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Ignition Switch Issues

TheIronWarrior

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Went out this morning and the bike wouldnt start. So I tested the battery it was 12.8ish dropped to 11.8ish when hitting the switch. This is a normal range for the bike when it starts with no issues. It was really cold and I had to head to work so I couldnt pull the solenoid to clean it. Instead I tested it by carefully bridging the poles and it started right up. It started all day after that with no issues.

Back in March the last thing I did before the problem seemed to be fixed was pull the solenoid spray it with cleaner and wire brush it. That seemed to be the end of the issue until now.

So based on this it seems like maybe bad contact on the solenoid? or something when cold causing it to not work every time? Could something before or after the solenoid be the issue? It seems like the starter works when the solenoid does and the battery has enough juice.
For clarification on terminology, when you say solenoid, I assume you are referring to the "Starter Relay Switch" to the right of the battery (to use Honda's terminology from the manuals)? Not trying to say "nyah nyah, you're wrong" just trying to make sure I know which parts we're talking about.

Like bigbird said, 'mechanical' problems are sounding more likely than 'electrical' problems*

Bridging the poles worked, so it's probable you have a sticky (or failed/failing) relay (either the "Starter Relay Switch" or the "Starter Relay").
A sticky starter could also be the cause, but I would have thought you'd have no change when bridging the poles. Where it's intermittent, we shouldn't necessarily rule it out.
As far as temperature dependency, anything that's mechanically sticky is likely to be worse in lower temperatures. Viscosities tend to increase with temperature decreases, so contamination is likely to have a greater impact.

NOTE: Bridging the poles has the effect of removing both relays and the PCM from the circuit, so the other possibilities (though perhaps unlikely) would be a toasted PCM or problems with interlock switches. Sidestand and N switches should affect starting. Not sure if the tip switch affects the starter motor on the DCT models, but it does not affect the starter motor (but does cut fuel and spark) on the Manual models. Where the DCT models just feed all interlock information to the PCM, I can't accurately determine which interlocks affect which systems from the information I have so it's a bit of an educated guess.

My next troubleshooting steps if I were you would be to pull the battery/maintenance cover inside the Frunk and locate both start-related relays and listen for both clicking when pressing start (starting with the Starter Relay on the fuse panel, and then the Starter Switch Relay common to the main fuse). I'd probably reseat the relay on the panel, just to be sure as sometimes things can wiggle loose. Check and clean (as required) the Starter Relay Switch, and perhaps seal on reassembly if it looks like grime or moisture is getting in.
If both relays seem good, I'd check the condition of the start motor. The case has a seal between each cap and the main body, and there are O-rings at both the positive terminal-to-case and around the shaft-to-motor. Unlikely based on the symptoms, but it's possible your start motor is gunked up. Even if all seals are good, there could be residue from worn brushes inside the case, so if you get to this point, it might be worth opening up the motor and cleaning.

*SIDE NOTE: At work, we have a few electrical guys that seem to go out of their way to turn "electrical" problems into mechanical problems. This sounds like one of those cases, where the "electrical" system isn't working, but it's due to the mechanical failure of an electrical component such as a relay. Everything would work fine electrically if the failed (or contaminated) component worked mechanically. In their mind, EVERYTHING is a mechanical failure...
 

brb

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Doing electrical diagnosis over the phone/web is a little hard but when you jump the relay it starts so we know the battery,cables, starter motor, starter clutch are good, Right? Then you need to check the relay for sure and the circuit for it. Corrosion on the relay shown by Showkey will do it along with corrosion on the other switches start,ign, clutch, or DCT starter relay. The starter relay has the 2 big wires that go from the battery to starter motor. And 3 smaller that should be RED for ignition power out(+). Yellow/Red for starter switch power in(+). and Green/Red (-) for ground. I would jump a ground wire to the Green/Red with key on first that completes the circuit and if it starts then you need to look at the DCT relay circuit. If not you need to check power in. Its pretty basic the Red is power out from main fuse then comes back in Yellow/Red and gets grounded thru the Green/Red. The manual model gets grounded thru the neutral switch,clutch, side stand. With DCT there is a second start relay, more to check. Hope this helps, Its starting to get a little cold in New England now sounds like a winter project good luck.
 

lootzyan

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...So I tested the battery it was 12.8ish dropped to 11.8ish when hitting the switch. This is a normal range for the bike when it starts with no issues. ..
If the measured battery voltage has dropped from 12.8V to 11.8V after hitting the start switch, it means that the starter motor circuit was closed.
There must have been a fairly significant current load.
It means that the start relay and starter relay switch worked.
Why did the starter motor shaft not turn when the current flow was assured? Too much voltage drop across the starter relay switch contacts? Starter motor brushes not having good contact?
Is it worth taking the time to find the cause?... I doubt it.
Just buy a new starter relay switch (OEM only) and remove the starter motor for service as recommended in the Service Manual. Clean the commutator from brush dust, check the length of the brushes (Standard 12.0mm - 13.0mm, Service Limit 6.5mm).

Starter 2.jpg

Starter 1.jpg
 

brb

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Back in the 80s I had a Honda C70 passport that was in the shop that was doing the same thing(6V system). Clicking but no cranking. When jumping the solenoid it always cranked (and started). Everything was checking out per Honda service manual. That is when I started rechecking everything in the circuit and found that the neutral switch in the engine was faulty. The neutral switch was passing enough voltage to illuminate the neutral light (1.4 watt from memory)and engage the solenoid but not enough to fully trip the relay. A new neutral switch was all it needed. This was a very clean and low mileage bike,and a learning experience for me. I have some old bikes myself and helped other friends and have found on the starter button corrosion on the contacts doing the same thing(your bike is outside right?) contact cleaner does not fix you have to manually clean the contacts,sand paper/scraping with a file. That is why I recommended starting with the basic test of grounding the solenoid first. Being a cold weather rider myself for years(CONN. on the coast) this is a little trick I do. Turn the ignition switch on for 30 sec. headlight draws power from the battery and when this happens the battery heats up a little. Then turn off for 1 min. the battery recoups from the load. Then turn back on and start. Batteries in cold climates are affected by temperature and by doing this the battery is loaded with key on, headlight on which is converting a chemical to electrical energy that increases its temp. Don,t worry about draining the battery anything above 12.65V battery voltage is a surface charge and if your just checking voltage 13.2 to 12.8 is good. I do not think this trick is your problem but it does work started doing yhis in the 80s. Good luck again.
 

TheIronWarrior

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If the measured battery voltage has dropped from 12.8V to 11.8V after hitting the start switch, it means that the starter motor circuit was closed.
There must have been a fairly significant current load.
It means that the start relay and starter relay switch worked.
Why did the starter motor shaft not turn when the current flow was assured? Too much voltage drop across the starter relay switch contacts? Starter motor brushes not having good contact?

With this, and the fact that jumping the relay/starter worked, I would suggest that the Starter Relay Switch being contaminated is the most likely. Not sticky so parts don't move, but dirty terminals so increased resistance.
Especially considering that the reported fix last time was a clean of the Relay (solenoid), sounds like the "sealed" relay is not as sealed as it should be and is corroding or otherwise becoming contaminated.
Recommend pulling the Starter Relay Switch (solenoid) and measuring resistance through the starter side while energizing the trigger side with battery voltage. Should be open when not energized, and closed (near 0 ohms) when energized.
Could probably also check it in the bike by measuring voltage across the terminals on the starter side. Should read battery voltage when disengaged, and close to 0 when engaged. Of course, be aware this is playing around with live starter currents, so take all necessary precautions!!

The "worse in the cold" would also make sense to me, because in general, the battery is going to have a harder time in the cold. If the system already has higher resistance, a slight temperature-related dip in battery performance is going to amplify the problem.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert with electrical systems, I'm a mechanical guy. Over the years, between limited "introduction-to" type courses, personal projects, etc, I have learned some electrickery, but there are many out there who are much more knowledgeable than I am.
 

showkey

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Recommend pulling the Starter Relay Switch (solenoid) and measuring resistance through the starter side while energizing the trigger side with battery voltage. Should be open when not energized, and closed (near 0 ohms) when energized.
Could probably also check it in the bike by measuring voltage across the terminals on the starter side. Should read battery voltage when disengaged, and close to 0 when engaged. Of course, be aware this is playing around with live starter currents, so take all necessary precautions!!


DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert with electrical systems, I'm a mechanical guy. Over the years, between limited "introduction-to" type courses, personal projects, etc, I have learned some electrickery, but there are many out there who are much more knowledgeable than I am.
As mentioned and described in post 43:
Measuring the resistance across the starter solenoid ( relay) is not a valid test…….because ……..the ohm meter is such small current it will show 0 ohm. But under load of the starter amperage is high and voltage drop across the contacts can be high. The best test is measuring voltage drop across the starter relay.

Obviously this pic is generic circuit…….but……..show measuring voltage drop on the positive, negative and solenoid contract. The solenoid in this case in mounted on the starter. The HONDA relay is a remote location.
The are dozens of YouTube videos on measuring voltage drop in circuit and the expect values and the reason its a valued test over measuring resistance.

D19D9EF8-1F88-4DA8-B3B4-111DDA5F6077.png

The C70 starter circuit described in post 44 is voltage drop issue on the start relay activation side.
My C70 has that exact problem. The neutral switch in no longer available from HONDA. The new aftermarket switches have the same issue of excessive voltage drop. The fix is jumper wire to ground the neutral wire and start relay.
 
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TheIronWarrior

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As mentioned and described in post 43:
Measuring the resistance across the starter solenoid ( relay) is not a valid test…….because ……..the ohm meter is such small current it will show 0 ohm. But under load of the starter amperage is high and voltage drop across the contacts can be high. The best test is measuring voltage drop across the starter relay.
Honda manual recommends continuity check with the relay switch out of the bike, and it is the "safer" way to check, which is why I suggested it.
But I do agree, however, that the meter could read zero ohms and still have significant drop under start currents, so the live voltage drop is a more reliable test.

If it was me, I'd check ohms on a disconnected relay first, because it's a "safer" test and if it showed measurable resistance under meter current, you could be damn sure it would be significant under starter current.
If that checked out, a live VDrop test to confirm would be next.
Quick calculations assuming 11v at the battery when cranking and 200A start current, and min 9.5V at the starter required to start (total allowable VDrop 1.5V), a 7.5mOhm (0.0075 Ohm) resistance between the battery and the starter is enough to cause a no-crank scenario. That's a pretty tiny resistance.

You could also connect the "trigger" side of the relay directly (both +12V and Ground) next time you had a no-start, which would narrow down if it is on the "start current" side or the "trigger" side that we're having the problem. As noted above, some issues with interlock switches can cause similar symptoms, and this would eliminate (or suggest) these interlocks as a problem.

I still think the most likely is shit inside the relay on the "start" side causing too much drop, especially where it's worse in the cold.
 

fleetingyouth

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Ok Update.

It has only happened twice since my last post and both times I was at a gas station or other location so couldn't test it. I pulled the solenoid and cleaned all the external contacts and inspected it for any damage which I didn't see any. I tested it while it was off the bike and if I understand the recommended information it seems like that tested correctly. So I havent been able to test live on the bike when it wont start but will as soon as it happens again.

It seems I'll just replace the solenoid and inspect the starter in the spring when I can.

I looked online and couldnt find a good place to buy an oem one for a decent price can anyone recommend a source for it?
 

TheIronWarrior

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Ok Update.

It has only happened twice since my last post and both times I was at a gas station or other location so couldn't test it. I pulled the solenoid and cleaned all the external contacts and inspected it for any damage which I didn't see any. I tested it while it was off the bike and if I understand the recommended information it seems like that tested correctly. So I havent been able to test live on the bike when it wont start but will as soon as it happens again.

It seems I'll just replace the solenoid and inspect the starter in the spring when I can.

I looked online and couldnt find a good place to buy an oem one for a decent price can anyone recommend a source for it?
If possible, open up the solenoid and check the internal contacts. I'm thinking you'll find corrosion on the inside.
 

lootzyan

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If possible, open up the solenoid and check the internal contacts. I'm thinking you'll find corrosion on the inside.
This starter relay switch is factory sealed with a flexible adhesive sealant.
Is it worth the trouble to reseal it? What would be the guarantee that the sealing would be sufficient?
If you break the seal - you can throw this relay away.
 

TheIronWarrior

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This starter relay switch is factory sealed with a flexible adhesive sealant.
Is it worth the trouble to reseal it? What would be the guarantee that the sealing would be sufficient?
If you break the seal - you can throw this relay away.
I find it hard to believe that the solenoid would be so impossible to reseal with a commercially available sealant and moderate abilities.
Especially considering certain MYs were flagged in a recall for poor factory sealing, I think if I was already planning on replacing the solenoid, I'd try splitting it, cleaning it (if required) and resealing it. At the very least, I'd know the solenoid was the source of my problem and could be confident a replacement would solve it, and at best I've saved some money and how have a refurbished solenoid ready for many more miles of service.
 

TNHoosier

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I find it hard to believe that the solenoid would be so impossible to reseal with a commercially available sealant and moderate abilities.
Especially considering certain MYs were flagged in a recall for poor factory sealing, I think if I was already planning on replacing the solenoid, I'd try splitting it, cleaning it (if required) and resealing it. At the very least, I'd know the solenoid was the source of my problem and could be confident a replacement would solve it, and at best I've saved some money and how have a refurbished solenoid ready for many more miles of service.
I might try that and keep it as a spare. If the contacts have corroded or you are not careful when cleaning, the plating on the contact will be removed resulting in a quicker failure the next time.
 
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lootzyan

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I find it hard to believe that the solenoid would be so impossible to reseal ...
Nobody said that it was impossible to reseal the Honda start relay. These are just your words.
Of course it is not difficult. You can even try it yourself.
But I say, from myself, that for me to do something like that does not make sense.
First, I'm not sure the problem is the solenoid. I certainly wouldn't be doing circuit tests on my bike, outdoors in the cold, with a battery that would quickly discharge only after a few attempts to start the engine.
The most important thing is, to measure the voltage drop across the solenoid contacts the start circuit must be closed. So the current flow must be assured, but this is not so sure every time.
Technical problems may be more. This takes time which is more valuable to me than uncertain tests.
So I say that for me replacing a part like this relay, if it is available, is more profitable than repairing it, with an uncertain result.
 

TheIronWarrior

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I might try that and keep it as a spare. If the contacts have corroded or you are not careful when cleaning, the plating on the contact will be removed resulting is a quicker failure the next time.
Sure it might lead to a quicker failure next time, but in the mean time until a replacement can be sourced it could mean the difference between the starter functioning as desired or being stranded. If it was well done, it might even mean the solenoid performs nearly as well for nearly as long as intended. At the very least, if I had already decided to replace, I'd disassemble the old unit to try and confirm the theory that the internal contacts were the source of the problem.
Nobody said that it was impossible to reseal the Honda start relay. These are just your words.
Of course it is not difficult. You can even try it yourself.
But I say, from myself, that for me to do something like that does not make sense.
First, I'm not sure the problem is the solenoid. I certainly wouldn't be doing circuit tests on my bike, outdoors in the cold, with a battery that would quickly discharge only after a few attempts to start the engine.
The most important thing is, to measure the voltage drop across the solenoid contacts the start circuit must be closed. So the current flow must be assured, but this is not so sure every time.
Technical problems may be more. This takes time which is more valuable to me than uncertain tests.
So I say that for me replacing a part like this relay, if it is available, is more profitable than repairing it, with an uncertain result.
I'm sorry if I misinterpreted "If you break the seal - you can throw this relay away" as "if you break the seal, the relay is now unusable" instead of "if you break the seal I think I wouldn't want to use it anymore" which is a totally different argument.
There are people who will replace all 4 tires on their car if they get a nail in one and the tires are only 20% worn. Other people would replace the one tire and be done with it, and still others would plug the tire and call it a day. None of them are inherently wrong, they just have different priorities.

Bypassing the solenoid has worked to get the bike starting when it otherwise wouldn't. This points to the solenoid (and more importantly, rules out the starter), though it could be any of the start interlocks, the other start relay, or the PCM unit while having the same symptoms and work-around. I expect if it was any of the interlocks or the PCM that you would have more problems than an intermittent no-crank, so I would consider that unlikely. Where cleaning up the external contacts of the solenoid seems to temporarily solve the issue, I consider the solenoid the most likely cause. It is known that other MYs have leaky solenoids due to poor sealant, which further supports the probability that the issue is a poorly sealed solenoid.

With all that in mind, if it were my bike, I'd be confident in disassembling the solenoid, carefully cleaning the inside as best I could, and carefully resealing the unit. If that wasn't the problem, and I was careful enough doing the work (I am confident in my abilities) the worst case is negligible impact on anything. The best case is the problem is effectively completely solved. If you would go a different route, that's fine.
I agree in that I would still prefer to see a voltage drop test across the solenoid terminals, but where this is an intermittent issue, you have to catch it with the tools and time you'd need to check it. It's always challenging tracking down an intermittent issue.

If I had already decided to replace the part (as it seems Fleeting is prepared to do) I'd have zero concerns about disassembling the old part, even if I was not confident in my abilities to put it back together.
I guess I just don't understand the "I would replace the part without knowing it was the problem, but I would never consider trying to repair the part without knowing it was the problem" mindset. Worst case with trying to repair is that you could make the part unusable, which then you would have to replace it, which you seem totally fine to do anyway.

Again, not saying you are wrong to prefer to replace the part rather than try and fix it, but I much prefer making what I already have work before getting a new one. It's what I do for a living, keeping 45 year old aircraft flying in a safe and cost-effective manner. In general, it's repair when able, replace when necessary, and safety is always the priority.
 

lootzyan

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I guess I just don't understand the "I would replace the part without knowing it was the problem, but I would never consider trying to repair the part without knowing it was the problem" mindset. Worst case with trying to repair is that you could make the part unusable, which then you would have to replace it, which you seem totally fine to do anyway.
Do you still mean repairing that NC700 solenoid or repairing parts in general? A big difference in this case.
For the 2013 NC700, the starter relay switch is 35850-MR5-007 and costs from $8 for equivalent - up to approx. $90 for OEM from eg. CyclePartsNation.
On the other hand, since I don't know what kind of plastic is used for the housing of this relay, I need to get the best sealant possible, for example: 3M Marine Adhesive/Sealant - approx. $20 for a 295 mL tube, but I would only use a few grams. I would have no more reason to use it, so it's a waste.
I won't say how much time I have to spend on such activities. And that's not good entertainment for me.
 

TheIronWarrior

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Do you still mean repairing that NC700 solenoid or repairing parts in general? A big difference in this case.
For the 2013 NC700, the starter relay switch is 35850-MR5-007 and costs from $8 for equivalent - up to approx. $90 for OEM from eg. CyclePartsNation.
A little of both, and the scale definitely tips towards replace when the part in question is cheaper so I see where you're coming from.
How are you confirming the aftermarket equivalent is comparable quality to the $90 OEM unit? Can you be sure the part costing 10% as much doesn't only have 10% the lifespan from new? Is it possible that refurbishing your OEM unit with $20 worth of sealant (even if most is wasted) still provides a way better part than the $8 aftermarket? Wouldn't that make the $20 worth of the "best" sealant you can find worth the cost? In general, most budget aftermarket parts work fine (so would work better than a failed or intermittent part) but are nowhere near the same level of quality as an OEM part, and tend to fail much earlier. To be fair, in some cases the cheaper aftermarket parts are near OEM quality, but how can you know for sure?
Also for reference, for me the cheapest aftermarket solenoids I can find is 24CAD (off amazon) and 44CAD (shipped from an online retailer), and I can get a tube of name brand marine sealant (83ml) for under $7 CAD locally.
If you choose to replace the part because you don't WANT to try and repair, that's fine. I find in general, the majority of motorcycle riders (except for old accountants on Harleys, Goldwings, and BMWs) like to work on their machines, so I wouldn't make the blanket statement that just because YOU don't like to try and fix things, no one should TRY and fix things.
I simply made a recommendation based on what I would do. You made a recommendation based on what you would do. Both are valid means of attacking the problem, which solution someone chooses is going to depend on their priorities.
 

lootzyan

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...How are you confirming the aftermarket equivalent is comparable quality to the $90 OEM unit?...
...YOU don't like to try and fix things, no one should TRY and fix things...
For me, if a $90 OEM relay fails after only a few years of use, it means its quality was questionable from the start.
In fact, I have already replaced this solenoid once after a relatively short time of use. And from what the owners of Honda motorcycles report, this type of relay is widely used and there are frequent cases of breakdown and need for replacement. So it would be possible that, in the long run, I would have bought a few cheaper substitutes.
And, yes. I don't like to fix things that shouldn't break so quickly anymore. I have spent many years fixing "things". But now my labor is much more valuable. I am more prudent on what to spend my precious time on.
This discussion is now meaningless.
 
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