Cleaning Motorcycle Electrics
Get some of the De-Oxit electrical contact cleaner and figure on spending a good day going from the front of the bike to the back. It’s a plastic safe cleaner/preservative. caig.com - Home of DeoxITÂ® - CAIG Laboratories, Inc. is their website.
On the older Kawasaki's, a majority of electrical connectors are inside the headlight housing requiring removal of the headlight,then the fun begins.
Do one set of electrical connectors at a time to avoid mixing up what connects to where. Usually disconnecting, spraying with De-Oxit and reconnecting is about all you'll need.
However, when encountering the green crud of corrosion, a brass wire brush may be needed on the pins you can reach.Some 400-600 grit wet and dry sandpaper strips rolled into a tube should reach the male and female pins in the more difficult to clean connectors.Smoker’s pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and wooden toothpicks work as cleaning aids.
Really small electrical connectors may require the use of a welders tip cleaning tool assortment.
Most pins in the connectors are coated with a thin plating of tin, and others may be nothing more than copper or brass.
If moisture is added, the resulting corrosion lowers the voltage/current being carried causing dim lights, slow engine cranking, slow turn signal responce and lower input voltage to the ignition coils resulting in weak spark.
The left and right handlebar switch pods will need attention too as they have circuit functions like turn, horn, run/stop, and start.
Usually a spritz or two with actuation of the switch is about all needed for these switches unless corrosion is detected and then careful disassembly is required.
The ignition switch may or may be not sealed to allow spraying the internal contacts. I urge caution if attempting to open this up as springs, and ball bearings may fly out never to be seen again!
If your bike has the older style glass tubed fuses, I suggest replacing them as vibration can cause internal failure. AGX is the type used, and most auto parts stores can get them for you.
Clean the fuse holder clips, looking for signs of overheating(discolored insulation, signs of melting),I use metal polish on a cotton swab, followed by spraying another clean swab with the De-Oxit and then rubbing the inside of the fuse clip.
Each "Bullet Connector" will have to be sprayed to ensure good connectivity, especially the ones going to the energizing coil of the starter solenoid.
The alternator output “Bullet Connectors” are usually behind the engine sprocket cover and will need inspecting and cleaning too.
The turn signal light sockets will benefit from a spritz from the contact cleaner along with the tail light/brake light socket.
Some brake light switches can be sprayed on the actuating rod, with the spray running down inside to the electrical contacts, others may be sealed requiring replacement if the switch is intermittent in operation.
I think I've covered about all of the electrical systems on the bike.........
Why WD-40 Should Not Be Used On Motorcycle Electrical Items.
For many years, I was proponent of the use of WD-40 on fuse clips, fuses, switches and connectors. After hearing of other peoples experience with intermittent and sporadic activity, I shrugged it off as maybe they did something wrong in the application of the product.
It wasn’t until the time I rode my 1982 GPz1100 B2 model to downtown San Diego that I encountered the problems others had gone through.
After concluding my business downtown, I walked to where my bike was parked, turned the key to unlock the forks, and prepared to start the engine. The key was in the "On" position, yet I had no lights in the dash panel, the fuel pump was not running(I have FI), and the horn and tail light were not working.
Stumped as to why nothing electrical was happening, I remember my earlier conversations about how WD-40 will over time become a non-conductor(more like an insulator). I had some pieces of 400 and 600 grit sandpaper in my tool kit and with them was able to scratch away the coating from the WD-40 on the fuses and clips.
After removing the insulating film, the bike started and ran like it should. Since that time, I’ve told people about the problem with WD-40. If you must use a contact cleaner, I recommend getting some "De-oxit" from Radio Shack Stores or any good electronic supply store.