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Thread: Melted high beam connector on 2005 R1200gs, anybody else experiences this?

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    Dixie, the land of cotton espressoforyou's Avatar
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    Melted high beam connector on 2005 R1200gs, anybody else experiences this?

    Question 1: I have been having electrical issues with my bike for a while and this afternoon I decided to troubleshoot one of the issues. Every now and then I have the headlight out indicator light appear on the dashboard. Sometimes it stays on for a while and then goes back out. It has been doing this for 12 plus months. When the indicator light is "on" the high beam bulb does work but the low beam works fine.

    So today I removed the high beam bulb and noticed that the connector that plugs into the bulb is melted. I have also notice for several months that the actual inside of the glass lens of the headlight look "frosted" on the high beam side, like the bulb is getting too hot. I vaguely remember getting a non-stock high beam bulb from the local BMW dealer the last time a replaced the bulb. BTW, I always ride with the high beam turned on.

    Has anybody else had this issue before? I plan on getting a new connector and bulb from Autozone and splicing it in to replace the melted connector unless anybody has a different suggestion.

    Question 2: Now comes the real question. As I mentioned I have had several electrical issues over the last 12 months. Here is a brief recap: I lost the use of my blinkers, horn, flashers, trip meter, heated hand grips and ABS(flashing brake failure), the rear brake light stayed on the whole time, along with the headlight out indicator light showing on the dash for several months. But after several months everything started working again except the ABS and the brake light. I replaced the micro switch on the handlebar for the brake and the brake light works fine now. 98% of the time my ABS(flashing brake failure light) and servos do NOT work but every now and then while riding the flashing brake failure light goes out and my ABS and servos work great until I turn the bike off. When I restart the bike the flashing brake light appears and the ABS and servos do not work.

    So here is my second question. The first indication that I remember 12 months ago when all this started happening was that my headlight out indicator would appear every now and then on my dash. If I remember correctly the other electrical issues started after the head light issue. Do you think that the melted high beam connector could have caused all of the issues considering the bike uses a canbus? Thanks for any input you might have. The dealer suggested to replace the entire wiring harness as a first step to diagnosing the problem, which would cost over $1,000, I said no to that. Thanks again.

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    Headlight connector isn't causing all your other problems and is easily fixed. Buy a ceramic one off the web and next time use some contact grease on the bulb contacts.

    Other stuff- might indeed be harness issues- miore than one bike has had wires bad from the factory by over tight tie wraps, for example...But it ould be a mix of other stuff also..One thing certain, if your description is accurate, troubleshooting it will be a pita and require high level skill- not a job for the newest kid tech...

  3. #3
    Dixie, the land of cotton espressoforyou's Avatar
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    Thanks Racer

    Do you know of a link to a ceramic connector?

    I agree that it will take a well trained tech but I don't think the local dealer in Memphis or Nashville is able to fix the problem. Their method is to replace the wiring harness as a first step and then try something else until they luck up on the problem, all at my expense.

  4. #4
    Registered User lkraus's Avatar
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    Ceramic connectors for H-7 bulb

    If you are using a non-standard bulb you should pick one that uses 65 watts or less to avoid overheating problems.

    This thread might help with the intermittent ABS.
    Larry
    2006 R1200RT

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    Registered User f14rio's Avatar
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    isn't the can bus current sensor supposed to prevent stuff like this?

    ntxt
    "Enemy fighters at 2 o'clock!...Roger, What should i do until then?"

    2010 r1200r, 2009 harley crossbones, 2008 triumph/sidecar, 1970 norton commando 750

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    Dixie, the land of cotton espressoforyou's Avatar
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    Thanks Lkraus

    Thanks for the link. And that is a good point about the canbus should be able to prevent the melt down.

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    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    The light aren't on the CAN-bus. Very few things are. Light circuit current sensing is a function of the ZFE. With that nit out of the way....

    HEAT is only partially the result of current. A 55 watt headlamp in an 12 V (closer to 14 V when the vehicle is running) system pulls about 4 amps. Push those 4 amps through a large enough conductor and all is well. Make the conductor small or add some corrosion at contact points and you can generate LOTS of heat, all without exceeding 4 amps.... enough heat to melt the connector. Or, as often happens, enough heat to make the connector brittle such that it crumbles in your hand when you try to change a bulb. That's not including the additional heat generated by the bulb.

    I was reminded of this just last week when removing fog lights from a bike I'm selling. The lights were installed using the vendor's (Hella) wiring harness and attached to power through a fuzeblock with a 10 amp fuse. The vendor wiring harness also had a 10 amp fuse which I left just so I wouldn't have to make modifications. What I found when I removed the wiring was that the Hella fuse holder was a charred and melted mass of wire and plastic. Neither fuse in the circuit blew blew because the draw never exceeded 10 amps. I'm guessing that the fuse blades got slightly corroded causing excess heat due to limited current carrying capacity.

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    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by espressoforyou View Post
    And that is a good point about the canbus should be able to prevent the melt down.
    See above. The CAN-bus does not (and can not) do any such thing. The same issue can happen with a simple fuse.

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    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    As for just the headlight, a loose connection at the bulb connector and spades can cause increased resistance and heat. The original intermittent faults with the headlight failing and coming back on later screams loose connector to me. And the melted or crystalized connector mess also screams loose connection to me. I had exactly that issue on Voni's F800S with an H7 bulb and cured it by tightening the connectors that slide onto the bulb spades.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

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    Yup, exactly what I had in mind originally marchyman's explanation should be noted and serve as a reminder to look closely when doing a routine bulb replacement. Failing to see some building corrosion or leaving a connector a bit loose because large hands have problems with access is all it takes to help precipitate connector disintegration from heat.

    Troubleshooting all of the described electrical difficulties is going to be a real nuisance if one wanted to just replace or repair the bad wires or connectors and the dealer idea to do a wiring harness replacement, despite the cost, may well not be off the mark. That reduces any remaining issues to sensors, switches or connectors. Remember that it takes TIME and SKILL to run down stuff like this even for folks who are comfortable and able to do it. That TIME has to be paid for somehow..It can include having to strip a whole lot of the bike to get at stuff- not very far off the kind of stripping that it takes to do a clutch job- a std figure for which is about 10 hrs of shop time. Dealerships can't afford to give away a day or more of a mechanic's time. Its no coincidence that a whole lot of vehicles covered by lemon law issues have electrical rather than mechanical problems.

    The only obvious shortcut that might lead to a simple fix that comes to mind is to carefully think about any all work done just before the problems appeared that involved taking apart any of the front of the bike- perhaps whoever did the (probably bulb replacement) work that left a headlight connector loose also failed to properly reinstall one or more other connectors or damaged some wiringin another way. Fixing front end crash damage or having to acess electrics under the tank are some examples of the kind of work that could lead to disruption of electrical systems and connectors.

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    Dixie, the land of cotton espressoforyou's Avatar
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    Thanks to Paul, racer7 and marchyman for your responses.

    Thanks for your detailed explanation of what happened to the bulb connector. Electricity was never my strong point so I really appreciate you guys taking the time to explain it. Now I would really, really, really appreciate it if one or all three of you would spend a couple of days in Memphis figuring out the other electrical issues with my bike. LOL

    Thanks again and I am sure I will be posting more questions.

  12. #12
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by espressoforyou View Post
    Thanks for your detailed explanation of what happened to the bulb connector. Electricity was never my strong point so I really appreciate you guys taking the time to explain it. Now I would really, really, really appreciate it if one or all three of you would spend a couple of days in Memphis figuring out the other electrical issues with my bike. LOL

    Thanks again and I am sure I will be posting more questions.
    I am going to go way out on a limb and take a shot at the solution to multiple erratic electrical problems. The issue with the headlight provides background and some possible insight.

    The issues described in the original post scream dirty connections and or a bad ground. The first thing to do is to find the few main ground points where brown wires converge and attach to the chassis. Take each of these loose, clean everything, and properly tighten the fasteners used to secure the wires to the chassis.

    If cleaning the ground points fails to fix the problem (but I think it will) then start identifying the various connections for the flaky things, and individually make sure they are all clean. Some electrical contact cleaner and compressed air is your friend here.

    Just getting the stuff that covers the chassis out of the way will take some time, but cleaning every connection you can find will take less than an afternoon. Go for it. Do things one at a time. Stay organized. Be sure you know what connects where before you take a whole bunch of things apart.

    Be particularly attentive to spade connections where a flat tang goes into a socket of sorts. The metal contacts can be loose even when the two plastic parts go together tightly and rigid.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

  13. #13
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    I agree that the symptoms sound like a bad ground.

    On the '05 GS there is one ground between battery and the engine. It is on the left side of the bike just behind the alternator. See image. Most devices do not use the chassis/engine as ground, but instead get a pair of wires for hot and ground. The ground leads are tied together in "connector 31l" or "connector 31" which is tied to 31l. Sorry, I don't know which connector that might be. I assume it is part of the wiring harness, but we all know what assume means. Given that the grounds are in a connector your other choice -- dirty connections -- also makes lots of sense.


  14. #14
    Dixie, the land of cotton espressoforyou's Avatar
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    Thanks marchyman and Paul, I think you might have something.

    The first thing that I remember electrical acting up was the headlight "out" indicator and then the other electrical problems started happening. Last year when I was headed to Bloodworths in Nashville, after a 200 mile ride on I-40 and at the Bloodworth BMW exit everything electrical started working again. I could not believe it. I had been having problems for several months with the electrical issues appearing and then going away for a while and now I am within 1 mile of the dealer and everything starts working correctly again. I stopped at a gas station and started the bike several times and everything worked fine, but as I was driving the last 1/2 to the dealer all the problems came back.

    A little background information: If you remember, I am the guy that has had all the engine seal problems and my bike has been broken in half at least 7 times. Maybe that has something to do with it. But the electrical problems were happening before I had the last engine output seal replace and I was still having the same problems when I got the bike back. But like I said, I can ride the bike for 10 outings and the electrical problems are there every time. But during the middle of one of the rides everything comes back until I turn the bike off and try restart it.

    I hate to admit it but I use to pressure wash my bike for 10 minutes and put the spray wand up very close to the engine and even under the gas tank. That could be part of the problem also. I don't do it any more.

    I just thought of one more possible clue. I took the bike to Bloodworth one time because the right cylinder would not fire some times during the middle of a ride. Bloodworth could not fine anything wrong with it. So I picked it up and was about 10 miles away from the dealer when the right cylinder stopped firing again. I went ahead and drove it back to Memphis with it firing part of the way home. When I got home I did a little research and figured out that it might be the coil pack. When I remover the right coil pack there was a tear in it and a good bit moister. I put a new coil pack on and the bike had run fine every since. Might not be related but I thought I would mention it.

    After reading the quote at the bottom of Paul's posting: ("The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell) it encouraged me to spend time thinking of any other issue that might help with a solution.

    Thanks for everything. I will try and work on it this weekend.

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    Cool bulbs

    I had a 2006 R1200GS and the same thing happened to me. I replaced the plug with the OEM BMW part. Which is the plug and a short quick connect harness
    I bought two at the time to carry a spare since I was riding down Baja.
    I have the extra. It is part number 83 30 0 444 440.
    Check it out. Maybe we can make a deal . It cost $51.

    I have a 2010 R1200GS now.

    Paul C

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