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2003 WR450 eats electric starters.


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7 replies to this topic
  • ftl900

    TT Bronze Member

166 posts
Location: Nevada
Garage View Garage

Posted July 01, 2016 - 08:35 AM


I'm struggling with electric starter problems on my 2003 WR450. I used to have a WR400 and I liked the bike a lot but at 61, I'm getting too old for kick-starting a bike after picking it up.   The 400 was a bear to kick over but started easily once you kicked it right.  I liked it but I really wanted the magic button.  

 

So I sold it, and a few months ago, I bought a 2003 WR450. I got a good deal on it, but like most of the bikes I buy, it needed some TLC.
It also didn't have a starter in it at the time.   The seller gave me some BS story about removing it for the weight.  But he didn't remove the whole starter mind you, just the inside parts that spin.  I got a good deal on it so I bought the bike and I put a starter in it. And a new battery.

 

(I had to put in a new head gasket too, but I don't think that has anything to do with starters failing)  PFA.

20160417_011715.jpg

 

Each new e-starter starts out working great for the first few starts, but after a couple of rides, it starts binding and working intermittently- sometimes nothing at all, click-click as I press the button, sometimes it starts fine, and sometimes it struggles to turn the engine over as if it's under a great load.   I replaced the solenoid just because it was cheap and easy to swap, but that wasn't the problem and didn't change anything.    I checked voltage at the starter when I hit the button and I'm getting 12+ volts there. I've been through 3 starters in 4 months. 

 

I thought the first starter was defective when it went bad.  I got it swapped out for a replacement and within a couple of rides, it was bad too.

So I decided maybe that brand of starter was poorly made.  I bought the third starter from a different seller, and a different brand of starter.

The first 2 were Mitsu/AMDD and the third and fourth are Arrow.  

 

When I removed the last one (#3), it had chewed up wear marks on the starter spline. I began to suspect it's compression kick-back problem against the starter that's doing it, so I bought the 2004 starter upgrade parts and I will put those parts in with starter #4.   

The good news is, I'm getting much better at changing the starter.  When I did the first one, I removed the subframe, carb, and a lot of other stuff.  Now I'm down to about 15 minutes to have the starter out.  The bad news is, I haven't ridden this bike very much in 4 months.  I actually bought another bike that I'm riding while I get this one sorted out. 

 

If it doesn't work out this time, I'll probably sell it and move to something with a more reliable e-starter. I'd hate that, because I really like my 450, but the e-starter was the only reason for selling my plated 400 and buying this 450.. for when I'm winded, beat, gasping for air and dog tired after picking that bike up too many times.

 

20160205_114213_Richtone%2528HDR%2529.jp

 

I've researched a fair amount, and the only 450 starting issues I've found are bikes that don't want to start.  This one starts up fine, and actually kick-starts pretty easily.   So I'm wide open for ideas or suggestions on this. 

 



  • DeepPurplishBlue

    TT Bronze Member

378 posts
Location: Texas

Posted July 01, 2016 - 08:02 PM


In some situations this could point to the autodecompressor on the cam isn't working,

but if you say it starts fine for a while and is easy to kick start it probably isn't that.

 

My suggestion would have been change to the 2004 starter parts and see what happens

but you have already done that.   Perhaps there was an issue with the 2003 idler gear,

like bad teeth, running crooked, etc.  

 

Failing that, your stator cover might be tweaked causing the starter to always be slightly

out of alignment.    If you didn't change it with the 2004 upgrade you might want to find

a cheap 04+ cover on fleabay and give it a try.



  • Bitteeinbit

    TT Bronze Member

125 posts
Location: Cambodia

Posted July 02, 2016 - 12:57 AM


I've also got big problems with my 05. I've replaced the solenoids twice and was thinking of picking up an Arrow starter. Now it starts alright when warm (I have to give about 2mm throttle, then press), but cold is almost impossible. My mechanic showed me how to start it (twist the throttle 1-2mm, then press). I don't understand how this is normal... An e-starter should be press and go, not fiddle with 1-2mm. I know I'll flood the carb if I twist it a lot, but damn... Anyways, I've resorted to just kicking it over for now. Kicks over really easily. Usually I have trouble finding the trick to each bike's kickstarter. With the WR, I have trouble finding the right way to e-start. Go figure...



  • Krannie McKranface
36,164 posts
Location: California
Garage View Garage

Posted July 04, 2016 - 09:30 AM


I've also got big problems with my 05. I've replaced the solenoids twice and was thinking of picking up an Arrow starter. Now it starts alright when warm (I have to give about 2mm throttle, then press), but cold is almost impossible. My mechanic showed me how to start it (twist the throttle 1-2mm, then press). I don't understand how this is normal... An e-starter should be press and go, not fiddle with 1-2mm. I know I'll flood the carb if I twist it a lot, but damn... Anyways, I've resorted to just kicking it over for now. Kicks over really easily. Usually I have trouble finding the trick to each bike's kickstarter. With the WR, I have trouble finding the right way to e-start. Go figure...

 

Can't flood the carb by twisting the throttle 1-2mm. Impossible

Your bike is 13 years old, and was not as sophisticated as they are today, in terms of starting.

Your bike has an archaic ECU, and an over EPA's carb, and never start right until you uncork, rejet, and uplug the TPS.

Read the FAQ's at the top of the forum.



  • Bitteeinbit

    TT Bronze Member

125 posts
Location: Cambodia

Posted July 04, 2016 - 04:18 PM


The bike is uncorked and TPS is long gone. Not the issue. I might have a look at the jetting again, but I doubt that's it. Wasn't too lean or rich last time I checked.

  • ftl900

    TT Bronze Member

166 posts
Location: Nevada
Garage View Garage

Posted July 12, 2016 - 03:08 PM


In some situations this could point to the autodecompressor on the cam isn't working,

but if you say it starts fine for a while and is easy to kick start it probably isn't that.

 

My suggestion would have been change to the 2004 starter parts and see what happens

but you have already done that.   Perhaps there was an issue with the 2003 idler gear,

like bad teeth, running crooked, etc.  

 

Failing that, your stator cover might be tweaked causing the starter to always be slightly

out of alignment.    If you didn't change it with the 2004 upgrade you might want to find

a cheap 04+ cover on fleabay and give it a try.

 

I have just installed the 04 starter upgrade parts with the most recent starter.  We'll see how that goes.  That also replaces the idler gear and the starter cover, so I'm hoping ONE of those was the problem.

The bike kick-starts very easily all the time.   Not like my 400 that required the moon and planets to be aligned, I can sit on the seat and kick this one.

 

I also upgraded my battery to a lipo.  Since it's a 7 amp-hour battery, it doesn't have a lot of juice for cranking, so with the lipo, I was able to get a 14ah battery in the same size case.  So now I have twice the cranking power.


Edited by ftl900, July 12, 2016 - 03:13 PM.


  • ftl900

    TT Bronze Member

166 posts
Location: Nevada
Garage View Garage

Posted July 28, 2016 - 08:05 AM


This is getting kind of drawn out with recent changes.. I have the new starter and the 04 starter conversion parts installed, but it's too hot to ride in Vegas, with daily temps over 110 F.  

 

Also I'm moving to Seattle in 9 days, so everything is packed up for the move.  Helmet and riding gear is already boxed up, so it'll be a couple of weeks before I know the outcome.  

I am planning a riding/camping trip August 20th if the move goes smoothly and nothing else gets in the way, but there are a lot of moving parts there so we'll see.



  • LG_rocks
2 posts
Location: Texas

Posted November 19, 2016 - 06:46 PM


This is getting kind of drawn out with recent changes.. I have the new starter and the 04 starter conversion parts installed, but it's too hot to ride in Vegas, with daily temps over 110 F.

Also I'm moving to Seattle in 9 days, so everything is packed up for the move. Helmet and riding gear is already boxed up, so it'll be a couple of weeks before I know the outcome.
I am planning a riding/camping trip August 20th if the move goes smoothly and nothing else gets in the way, but there are a lot of moving parts there so we'll see.


Any updates on this?

How is your 04 starter upgrade working?




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