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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 6th, 2014, 12:17 am Thread Starter
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2002 K1200RS Smokes white

After about 5 minutes of run time my K1200 RS starts to smoke white and I believe it is coolant. My understanding is that a head gasket would cause cylinder pressure to overcome coolant pressure and purge the reservoir. All plugs appear wet. Is it possible I have a coolant leak in the intake?

Anyone else had this issue? It began after a winter of storage.

Greg
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 6th, 2014, 3:47 am
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When you say 'Winter Storage' was the bike outside in extreme low temperatures and did you drain the coolant?

Some water vapor can be expected after a long layup period, but should be gone when run for 15 minutes on the stand to 'fans on'.

You say the plugs are 'wet' but you don't know yet if that's from coolant or just condensation. The coolant level in the reservoir will not tell you anything yet until the bike has run up to its normal temperature and then been left to cool.

Scenarios: Worst is the coolant strength was too weak for the temperature and the engine block has been damaged (cracked). Living in your local I would think you know about laying up vehicles in Winter.

I think you may be rightly cautious about running the bike, but until you can get it hot you may just be getting condensation from the muffler. Yes head gasket is a possibility, but linked to cold winter storage there could be more serious damage internally.



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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 6th, 2014, 6:23 am Thread Starter
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Bike was indoors for the winter. Yes we live in a cold winter climate that was no different than other years. The smoke I 'm trying to describe was very dense and white, did not clean up at all so not water vapor.

I'm not afraid to tear it down to look so much as not being able to locate the cause. I understand head gaskets rarely fail. I would also expect the block, head or a gasket to leak immediately and not require a warm up. I suppose I'm looking for a simple non serious explanation I may not get.

Thanks for your reply.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 6th, 2014, 6:39 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K1200RSR1200GSA
Bike was indoors for the winter. Yes we live in a cold winter climate that was no different than other years. The smoke I 'm trying to describe was very dense and white, did not clean up at all so not water vapor.

I'm not afraid to tear it down to look so much as not being able to locate the cause. I understand head gaskets rarely fail. I would also expect the block, head or a gasket to leak immediately and not require a warm up. I suppose I'm looking for a simple non serious explanation I may not get.

Thanks for your reply.
I had something similar on my K1200RS (2002) and had to change head-gasket after 5 years of ownership and 80,000 KM (49,000 miles). This is NOT common - many K1200 engine have 200,000 miles without ever needed such a repair.

HOW I FOUND OUT: Same symptoms as described above: white smoke with a particular odor - was worst on cold start.. Because I maintain the bike myself since new, I knew that overflow coolant tank level was always stable between coolant change (every 2 years). Suddenly, the coolant overflow tank started going down a little (1/16 to 1/8 inch) after every ride. As there was no apparent external leak (hoses, radiators), it became obvious where this was leaking into.

The odor of that white smoke is something special that you do not have if it was only water vapor - water vapor (condensation) is normal on cold start in certain climate.

P.S.: another common diagnostic method to confirm a leak is to pressurized the radiator cap opening (with an adapter) and check for loss of pressure. This is recommended in BMW shop manual for the K1200 and is a std procedure on most automobile coolant system.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
John (Montreal, CANADA)
K1200RS (2002 IceBlue/Red - 96,000 miles)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last edited by sailor; Jun 6th, 2014 at 7:51 am.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 6th, 2014, 7:20 pm Thread Starter
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Coolant tests to -40. It rarely gets that cold here. Never in the garage. No oil in coolant no coolant in oil. Radiator is full but overflow is low. I'll tear it down and look at the head gasket. This isn't water vapor. Thanks for the input guys. Glad I have the 2009 GSA as a back up. Honestly my buddies and I ride the GS model. That way I don't look down and see the needle at 180 km by accident.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 7th, 2014, 8:16 am
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I think a coolant system pressure test suggested by Sailor is your best first step. Over the years I have learned that something straightforward like lifting cylinder heads can grow into a bigger job and cost more in time and parts than first thought.

You only need a small amount of water in oil which you may not see, to produce a lot of white vapor. Another thing you can try is boiling an oil sample in a glass lid vessel sucked out with a turkey baster and see if you get condensed water vapor coming off inside the glass. Then you could try changing the oil and filter. If the white smoke goes away but comes back several week later you have a good idea there is water contamination getting in the oil.

The reason I'm suggesting you do some more checks is it is possible to get a bad water pump shaft seal. The shaft seal is shared by both the water pump and oil pump.



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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old Jun 9th, 2014, 10:18 am
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Classic signs of a failed head gasket (or worse). Keep in mind that -40F (or even -60F) antifreeze does not stay liquid all the way to -40 or -60. Read the bottle closely and you'll see that it turns to slush first. Do a compression test and I suspect you'll find a weak cylinder (or two or three or four - probably one, though).

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