Flashing charge light - '03 KRS - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 11th, 2013, 8:55 pm Thread Starter
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Flashing charge light - '03 KRS

Of late, the charge light comes on and stays on after starting the engine. The intensity varies, but in the end, it's on. Until I twist the engine up to about 2100 - 2500. The light goes out and stays out. I checked the battery this afternoon and found 12.9V with the key off; with the engine idling, 12.1V(!). This is Not Good. Checking the wiring diagram, there really isn't very much to get worked up about. There's blue wire from the alternator to the charge light and a red wire to the battery (and also off to I forget which black box) - "Nothing to see here, folks, move along."

I'm beginning to suspect the alternator is going but maybe it's something else? Before I BMW (Break My Wallet) with the dealer, to troubleshoot and R&R expensive stuff, does anyone have any suggestions about what's going on here?

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 18th, 2013, 9:50 pm
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Perhaps you can check the alternator brushes?
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 2013, 6:01 am
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You have checked the voltage across the battery and confirmed the alternator is NOT charging on low idle when the charge lamp is lit.

That confirms your alternator : Brushes, regulator or a diode.

Share your progress at removing the alternator repairing or replacing it. BMW Stealer may not want to go as far as component replacement and just bill you for an alternator. Keep that wallet full, because I'm pretty sure it's a frame lift or rear end teardown to get it out. If you do go down the cheaper component replacement route you must get the repaired alternator fully tested as the biggest wallet cost is labor getting to it.

Start researching re-conditioned Bosch alternator or parts costs now. Handing something over to the Stealer to replace, may be a lot cheaper than the Mothership part. How many miles: Anything around 100K might persuade you to go for a reconditioned alternator with replacement bearings.



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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 2013, 8:00 am Thread Starter
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The bike has 34K on it. The dealer I use, Hermy's, is quite honorable(*). More than once they've said "it's easier and cheaper for you to do XYZ to fix ABC - here's what you need to know." Frankly, I have neither the time, experience, or place to do a major teardown. The Red Flash goes to the hospital Wednesday.

* there is a closer dealer. Hermy's is about 50 miles from here, the other dealer is maybe 10 miles from here. They burned me with other bikes. "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me." "I won't get fooled again." - - The Who

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 2013, 9:21 am Thread Starter
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Oops! That sounds a little abrupt. Sorry about that.

I have a lot on my plate at the moment, as well as the other constraints on doing battle with the alternator. Life is like that some days, eh? :-)

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 21st, 2013, 4:45 am
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I just spent a day finding and replacing a screen washer pump on a VW. Yeh, I have those days too.

Keep us posted on the dealer fix and cost.



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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 21st, 2013, 6:17 am Thread Starter
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Will do - and, as always, I do value your input.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 21st, 2013, 9:06 pm Thread Starter
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This one is gonna hurt. Access to the alternator means pulling the back end and moving the motor around a bit. The guess is it's brush failure ("only" $100 from BMW). If the alternator itself has tanked, $884 for the alternator. And then there's the small matter of time and materials to rip off the back end and put it back on again. In short, this will be a major repair for a relatively cheap item. Sigh...

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 22nd, 2013, 4:27 am
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Quote:
the biggest wallet cost is labor getting to it
Sorry, but I had that feeling.

My brushes were hardly worn at 34K. I know you trust your shop, but it is still only another opinion at this stage until it comes off. Alternator brush design is very clever to achieve high reliability for their high rpms. First they are only taking the low currents to magnetize the rotor and second the first brush always runs on the center of the brush contact ring plate, with only a small radius to the second brush.

I would have gone with a stuck brush in its housing, a diode, or regulator fault first with your mileage. Maybe a very remote possibility of the rubber 'cush' drive coupling. If the brushes really are worn down (which I doubt), then I would also have concerns for the bearings. Make sure they can show you the alternator and brushes once they get it off the bike. These are BIG heavy duty alternators and not known for brush failures at those mileages. I would not expect to be replacing brushes until about 100K.

Now I know you are locked into a dealer doing the work, but you may want to think about a couple of other things whilst the rear end is exposed, since they do not add much more labor time:

1. Check starter brushes
2. Check cost of replacing the clutch slave.
3. Only 'maybe' check clutch disc wear and replace clutch O ring.

That is the difference between doing something yourself and having a dealer do it. Doing it yourself you can get the most from your time and labor to do more for not many extra wallet beans. Whereas dealers tend to be focussed on individual service operations and their charges for those.

There is nothing special about those Bosch alternators from a reconditioning point of view. I had a friend who bought a new Asian (Bosch 'compatible') car alternator for around $100 and found the 'frame' was a slightly different shape and would not fit his car. He went back with the new and broken oem. They took out all the new innards including bearings and swapped them over in less than an hour. You get the same kind of service from a shop servicing Bosch alternators. Buying an alternator from BMW would be my very last resort. In your case the money you save would pay for your teardown labor.



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Last edited by voxmagna; Aug 22nd, 2013 at 4:40 am.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 22nd, 2013, 7:24 am Thread Starter
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DIY is simply not an option for me. I've taken on other jobs of near this complexity and ...ah... survived, but this time around, it just ain't gonna happen. I did talk the problem over with the tech who'll be doing the job, and I feel confident he understands the issue and won't just throw parts at it until it goes away. Additionally, in a sense this is a fortunate problem as there are some seals in the back end that need attention (slight amounts of oil mist), so they can be addressed during the teardown and replacement.

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