How did I break my charging system? - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 30 Old 11-10-2018, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation How did I break my charging system?

I seem to have screwed something up with the charging system on my 2014 DL650. Over the last few weeks, I've been installing a bunch farkles that I've had sitting around in boxes for ages. This last weekend I installed a Denali Soundbomb, an Eastern Beaver H4 Relay Harness, Skene Photon Blasters and some blinker genies to convert my turn signals to running lights.

I lifted the tank and ran the wiring for the headlight relay and horn, plugged the headlight relay into my 3CS, and tested. All good! I tapped two wires on the relay hardness for the Skene lights, hooked them up, then turned the bike on to test and...CLICK CLICK CLICK. The battery was dead. That was weird, but I figured I might have accidentally left the ignition on while I was working on it and killed it. So, I pulled the battery, put it on the charger and finished wiring stuff up. After it was charged, all the new accessories worked and everything else seemed good!

Fast forward to the next day - I rode the hour or so back and forth from work, and right as I pulled into my driveway the ABS light started blinking, and I noticed the headlight brightness fluctuating. After I parked and shut off the bike I tried to start it again, and sure enough, the battery was dead.

So, the bike isn't charging the battery correctly. It seemed to start as soon as I connected the headlight relay; something drained the battery quickly that day while the bike was shut off, so I figured it must be a short with the new accessories I had just wired up. I re-wired the connection at my fusebox (I connected with posi-locks as I didn't have the correct connector for my older style 3CS) and disconnected all my leds, skene controller, etc.

The bike is showing around 12.5 at idle with the engine running. If I rev the engine, the voltage doesn't rise much. If I pull the fuse for the headlights relay, it goes to around 13V and rises normally with RPMS. I thought maybe there was a problem with the relay harness, so I bypassed it and hooked the headlights back up normally, and the bad charging voltages remain. I thought the old H4 connector might be shorting out against something, but I taped it all up and the issues continue.

What else could I have messed up? It seems like it had to be something I did, since it started exactly when I installed the headlight relay. Would a bad battery show low voltage on a meter? This battery is 4 years old, and after running it down maybe I killed it? What else could I have messed up? I didn't disconnect anything else (on purpose) at least, but I'm trying to think of what could be causing a bad ground or other similar issue. I don't think it's the stator or R/R just due to the timing, but maybe? Could I have damaged something with a short? I commute daily on the bike, so I need to sort this out ASAP. Any ideas?

TLDR: Installed a H4 relay and some other electrical accessories and immediately drained the battery. Now bike isn't charging properly, and even with the new farkles disconnected voltage at the battery seems low.
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post #2 of 30 Old 11-10-2018, 10:37 PM
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DIAGNOSIS starts with the battery. Have it tested. If the battery can't accept a charge it will show as low charging system voltage.
It could be literally a dozen things, but you can't judge a charging system with a defective battery. Once you determine the battery is either good--or bad to be replaced, you can then proceed to the rest of your diagnosis.

A line one of my former Mazda mentors had was "Always look FIRST where the human was LAST" Words to live by. You COULD disconnect every single electrical component and circuit you touch in your mad farkling quest and see if your charging rate returns to normal.
Address the battery, then go from there.
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post #3 of 30 Old 11-10-2018, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I have a new battery I'm charging now. This one is 4 years old, so I figure it's not a bad idea to replace anyway.

I actually DID disconnect everything I added in my fit of farkling. Like you said, I figured it had to have been something I had just touched...but the voltage still looks low.
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post #4 of 30 Old 11-11-2018, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Battery is good according to the tester at Autozone.
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post #5 of 30 Old 11-11-2018, 12:50 AM
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I would completely disconnect the fuse box and anything else you added to see if that changes your charging voltage. Are your running light conversions the culprit? I assume that setup is more complex and can lead to wiring mistakes. Try to just disconnect those and take out the photon blasters.

Did you connect anything new without a fuse or grossly oversized fuses? If the battery is drained that fast there must be some significant current flowing I would think.

If you think you have a short somewhere a trick mentioned here is to put a light bulb (incandescent) in line with the cable going to the devices one at a time and see if the bulb lights up on any of them.

.
Blau1 2004 DL650-sold
Blau2 2014 DL1000A
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post #6 of 30 Old 11-11-2018, 12:57 AM
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As above^^^ with a 12V automotive test lamp.
Another method is to remove disconnect the battery, place a 12V testlamp between the negative negative battery cable and the battery, remove ALL the fuses(including the one in the starter motor solenoid). Key OFF, plug the fuses back in(starting with the starter solenoid fuse) and see which one(s) turn on your test lamp. That will identify the offending circuit.
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post #7 of 30 Old 11-11-2018, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply blaustrom. I disconnect everything I've added - fuse box, running light circuit, photon blaster, etc. Still low charging. Everything I connected was behind a fuse, and none of them blew.

Good suggestions, both of you, for the test lamp. I'm going through everything again tomorrow to see what I can find.
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post #8 of 30 Old 11-11-2018, 02:47 AM
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JC, just as a backup check...if you have a battery charger, set it to a low-amp setting and while charging, connect your voltmeter leads to the charging cable to see if an external charger will charge the battery at an acceptable rate(13.5-14.5). Also, connect the meter leads to your battery, remove the fuel pump relay...and crank for 15 seconds. The voltage should not drop below 10.0VDC. I like to double and triple check things and cross-check different tests to be certain.
If the battery is OK, and if there is no draw on the battery(25 milliamps is acceptable), then youre into charging system diagnosis.
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post #9 of 30 Old 11-11-2018, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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So I had missed a single little wire from one of the blinker/running light converters and it was still connected...I unplugged it and the voltages seem better now. I'm seeing around 12.5V at idle, but it goes up to over 13V at ~ 3K RPMS, and ~14.4V at 4K then levels off from there. Does that sound about right?

Last edited by jchristman; 11-11-2018 at 05:15 PM.
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post #10 of 30 Old 11-11-2018, 05:19 PM
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Sounds about right.
I watch the charging voltage on my instrument display, and it hangs around 13.8-14.2V--but this is with a relatively new battery with lower internal resistance than an older battery, which will drive the charging voltage down at idle.
Thing is...at idle, if you start at a low voltage, and have, for example your total load of ignition, injection, headlights and running lights, maybe foglamps, instruments, brake lamps, fuel pump, GPS, heated gear...idle it long enough and it's possible to deplete the battery as more current is being supplied to the total electrical load than is being replenshed by the charging system.
Simply, you take more money out of the bank than your putting back in and you eventually run out.

Just as a reference, the Service Manual for my '14 DL1K specified charging rate as:13.5-15V at 5000 rpm with the headlamp dimmer set to High Beam.
This very same voltage spec , under the same conditions,is also shown in my '99 SV650 service manual.
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