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Hi All,
Greetings from wintery Pittsburgh.
I've been mostly lurking for a while - now I have an electrical question:
I decided to give my 04K12RS a workout in cold (27F) but sunny weather and dry roads yesterday to charge the battery and keep the juices flowing (- the bike's and mine :)) and discovered during the ride I had no headlight. Both low and high beams were out, and the blue hi-beam indicator light was on regardless of switch position.
I checked the fuses - both OK. Next I removed the headlight assembly and checked power at the plug with a test bulb - both headlight and high beam had full battery power against ground.
After a little more work with the Ohmmeter and a flashlight, I discovered that the ground lead from the plug receptacle to the ground strip that holds the hi-beam bulb socket was corroded and burned at the connector with said ground strip. The wire insulation was burned off for about 1/2 inch behind the connector. The white plastic lamp housing shows brown spots indicating something burned.
I cut the end of the burned wire and spliced in a new piece of wire with a new connector. Problem fixed.
Now my question:
I am running a Kisan PathBlazer Headlight Modulator that modulates the hi-beam (gets a lot of attention from cagers, I love it). Other than my older R850R, on my KRS, the low beam is always on so as I ride with the hi-beam on modulator, both lights are on continuously. Could this be the reason the ground wire was overloaded? Anyone with similar experience? Perhaps the designer-gods in the Vaterland had not designed this bike for riders that keep the hi-beam on at all times? Any suggestion for fixes (such as adding a separate ground wire for the headlight)?
 

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Jurgen, do a search of the archives, this problem has come up before, I don't remember root cause or the fix for sure but I know you will find good information in the older posts.
 

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Jurgen,

I have no personal experience on this with the KRS/GT, but, as stated, there are many posts confirming the corrosion due to water and melting due to higher wattage bulbs being used.

As far the modulator, I doubt that it provides too much of a load and is the cause. Also, many riders do ride with their high beams on all of the time during the day to make themselves more visible, so, that shouldn't be the problem.

My thoughts are that the corrosion occured first. A corroded ground can cause increased impedance which will then cause increased current draw. If the corrosion was too bad, the circuit would simply see an "open", however, if it was making a marginal connection, arcing could occur and cause the melt down.

I am considering changing to HID bulbs. These draw less current when running, but, their start ballast requires a dedicated line run to the battery if you are going to do it right. I will probably rewire BOTH the headlight and the horn grounding wires while I am in there since these seem to be poorly designed.

Randy
 

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I recently had my headlight replaced under warranty as the adjustor was broken. While I had it out I took the time to wire in relays and a ground direct to the battery with 12 ga. wire. I swear the Philips vision plus bulbs are putting out more ligh t now, but perhaps I was too used to the out of adjustment lighting pattern....
Traditionally, BMW uses marginally acceptable wire gauges throught the system.
 

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About the marginal wires, all manufacturers use the minimum size wire they can get away with. I have checked the voltage at headlights on many makes and models of cars and motorcycles and found them all wanting. The best way is to use the original headlamp wiring to control relays wired direct to the battery. New heavier ground wires as well.
H
 

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HGP3, That's what I've done. Although lower voltage at the lamp holders has its upside - much longer bulb life. When you put on lamps like indicators, brakes or main, and see any dimming, it's a sure sign of voltage drop due to skimpy wire.

Shared ground wires are the biggest culprits so a second parallel wire to the battery negative can be added, if you don't want to go the full relay route. Not sure if K's have bulb failure monitoring to its brain, some monitoring units must route the grounds via a resistor in the unit and they can't be shunted.



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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks All for the advice - I'll talk to my friendly dealer to see about warranty. BTW, so far I'm using the stock lightbulbs, no higher wattage. I'm thinking of adding a set of PIAA lights in the spring, though.
Cheers
 

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dealer won't listen

So I have read all the other threads on this topic. My 2003 K12RS is definately suffering from a bad headlight ground. However, I take the bike to dealer for my scheduled appointment to fix this problem and the problem fixes itself. I leave the bike at the dealer and explain/describe and insist. The bike is still on warranty. They can't make the lights fail. They have the bike for a week. When they call saying my bike is ready to be picked up I explain its a common problem and that they should go back and look at the headlight ground. They don't want to do that. So I take the bike home, ride it for a week without any headlight problems. This morning the headlight fails when I start the bike after sitting for a few days (the bike, not me). The high beam indicator is on and I have no low or high beam. I ride the bike for about 5 miles and the headlight comes back. Damn this is frustrating. So, do I keep riding it until the headlight fails completely or find another dealer? There is another one in the area but getting an appointment will take weeks. Or perhaps tackle the fix myself?
 

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I own a 98' K12RS which had the same problem as Bushman explains. Its easy to say if its the burnt ground wire. Open your headlight rear cover and if you smell something burnt, its your ground wire inside the headlight assembly. Another way to check it is to jump the ground wire, connect the parking light (if its working) ground connection to groung spring which holds the hi-beam bulb. That will tell you if the burn is inside the headlight assembly. Hope this helps.

Is this a common occurance because we start the engine with hi-beam "on" or do somebody here take extra step to turn it off before start and then turn it back on when on the road.

I learn a great deal reading all your posts. Cheers

KRG
 

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kgrao said:
I own a 98' K12RS which had the same problem as Bushman explains. Its easy to say if its the burnt ground wire. Open your headlight rear cover and if you smell something burnt, its your ground wire inside the headlight assembly. Another way to check it is to jump the ground wire, connect the parking light (if its working) ground connection to groung spring which holds the hi-beam bulb. That will tell you if the burn is inside the headlight assembly. Hope this helps.

Is this a common occurance because we start the engine with hi-beam "on" or do somebody here take extra step to turn it off before start and then turn it back on when on the road.

I learn a great deal reading all your posts. Cheers

KRG
Since the load shed relay does this automatically, I can't see this being the problem (but see what I said about the modulator). However, when I looked around the instrument assembly there was a lot of surface corrosion on all the connection tags. This led me to suspect that air flow currents are carrying water upwards and the top of that area is a condensation trap with no escape. Many past posts referred to the problem of instrument condenstation and bulb wattages. Well that might have fixed the foggy instruments, but the condensation is still up there.

Assuming you haven't fitted larger bulbs, the usual reason for a burned wire is arcing due to a poor contact. Now for the modulator: If it quite simply pulses the headlight on and off (instead of dimming and brightening) then this puts more stress on the contact points. The reason is that cold lamps take a higher initial inrush current, than when they run continuously.

I leave my bar switches on all the time. There are no headlamp relays, so why risk another part going faulty?



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GJBushman said:
...
Damn this is frustrating. So, do I keep riding it until the headlight fails completely or find another dealer? There is another one in the area but getting an appointment will take weeks. Or perhaps tackle the fix myself?
Depends on how you feel about taking things apart. It's only time-consuming the first time...
The nose plastic has to come off (there's the two pieces on each side of the gauges, too) and three screws holding the headlamp in place. Underneath the headlamp is where the parking light is inserted. It's a rubber-mounted socket that comes out of the headlamp assembly by pulling straight down (may have to remove the first ty-wrap holding the wires to the parking lamp). After the three screws are removed, partally pull out the headlamp assembly, and with the right side exposed (looking front to rear), you should see where the wiring connects to the headlamp. There's a wire-spring holding the connector in place. PUSH (don't pull it off) it in toward the headlamp and pull the connector off. Then remove the headlamp assembly completely. Keep both hands on it, as it's an odd-shaped part and it likes to slip down to the ground. It will not bounce, either.

Then take the back cover off, and look at the brown wires. All connections should be tight. There are three ground wires, one going to the high beam, one to the low beam, and the third going to the harness connector on the side. I don't recall how the three are joined, I believe it's a rivet connection. Either the rivet is loose, the crimp connector for the wire going to the harness connection is loose, or the harness connection itself is bad.

Sorry, no pictures. As often as I've had mine out (for the GT, it's basically the only way to change the bulbs), and as many times this grounding question comes up, I've not had my camera with me when a lightbulb is being replaced. Hopefully, there's enough details to determine if you want to do it yourself, and get it done if you chose to do so.

Oh, the nose piece has some plastic tabs along side the windscreen that hold it in place. After the four screws for the nose piece are removed, you grab each side close to the windscreen and pull. Once done, it's no issue the next time you do it...



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no problem found

Ray,

Thanks for the instructions. It all came apart as you indicated. Not a big deal to do. I did not find any problems with the grounds. All seemed tight except for the main plug going into the headlight unit, it seemed fairly loose. I made sure it was secure when reattaching. Everything went back together without a problem once I realized I had the nose piece upside down. Hopefully no more problems. Thanks all for the help.
 

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Bad Ground In Hd-lte

Had Same Problem W/ My 04' Kgt Starting Around 10k Miles. Off, On, Off, On; Works , Doesn't, Etc. The Ground Wire Is Not Beefy Enough To Handle Load Of Head Lite, Especially When You Use Hi-beam As A Nightly Choice. If You Add Any Additional Load To Your "switched" Head Lite Wiring; Ie, Signal Minder, Piaa Lites, Etc, It Will Make That Little Ground Wire Short Out And May Melt Head Lite Assymbly. I Had Dealer Install Kisan Signal Minders And Piaa 1100x And Had Flickering And Off On Use Until Ground Wire In Headlt Finaly Burned Out. Dealer Fixed Under Warranty @ 23k Miles.
Ggggggggggg
 

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Well...guess what.
Headlamp went out. PIAA H7 main beam. High-beam was fine. During the day, no problem. Fog lamps do a pretty good job at night, but not quite enough.

PIAA has a 1-year warranty on the bulb, so off to CalBMW I go, after pulling off the plastic, getting the bulb out, and putting all the plastic back on. Got home, got some other items taken care of, then proceeded to replace the bulb. Short story...no headlamp with the new bulb. :wtf

Ground connector for the bulb is totalled where it's crimped at the wire. So, tomorrow when the stores are opened again, I'll get another connector, and fix it. Then, on Tuesday when the dealer is opened up again, see what the next step is. I suppose if the repair is good (naturally), it wouldn't require a whole headlamp assembly replacement. But geez...stock wiring and stock-wattage bulbs? Mebbe time for HID...

Funny thing is, though, the ground for the highbeam has two wires instead of one. It splices to a single wire for the main feed, but if they have two wires, why not just go up one gauge size for the ground wire to begin with?

At least it doesn't take much to get the plastic off and on anymore...



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..............Funny thing is, though, the ground for the highbeam has two wires instead of one. It splices to a single wire for the main feed, but if they have two wires, why not just go up one gauge size for the ground wire to begin with?...................

I thought the same thing about some other areas, like the accessory socket. When you look at their wiring sizes on the diagram, it's almost as if they ran some wire size minimalisation program to get the smallest and shortest wire size that would work. A very short thin wire in theory can take a lot of current (like a fuse), but any moisture/bending/end corrosion or poor contact resistance causing local heating will cause it to fail quickly. Operational environment factors are probably not in the computer design program.



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Razel said:
Well...guess what.
Headlamp went out. PIAA H7 main beam. High-beam was fine. During the day, no problem. Fog lamps do a pretty good job at night, but not quite enough.

PIAA has a 1-year warranty on the bulb, so off to CalBMW I go, after pulling off the plastic, getting the bulb out, and putting all the plastic back on. Got home, got some other items taken care of, then proceeded to replace the bulb. Short story...no headlamp with the new bulb. :wtf

Ground connector for the bulb is totalled where it's crimped at the wire. So, tomorrow when the stores are opened again, I'll get another connector, and fix it. Then, on Tuesday when the dealer is opened up again, see what the next step is. I suppose if the repair is good (naturally), it wouldn't require a whole headlamp assembly replacement. But geez...stock wiring and stock-wattage bulbs? Mebbe time for HID...

Funny thing is, though, the ground for the highbeam has two wires instead of one. It splices to a single wire for the main feed, but if they have two wires, why not just go up one gauge size for the ground wire to begin with?

At least it doesn't take much to get the plastic off and on anymore...
Ray
Did you ever think about using the aluminum frame as a ground conductor?
There is a screw that you can remove and add a ring terminal on the left side, above the radiator and below the fuel tank mounting stud.
That's what I used for a ground on my aux. fuse panel. Never had a problem.
 

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brucecha said:
Ray
Did you ever think about using the aluminum frame as a ground conductor?
There is a screw that you can remove and add a ring terminal on the left side, above the radiator and below the fuel tank mounting stud.
That's what I used for a ground on my aux. fuse panel. Never had a problem.
To be honest, I was too lazy to go find the VOM. The case may be ground, may not be. Since there's two tabs on the bulb, I just opted for new wire crimps. Not real sure the spring-clamp is a good enough contact.

Clipped the connector wires close to the connector, and glad I did that. I couldn't find an H7 connector in the four stores I went to, so I ended up using individual slip-on connectors instead. Fortunately, left enough wire so the connection is good (not strained).

The original connector has a plastic enclosure around the power connector. I'm not sure about the ground connector, as it's completely gone, melt-marks on the base of the connector is all that's left. Connector is rated at 7 amps, if I can believe the stamp on the side. Ground wire was a bit "carmelized", but it's a tight crimp, and the new bulb lights up now.

We'll see how long my fix works. Extended warranty should cover it, but who want's to wait when the weather is still good? (Well, raining today, but that's a short-term interruption).



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Ground wire meltdown

My '01 KRS had its groundwire melt down also. I was running a higher watt than stock bulb in it, and I was running the high beam most of the time. It went out on me, and was the only thing on the bike that screwed up in the first 36,000 miles. So I thought, finally, some warranty work. Nope. They disallowed it because of the non-stock bulbs, and it wasn't cheap to fix.

Since then, I still burn brighter bulbs, but not hotter, and things have worked OK. I use the PIAA or Solaris that's 55w, "but is as bright as 85w". Well, maybe, maybe not, but the light is whiter, which appears brighter.
 

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Had it happen to me. 11,000 miles on an 04GT. BMW replaced the whole headlight assembly under warrenty.

Mechanic says it is a common problem. He says the connector heats up and expands and contracts when it cools down. The connector gets loose and starts arcing.
 
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