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09 ZX14 ELECT ISSUE

2575 Views 20 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  K-ZX14
I'm having a bizarre problem starting my ZX14:
When I push the starter button, I get nothing but a click (that's the click of the starter relay.)
When this problem began, the bike would not start no matter how many times I pushed the starter button. Now, I can get it started, but only after pushing the button 3 or 4 times, or more. When it's running, everything functions normally.

Before it starts, everything seems to be normal - the multi-function display, the lights, the turn signals, the horn - I've been working on machines for decades, and have seen some odd things, but never this.
I've asked about this problem on a different forum, and people think that it's something usual, like battery connections - but it isn't.

I'll give you some more details:
  • The bike has a new, healthy battery.
  • I've checked the starter, the starter relay, the diode/relay pack, the fuses, the safety switch at the clutch, and the safety switch at the side stand - all are functioning normally.
  • Every time the starter button is pushed, the starter relay engages and I get battery voltage at the starter.

I'm hoping that it has nothing to do with the ECU - which seems unlikely, since the motorcycle operates normally when it's running.

Has anyone had this problem with their ZX14, or encountered it with someone else's bike?
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Some of these bikes have two starter relays, there is small one in the junction box and then you have the normal, large solenoid that sends battery voltage directly to the starter motor. Have you checked both?

What happens when you bypass the solenoid?
This is the first I've heard of a second starter relay.
Where is the junction box?
I know where the Relay/Diode box is located.
The Dealer Parts Locator makes no mention of a "Junction Box," or "Junction Box Relay." I haven't seen it in the Service Manual either.
The Parts Locator calls the Starter Relay, "Switch, Magnetic."
Every time that I bypass the Starter Relay, the Starter spins.
If there are two relays, and either is bad, than why is there Battery Voltage at the Starter every time the Starter Button is pushed? This is what I find odd.

I don't want to spend $130.00 on a new Relay to find out that it's not the problem.
I am not familiar with your specific model which is why I said "some" bikes. Yours may not have both relays.
Do you have a wiring diagram?

If you are bypassing the starter solenoid (the one with the heavy gage wire going to the starter) then you may have a problem in the starter motor itself. But before you dig in too deep or start spending money, are you 100% certain your battery is in top condition? They symptoms you describe are exactly what you get with a weak battery. Voltage is meaningless in determining the condition of a battery.

If it were me, I would take the battery in to a reputable shop or store where they can load test the battery. Most load testers will print out the results of your load test. The load test is normally free.
First, I appreciate your help.
Yes, I do have the factory service manual with the bike's wiring schematic. I have been using it to try to zero-in on the problem.
The Starter is fine. I've checked it out thoroughly.
The battery is a new "Anti-Gravity" Lithium, but I've had two other good batteries connected to the bike, with the same results.
If I connect any one of those batteries directly to the starter, the bike fires right up!
At this point, it seems most likely that the relay is malfunctioning, or that some connector, somewhere, maybe under the tank, is corroded.
It's bizarre, because as I said initially, it wouldn't start at all using the starter button, but just recently, it began to start normally, sometimes - Not Reliably - sometimes it will start on the first push of the button as it should, and other times, it will take two, or three, or more pushes on the button to get the starter to engage . . . but, I always get that clicking sound.
Are you getting battery voltage power to the low power side of the solenoid when you press the starter button?

You may have to trace out the entire circuit, looking for loose or corroded connections. Random faults are always the hardest to find.

One thing you could try is to disconnect the positive power wire that feeds the low power side of the solenoid and then run a jumper wire from the positive terminal of the battery to the solenoid. This should immediately kick your starter motor on. If it does not, then do the same test again, only this time disconnect the low power ground wire and replace it with a jumper to your negative battery terminal. If this test still fails then you have proof that your solenoid has failed.
I've been checking the bike for loose or corroded connections, and wiring with warm insulation - that's all it would take to cause such a problem - but I haven't found any yet; that's why I said it might be under the tank. I haven't wanted to pull the tank; I do have all of the cowlings off already.
As for the Starter Relay, I had it off the bike and tested it. As I'm sure you know, it's just an electric switch. Each time that I applied battery voltage to it, it engaged, and when it's on the bike, battery voltage is passing through as it should - I've checked it several times.
There are a few smaller wires running to it on the bike. I can't remember if any of them are running to the ECU. It's a complicated system because of the computer. I was thinking that the ECU is not receiving a signal that it should be receiving, or, it's receiving a signal that it shouldn't be receiving.
The bike has a "Vehicle Down Sensor" located under the tank. I've been wondering if that's causing the problem.
It's not the "Starter Cut-Out Switch" located at the clutch lever, or the safety switch on the Side Stand - I bypassed both of them with no effect.
It would be great if the switch under the tank were easier to access.
I think I'll take another look at that starter relay as you suggested. Those additional wires may have something to do with it.
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First, I appreciate your help.
Yes, I do have the factory service manual with the bike's wiring schematic. I have been using it to try to zero-in on the problem.
The Starter is fine. I've checked it out thoroughly.
The battery is a new "Anti-Gravity" Lithium, but I've had two other good batteries connected to the bike, with the same results.
If I connect any one of those batteries directly to the starter, the bike fires right up!
At this point, it seems most likely that the relay is malfunctioning, or that some connector, somewhere, maybe under the tank, is corroded.
It's bizarre, because as I said initially, it wouldn't start at all using the starter button, but just recently, it began to start normally, sometimes - Not Reliably - sometimes it will start on the first push of the button as it should, and other times, it will take two, or three, or more pushes on the button to get the starter to engage . . . but, I always get that clicking sound.
Check a little black grounding box on the left side wire harness. Its right next to throttle cable, don't be shy to open it up. I had a short there on my 07 and it did the same thing ....
I'm having a bizarre problem starting my ZX14:
When I push the starter button, I get nothing but a click (that's the click of the starter relay.)
When this problem began, the bike would not start no matter how many times I pushed the starter button. Now, I can get it started, but only after pushing the button 3 or 4 times, or more. When it's running, everything functions normally.

Before it starts, everything seems to be normal - the multi-function display, the lights, the turn signals, the horn - I've been working on machines for decades, and have seen some odd things, but never this.
I've asked about this problem on a different forum, and people think that it's something usual, like battery connections - but it isn't.

I'll give you some more details:
  • The bike has a new, healthy battery.
  • I've checked the starter, the starter relay, the diode/relay pack, the fuses, the safety switch at the clutch, and the safety switch at the side stand - all are functioning normally.
  • Every time the starter button is pushed, the starter relay engages and I get battery voltage at the starter.

I'm hoping that it has nothing to do with the ECU - which seems unlikely, since the motorcycle operates normally when it's running.

Has anyone had this problem with their ZX14, or encountered it with someone else's bike?
I have exactly same problem 2011 ZX14R
I had a similar problem, tracked it down to the starter switch with continuity tester, the switching was dirty giving intermittent contact.
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I'm having a bizarre problem starting my ZX14:
When I push the starter button, I get nothing but a click (that's the click of the starter relay.)
When this problem began, the bike would not start no matter how many times I pushed the starter button. Now, I can get it started, but only after pushing the button 3 or 4 times, or more. When it's running, everything functions normally.

Before it starts, everything seems to be normal - the multi-function display, the lights, the turn signals, the horn - I've been working on machines for decades, and have seen some odd things, but never this.
I've asked about this problem on a different forum, and people think that it's something usual, like battery connections - but it isn't.

I'll give you some more details:
  • The bike has a new, healthy battery.
  • I've checked the starter, the starter relay, the diode/relay pack, the fuses, the safety switch at the clutch, and the safety switch at the side stand - all are functioning normally.
  • Every time the starter button is pushed, the starter relay engages and I get battery voltage at the starter.

I'm hoping that it has nothing to do with the ECU - which seems unlikely, since the motorcycle operates normally when it's running.

Has anyone had this problem with their ZX14, or encountered it with someone else's bike?

That solved my starter problem. Clean the starter button
Thanks all now ✓✓✓✓✓ appreciate
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Check a little black grounding box on the left side wire harness. Its right next to throttle cable, don't be shy to open it up. I had a short there on my 07 and it did the same thing ....
Checked it - Cleaned it, but it's not the problem - but at least I've eliminated that as a possible cause.
It's identified as "Joint Connector 2." There is also "Joint Connector 1," which I have yet to check. It has wires running directly to the Starter Relay. I'm going to check that next, as soon as I get a chance.
That solved my starter problem. Clean the starter button
Thanks all now ✓✓✓✓✓ appreciate
John,
I checked my starter button - it's functioning normally - but thanks for the tip.
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Bear in mind that your test of the starter relay was not done under the heavy load of trying to start the engine.
If you cannot find faults anywhere else, I would look at replacing the relay.

Also bear in mind that checking your starter button for just continuity is not a good test of its ability to pass sufficient current. A visual inspect and cleaning of the starter button contacts is highly recommended as preventative maintenance if nothing else.
Your starter circuit has 2 systems.
1) is the control. It will include the key switch, clutch switch, kill switch, start button, kick stand switch, and in newer bikes the relay in the relay box. These items are in the control side of the relay box relay. When this relay closes it puts power on the high power start relay control wires. ( the small wires on the start relay). Older bikes without the second relay the above control items and start button directly put power on the high power relay control wire.

2) High power circuit. Large wire from the battery to the high power relay, relay, large wire to the starter.

The quick test of the control side is to put a meter on the small wires of the high power relay. One at a time. When you push the start button you should read battery voltage on one of the wires. The other one will be the ground wire. You should also feel the relay click. No power and the problem is in the control side. A real bad battery will drop voltage fast and not have enough power to operate the relays.

Next is the high power side. One side of the relay should have battery voltage at all times. The other goes to the starter motor. Put you meter on the starter wire, when you push the starter button you should get battery voltage. This can be a poor mans way to load test a battery. If you get voltage and it drops below 10v dc, or keeps dropping your battery failed the load test. No voltage with no click and the relay is bad. Before you replace the relay do the test on the battery side or the relay. With a bad relay you will read battery voltage and not get a drop when you push the button.

Check all of your grounds. Remove them and clean the connection reattach. Remove the spark plugs, see if the starter will turn the engine without compression resistance.
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Bear in mind that your test of the starter relay was not done under the heavy load of trying to start the engine.
If you cannot find faults anywhere else, I would look at replacing the relay.

Also bear in mind that checking your starter button for just continuity is not a good test of its ability to pass sufficient current. A visual inspect and cleaning of the starter button contacts is highly recommended as preventative maintenance if nothing else.
I understand your point -
Bear in mind that your test of the starter relay was not done under the heavy load of trying to start the engine.
If you cannot find faults anywhere else, I would look at replacing the relay.

Also bear in mind that checking your starter button for just continuity is not a good test of its ability to pass sufficient current. A visual inspect and cleaning of the starter button contacts is highly recommended as preventative maintenance if nothing else.
I understand your point - I did not test the starter button or the starter relay under full load. I tested the starter relay off of the bike, and the starter button has always started the motor - each and every time I pushed it - but only when I had bypassed the starter relay.
I going to check the starter button, clean it, and see if that solves the problem.
Your starter circuit has 2 systems.
1) is the control. It will include the key switch, clutch switch, kill switch, start button, kick stand switch, and in newer bikes the relay in the relay box. These items are in the control side of the relay box relay. When this relay closes it puts power on the high power start relay control wires. ( the small wires on the start relay). Older bikes without the second relay the above control items and start button directly put power on the high power relay control wire.

2) High power circuit. Large wire from the battery to the high power relay, relay, large wire to the starter.

The quick test of the control side is to put a meter on the small wires of the high power relay. One at a time. When you push the start button you should read battery voltage on one of the wires. The other one will be the ground wire. You should also feel the relay click. No power and the problem is in the control side. A real bad battery will drop voltage fast and not have enough power to operate the relays.

Next is the high power side. One side of the relay should have battery voltage at all times. The other goes to the starter motor. Put you meter on the starter wire, when you push the starter button you should get battery voltage. This can be a poor mans way to load test a battery. If you get voltage and it drops below 10v dc, or keeps dropping your battery failed the load test. No voltage with no click and the relay is bad. Before you replace the relay do the test on the battery side or the relay. With a bad relay you will read battery voltage and not get a drop when you push the button.

Check all of your grounds. Remove them and clean the connection reattach. Remove the spark plugs, see if the starter will turn the engine without compression resistance.
I'm going to clean my starter button.
If that proves not to be the problem, I'll try some of your suggestions.
My battery is good. I have no doubt of that. That's the first thing that I checked, and I have always gotten battery voltage - with no voltage drop - at the starter. I've checked it several times . . . but I will do those checks on the relay. It seems unlikely that the main relay has gone bad; yes, it's possible, but it seems more likely that something is dirty.
If you have 12 v dc at the starter not just the starter relay, and it is not spinning the engine, you have a bad ground, bad starter, or mechanical reason the starter isn't turning. Check for high resistance from the starter housing to the battery ground terminal. Your meter should read the same as if you just connect the meter leads together. Zero ohm. Next starter to engine, then engine to frame and then frame to battery. You are looking for a high resistance or bad ground connection.
A bad or stuck brush in the starter motor will also do that. Enough bumps or clicks and it may move just enough to find a good contact spot on the armature again

though it still sounds like a connection/dirty switch problem.
I solved the problem with my Ninja ZX14 long ago, but I'm just getting around to updating this post.

The problem was that the Main Starter Relay was bad. The starter relay would always pass battery voltage to the starter, but it was not passing enough current to turn the starter.

One thing that made it confusing was that the relay would function, sporadically. It did not function at all for quite awhile, then, it started to function, but unreliably. There was no telling when it would function, or if it would function. This is why I was wondering if the problem was some corroded connection somewhere else.

The Main Starter Relay was the third thing I had checked, initially, after the battery and fuses, but it tested good, according to the service manual.

Unfortunately, the service manual does not state that the starter relay can be bad, even if it tests good.

That's where the trouble really started, because after testing the relay according to the manual, I dismissed it as a possible cause of the problem and started looking for the cause elsewhere. That's where all of the confusion was, and why I asked for some help on this website.


I'm hoping that this is a help for anyone else who encounters this problem.

The factory service manual is flawed, and should state, clearly:

"THE STARTER RELAY COULD STILL BE BAD, EVEN IF IT TESTS 'GOOD' ACCORDING TO THE TEST GIVEN IN THE MANUAL!"


As I had stated in my original post, I did not want to spend 140 (Non-refundable) dollars on a new starter relay if the relay was not the problem. Not an issue, of course, for anyone who has $140 to spare.

Thanks to those of you who provided input to my question.

Since this is an older thread, I'm going to create a new thread as well with this message.
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