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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old Apr 16th, 2014, 7:29 am Thread Starter
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COLD start/running issue

HELP needed from any and all guru's.
2003 K1200 GT with about 70,000 miles. When temps outside are cold (florida cold) today a classic example 46 degrees, it either wont start or runs like hell; gently twist throttle and it bogs down, downshift a gear or two, get the revs up and it takes off.
Last week the BMW shop had run a complete diagnostic, replaced the O2 sensor (all other electronics check out to within specs), and said there is a bit of unburnt gas in exhaust so valves need to be adjusted (truthfully, its been 30,000 miles since their last adj).
TODAY at temos of 46 degrees, it WOULD NOT START.
The bike runs fine when air temps are 65 and above AND the motor is fully warmed up.
Wiring harness replaced last fall with a used one (new is 2 grand from BMW).
In my non mechanics mind,,,, the valve adjustment just doesnt make sense to solve this problem.

Your thoughts?

Mike Griff
03k[email protected]
Trinity, Florida
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old Apr 16th, 2014, 4:15 pm
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i agree about the valve adjustment, I think they are just clutching at straws there.

Until you said they had done a full diagnostics check, I would have gone straight for the two thermistor sensors that feed into the ECU. One is the air temperature sensor in the air box, and the second is the cylinder head water temperature sensor. I don't know what they did but I would be looking at those sensors to see if their temperature readout in diagnostics was about right for cold air and a cold starting bike.

The next thermal thing is the egine thermostat. After starting and running, do you see the temperature gauge slowly climb up to about normal, or does it stay stuck around the cold mark on the gauge for quite a few miles?

Another thing to feedback, does the bike run rough when the engine is at normal temperature but you are riding in very cold air? If yes I think that is an intake thermistor/ECU problem.

I don't think they were there with the O2 sensor but they changed it anyway. When you cold start, the O2 sensor is locked out of the loop for about 3 minutes to allow time for its heaters to get the sensor hot. The ECU is giving a very rich fuel map and I would be surprised if you got cold start mixture problems.

The biggest problem cold starting these bikes is most likely to be flooding. Cold fuel does not atomize so well and it is very easy to flood the motor and get no start. When I cold start I NEVER twist the throttle when cranking. I give it maximum 3 cranks on the throttle stop and if it doesn't fire I leave it 5 or 10 minutes and try again. Before I learned my lesson on these bikes, I took plugs out after several cranking attempts and they were soaking wet with fuel. You could look at your plugs if you get into this state, because it will tell you if you have a fuelling problem or not.

Find out what version ECU is in your bike. There have been issues and various changes and warranty swap outs. Your bike may have these problems others have found which only show up in very cold air temperatures.

All the signs point to mixture fuelling, but weak spark could behave the same way. I assume you have no issues with the battery? Low temperature often comes with damp and moisture. Seeing where you are, I might also look at the plug leads. BMW have always used rubberised HT leads and they are quite expensive. Somebody here found a supplier who could make up silicone HT leads. Take off the left side plastic and run the motor in a dark garage. Look around the HT leads and poke them a bit with a plastic rod. If you see a blue glow jumping across the leads or to the frame, that is corona caused by insulation breakdown. That is spark energy lost and you most need it for cold starting.



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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old Apr 17th, 2014, 4:06 am Thread Starter
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Well, that's a wealth of information, I feel armed to talk with the service dept manager now THANKS !
An update; yesterday afternoon temps in the high 70's and no humidity to speak of, I couldn't get the thing to run for more than 5 seconds, even if I managed to get it started and kept revs 3 grand or higher,,,,, (yeah, I love to rev a cold engine,,, NOT).
Guess its going in on the back of the truck. Wonder how much the ransom demand will be this time???

Thanks for the info, greatly appreciated, Mike
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old Apr 17th, 2014, 5:28 am
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The shop hasn't done a good job. If the bike is not starting in O.K temperatures, then they need to nail that problem first. But do ask them about your ECU version. If it is a '166' then that is affectionately known by most as 'The Stumbler' for its poor cold start issues.



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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old Apr 17th, 2014, 9:56 am
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Yes it could be the 166 ECU showing its faults. My bike was doing that when I bought it used. But then a quick throttle cables adjustment and was fine for years. But for the poor fuel economy that is but I did update to the 296 ECU and fixed that.

However now my bike is hard to start in cold weather, that would be Canada cold.....around the freezing point. It was doing that last year but the fuel filter was plugged. Replaced and went on through the summer and our cold fall with no problems.

Replaced the fuel filter again last winter.....darn plugged again. And then did some static start tests just to have the "hard to start" again.....

Coincidentally did the TPS reset with the GS911 and had a hard time resetting the TPS. Kept getting TVA (Throttle valve actuator) faults and TPS reset can't be completed.And very touchy my TVA even with the engine not running and ignition on I could hear it whine/buzz every few minutes. Seems better now that I finally got the TPS right.

What I finally found out that works for now is to work the throttle before I even turn on the ignition. Two...three times and starts much better. I was going to investigate some more but it took too many tries to get the TPS right so I gave up and put the plastics back on.

My suspicions for now.....maybe the TVA but also the throttle cables/mechanism and that's why it starts better when I twist the grip first....unbinds things???

Don't know....I am still puzzled by that. Will need a few more GS911 readings if just to see about them TVA faults.

I know what's it is not.....the valve adjustment, mine sure is spot on I check them every year.

So....if the dealer mentions "valve adjustment" as a cure I may not listen. If they find a resolution that has to do with either the ECU or throttle mechanism then I'll listen.

Or......I'll ride my bike all the way back east and minister to that with Sailor.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2014, 5:16 am
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I think the OP is in the hands of his Stealer so I hope they can understand all this H!

You make a good point that insufficient free play or sticking of the throttle cable could stop the throttle rail from resetting against its stop. Have you slackened off the throttle springs? I have and I have to rock the throttle a few times to get the GS911 to give a constent TPS reading. But it still stays in the green.

If the OP is getting inconsistent idle (not at 1100 hot or cold) that could also be a clue.



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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2014, 10:03 am
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Stealer....that would break my very long streak of not going to one of them. I am still puzzled and that's why I said I may listen if the resolution isn't a valve adjustment. Unless they are really out of specs and that's not very common on them motors I don't see much of a problem with that.

Throttle mechanism maybe....they should check if the butterflies are binding. Not easy to do without removing the airbox but I sure had one that was starting to bind from the marks inside the throttle body. No wonder one of the butterfly screws was loose and someone else found the same problem. Still back then no startup problems.

Something else I did was to clean the injectors, I had no suspicions that one could be leaking fuel in the intake but after finding two plugged fuel filters in that many years I wanted to make sure everything was clean. Clicked the injectors open with a 9V battery and backflushed them with carb cleaner into a white tissue. Nothing came out that I could see.

One more thing I should do is a fuel pressure test if just to see what the gauge is showing on startup. Maybe "just maybe" a weak fuel pressure regulator allowing too much fuel on start up. I think they contain a rubber diaphragm??? May harden when it is cold???

Don't know if it will still be "cold enough" when I finally get home. I can do the fuel pressure test without removing the plastics, I may even go for a ride with the gauge attached.

Hard to tell for sure. I doubt the TPS itself I misadjusted mine and went riding in the cold a couple years ago. Came back with 200 or so TPS faults and no starting problems and even the idle was as steady as can be.But that was cold at 4-5 Celsius, chilly getting out of the tent but the bike started just fine.

Throttle springs are all there on my bike, but I did knock one off cleaning with the pressurized air. Noticed right away that the throttle wasn't right. Lots of fun re-attaching that spring, I was glad the front shock was off just so I could see something in there.

Benelli 50cc at 14
Yamaha RD 200 at 16
Yamaha RD 350 at 17
Honda CB 750 F at 18
Honda V45 Sabre at 24
BMW K100RS at 27
BMW R100GS at 34
BMW K1200RS at 53
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old Apr 19th, 2014, 7:20 am Thread Starter
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You guys are the BEST ! This community rocks. While Ive been a member since 2008 when I came back to the states from South America, I've since lost my log in info and to post this vexing problem for advice, I had to start a new account. All of which is neither here nor there.
Ive found the comments and replies VERY helpful thus far. THANK YOU gentlemen for your help. Unfortunately, much of this is over my head and technologically above the abilities of my toolbox (sold everything in '04 when I moved to Peru).
The shop now has the sled and while I can ask questions, they become a bit stand-off-ish when suggestions are made,,,.
This '03 K1200 GT is the most amazing bike I've ever had (and my third beemer over the years), not only does it handle, eagerly eat tarmac and comfortable like no other, but its the BEST looking bike ever produced (all newcomers since 2006 in my opinion, cant hold a candle). BUT technology has gotten out of hand. I mean you need a fuel tank, an air box, a mixing device to put a mist into a chamber and a spark source. Why the hell do you need ALL these sensors?
I should have stayed with my R 90/6. I rebuilt that thing back in 1978 without even a manual ! Unfortunately, while it was comfortable and handled well, it couldn't hold a candle to the '03K12GT.........
If I wasn't of GERMAN heritage (family is from Dresden), I'd be on a RUPP mini bike
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old Apr 19th, 2014, 7:19 pm
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Since you have some German heritage you can blame your relatives for excessively influencing the European Union on climate issues and reducing greenhouse gases.

The need to meet ever tightening emission rules now requires gasoline engines to be stuffed with sensors and electronics that can be less reliable than the engines they are controlling.

No longer are you replacing pistons, crank bearings, valves, valve seats etc. Now you have to hook up computers and fix the control electronics!



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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old Apr 20th, 2014, 10:05 am
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Peru....some of my friends were just there with a KTM 950 on their way to the tip of SA. Great pics, if you want to see I'll give you a link to their R/R.

Rupp..... I think that's the same company that made the Rupp snowmobiles. Sure hard to start my last winter ever back east that's what we had to haul firewood from the bush.Heck of a cold winter, we needed wood but sure cussed a lot at that machine.

BMW dealers nor wanting to hear Internet tales...... I don't take my bike to dealers but doesn't mean that I haven't talked to a few service guys and techs over the years.

Anyway that brings me back to your original post and why maybe you shouldn't trust that particular dealer. The O2 sensor replacement probably wasn't needed and shouldn't be the cause of the "hard to start". O2 sensor isn't even active upon start up, takes a couple minutes for it to kick in. And way too expensive the OEM, I replaced mine with a generic Bosch for about 25% of the OEM price. Reads good still at 40,000+ miles on the GS911 graph.

If you think that your bike is flooded and it can very well be, cranking will just flood it more. You can crank with the kickstand down, that disables the fuel pump and may just clear the flooding.

Good luck and Happy Easter! You must get real pig in the US for Easter.....none of them little ones like they eat in Peru????

Benelli 50cc at 14
Yamaha RD 200 at 16
Yamaha RD 350 at 17
Honda CB 750 F at 18
Honda V45 Sabre at 24
BMW K100RS at 27
BMW R100GS at 34
BMW K1200RS at 53
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