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Thread: testing alternator--battery dead

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  1. #1
    aapasquale
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    testing alternator--battery dead

    Hi All;
    My Odyssy battery which has been working very well (until today), seems to have given up the ghost after a short life of 8 months--the only inkling of this was alternate flashing of ABS lights the day before--just ran the bike a few minutes, shut it off and powered up again and all was good--the alternator light did not come on at all except at start-up which is usual--put her to sleep at night and morning was pretty flat--almost nothing--certainly not enough to turn it over--There seemed to be more than adequate juice until, well, there wasn't!!--I have put a good 12,000+ miles on this battery--
    it's a 1994 R1100RS--The battery will not take a charge at all now!--any thoughts?

    Is there a test I could run to see if alternator is functioning properly?

    Thanks,
    Tony

  2. #2
    Lucky motorradmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aapasquale View Post
    The battery will not take a charge at all now!--any thoughts?

    Is there a test I could run to see if alternator is functioning properly?

    Thanks,
    Tony
    The battery won't take a charge from what source?
    Bike
    Tender
    Regular battery charger

    A quick test of the bike charging system is simply to measure voltage at the battery with the bike running, just over 14V is good.
    You'll need a charged battery to start the bike of course and you need to make sure it won't become disconnected when the bike is running.
    I just had to add that last in case you try this with a battery temporarily rigged up with jumper cables.
    Mike Marr
    1978 Yamaha XS750 (Needs rings), 1996 BMW R1100RS, 2004 Honda CRF230F

  3. #3
    Registered User
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    I love my Odyssey battery.
    Frankly it is more likely the alternator failed.

    ditto motoradmike
    I think it should kick up 14V even at idle. Certainly it should at anything over 3000 rpm. Put a fan in front of the bike though.
    If that reveals a lower voltage than expected, separate the two components of the system and test separately.

    Charge the battery with an external source to be sure it didn't just die.
    Even an AGM battery will not tolerate complete discharge to zero for very long.
    If memory serves it should charge up to something like 13.8V when healthy.
    I don't think it is possible to vibrate or shock the mil-spec battery hard enough to hurt it and not damage the rest of the bike.
    (just sayin')

    It is an automotive-style alternator.
    If you are willing to pull the alternator you can take it to Autozone where they have a machine that will spin it and produce numbers and a pass/fail assessment. I have not done this for an oilhead, and getting the part off of a car is much easier.

    I bought and use a little Battery Tender on mine. The Motronic and the clock are really "on" all the time, and draw a small amount of power even with the machine sitting idle.

  4. #4
    BMW Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott.lambert View Post
    I love my Odyssey battery.
    Frankly it is more likely the alternator failed.

    ditto motoradmike
    I think it should kick up 14V even at idle. Certainly it should at anything over 3000 rpm. Put a fan in front of the bike though.
    If that reveals a lower voltage than expected, separate the two components of the system and test separately.

    Charge the battery with an external source to be sure it didn't just die.
    Even an AGM battery will not tolerate complete discharge to zero for very long.
    If memory serves it should charge up to something like 13.8V when healthy.
    I don't think it is possible to vibrate or shock the mil-spec battery hard enough to hurt it and not damage the rest of the bike.
    (just sayin')

    It is an automotive-style alternator.
    If you are willing to pull the alternator you can take it to Autozone where they have a machine that will spin it and produce numbers and a pass/fail assessment. I have not done this for an oilhead, and getting the part off of a car is much easier.

    I bought and use a little Battery Tender on mine. The Motronic and the clock are really "on" all the time, and draw a small amount of power even with the machine sitting idle.
    There are a number of issues that can cause a problem of this nature. However, batteries fail far more often then charging system components. You MUST know with CERTAINTY if the battery is good or bad. Everything else is a waste of time if the battery is bad.

    People will commonly state that something is too new to have failed. But anything that comes with a warranty/guarantee is telling you up front the company is not perfect and they are willing to do something for products that fail too soon. Start your diagnostic trail by knowing with certainty the condition of the battery. If it's good you look elsewhere. If it's bad hold the presses until you have a known working battery.

  5. #5
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by billy walker View Post
    You MUST know with CERTAINTY if the battery is good or bad. Everything else is a waste of time if the battery is bad.
    I do agree with this. I was just bragging on the Odyssey battery.
    The battery is certainly easier to get to; in effect BMW agrees with the statement as well.
    Whenever it takes an R&R to even diagnose, I always start with cheapest/easiest.

    Speaking of which: This may turn out to be a loose connection.
    The Odyssey (PC680?) has to have these L-shaped brass adapters for the cables to reach,
    so there are more surfaces to be dirty and more nuts to be loose.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott.lambert View Post
    I do agree with this. I was just bragging on the Odyssey battery.
    The battery is certainly easier to get to; in effect BMW agrees with the statement as well.
    Whenever it takes an R&R to even diagnose, I always start with cheapest/easiest.

    Speaking of which: This may turn out to be a loose connection.
    The Odyssey (PC680?) has to have these L-shaped brass adapters for the cables to reach,
    so there are more surfaces to be dirty and more nuts to be loose.
    Of note, Exide Technologies, the supplier of many of BMW's batteries filed for bankruptcy a few days ago.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-0...-delaware.html

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