Finally Bitten by the Fuel Gauge Strip - 2007 K1200GT - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 6:00 am Thread Starter
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Finally Bitten by the Fuel Gauge Strip - 2007 K1200GT

I am well over 50 years old. One of my very small points of pride is that I have never run out of gas. Not once. Until last Thursday. I foolishly thought that I was one of the lucky ones who had a K1200GT fuel gauge strip that worked. It never let me down. Until last Thursday.

The fuel gauge had been slowly dropping as always, and the reserve light had lit as expected. My destination was only a mile away, and I was only two miles from the gas station where I planned to refuel. In the past, I have ridden a few extra miles when the gauge read "- - -" and I count on at least 20 miles available after the gauge reaches "- - -". Not this time.

It was mid-afternoon, and I was riding along on a wide urban street, minding my own business, when my 2007 K1200GT engine died. I had just entered an intersection with another wide street and the bike quickly coasted to a stop. Fortunately traffic was light. I duck paddled backwards to a corner to get out of the way of traffic. The bike would not start. I suspected that I was out of fuel, but was not sure until a few minutes later. I got off the motorcycle and called for roadside assistance (Good Sam Club), telling them that I suspected I had run out fuel (what an embarrassment!), but might need a tow if that wasn't it. They arranged to have someone bring fuel, but it would take 45-50 minutes. I asked for premium, and they said that they would convey the request, but I would most likely receive regular fuel. I called the nearest BMW dealer to let them know I might be bringing my bike in, but I suspected that I was out of fuel. I wanted them to know in case I might arrive a few minutes after closing so that someone could stay behind to keep the door open.

Now that everything was arranged, I had time to examine the problem. Sure enough, the trip meter showed 291 miles on that tank of fuel. It is 30 miles beyond the most I have ridden on a tank of gas for the K1200GT. I checked my little log book, and confirmed it by subtracting the current odometer reading with the one from the last refueling. Now I knew that I had a simple fuel problem, I called the dealer's service manager to let her know that I would not be coming in.

--> The dealer's service manager told me something interesting. She said that there was a service bulletin (recall) on the fuel gauge strips, and that BMW would pay to have them replaced whenever they failed, for up to twelve years of ownership. She said that it counts as two hours of labor for them. Hmm.

It was a pleasant day - not too hot - and there was nothing around, just farms. I called my elderly mother and had a nice conversation with her.

The roadside assistance person drove up in a small car. Obviously the roadside assistance company has people dedicated to fuel delivery. Perhaps he is also assigned to do basic triage to see whether a tow truck is really needed, but he did not seem bright enough to handle that task. Anyway, he got a small plastic gas can out of the back. He reminded me that I would have to pay $5.00 per gallon. It was the lowest grade fuel available - 87 octane. He said he was going to give me two gallons, but I asked for one only, so he stopped pouring immediately. (I felt cheated later discovered that he gave me only half a gallon.) I gave him a $5 dollar bill. The engine started immediately. I was surprised that it didn't sputter for a while first.

I finished my errand a mile away, and stopped at the nearby gas station to fill up the tank with premium. That's when I figured out that the roadside assistance person had cheated me on the fuel. Oh well - he got me going again.

Lessons learned:

* Don't be so prideful about your accomplishments. Your record can disappear in a heartbeat. When my time comes, I doubt anyone will note that I ran out of gas only once (I hope).

* I knew about the common fuel gauge strip failures on 2007 K1200GTs, but did not know about the failure modes for that problem. I assumed that it would suddenly show empty, or blink, or go blank, or show a completely full tank without dropping, or something catastrophic and obvious like that. Instead, it behaved normally, dropping slowly as I rode, but it was subtly off - just barely enough to trick me into riding the tank to empty. Beware!

* Pay attention to miles ridden on each tank. If you watch only the fuel gauge and miles remaining, you will eventually get bitten. They lie.

* BMW has some type of service bulletin or recall on the fuel gauge strips and will replace them at no charge when they fail.

I find myself wondering what fuel gauge strip "failure" means in the context of my bike? Mine seems okay again, but it lied at the end of the fuel tank. Is that a failure? (Probably!) Will the dealer accept it as a failure in the context of replacing it for free? (Who knows!)

I hope this story helps someone avoid what happened to me. It feels good to get it off my chest. Reset your tripmeter after each fill-up, and keep an eye on it. You never know when that subtle fuel gauge bug might bite you!
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 8:18 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XMagnaRider
I am well over 50 years old. One of my very small points of pride is that I have never run out of gas. Not once. Until last Thursday. I foolishly thought that I was one of the lucky ones who had a K1200GT fuel gauge strip that worked. It never let me down. Until last Thursday.

The fuel gauge had been slowly dropping as always, and the reserve light had lit as expected. My destination was only a mile away, and I was only two miles from the gas station where I planned to refuel. In the past, I have ridden a few extra miles when the gauge read "- - -" and I count on at least 20 miles available after the gauge reaches "- - -". Not this time.

It was mid-afternoon, and I was riding along on a wide urban street, minding my own business, when my 2007 K1200GT engine died. I had just entered an intersection with another wide street and the bike quickly coasted to a stop. Fortunately traffic was light. I duck paddled backwards to a corner to get out of the way of traffic. The bike would not start. I suspected that I was out of fuel, but was not sure until a few minutes later. I got off the motorcycle and called for roadside assistance (Good Sam Club), telling them that I suspected I had run out fuel (what an embarrassment!), but might need a tow if that wasn't it. They arranged to have someone bring fuel, but it would take 45-50 minutes. I asked for premium, and they said that they would convey the request, but I would most likely receive regular fuel. I called the nearest BMW dealer to let them know I might be bringing my bike in, but I suspected that I was out of fuel. I wanted them to know in case I might arrive a few minutes after closing so that someone could stay behind to keep the door open.

Now that everything was arranged, I had time to examine the problem. Sure enough, the trip meter showed 291 miles on that tank of fuel. It is 30 miles beyond the most I have ridden on a tank of gas for the K1200GT. I checked my little log book, and confirmed it by subtracting the current odometer reading with the one from the last refueling. Now I knew that I had a simple fuel problem, I called the dealer's service manager to let her know that I would not be coming in.

--> The dealer's service manager told me something interesting. She said that there was a service bulletin (recall) on the fuel gauge strips, and that BMW would pay to have them replaced whenever they failed, for up to twelve years of ownership. She said that it counts as two hours of labor for them. Hmm.

It was a pleasant day - not too hot - and there was nothing around, just farms. I called my elderly mother and had a nice conversation with her.

The roadside assistance person drove up in a small car. Obviously the roadside assistance company has people dedicated to fuel delivery. Perhaps he is also assigned to do basic triage to see whether a tow truck is really needed, but he did not seem bright enough to handle that task. Anyway, he got a small plastic gas can out of the back. He reminded me that I would have to pay $5.00 per gallon. It was the lowest grade fuel available - 87 octane. He said he was going to give me two gallons, but I asked for one only, so he stopped pouring immediately. (I felt cheated later discovered that he gave me only half a gallon.) I gave him a $5 dollar bill. The engine started immediately. I was surprised that it didn't sputter for a while first.

I finished my errand a mile away, and stopped at the nearby gas station to fill up the tank with premium. That's when I figured out that the roadside assistance person had cheated me on the fuel. Oh well - he got me going again.

Lessons learned:

* Don't be so prideful about your accomplishments. Your record can disappear in a heartbeat. When my time comes, I doubt anyone will note that I ran out of gas only once (I hope).

* I knew about the common fuel gauge strip failures on 2007 K1200GTs, but did not know about the failure modes for that problem. I assumed that it would suddenly show empty, or blink, or go blank, or show a completely full tank without dropping, or something catastrophic and obvious like that. Instead, it behaved normally, dropping slowly as I rode, but it was subtly off - just barely enough to trick me into riding the tank to empty. Beware!

* Pay attention to miles ridden on each tank. If you watch only the fuel gauge and miles remaining, you will eventually get bitten. They lie.

* BMW has some type of service bulletin or recall on the fuel gauge strips and will replace them at no charge when they fail.

I find myself wondering what fuel gauge strip "failure" means in the context of my bike? Mine seems okay again, but it lied at the end of the fuel tank. Is that a failure? (Probably!) Will the dealer accept it as a failure in the context of replacing it for free? (Who knows!)

I hope this story helps someone avoid what happened to me. It feels good to get it off my chest. Reset your tripmeter after each fill-up, and keep an eye on it. You never know when that subtle fuel gauge bug might bite you!

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Is this really a failure of the fuel strip? Seems to be well within reasonably expected levels of accuracy. I mean, if the gauge says ---- that seems to me to be saying, you are out of gas. Expecting accuracy down to the last fraction of a gallon may be unrealistic.

I myself would never go down so low without stopping for gas. 291 miles on a tank sounds pretty good. Maybe don't go so low on gas in the future. Or carry a liter of fuel in a small container

At least you got to talk to your mother while waiting. Good karma.

2008 K1200GT, Custom Paint, Vivid Black, Aeroflow WS & Aeroguards, Givi E52 Maxia Topcase w/AdMore Lighting, Zumo 660, Suburban Footpeg Lowering, Sargent Seat

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 9:35 am
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I had a similar story this summer. 57K miles and my first fuel strip failure.

Except, my mother is deceased, i have no roadside and i knew better.

When mine shut down, i was within 100 yrds of my chosen gas station. I had to push mine into the station to the great amusement of the folks getting gas that morning.

I always reset my trip meter when i get gas. i know 175 is a good safe # for fuel. My DTE was showing 40 miles of fuel left when my bike shut down. I made the mistake of trusting the technology.

The dealer also told me that BMW has extended the warranty to 12 years on the fuel strip. He was specific to say it is NOT a recall, just extended the warranty. He also indicated that BMW tweaked the design to eliminate the failure in the future.

We'll find out!
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 11:02 am
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I know someone who has had -18 showing on his K1300GT and got to the fuel station ok.
He also recently ran out of fuel with 22 miles showing still to run ?
Go figure ?
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 3:27 pm
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Is BMW paying for the new strip AND the labor ?

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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 4:54 pm
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I had the exact same problem on my 2006 KGT when I first got it. it was my 2nd or 3rd tank, when I ran out as I was pulling into the dealership for the 1st maintenance. It was showing 50 miles left, but over 225 on the odometer. of course, it was a new bike and I did not have clue of the expected range. At that time, BMW knew nothing about the failure of the fuel strip. I was one of the "pioneers".
Since then, I keep a close track of my mileage between fill-ups. I even have a 'gas gauge" on my GPS to warn me at the 200 mile mark.

Of course, one must not forget to do a reset of the odometers.

Larry
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 5:56 pm
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That's OK, David, I've run out of fuel enough times for both of us.

I always keep an eye on the trip meter, and just use the miles remaining readout as a backup. Still, it's a bit weird how yours acted "normal" then just ran out . . .

Ken
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Some people see the gas tank as half empty. Some see it as half full. All I care is that I know where the next tankful is coming from...
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old Jul 24th, 2014, 3:41 pm
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If this is a bulletin can some one please give me the bulletin number so I can show my dealer
Thanks
Kevin
Had to replace my 2006GT with a 2008GT due to some one cutting me off. Not a good afternoon that day. I did learn that I bounce well, bike not so much.
My new to me 2008GT fuel gage is down and out.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old Jul 24th, 2014, 4:26 pm Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone for their words of support. Here are the answers to your questions:

* Until now, the fuel gauge and miles remaining displays operated very consistently. The low fuel indicator would light up with well over 1 gallon remaining. The miles remaining display dropped steadily. The miles remaining value would drop at a faster rate as the fuel got lower, but every vehicle I have owned does that, and the K1200GT was 100% consistent in how it behaved. When the K1200GT reached zero "- - -", I knew I had at least 20 miles in reserve. It never varied, and it never (until Thursday) ran out of fuel with actual miles remaining still on the display. On Thursday, it never reached zero, which was the root cause of the problem.

* I reset the trip meter every time I fill up. In the past, I rarely looked at it. That will change going forward.

* I also write down the following in a little notebook every time I fill up: Date, Odometer, Gallons, Price, and (from onboard computer) Avg Speed, Avg MPG.

* "Is this really a failure of the fuel strip?" - In my opinion yes. I expect the miles remaining to show zero "- - -" long before the fuel tank is truly empty. My K1200GT never did anything else until last Thursday. Showing 8 miles remaining when the tank is fully empty is wrong.

* Until now, the longest range I have traveled on a full tank of fuel is 263 miles. I only do those kinds of ranges (anything above 230 miles on a tank) when traveling on the open Interstate, where the MPGs are the highest, and I am certain I have enough fuel in the tank to reach the next station. Frankly, 291 miles is a long way to go on a tank, especially considering the mixed urban riding that I was doing. It merely confirms that when the gauge read zero "- - -" I had more range remaining than I would have expected. On a long Interstate trip, I might have easily made it past 300 miles.

* For various reasons, I don't want to carry extra fuel. I plan to pay more attention to the trip meter going forward.

* "The dealer also told me that BMW has extended the warranty to 12 years on the fuel strip. He was specific to say it is NOT a recall, just extended the warranty. He also indicated that BMW tweaked the design to eliminate the failure in the future." - Yes, but they switched to a float type gauge in the K1300GT. The K1200GTs are stuck with the fuel gauge strip - no improvement there.

* "Is BMW paying for the new strip AND the labor ?" - According to my local dealer, yes.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old Jul 24th, 2014, 10:48 pm
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Good info
Thanks!

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