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Vicrory is Mine
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 900 sounds like it has a detonation issue, like something banging around in the cylinder above a certain RPM. As I have read elsewhere “like a marble in the head”. At about 60mph indicated (in 5th gear) the sound is intermittent, at 65 it’s fairly steady, and at 70 it’s constant. The sound is not speed dependant, but RPM dependant, and is present in all gears above a certain RPM… I have just spent more time in 5th listening to it. It is louder under load, up a hill, mild acceleration, or 2-up, but under hard acceleration it goes away.

The first time I noticed it was at maybe 2,000 miles while riding 2-up. I did not know what the sound was at the time, so I took it by the dealer later that week. A group of techs were standing outside, one of them started my 900, revved it a few times, and confirmed hearing a noise. Then we walked over to another 900 exactly like mine that was in for service and started it. It had the same sound, but a bit louder. They said it was normal.

The setup is pure stock, no air or exhaust mods, mostly because of fear that if something like this went wrong that the dealer would try to wiggle out of fixing it. The ECU was replaced under the “stall under decell” recall. I replaced the air filter and plugs at 7,500 or so miles (the plugs looked fine, see pic), but neither improve the problem. I ran a tank of fuel injector cleaner and I have tried different octane gas with no improvement. The sound is getting louder and is noticeable at lower RPMs as the miles add up.

Now it sounds like the engine is going to explode at interstate cruising speeds. Last night on the way home I had to back off the throttle and cruise below the posted speed limit for fear of being left stranded.

So off to the dealer next week, I need tires too. Wish me luck.
 

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Those plugs look really black they should be grey to light brown
 

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I recommend pulling the valve covers and checking for proper clearances. Some, maybe a lot, of these engines could get tight valves at low miles. This can make them run hot, lose power, and knock. Go too long like that and you'll burn a valve, or worse.

The old plugs don't look all that bad, but using higher octane fuel than needed will carbon up your motor quickly. Avoid using heavy weight oil in cold climates, it can promote unusual wear and noises.
 

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Since you have nothing to loose. Try some seafoam. one OZ per gallon.. The vn800's were known for that problem if they engine was lugged alot..

chris
 

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Ahhh Crap
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2,344 Posts
Sure sounds like a carbon build-up problem. Like Chris said, run some Seafoam in every tank full of gas till you've used an entire can of the stuff. Also, don't lug the engine. I don't know how susceptible the 900 is to carboning since it's FI but, it's never good to lug an engine. I'm sure the dealer will work it out and when they do, let us know the cause.
 

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Vicrory is Mine
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2,489 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I tried the Seafoam for about 200 miles (about a tank and a half), no improvement.

Took her in to the dealer last Wednesday. The list was:

1 – New tires
2 – Belt noise (should be fixed when tires are installed)
3 – Motor sounds like it has marbles in the cylinder at highway speeds
4 – ECU replacement per Kawasaki recall (second time)

I talked with the service dept. at the dealer yesterday. The new tires were, which also cured the belt noise problem. The ECU was on order. They have had 3 techs (including the guy I talked to) give my ride a test run. All heard the noise, but… everyone says it is normal and the shield is amplifying the sound. I have had the shield since like August or something, what a lame excuse.

After giving him the saga of limping home (third person there I have told this to) he agreed to take it on the interstate and call me back today.

I gave them a call at lunch today, and he says “My tech is at a Seado class until next Tuesday.” WTF!!! I gave them a $180 deposit on the diagnostic (which they are now wanting to keep) and tell me nothing is wrong, when I know [email protected] well there is!!! And then they say that they can’t get back to it until next week!!

So now I have two choices: 1-Pick the bike up on Thursday, and then return it at a later date for further testing, or 2-Leave it there until they get around to it.

Suggestions?
 

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Same here, the plugs are just too dark for me. My plugs did not look like that at 7.5K miles. In fact after inspection, the dealer showed me the plugs and it was still good so I kept it until a little over 15K miles. I just got my valve adjustment checked and fixed to spec and also replaced my plugs at 15.1K. I wonder how many miles you now have? If you are over 15K, I highly recommend a valve adjustment as soon as you can take it to the dealer.

On the plus side, my mpg went up to 51 mpg riding this winter. I'm surprised.
 

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If it was detonating that badly you'd see it on the spark plugs tips. A very obvious grey coloring and electrodes that look like you used a torch on them. I have to agree it doesn't sound like the dealer has handled this well but we've only heard one side.
true, only one side here. but we all know how hard it is to find a good tech. I had to go to 3 dealers til I found one that would really listen to me and treat me right....
 

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Rebel Rider
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I'll vote for carbon also. Put in some seafoam, go out and hit the limiter a few times in first and second. And don't use premium gas.


Pinging only happens at load. If it's making the noise just revving the engine, then it's not pinging.
 

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Vicrory is Mine
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
After two stints at the dealer and 2 weeks without my bike I finally have her back, and supposedly in top shape. The shop had a few different techs put maybe 60 miles total on her, and everyone heard the noise. They think it is something vibrating, not an internal engine noise. They removed some of the extra chrome, the shield, and the bags trying to eliminate the noise with no success. The also went over the bike and made sure various things were tight, torqued, and secure, but still no success. I still think it is coming from the engine, so I made sure that everything was documented thoroughly in their computer for possible future problems.

So now I am faced with a choice… ride her till she dies or trade her in??? The problem is I can’t do and major mods without voiding the extended warranty.

I think I am going to put some miles on the new Metzlers while thinking about it.
 

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Vicrory is Mine
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2,489 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have a piece of foam pipe insulation wrapped around the harness in the head light.
 

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Alf not Elf
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How about the rad cover mine was vibrating like crazy??Also the chrome piece aroung the speedo.
 

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Retired High Miler
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Because those plugs look so dark I am wondering if they are the right heat range, might need hotter plugs. Or over filled the oil, causing it to get sucked into the intake as happened to someone else on this forum.
 

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Patriot Guardian
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28,016 Posts
If it was detonating that badly you'd see it on the spark plugs tips. A very obvious grey coloring and electrodes that look like you used a torch on them. I have to agree it doesn't sound like the dealer has handled this well but we've only heard one side.
+1

And if it IS detonation, it wouldn't be RPM-specific... it would be load specific, since detonation is driven by cylinder temperatures.

If it's going to ping, it's not going to do it at cruise at 75... it's going to do it at 50 when you whack the throttle in 5th gear.

But I agree... it doesn't sound right, hard to tell without hearing it, or comparing it to another 900.
I'm surprised at how often we hear that. The only way modifying your bike is a warranty issue is if your modification(s) caused or contributed to the problem.
Extended warranties are different and not under the protection of Magnusson-Moss (they are legally considered "service contracts").
Gotta read the fine print... I've seen some that specified that ALL work, including oil changes, be done at one specific (independent) shop. If you're out of town, they gave you a 200 mile radius where you had to have it towed to them, outside of that they would "authorize" the nearest ****** dealer.

BUT... I don't think the Kawi extended warranty is like that.
 

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Vicrory is Mine
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2,489 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Quote:
“Tom_E - If it was detonating that badly you'd see it on the spark plugs tips. A very obvious grey coloring and electrodes that look like you used a torch on them. I have to agree it doesn't sound like the dealer has handled this well but we've only heard one side.”

Tom,
Look at the insulator on the left plug... it is light grey, but no glazing. This one is from the rear cylinder. The one on the right is from the front and is a beautiful light brown.


Quote:
N3FOLN3FOL – “Same here, the plugs are just too dark for me.”

N3FOLN3FOL,
I agree the plugs are dark. The bike definitely idles rich, and I do a lot of in town stop and go while riding back and forth to work. Might this be a reason for the soot?


Quote:
“Alf - How about the rad cover mine was vibrating like crazy? Also the chrome piece around the speedo.”

Alf,
My radiator cover was very buzzy until I put 10 or so neoprene washers between the factory cover and the aftermarket one. The tech took all of this off during the hunt for the culprit, as well as a long list of other things. At first the dealers service department seemed like they were not interested in my problem. But when they finally got around to looking at it the second time they obviously put some time into it. I could see the finger prints, smudge marks, and scratches from their work. The bolt on the speedo cover is slightly stripped (it will probably start to rust now), there is a very small scratch where the front hook of the seat was set down on the tank (lines up perfectly), and the power cord for my Zumo was smashed (absolutely flat!!!) under the bolt for the neck cover. The cable had been re-routed and zip-tied to the throttle cables by who ever worked on it and was sticking out a bit. I found the flattened cable when I took the neck cover off to re-hide the cable. This is the kind of thing that has kept me doing my own maintenance on every other vehicle I have owned for the last 10+ years!!! Every time someone else works on one of my machines something happens. If something happens while I am working on it, I can only blame myself.


Quote:
“THRILLA - Because those plugs look so dark I am wondering if they are the right heat range, might need hotter plugs. Or over filled the oil, causing it to get sucked into the intake as happened to someone else on this forum.”

Thrilla,
The plugs came with the bike from the factory, this is the first plug change. I changed the air filter as well. Although there was some oil in the air box, it wasn’t much, and did not look like it had gotten to the filter.


Quote:
“Tom_E - I'm surprised at how often we hear that. The only way modifying your bike is a warranty issue is if your modification(s) caused or contributed to the problem.”

Tom_E,
I had mentioned my disappointment with the warranty on another thread where someone had a V2K that was burning a lot of oil. I had a reply from the forum owner (BTK) confirming that the Kawasaki extended warranty may not cover internal engine issues if you install a Power Commander or similar device.


Quote:
“RichLockyer - And if it IS detonation, it wouldn't be RPM-specific... it would be load specific, since detonation is driven by cylinder temperatures. If it's going to ping, it's not going to do it at cruise at 75... it's going to do it at 50 when you whack the throttle in 5th gear. But I agree... it doesn't sound right, hard to tell without hearing it, or comparing it to another 900.”

Rich,
Maybe I have the wrong idea of what detonation sounds like, when I think of detonation I think of a sound similar to a rod knocking or a loose wrist pin. What I am hearing is not valve pinging, it does not sound like a valve noise at all. It is deeper tone, not as loud, and has a more solid sound. The best description that I can come up with is “marbles in the cylinder”.

I am thinking the bike is running lean under the right conditions (or wrong conditions depending on how out look at it). At idle you can smell fuel, even after the bike is thoroughly warmed. If you bring the RPMs up to about 2,500 you can stick your nose in the exhaust stream and breathe it in all day long, maybe this is normal? I do not think there is an O2 sensor on this model, therefore no feedback to the computer on how well it is managing the fuel. **** fuel injection computerized $hit. Don’t get me wrong… sequential fuel injection is the best thing that has happened to the internal combustion engine since the oil pump. It gives you the best of both worlds, power and fuel economy. But screw up a sensor and all that goes out the window without any way to adjust it.

The dealer I have been working with actually has two 900LTs on the used lot, I was thinking about trying to talk them into a comparison ride.
 

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Patriot Guardian
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Rich,
Maybe I have the wrong idea of what detonation sounds like, when I think of detonation I think of a sound similar to a rod knocking or a loose wrist pin. What I am hearing is not valve pinging, it does not sound like a valve noise at all. It is deeper tone, not as loud, and has a more solid sound. The best description that I can come up with is “marbles in the cylinder”.
We're referring to the same sound (I've always used "ping" and "knock" interchangeably... probably shouldn't but it's hard to break a 40 year old habit).
It just doesn't seem right for the engine to knock when not under load and not knock when under load.
I am thinking the bike is running lean under the right conditions (or wrong conditions depending on how out look at it). At idle you can smell fuel, even after the bike is thoroughly warmed. If you bring the RPMs up to about 2,500 you can stick your nose in the exhaust stream and breathe it in all day long, maybe this is normal?
One of the other forum members had his 900 on the dyno, and his mixture was a touch rich at the bottom end, but it was dead-on above that.

Assuming that there's no mechanical issues, the only thing that comes to mind is perhaps a misadjusted TPS throwing the mixture way off.
 
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