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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I love my 04 K12GT. The GT fits my needs as a long distance ride. Problem is BMW stands for beaucoup maintainence work. At 18,000 miles I am on my second set of front seals. The tranny seals are leaking. Clutch is not slipping yet, but it is just a matter of time. The posts are so numerous on RS/GT seals failures, but I see nothing from riders or from BMW dealers on long term....... are there any better seals or is this something people are putting up with a second time, a third time, a fourth time...... Comments?
 

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Seals again

Unless you're riding your bike off-road (seems unlikely), fork seals on these bikes usually last a long time. Have a good look at the fork tubes. Is the chrome failing or pitted? Were the wipers above the fork seals replaced at the same time, as they should be?

Running the gearbox oil a bit lower may help your other leaks, as well as avoiding BMW's synthetic gear oil.

The rear engine seal in my bike leaked for almost 20,00 miles, but finally stopped on it's own.
 

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I ran into the fork seal problem right after I bought my bike in 98 took it in twice under warranty and still had problems. It turned out to they had put the seals in up side down I found this out after replacing them once again myself. It can be done, if you take them out look real close you'll see witch way they should go in also if you pull the strut from the bottom the seals go in real smooth.
 

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Duh oh..I don't think OP was referring to FORK seals !!"Off rroad""?The mighty K?? Don't think so.

No,he was talking about engine and transmission seals. Sounds familiar.
 

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I think the K motor in certain riding circumstances (Urban/City/commute) is just running too hot. When I replaced my seals at 36K the polymer was very hard on the old seals.

I also noticed they use a very shallow seal depth in some critical places. If the seal is very shallow I wouldn't expect it to have such good lateral stability around the seal edge. Some but not all of the seal sizes can be bought in Viton from seal suppliers. Viton has a higher temperature rating, but is slightly harder. Some of the oem seals (e.g the large rear drive seal) have a special lip seal you won't get from a seal supplier. My personal view is this is a bit of fancy design that's wasted because the bearing appears to fail before the seal, so I'd still consider a standard lip profile.

I never used the fancy Teflon seals on my rebuild and it's too soon to say if I can get more mileage. I plan to do some mods on the cooling before we start our Summer here. Sorry I can't offer a 'quick fix'. If you've been there on a K-Bike stripdown you may be more willing to risk trying something else than a first timer.

PS I fitted a pair of fork gaytors after replacing the fork seals 3 years ago and they haven't leaked yet.



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the early years had a recalled or service bulletin on the fork seals.Cant remember which.I think they changed fork seals 3 times before they got one that worked. My 98 RS had leaky fork seals at 6,000 miles, but new seals been good for 20,000 and wernt hard to replace.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Seals.....More...

Thanks for the comments. I was not referring to the fork seals. My troubles are with the engine seals and tranny seals. Front cover seals were replaced two years ago and have now failed again. Rear seals and tranny are now starting to leak.

The bike is a 2003. I have 18000 miles on it as I also have other bikes. My questions is, if I replace the seals now can I expect to do it again in about another five years or 18,000 miles? I am getting the feeling the answer is yes as the majority of the comments I read seem to say the seals are (1) of a poor design or (2) of a poor material (3) I am about to be on my third set of front cover seals (4) BMW seems to know about the seals but has paid no attention to it (or even acknowledged it) despite the fact that virtually all the GT/RS of this era will suffer the failures.

This is my first BMW. When I did research, I read quite a bit about the R Bike surging that was never acknowledged by BMW. Is it typical of BMW to ignore the issues?
 

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PJDBMW said:
Thanks for the comments. I was not referring to the fork seals. My troubles are with the engine seals and tranny seals. Front cover seals were replaced two years ago and have now failed again. Rear seals and tranny are now starting to leak.

The bike is a 2003. I have 18000 miles on it as I also have other bikes. My questions is, if I replace the seals now can I expect to do it again in about another five years or 18,000 miles? I am getting the feeling the answer is yes as the majority of the comments I read seem to say the seals are (1) of a poor design or (2) of a poor material (3) I am about to be on my third set of front cover seals (4) BMW seems to know about the seals but has paid no attention to it (or even acknowledged it) despite the fact that virtually all the GT/RS of this era will suffer the failures.

This is my first BMW. When I did research, I read quite a bit about the R Bike surging that was never acknowledged by BMW. Is it typical of BMW to ignore the issues?
Have you ridden your bike from new and what's your riding climate? If you ride mostly long touring rides with the temp guage not rising more than 1/2 way, that should be a cool reliable motor if my theory is relevant. If the motor oil temperature is consistently running high and debris remains in the oil, I wouldn't expect any seal to last too long. BMW have tweaked around with seals e.g telling us that Teflon is better, but if the fundamental problem is motor cooling requiring a substantial design re-think, I don't think you are going to hear much. I expect my car to run 100K+ without a seal problem, but then it has more than twice the radiator area of a K-bike and the large fan with good aerodynamic airflow design brings any temperature rise down in a minute or 2 to the thermostat level. A common problem with seals is wearing shafts, bearings and end float. I found my shafts as smooth as glass with no detectable wear in their bearings

The other factor may be oil change frequency. I replace all oils about every 4K miles, oil is cheap, and I've always used Dyno. Bikes have small oil sumps and the less debris floating in oil, the longer seals should last.

When I did a recent big teardown, I fitted a large circular Ferox magnet to the inside of the oil filter cover. I wanted to get neodymium magnets around the oil filter can, but there's no space. When I do the next oil change I'll let you know what if anything is stuck to the magnet.



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PJDBMW said:
Thanks for the comments. I was not referring to the fork seals. My troubles are with the engine seals and tranny seals. Front cover seals were replaced two years ago and have now failed again. Rear seals and tranny are now starting to leak.

The bike is a 2003. I have 18000 miles on it as I also have other bikes. My questions is, if I replace the seals now can I expect to do it again in about another five years or 18,000 miles? I am getting the feeling the answer is yes as the majority of the comments I read seem to say the seals are (1) of a poor design or (2) of a poor material (3) I am about to be on my third set of front cover seals (4) BMW seems to know about the seals but has paid no attention to it (or even acknowledged it) despite the fact that virtually all the GT/RS of this era will suffer the failures.

This is my first BMW. When I did research, I read quite a bit about the R Bike surging that was never acknowledged by BMW. Is it typical of BMW to ignore the issues?
In your initial post..you stated that you had an 04' K1200GT. Now you say it's an 03'.....I get the feeling that you should learn how to do a front seal replacement and learn what your bike is really all about for yourself. If you want something done right...you have to do it yourself! Maybe while you're doing the work..you'll find out what year your bike is.
 

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I was just informed at my recent 18K service that my rear main seal is leaking. I'm asking BMW why my '03 low mileage bike now needs a £700 procedure when they've serviced it from new.

I'm hoping they'll contribute to the fix. If not I'll probably sell it while it looks OK and buy something else, which is a shame as I rather like it.
 

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I too just got back from a local BMW dealer with an outrageous estimate to fix a leaky front seal and a leaky rear seal...Its crazy. I think the main question PJD was asking was after getting them fixed, are they likely to go bad again...or are they going to be reliable. Well I hope so after spending the kind of money they are asking...the unfortunate thing is the labor assocaited with the fix. Some of us are not mechanically inclined and unfortunately have to spend the $ to get the problem fixed. Anyone do mechanical work on the side in the Seattle area???
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Seals Again.

Thanks. That is the question I was asking........, that is ....has BMW improved the seals or should I just expect to replace them about every couple of years/18,000 miles?

I am afraid it is the latter. I am down in Florida. Local BMW dealer just replaced the timing case cover seal. This is second time in two years. Good news is that since it was done just 21 months ago, it was covered by BMW.

Bad news is that tranny input is starting to leak. That one BMW will not cover as I am out of original warranty.

Dealer suggests doing rear output seal at same time.

About $ 700.

Dealer did not come right out and say it, but I got impression I should have had them all done as "leaking" when I had the timing cover done the first time in original warranty. I also got the impression that it would be wise to have them all checked/done every two years before the 24 months runs out.

I happened to be at bike week and I brought the matter up with BMW folks from NJ. They were sales people, so I really did not expect to get much of a comment on the seal issue. Pretty much what happened. Has BMW ever acknowledged the issue?
 

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weeping seals

i too have the '04 kgt. at 20k miles i noticed weeping oil at tranny/clutch cases. i took it to daytona for a teardown and warranty fix. again at 34k miles, i noticed the engine case weeping. back to daytona, another teardown. all on warranty. i now have 40k miles on the bike. i purchased an extended warranty that takes the bike unlimited mileage and 7yrs from original purchase. it includes seals. i paid $1300 for it, and couldnt ride without it. i'm real dissappointed with bmw not being able to admit to and solve the problem. their backbone has always been quality, and they have lost that one. next bike? japanese, no question. more value for my dollar, better quality.
 

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Reliability!Good question.

I'm the same,billbeemr,seals have gone sequentially twice now,as well as the clutch slave seal,all replaced under warranty ,but since I am a day away from a dealer and the repair always takes a while,the reliability and inconvenience factors cause me some pain.I too bought the extended warranty,so far it has not been used.
28,000 04 KGT bought new.

I hope I will not have to get them fixed again..dunno if I would go japanese,maybe Triumph or Ducati.I was hoping that this would be my last and greatest bike.
 

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Lemme just add...if you lose the slave cylinder, the hydraulic fluid that leaks into the clutch housing is brake fluid. Nasty stuff against the rear engine seal and the transmisison input seal. Thing is, though, they don't fail right away. So, if you're on good terms with the shop doing the slave cylinder work, spend the extra $10.00 in parts and 1 hr. in labor and replace both rear engine seal and transmission input seal while everything is apart.

Yeah, it's not warranty work, and sure, if they do fail before the warranty runs out, it's all the same...except taking things apart twice isn't really better than taking things apart once. Less down-time, too.



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I did my own seal job on the tranny of my old R1100RT since I didn't have a dealer within 100 milles. The input shaft wasn't smooth at all from the factory, but rather a bead-blasted surface in which the seal wore a smooth surface grove (finally). Wouldn't surprise me if the surface helped to kill the seal or eat some of it's rubber up while it was seating in. I ended up polishing the input shaft while it was apart so the new seal would seat better.

I don't know why BMW uses those cheap black rubber seals where they should at least used Viton or a seal with a higher temperature rating. The RT's tranny rests right above the hot cat so it can't be good for the stock rubber seals.

There are sources that provide a higher operating temp. seal like Viton, and they aren't that much more expensive than the BMW stock ones. Some are even a double-lip seal. You just need to get the dimensions down and order them. Then hand them over to your dealer if you don't want to do it yourself (took me about 2 weeks).

Mack
 

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OK - I love my KRS too

Replaced my main seal 2 years ago because it was leaking - and changed out the chain guide rail & tensioner (preventive), replaced timing case cover seal and camshaft cover gasket - not because it needed it, but because I wanted, at the same time, to check the valve clearances and install a Rhinewest ECU chip & cam gear set.

I'm convinced that, if you do it yourself and take appropriate care, you'll never have a problem with leaks again.

Comes back to the old adage that "no one will ever demonstrate the same level of care and concern over the machine than you (the owner) can, in preventive maintenance or making repairs on it".

Glen M.
'97 K12RS
 

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GMack said:
I did my own seal job on the tranny of my old R1100RT since I didn't have a dealer within 100 milles. The input shaft wasn't smooth at all from the factory, but rather a bead-blasted surface in which the seal wore a smooth surface grove (finally). Wouldn't surprise me if the surface helped to kill the seal or eat some of it's rubber up while it was seating in. I ended up polishing the input shaft while it was apart so the new seal would seat better.

I don't know why BMW uses those cheap black rubber seals where they should at least used Viton or a seal with a higher temperature rating. The RT's tranny rests right above the hot cat so it can't be good for the stock rubber seals.

There are sources that provide a higher operating temp. seal like Viton, and they aren't that much more expensive than the BMW stock ones. Some are even a double-lip seal. You just need to get the dimensions down and order them. Then hand them over to your dealer if you don't want to do it yourself (took me about 2 weeks).

Mack
I think part of the problem is BMW use a very shallow seal depth, so that reduces the available alternative profile options. Whilst Viton may seem the 'cure all', it is a slightly harder material and I would be cautious about increasing shaft wear. The deeper standard lip seals used in autos don't have this kind of failure.

I put our problems down to temperature and oil contamination from metal particles (I change oil at 4K). You could be right about the CAT, but I'm also concerned about the small radiator area on the bike which results in wide engine temperature variations from cold to redline on the guage. The oil temperature will be much higher than the coolant and holds a lot more heat.



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Engine Oil Viscosity

I have been reading with interest all your comments concerning oil seal failure and am wondering how you all feel about the effect of oil viscosity.
If you look at your "Maintenance Instructions" booklet, page 78, you will see the engine oil viscosity chart. My reading of that would indicate that the most suitable grade for normal use i.e. -10 to +30(+) deg.C , would be a good SAE 20-50. This grade is not that easy to find these days as 10-40's are the norm which would only be suitable for up to +20deg.C Voxmagna has already warned that these engines are prone to running hot and if you are using the wrong grade in a hot climate, it will pee past your seals. Many of you may also chose to use synthetic or semi-synthetic oils which carry typically 10-60 grade ratings, but it is my belief that although these oils give improved lubrication protection at high temperatures, they do still get very very thin. This is an excelent attribute for oil distribution and low friction resistance, thus giving more engine power, but makes it an absolute bugger to keep contained in the motor.
BMW engines are engineered quite differently to your average Japanese 13'000 rpm whiz-bang and are,in effect, quite agricultural in comparison.
Having just done my first oil change since buying the bike in September, I have elected to run it on SAE 20-50 Mineral oil ( Duckhams / Castrol ). I also phoned their helpline for reassurance and spoke at some length to their tech guy who confirmed that this would be the best choice for this engine.
Another suprise was to read in the BMW Workshop Manual ( CD ) that it is recomended to chance the engine oil every 6months !!. I can only assume that is meant for bikes that are doing 12,000 miles a year or more, not the like of us !
I look forward to your comments and opinions. Neville.
 
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