650R Coolant Consumption...


41 replies to this topic
  • neduro

Posted March 17, 2005 - 10:08 AM

#1

I just got back from a trip to baja, in which we did about 1700 miles of riding. I took a new-to-me 650R, which I purchased to replace my 01 that had a bit over 20k miles. The replacement bike was purchased used, but with very few miles.

Anyway, it consumed a fair amount of coolant- I routinely had to fill the overflow bottle in the morning, and sometimes, it needed a little in the radiators as well. Bike runs perfectly, doesn't seem to leak anything, and has no smell of coolant. It consumed no oil in 1700 miles and it actually still looks pretty clear.

The previous owner had run Evans- I drained it and went back to stock honda coolant.

My old XR never used a drop of coolant in all the time i had it, so this was a little surprising to me. I plan to race this bike in the 500, so if I need to tear into it, the time is now.

Anyone have an idea where to start? I thought I'd pull the water pump apart to see if there was a chance that coolant was sneaking past a seal there... the bike has never boiled (with me on it, anyway) and has a 1.6 cap already installed.

:)

Thanks in advance for any help.

  • TimBrp

Posted March 17, 2005 - 10:33 AM

#2

I'd take a wiff on the oil and see if you smell anything foreign. Secondly, check your overflow tank hose. Possibly something leaking out from there. Trying to tell while riding or sitting is tough as it is under the motor, above the skidplate.

  • qadsan

Posted March 17, 2005 - 10:37 AM

#3

Have you changed the oil yet? Does the oil look creamy or milky at all or is it nice and black or golden, etc? If there's a concern of coolant getting into the oil from a headgasket leak and it doesn't look obvious (no milky oil, etc), you could send a sample of your oil in for analysis which would cost ~$30 and it would comfirm or rule out the presence of glycol. When the engine is cool, you can also remove the rad cap and start the bike up and look for evidence of bubbles in the coolant which would indicate a head gasket issue. It's normal for the coolant to be turbulent, but you should not see bubbles. Don't do this for too long or else the coolant will expand and things will get messy. If the water pump itself is leaking, then you'll likely see evidence of coolant at the weephole. Have you checked for a hairline crack on the radiators? When the radiators are cool they may not leak, but when they heat up and the coolant expands, you may find evidence of a hairline crack that shows evidence of coolant. Pay close attention to the seems on the radiator as that's where you may be more likely to find a hairline crack. The coolant has to be going somewhere. I've been using Evans NPG+ in three different 650r's and have had zero issues, but I also don't let my bikes overheat. If the previous owner let his bike seriously overheat, then that in itelf could open the door to others problems such as a warped head, but I'd check the easy stuff first. All it takes is not putting the kick stand down all the way and the bike falling over and hitting the radiator just right to have a problem like this. I hope you can quickly find the issue and it turns out to be something simple and inexpensive.

  • captb

Posted March 17, 2005 - 11:53 AM

#4

I'd check headbolt torque and test thermostat if you can't find any leaks, before I tore into it

  • neduro

Posted March 18, 2005 - 12:14 PM

#5

Thanks for the input, everyone.

- The oil is clear. No foam or milk.
- 1700 miles of dust has revealed no external leaks, and there is no evidence of moisture in the (aftermarket aluminum) skidplate.
- I have not yet pulled the (almost certainly frozen) stock thermostat. Never got around to it, and figured I wouldn't have any cooling issues in Baja where the speeds are high.

It really only used coolant in extended heavy load operation- we did a few hundred miles of hardpack or paved roads where it consumed nothing... we also did 80 miles of bottomless sand at WFO in 5th and it used most of the overflow bottle.

I'll check head-stud torque, remove the thermostat, and try idling it while cold with the cap off to look for bubbles... and report my findings. Racing this weekend (on a different bike) so it'll be a while...

  • BRP27

Posted March 19, 2005 - 04:56 AM

#6

Why did you change out the Evans?

I was using the stock glycol in tight trails and boiling over. I would boil over when I was riding where I should have been getting enough air flow. Coolant level went down out in the middle of no where. Is the bike boiling over at stops? I guess not you would hear it or see it.

I put in Evans and have had no problems. Never had to add any since I put it in.

  • neduro

Posted March 21, 2005 - 02:32 PM

#7

My last XR would boil (like everything else I've ever owned) but with the jetting sorted, it took some doing. It usually only happened in A-loop type trails, where I was using the clutch heavily (Timberline in Taylor Park is a prime example).

I don't use evans because I don't like a coolant that won't boil- it keeps the temps in check (boiling releases a huge amount of energy) and at least I know when I have a heat problem. But I don't mean to turn this thread into yet another Water vs. Other thread/flamewar :)

Still haven't even started the bike since getting home. Hopefully tonight is the night.

  • XR6's_rule

Posted March 22, 2005 - 04:04 AM

#8

I'd check the water pump seals first. A friend of mine who has an 01 650R and it had a problem with the water pump seals at very low km's, but his oil went slightly milky. Checl whether the coolant is coming out of the overflow, if it is, you've got a headgasket leak.

  • davidgalyon

Posted March 22, 2005 - 06:17 AM

#9

I've never boiled over my stock fluid. I have put in 2 hot summers in SoCal with tons of hard riding (sand and hill-climbs) and never consumed a drop of fluid. Though I have rejetted and supposedly that runs me a bit cooler, but I don't really know. All I know is that the level on my over-flow has never moved even when the bike showed signs of over-heating.

  • VelvetHog

Posted March 22, 2005 - 06:32 AM

#10

Despite the fact that your oil is not milky it could still be a head gasket leak. If the leak is small enough all of the coolant going into the cyclinder will be turned to steam and then passed throught the exhaust never ending up in the crankcase. Look for more steam than usual issuing from your exhaust. It may or may not appear abnormal. Without poisoning yourself try to get your nose near the exhaust and try to smell for a glycol odor. Again, it may not even be noticable. I had a pickup truck with this exact problem. It was difficult to diagnose.

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  • neduro

Posted March 22, 2005 - 07:59 AM

#11

Update:

I started the bike last night and changed the oil. While it was warming, I had the cap off and kept an eye on the coolant. Here's what I observed:

- Immediately after startup, there were some bubbles that appeared. I'm not sure whether they representa smoking gun or not- I have an edelbrock, and I always have to pick the bike up off idle for a moment or two when it first starts, and in doing so I shook the coolant up so that it overflowed a bit. IOW, it could be that I introduced air to the radiator with turbulance and it then bled back out. I'm not sure.
- Once the bike had been running for ~30 seconds, no more bubbles appeared. The coolant was turbulant but I'm guessing that's normal.
- The oil was amazingly clear for 1700+ miles. On my old bike, I typically changed it at between 400 and 700 miles, depending on clutch use- if I was riding tight stuff and using the clutch hard, I'd change it earlier. If it got more dualsport use, I'd let the interval slip a little further. In any case, this stuff didn't look or smell bad, and there was no evidence of water or foam.
- I decided to check the screen to see if there was any accumulated metal... there was. Not much, but enough that I'm glad I did so. Which I think is irrelevant to the discussion at hand, but since my old bike never once had any metal there whatever, I figured it was worth passing along as a reminder to us all.

So, next steps are looking at the water pump seals and checking head bolt torque. Another update after I do so.

When the engine is cool, you can also remove the rad cap and start the bike up and look for evidence of bubbles in the coolant which would indicate a head gasket issue. It's normal for the coolant to be turbulent, but you should not see bubbles.



  • qadsan

Posted March 22, 2005 - 08:44 AM

#12

...Once the bike had been running for ~30 seconds, no more bubbles appeared. The coolant was turbulant but I'm guessing that's normal...

Turbulence is completely normal. If you continued to get bubbles, then it would be a concern.

I still hope you find something obvisous, inexpensive and easy to fix, but it's looking as if this will be one of those less obvious more time comsuming problems to diagnose. At least gaskets & seals are relatively inexpensive if you can change them yourself.

  • davidgalyon

Posted March 22, 2005 - 09:54 AM

#13

Update:


- I decided to check the screen to see if there was any accumulated metal... there was. Not much, but enough that I'm glad I did so. Which I think is irrelevant to the discussion at hand, but since my old bike never once had any metal there whatever, I figured it was worth passing along as a reminder to us all.


So where is said 'screen'?

  • qadsan

Posted March 22, 2005 - 09:58 AM

#14

So where is said 'screen'?


Said screen would be the downtube oil screen. There's also a screen on the bottom lower portion of the right side case, but that one is always clean. You should check your downtube screen after the first couple oil changes when the bike is new or after you install a new clutch, otherwise it's normally clean.

  • davidgalyon

Posted March 22, 2005 - 10:44 AM

#15

thanks, I have never checked it, will do ASAP

  • SaltyWalrus

Posted March 22, 2005 - 01:31 PM

#16

Sounds to me like the bike was just overheating while running under heavy load. If the load lessened before you stopped, the motor could have cooled itself off and you would never hear the gurgling to indicate the overheating. If it were me, I would throw Evans back in and see if the problem goes away.

My 650R always overheats in tight New England trails. Often, I will shut it off when I get out of a tight trail (and wait for my buddies on there KTMs, :) ). It will be gurgling like crazy. I have to start it back up, take it for a quick cool down spin at higher speeds and lower loads. Shut it down again and its is fine. I plan on putting Evans in it this spring.

  • BRP27

Posted March 22, 2005 - 05:12 PM

#17

Evans works :)

  • qadsan

Posted March 22, 2005 - 05:33 PM

#18

I don't think it's a coolant choice issue because he previously had a xr650r that he put over 20K miles on. He sold it off to buy a newer fresher xr650r with less miles on it and it doesn't sound like his application has changed. If his older bike didn't do this with his choice of coolant, then his newer bike shouldn't do it with his choice of coolant. It sounds to me like something is wrong with his newest xr650r.

  • JackAttack

Posted March 22, 2005 - 06:08 PM

#19

It sounds to me like something is wrong with his newest xr650r.


Thermostat? :)

  • TimBrp

Posted March 23, 2005 - 04:06 AM

#20

Sounds to me like something else it up too. A blockage or pinch in the lines somewhere or a stuck thermostat. I put the SRC hi-flow thermostat in and haven't had any issue.

Salty-When your machine is overheating it's not good to turn the bike off. It will lead to the dreaded hot spots and may cause more head/motor damage. Best thing to do if it's overheating or gurgling is to get it on a straight and get some wind through the radiators to cool it, then shut her down.





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