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Starter motor problem - [GS500F]

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' started by Tim_4, May 31, 2012.

  1. Hi guys,

    tl;dr below

    I would prefer to fix this myself if possible. I have a break coming up in which I will have time to get down and dirty with my ride and will just deal the next few weeks with cage/public transport :(

    Anyway, I was going to begin my ride from the Central Coast to Sydney early Moday morning as I normally do, however the bike was cold, and it tends not to start immediately when cold.

    I hit the starter and the engine would turn over once if lucky, before it would just seemingly 'stick' and refuse to turn over anymore, with the lights dimming (I assume due to starter drawing more current due to resistance of engine). I even have the bike in neutral when trying to start to avoid the additional resistance of being in gear.

    Note I had this issue the week before, but managed to start it after numerous attempts by waiting like 5 minutes with the bike off, then turning it on and quickly starting it (battery seems to draw higher current when left for a few minutes).

    However this time, it refused to start. Engine wouldnt turn over once. After trying for like 5 minutes, i mustve killed something because the starter stopped engaging the motor and was just freely spinning.

    The battery is fine. Voltage was 12.8V or whatever its supposed to be and the water levels were fine. Even tried connecting to another battery; same problem.

    I ride the bike every weekday and 100km (freeway included) each way from and to Sydney, so it's not like it sits there for long. And I had a major service done to it (like a once in a few years service) only the end of last year.

    Note I only have basic understanding of mechanical function of starters/engines/gears/etc and this is how I interpret it, correct me I'm wrong please. I also have limited hands on experience, but am willing to get that experience.

    Even if I have to replace the whole starter I hope it's something I can do myself and save myself some cash. I just wanted some experienced opinions first considering I may not know what I'm getting myself into. I am also concerned about the bike not turning over easily at all. It appears whatever problem I have now is a result of the engine providing too much resistance.


    When I try to start bike, the starter is freely spinning (whirring sound) but not being thrown into the engine (engine is not being enganged by starter, let alone turned over)
  2. Can't help much with your specific problem, but if you'd like a copy of the service manual, PM me your email address.

    The one I have is current up to 1999, but as you would know the GS500 is basically unchanged so you will still find it very useful.

    • Like Like x 1
  3. Actually, I do have a couple of PDFs lying on laptop or HDD somewhere, I'll be looking for them this weekend.

    But that'd be great, thanks Mahoney, PM sent.

    As long as I didnt say anything wrong/stupid in my original post, I guess I know where to start.
  4. It does sound like at minimum you'll need a new starter, as, assuming that it uses the helical 'spin out' engagement method it sounds like that is buggered.

    Regarding the starter not having enough oomph to spin an engine, assuming that the battery is OK then I'd be looking at the following:
    - Failed starter (fixed by replacing the starter motor)
    - Bad connections (i.e., bad earths, loose/corroded bolts)

    Does it bump-start OK?

    Full disclosure: I'm reasonably 'handy' but not a motorcycle (or anything else) mechanic, YMMV, E&OE, SYDIPP
  5. Hi Tim_4, I would agree with Wokwon but would start with the bad connections scenario first. The high current path i.e. Battery - Starter Solenoid - Starter Motor - Battery loop is the most common cause of these type of issues. A high resistance joint will not allow enough current to flow to engage the motor completely.

    So disconnect the battery then disconnect clean and reconnect the connections to the starter solenoid, clean the battery connection posts and reconnect the battery. Use an external charger to make sure the battery is at full charge.

    See if you can start then.
  6. I have problems starting mine at the moment. The compression is quite low and it floods and fouls the spark plug if it doesn't start straight away. I keep a new spark plug handy and if I can't get it started I swap the spark plug and it starts straight away. My bikes not worth the cost of fixing the problem, but I expect it to get worse as it gets colder.
  7. Wot? Yer not a member on:


    ....get yerselv over there now! There ain't nothing about our GS500s that ain't on that site.

    A search there will show that there are quite a number of things you need to check before ripping into the guts of the bike to actually replace a starter motor.

    Good luck with the problem....terrific thing is that the bikes are nice and easy to work on. Just like a real bike should be, in fact :)
  8. Been there, done that - starter motor is piss easy to replace, like most things on the GS.

    Before you go spending money on that though, as mentioned, check your wiring, and check to see if you can push start it. If that's all fine, it's not much of an effort to pull the starter motor out and check the condition of the gear.

    Sent from my Lumia 800 using Board Express
  9. Finally got my free time to have a look. Pulled out the starter motor which seemed to be fine. Took off the generator cover (letting the oil drain) and found that the generator rotor mounting bolt was very loose such that the rotor assembly wasn't gripping the crank shaft. Hence the free spinning when trying to start. Once that was tightened it was easily jump-started.
    • Like Like x 1