Starting problems, cutting out, poor fuel economy

Discussion in 'Mechanics Garage' started by bsims13, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. bsims13

    bsims13 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, United States
    Map
    My 6th Gen 2003 VFR has been experiencing some fairly serious issues this winter.

    Details about the bike:
    Nearly stock aside from a PCIII which has been on since I bought it, and had not always had these issues.

    My commute is a 2 miler, in Columbus, Ohio, and it has been fairly cold (20's to 40's max). The oil displays milky residue, which I have changed, there is a constant chatter from my crankcase. I believe this will be relieved when another oil change is done, and the weather and bike are warmer. The bike does not often get above 160 when commuting, but has reached 220 when idling in my garage.

    My fuel economy is absolutely terrible, roughly 22 miles per gallon.
    The newest issues include trouble starting, where it will turn and turn, pop some, and then i have to try again. It is intermittent on when it does this, and always starts....eventually. On my last 2 short rides the bike cut out on me each time. Another inconsistent issue, and has been tough to get started again, only after cranking several times.

    Tonight I checked the trouble codes and the only one present was a Speed sensor trouble code (11 blinks). I am hoping to not have to go to the dealer and pay 4 times my hourly wage to have them diagnose, hence my asking here. Any advice, direction, or help is appreciated.
    Thanks,
    B.
     
  2. taylor65

    taylor65 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2011
    Messages:
    545
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    florence, al.
    Map
    The milky oil could mean a blown head gasket or worse allowing your radiator coolnt to mix with your oil. But I would start with checking your spark plugs to see what's going on inside. How long have you owned this bike?
     
  3. bsims13

    bsims13 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, United States
    Map
    I don't think it is a head gasket, I am not losing any oil, and there is no mixing of oil or coolant. My coolant couldn't be cleaner. The next diagnostic for a false speed sensor code is testing whether or not the ECM is bad, but I don't have the equipment, nor is that very common. The biggest concerns are the stalling while rolling, and garbage fuel economy. I have heard the PAIR system can be culprit, and that is on the list for tomorrow's check. I have owned the bike for a few years now and haven't had any trouble until this winter. I laid it down last April and replaced the crankcase cover and gasket and such, and it ran as good as new after that until Winter hit. One more reason for me to hate cold weather.

    I will probably take the time to pull the plugs this weekend too, but have never noticed an issue with them before. If they are fouled, something else is up. only 28,000 miles on the machine.
     
  4. reg71

    reg71 Poser Staff Member

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    Messages:
    9,642
    Likes Received:
    213
    Trophy Points:
    108
    Location:
    Atascadero, California, United States
    Map
    I had somewhat similar experience with the way you describe it running when my sparkplug had worked its way out and stripped the threads... the plugs are a real pia to get in just right and I thought I overtigthened but under tightened and ruined it. Now I have a spare engine cause it was cheaper to buy a spare than to pay a dealer to fix the head with a helicoil...
     
  5. squirrelman

    squirrelman Member

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Messages:
    7,826
    Likes Received:
    169
    Trophy Points:
    78
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    Map
    With such a short commute the engine doesn't get hot enough to get rid of condensed moisture, hence the white milky goo, and you need to keep it on a battery tender cuz the battery isn't getting recharged properly on a 2 mile ride.

    You might have a stuck-open thermostat or bad temp sensor ruining your gas mileage.
     
  6. bsims13

    bsims13 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, United States
    Map
    Another new development:
    I had reset the computer/codes last night and when I hopped on this morning received 2 blinks for a MAP sensor issue. Looks like that is the next investigation tonight.
     
  7. bsims13

    bsims13 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, United States
    Map
    I figured the oil was due to the commute, I will be replacing it again soon, and hope the weather will improve. I have been using a tender frequently with the knowledge of not having time to recharge, and it has held up well. (fairly new battery too)

    As far as the T-stat, I have seen some posts referring to this, my typical riding temp on the short commute is below 160*, which makes me think this is a possibility, but it does reach 220* when I let it idle in my garage (40* ambient temp or so). Is there any other way to verify? I have seen posts stating to touch the line between the block and radiator below a temp of 120* to see if coolant is flowing (which it should not be), any other reliable methods? As far as the temp sensor, that looks like a voltmeter reading....I'll look into both of these later today along with the MAP code I received this morning. Thanks!


    Edit: I just checked the radiator by hand, it was warm to the touch before the bike hit 100*.....does that verify a thermostat issue?
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  8. Pliskin

    Pliskin New Member

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    3,699
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Morris County, New Jersey
    Map
    Milky oil - as squirrelman said. Your bike doesn't have enough time to heat up and burn it out. Its condensation forming on the inside based on the cold outside temps.

    Idling your bike in the garage is not the same as actually running it. Either way, at 220 (or 221, 222, something like that) you're fan should come on.

    You T-stat doesn't open until 170 to 172. If you're not getting above 160 on your commute to work, the bike isn't really warming up at all. Hell, you need to be over 145 before your V-tech will even work. If you're running the bike while its cold, that will contribute to your poor gas mileage.

    Speed Sensor - I've had the 11 code blink on my bike for over a year. It will not (at least should not) affect performance in any way. Don't worry about it for now.

    I don't know why its started to stall and sputter. If you're only doing 2 miles, when was the last time you actually had to put gas in there? Is your gas fresh? If not, do you treat it with stabilizer? Quick math says 4 miles per day (2 miles each way) time 6 days per week is 24 miles. 28 if you work 7 days a week.

    Using your figure of 22mpg, that's still at least a month between fill ups. With drastic temperature changes, moisture is more likely to form in your fuel. So if you park it in the sun during the day when its 40* outside, everything heats up with the sun beating on it, then by nightfall you're seeing temps in the teens or 20's, that's a recipe for ethanol phase separation. You could very well have water in your gas.

    My suggestion: Get some fresh gas in there. Treat it with a quality stabilizer, such as Sta-Bil. Get on that bike, and take it for a nice 50 mile ride. Wring the hell outta that throttle once she's warmed up.
     
  9. elwray

    elwray New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Central NJ
    I'm on board with the other fellas chalking up the milky oil to condensation. It's too cold outside for the oil to get up to temperature on that short of a ride.

    Pliskin asked a good question - does the fan come on when it gets up to 221 (or 220 or 222 ... it's somewhere in that neighborhood)?

    I see you mentioned that the radiator is getting warm quite early ... If the radiator is starting to get warm when it's reading only 100°F, I'd imagine that the thermostat may actually be stuck open, even slightly. I made a thread a while back with photos on how to get to that part.

    However, a stuck open thermostat shouldn't necessarily be causing sputtering or stalling. Worst case, it's possible that the engine is staying so cold that it can't properly burn the fuel and residuals could be fouling your spark plugs. But with the info you've given I'm inclined to go with Pliskin and suggest some new fuel in there.

    I *think* the speed sensor is at the front sprocket, and the wiring harness may be easily accessible with the left fairing removed. Perhaps it's as simple as the wiring coming loose? Maybe try checking that just for S's and G's.

    I'd suggest changing to fresh fuel first. If the problem persists, next check/change the spark plugs. I never removed spark plugs from the VFR when I had it, so I don't remember how far you have to "dig" to get at them. If it's anywhere close to the throttle body, you might as well purchase the thermostat/o-rings/TB boots you'll need for a thermostat change also and check the t-stat while you're in there. Even if the T-stat is ok, it's such a common part to fail that you'll likely need to change it at some point in the future. Look for my thread about changing the thermostat, I may have included part numbers for the 2003/6th gen.

    Just out of curiosity, how hard is it to remove the PCIII from the bike? It's probably not causing any problems, but perhaps if once you've tried new fuel and spark plugs and it's still giving the same problems, it might be best to eliminate that as a potential source.

    EDIT: http://vfrworld.com/forums/mechanics-garage/29432-thermostat-replacement-6th-gen-vfr800-vtec.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  10. Pliskin

    Pliskin New Member

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    3,699
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Morris County, New Jersey
    Map
    Good to see you Elwray.

    Good point about the PCIII. I know I'm one of the few, but my PC failed on me a couple years ago. Bsims symptoms are very similar to what I experienced, especially with the terrible gas mileage.

    Bsims - that's a free item to check, there. Disconnect your PCIII for a couple of days and see what happens. But I still think you need fresh gas and a good long ride.
     
  11. elwray

    elwray New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Central NJ
    In situations like these where you're essentially stuck diagnosing by process-of-elimination, I think it's best to have a solid starting point.

    I also meant to add that the battery tender is a good idea, regardless of how new the battery is. A quick 2-mile trip isn't really enough time to keep that battery charged alone. Glad to hear you've got it on the tender, bsims13.
     
  12. bsims13

    bsims13 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, United States
    Map
    The bike started to run terrible on the way home last night, and it was even a little warmer out, and I rode it a little longer. I took the PCIII out as soon as I got home and it ran just fine last night and today.

    I ordered the new T-stat, as it never got warmer than 160* yesterday, seeming to confirm that issue.

    Fresh stabilized fuel is in, and new oil is on deck tonight, spark plugs will be checked when I get down towards the thermostat (hopefully it comes in this week)

    I had a stored code for the MAP sensor and tested the vacuum on it, which was within the specified range. (spec = 150-250 mmHg, measured jumped between 225 and 300 mmHg)
    The only way I can test the MAP further to see if the sensor is bad is to have an ECU test harness. Do any of you know where you can purchase, and how much they run?

    Thanks again for your help, and will keep posted on the thermostat once I receive the new one.
     
  13. elwray

    elwray New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Central NJ
    I believe the harness tester is absurdly expensive and a dealer purchase item only.

    Aside from the temperature issue, would you say the bike is running pretty well now all in all?

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong but, the MAP sensor only really affects low-throttle input fueling, right? If it's disconnected, the ECU reverts to a "default" setup for what values the MAP would read? Could it be possible that the MAP sensor is faulty, but the PCIII relies much more heavily on the MAP readings than the stock ECU would, therefore meaning the MAP is bad but the PCIII isn't necessarily?

    bsims13 - can you check Craigslist for junk bikes in your area and see if you can grab a MAP sensor from one? They're probably ridiculously expensive new from Honda. There are some on eBay for ~$20 if necessary (i.e. http://www.ebay.com/itm/2002-VFR800-VFR-800-MAP-SENSOR-/380287818690?pt=Motorcycles_Parts_Accessories&vxp=mtr&hash=item588aeb9bc2).

    Also another thought - what if you disconnect the battery to "clear" the FI codes and try again? Maybe the PCIII is the culprit and even though you removed it, the FI code it potentially caused still persists?
     
  14. bsims13

    bsims13 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, United States
    Map
    The bike is running better, I cleared the MAP code and hasn't returned yet. So I'm not going to worry about it unless it pops up again. I made a lot of ECU relevant changes yesterday, so the bike needs some time to adjust I'm sure (removed PCIII, plugged in the old O2 sensors after some heavy cleaning, etc....)

    I found that you may be able to carefully back-probe the ECU connections to test, but will leave that as a last resort. Look for an update hopefully this weekend.
     
  15. elwray

    elwray New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Central NJ
    I'd personally stay away from probing the ECU unless you really have to. I remember those being stupid expensive.

    Do you know if there was a reason the PCIII was put on there in the first place? I was under the impression that they typically weren't really beneficial unless you make some significant changes to the power system such as deleting the catalytic converters.

    Hopefully that was the root cause of your problem. The thermostat issue is really just a maintenance item that is typical of the 6th gens at that age. Since you were able to read the troubleshooting instructions for the MAP sensor and use a vacuum gauge, you should have no trouble replacing the thermostat. Hell, if I can do it - anyone can!
     
  16. bsims13

    bsims13 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, United States
    Map
    Pliskin,
    I just researched Ethanol Phase Separation, and this looks like it too may have been a real possibility. I have noticed quite a bit of moisture at the exhaust, and found the vent line for the fuel tank had unattached under the tank. Thanks for the tip, and I can assure you until its nice and warm again, Stabil will be in my tank.


     
  17. bsims13

    bsims13 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, United States
    Map
    My guess is that the PCIII was installed due to an after market exhaust (slip-on it seems), and that is it. I figure the stock ECU should be able to handle any changes. The CAT system is still in tact, and I am not going to be racing this bike any time soon.


     
  18. elwray

    elwray New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Central NJ
    Slip on exhaust shouldn't make a big enough change that the ECU couldn't compensate for it. The cats are the big restriction in the exhaust. When I had mine, I literally sliced the ends off the stock exhaust cans and yanked out the mufflers, and welded the ends back on. Didn't feel a single bit of difference except it sounded better ;) I sure do miss that V4 rumble!
     
  19. Pliskin

    Pliskin New Member

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    3,699
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Morris County, New Jersey
    Map
    Sounds like you're making a lot of progress on diagnosing. I'm a firm believer to always start with the easiest things. Changing fuel & oil, disconnecting the PCIII, resetting the stored codes are all quick, easy and free things to check. Glad its working out, and definitely keep us posted.
     
  20. bsims13

    bsims13 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio, United States
    Map
    Went to the dealer to pick up the thermostat today, and ironically enough the bike started cutting out on me again. It was even worse on the way home, no less than a dozen times in less than 10 miles each way. I had already removed the PCIII, and will not be reinstalling it.
    I have noticed most of the time it cuts out is when throttle is being applied. When turning off and on again, the FI light will not turn on every time, but will after a few tries. I haven't received any new trouble codes. I will be tearing down to replace the T-stat and look at the plugs, anything else while I am in there that may be causing it to die? If I don't see any glaring issues, I will probably be taking it to the dealer for diagnostics after replacing the thermostat.

    Also, not sure if this could give any ideas: The bike was laid down on its right side last April, replaced the crankcase cover back then. Never had an issue with it until lately.
     
Related Topics

Share This Page