plates and cause a 'partial short' slowly draining the battery within its own cells.
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Re: Alternator or battery?

Postby WJBertrand » 02 Dec 2015, 20:42

If you have access to a volt meter, check the voltage at the battery terminals when the engine is stopped (ignition key off) vs. when the engine is running. Make sure to also check at 4000 - 5000 RPM. If the voltage is higher with the engine running, the charging system is probably OK, if voltage drops with the engine running it means you are draining the battery and something in the charging system has gone kaput.
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Re: Alternator or battery?

Postby mbrST1100 » 02 Dec 2015, 21:30

Guys, don't over-strain Pieter there... I'm sure he's a hot shot on things like network-authorizations and firewalls, but can't really imagine him juggling test-leads around an automotive ;)

Batteries are a bit like females, they like to have secrets... ;)
Both, my car and ST batteries (yep, I've several of each) like to show obscure behaviour:
- Friday week #1: full pull, engine fires on the first blip of the starter solenoid...
- week #2: same
- week #3: same
- ...
- week #7: still the same
- week #8, or 9, or ...: bone dead, suddenly... WTF??!!! I started absolutely fine last week!!!

so I swap the battery/ies with the "spare" ones resting on the shelf, which have passed all Optimate 4 procedures and flawlessly kept their full charge across the above time... engine/s fire on the first blip of the starter solenoid again...
Meanwhile the "drained" battery suck on the Optimate... once charged, all green, all fine, target voltage reached and is kept once disconnected from the tender... for weeks over weeks...

Meanwhile above circle with the ones installed starts again...
Charging systems are OK, stand-by vehicle drain well within the specs (we talk milliamps...), batteries brand new... the max I can get with a once a week vehicle operation are around two months... if I'd use the car or bikes more frequent, I've no issues whatsoever...
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Re: Alternator or battery?

Postby WJBertrand » 03 Dec 2015, 20:33

Indeed batteries are strange. My wife's car started up normally with a good healthy cranking one morning, then she called me about 5 minutes later from the corner gas station - car won't start. I drive over there and the battery is completely toast, just like that. I was able to jump start her car and get it back home, but after charging it overnight it was still dead. Only 2 years old. The other occasion was my '83 Interceptor (VF750F). Started it up in the garage, got down the street to the first stop sign and I pull away from the stop to turn right and blend onto the road the bike suddenly quit. Damn near dropped it loosing power suddenly mid-turn like that. No dash lights, horn, nothing. Pushed it home and had zero voltage on my meter and it refused to charge. Took a chance on a new battery (since I could not properly test the charging system otherwise) and everything went back to normal. Absolutely no warnings in either case.
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Re: Alternator or battery?

Postby mbrST1100 » 03 Dec 2015, 20:52

WJBertrand wrote:My wife's car started up normally with a good healthy cranking one morning, then she called me about 5 minutes later from the corner gas station - car won't start.

Likely that either some crystals came loose, shorting a cell or two, or an internal connection bridge had corroded/vibrated off...

The issue is that these days starer batteries (as well as many, many other products) aren't nearly as durable as like 10~15 years ago...
The OEM battery of my '96 Toyota lasted 10 years...
Also in the 90ies the "old style" Yuasa's in my ST's would give at least 5 years...
But not anymore, brand-batteries will give 2, maybe 3 years at max, 3rd party replicas about 1...

And I just fail to see the true benefit for the environment there... darn RoHS directive, only gets share-holders wealthier...
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