Technical Questions and Answers
The Haunted GL1800
My wife and I have ridden Gold Wings since 1980. We’ve had several 1100s, 1200s, 1500s and the GL1800. We still own and ride two original naked 1984 GL1200s (both red), a ’99 F6C and a 2006 GL1800. In all those years, there was not one serious problem, only small things which we could solve by ourselves — until now. Our GL1800 (first owner), USA model VIIA with about 60,000 miles on it, has a strange problem that first appeared in September/October 2013. Maintenance of our bikes is always done by me and I do hope that with your help I can fix this problem by myself as well.
You should know that in our country (the Netherlands), there are some Honda dealers, but no one is a Gold Wing specialist. They all sell every bike they can to survive. We know a Winger who paid about $3,000 to fix an electrical problem on his Wing and it’s still not right. In Belgium, a girlfriend of ours bought a new 2003 GL1800, which started to have electrical problems in 2005 up until last year when her bike was brought home by a truck. Every time she paid a lot to the dealer(s), but the problem is still there. Now she decided to buy a new one. Therefore, we try to fix problems by ourselves. I know some good mechanics and they give me some advice, and if necessary, I can get an HDS pocket tester later.
Anyway, our problem began during a ride I always do after washing the bike to make sure it is dry when it has been garaged for a few weeks. Every time I stopped and the engine would go to idle speed, it shut down and I had to restart it. To avoid the engine stopping, I had to play with the throttle. This happened on two separate rides after washing the bike, but later while riding in the rain, there were no problems. Some weeks ago I noticed during a ride that the control lamps for the turn signals in the dashboard were blinking for a very short period. It happened three times during a 25-mile trip. Then we went off for a weekend to Luxembourg, suddenly I noticed that the power of the engine was gone for a moment and this happened twice the first day. After lunch the bike wouldn’t start anymore, the start motor worked fine but the engine wouldn’t run. We noticed, after turning the ignition switch to On, that the FI lamp did not turn of after a short amount of time, but instead stayed on and there was no sound coming from the fuel pump. I could start the bike as normal, but the engine wouldn’t run and we also noticed, while starting, that the fuel meter did go to zero (and stayed at zero while starting). Is this normal? We checked all the fuses and changed out some just to be sure, and we also swapped the fuel relay with the one from the cruise control. After turning the ignition switch to On, everything seemed to be OK and the engine did run. Later, while riding, I checked the cruise control and it worked fine, so I already knew we did not solve the problem, we were just lucky the bike was running. The next morning we had the same problem, but after some time, the bike was again running and we got home without further problems.
At home I learned from the original service manual how to use the FI lamp as a visual readout for DTCs. After washing the bike and riding it to be sure that it was dry, I got home and, just in front of my garage, the same problem was there again (the FI lamp stayed on and no sound of the fuel pump). Then I pushed the start button for more than 10 seconds in the hope of getting a DTC and indeed, the FI lamp began blinking: one long, two short; one long, three short; one long, four short; one long, five short; one long, six short; and one long, seven short. Then it repeated same blinking pattern. So there were six total DTCs, meaning all the same: No.s 1 to 6 injectors, fuel pump and ignition shut down. When the problem is not there the bike runs fine, so I’m sure there is no problem with the injectors.
There is an alarm installed on the bike, a Datatool S3. I noticed that this alarm is connected between the black-and-white wire, which goes from the kill switch to the FI unit/Laf relay. That means that this connection in the alarm is working as an extra kill switch. Another (switch) connection is between the yellow-and-red wire that comes from the RVS relay. I do not know why. I made a shortcut to both connections with no result, so I guess the alarm is not the problem. After turning the ignition switch to On with an active alarm, the FI lamp does not come on at all, so this could be another sign that the alarm is not the problem.
After removing the fuel relay and turning the ignition switch to On, the FI lamp turns on and stays on. While starting the bike (without the fuel relay), the fuel meter goes back to zero also, but goes back to the original position after a second. This is almost the same reaction that we get with the problem.
Next we looked at the ECM and fuel pump operation. I checked all ground points in the gray-and-black connector as described in the service manual. All points which we could check in the fuel system, if there was battery voltage, they were also were OK. Relays and the bank angle sensor were OK, too. When we checked the fuel pump, we noticed that there was battery voltage, but we do not hear the pump. We made a shortcut directly from the battery to the pump and it seemed to be normal. We could start the bike and it ran fine. After about a minute, it stopped and now the situation is different.
After turning the ignition switch to On there is no battery voltage at the fuel pump anymore, and also with a shortcut from the battery to the fuel pump the engine will not run and there is a new DTC: 29 blinks (two long, nine short). This could be a malfunction in the idle air control valve system. We should find the sub-wire harness 8P white connector, but I cannot find it (page 6-38). In the electrical troubleshooting manual on page 8-46, this connecter is mentioned as C12 and in the ETM on page 20-1, photo No. 29, the C12 connector is mentioned as optional 4P-Bl.
This is my situation at the moment. Maybe you have some suggestions for how we can continue? Can I get more information using that HDS pocket tester instead of the blinks of the multifunction indicator lamp? We appreciate any help we can get because this is a serious problem.
Thank you in advance and I’m looking forward to your response.
You certainly have a lot of things going on here, but you should bear in mind that it’s very unlikely that all of these circuits developed problems at the same time. It’s more likely one or two things are causing all of these symptoms, so I’d recommend not concentrating on the fuel injectors or IACV as possible culprits. Reading as carefully as possible, I noticed your mention of the turn indicators blinking occasionally. This may be due to a fault with the alarm. The European bike forums I visit are chock full of operational problems that are eventually traced to these alarms. My hunch is that most issues are due to incorrect hookup rather than a defective product. Regardless, the end result is the same. And with the myriad of wire hookups necessary, plus what I consider convoluted instructions, there’s plenty of opportunity to mess things up. If it were my bike, I’d first disconnect the battery earth cable, then I’d carefully remove all wiring associated with that alarm and repair the bike’s original wires as necessary.
The other symptoms you report could all be attributed to multiple defective ground (earth) connections at ground point G1. In fact, this is the No. 1 place to look when your GL1800 starts acting like it’s haunted. Located under the fuel tank, this is the main point for various system grounds. It consists of several ring terminals ganged together and bolted to the frame, and all of the wires attached at that point are green. Common issues at point G1 are the attachment bolt loosening, paint preventing good electrical contact, and corrosion caused by humidity or salt air. When any of these issues are present, multiple circuits either lose ground completely, or worse yet, they begin intermittent and sometimes very strange behavior as the circuits affected seek ground elsewhere. Remove the fuel tank to access this troublemaker and examine it carefully.
Thanks for your response!
Indeed, the alarm is more often a troublemaker for Wingers in Europe. Because insurance is much cheaper with an alarm, a lot of us have one. I will follow your instructions, but first I am going to check that ground point G1. Almost every mechanic I have spoken to said about the same — be sure all ground points are good. Nobody told me that I could find this G1 point under the fuel tank, so this will be the first thing to do. I should have removed the fuel tank anyway because it was my plan to get the alternator maintained this winter (new brushes and cleaning).
Next week I have time to address this problem and I will mail any result to you.
Thanks again and kind regards,
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