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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All!
I just purchased a new '04 Ninja 250.
Can someone tell me a little about the cooling system?
Is there a water pump to circulate the coolant? I'm wondering, since
the coolant level in the overflow tank never changes, if my cooling system is working properly..... On my car, as the engine warms up, coolant is forced into the overflow bottle....not so on my motorcycle.
The temp gauge is always in the normal zone, but at times get close to the red zone. I removed the small radiator cap(with engine cold), and could see coolant, but it was way down in the neck of the fitting. My car radiator is always full to just below the overflow outlet when cold. There are no leaks. Any info would be appreciated!
Thanks!!
 

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There is a water pump. It's on the left side of the engine, just forward of and below where the front sprocket is. You can see the two water pipes going to it.

Here's the way it's supposed to work. When the fluid gets hot, it expands a little (not really too much, but a little), and some of it flows into the reservoir. When the radiator cools off, it sucks a little fluid back in. If you get an air bubble in your coolant, that will expand a lot when it gets hot. The air will bubble out to the reservoir and leave the system. But when the system cools off, the radiator will suck coolant in to replace the air that was in the system. A little tiny bit of air will remain in the system, since you can't get every bit of it out, but most of it will be gone after a couple of heat/cool cycles. So your radiator should stay full all the way to the top, just like a car. Car and motorcycle cooling systems work exactly the same way, so you should see the same type of behavior in both.

When I bought my Ninja 250, the radiator was low, and the reservoir was empty. I filled them both once, and it's never been a problem since.

I'd fill the radiator to full and the reservoir to the cold full mark. It is possible that you have an air leak high in the system (like if the radiator cap isn't on all the way). That would keep the reserve coolant from ever getting sucked into the radiator, and since your radiator is a little low on fluid, I'm not surprised that none of it is going into the reservoir when it heats up. But if your radiator is low on fluid, it should suck your reservoir dry when it cools down, unless there is an air leak in the system.

I've never seen my temp gauge get close to redline. Yours might get high because you're low on fluid. Or it might be that you don't live in Minnesota.
Curt
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Curt!
I wondered about a leak high in the system. With your comments, I'll start looking at the clamps and hoses. The cap seems to be on properly, but it could be defective. I am hearing a high pitched "seep"
of air occassinally, but I figured this was the gas tank venting. I guess it could be the cooling system. Does yours do that?

I want to pull the fairing off to look at the water pump. I haven't looked
closely at the fairing yet. How is it removed?

Thanks!!
Simon (in Missouri near Kansas City)
 

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The clamps and hoses are a good guess, especially high in the system. If you do have a leak you may be able to find it if the system is full (and leaking coolant instead of leaking air).

It is also possible that the radiator wasn't full when you got it. If that's the case, there's probably nothing wrong; just fill it up and drive.

The seep is almost certainly the gas tank. Mine does it, and I know other other 250's do it, too. The only time I notice it is after I turn off the engine. If you want to know for sure that it's the gas tank, next time you hear the noise, just open the gas cap. If it stops instantly, that was it. If it doesn't, try to follow your ears to the air leak in your coolant system.

You don't need to remove the lower fairing to see where the water pump is. But if you take it off, it's easier to see stuff. Just take off the screws and the fairing comes right off. You can see one water pipe on the right side of the engine. Just follow that pipe down to the water pump.

So fill up the coolant and drive it for a few days. Then let us know:
1. Was the seeping sound the fuel tank?
2. Are you losing any coolant?
3. Does your temperature stay any lower now?
4. Does your coolant level in the reservoir change with temperature?
Curt
 

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Check your manuals, but I believe you are not supposed to open the radiator cap unless you are going to later bleed air out of your system as it needs to be pressurized?????
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well Curt,
After I read your first response this morning, I got my bike out and looked it over good. Yes, I can see the water pump (without removing the cowling).
Since my coolant recovery tank was full to the F line (has been from day 1), I decided to remove some coolant and add it to the radiator through the cap opening. I put about half of the contents of the recovery tank in the radiator, and that filled it up to the top. I made several trips out today, and each time I returned, I checked the level in the recovery tank. The level in the tank has not changed from the half full mark I put on the recovery tank (I would have thought it would be fuller with the engine hot). I'll check it again in the morning with the engine cold, and see if anything has been sucked out. I'll also remove the radiator cap and see if it's full, or down some. I suspect (as you suggested in your second response) that the radiator probably didn't have much coolant in it from the start. I'll keep checking, and let you know.
One thing that I noticed....the owner's manual says the motorcycle was shipped with antifreeze that is GREEN in color. The stuff I took out of the recovery tank is more BLUE than GREEN. Any antifreeze I've ever delt with has a sweet taste (no I don't drink the stuff).....the stuff in my recovery tank does not seem sweet. Any thoughts on this?
What did you use to fill your cooling system (what brand)?

The venting noise I'm hearing IS from the fuel system.
Thanks....more later!
Simon
 

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I can't tell colors very well, so I can't comment on that one. I used Prestone automotive type coolant. I've never tried tasting mine, but I understand that dogs and cats like it (and it's lethal in large doses).

I never have paid too much attention to my level, except when it's cold. I won't be on the bike again until Friday. I'll try to remember to check it then and see how it looks before and after the ride.

Assuming you don't have extra coolant on hand, I think you made a good choice to move the coolant from the reservoir to the radiator. It's probably also fine to add soft water, since you're only low a little bit.

1Adam12 is right that Kawasaki warns that you're not supposed to take off the radiator cap because air could get into the system, and that could lower the cooling efficiency. So if you ever take off the cap, you'll have to follow the official Kawasaki "air bleeding" directions. Are you ready for this?
1. take off the radiator cap
2. fill the radiator
3. check for leaks
4. start the engine, and warm it up, then stop it
5. check the coolant level in the reservoir tank after the engine cools
6. if the level is low, add coolant to the reservoir tank
Pretty tough, huh? Or for the Curt alternative, just check the coolant level tomorrow morning.
Curt
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Good News Curt....
Before riding this morning, my coolant tank was down slightly. I pulled the radiator cap, and it was full, almost to the top.. It is running cooler too. I'm going to add some distilled water to the recovery tank and bring it up to full. The coolant tests out to -50 F, so I can't hurt it much by adding straight water.
My next issue is clutch related. I'd like to adjust the clutch to decrease the "dead zone" (make it take hold earlier). My owners manual lists a procedure for adjusting "free play" only. Is there a seperate procedure for the adjustment I want to make?

Thanks
Simon
 

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Great! It sounds like we're getting somewhere. We know that the reason you were running hot is because you were low on fluid. Filling it up fixed that. What we don't know is if you have a leak somewhere, or if it was just low from the factory. We'll know that in a few days.

As for the clutch, I've never needed to adjust mine, but there are adjustment nuts at both ends of the cable. I would think that should do it for you, but I could be wrong on that.
Curt
 

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CLUTCH CABLE

CURT has been right the entire time and now he gets an easy one...YES, Curt you can adjust it at either end...you knew that, you must have been looking out to see if I was out here watching...yep, I am...Curt has this thing down to tellling you in your sleep, or even his sleep. Very clever man with great sense of humor at times...He takes safety as a priority, and wants people to be safe and have fun. I for one am happy to have Curt onboard the Kawasaki Forum...You are doing a great job Curt...You are making us proud out here. Thank you for sharing and caring.
 
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