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2016 FE450 weird starter issue

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Recently my bike has been having starter issues. While out on a ride two weekends ago, we stopped to navigate for a while and then it suddenly wouldn't start. Got me quite worried as we were in the middle of nowhere (and no KICKSTART >:(). Luckily, one of my friends who has a KTM 350 and had had a similar problem in the past told me to put it in 2nd and roll the bike forward a bit and try. Low-and-behold that worked. A bit like bump starting the bike, but I guess you're just helping the starter out a bit by rocking it forward in gear then pressing the button. Anyways, after that sometimes it'll start no problem (I think especially if it's been running a while), and sometimes I have to do the 2nd gear trick. 

What's the issue? Worn brushes? Solenoid? I'm surprised a 2016 bike (~12 000km/230 hours) would already have starter issues. Or maybe I'm being foolish? I knew about starter problems on the Austrian 2-strokes, but a friend of mine with a 08 KTM has zero issues with his starter, so was hoping this one would be rock-solid for years to come, especially after my old WR450 had caused me so much grief stater-wise.

What should be my attack plan? I can't find brushes for this bike anywhere online (RMATV), but I see the OEM starter is "relatively"cheap at ~$170 on RMATV. Should I start by just cleaning out the carbon buildup and hoping for a good few weeks/months, or is that just going to prolong the inevitable outcome and I should thus change the starter? I really don't want to end up with a wonky starter as I ride in the middle of nowhere and can't afford to get stranded. Peace of mind is of the utmost importance. 

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I have a 2015 fc 250 and I have had the same problems. You should check the fuses, ground wire connection and test the electrical system for current and charge

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Typically the brushes can be cleaned fairly easily if buildup is an issue.  However, when brushes start to get dirty it isn't as much a matter of going from starting to no starting, as it is turning over more slowly due to increased electrical resistance.  I guess one of the brushes could hang up, but then rocking it isn't going to do you a lot of good.  That is the realm of tapping it with a hammer to get them to drop back in place on the starter shaft.

If you want to isolate if the problem is in the starter or the wiring external to it, you can test that the next time it doesn't want to start.  Carry a jump pack with you, or at least a chunk of good sized wire that you can jump the starter with.  By that I mean skip the starter solenoid, etc... and when you use the jump pack ground it directly to the starter mount on the cases and hit the post (where the wire from the solenoid mounts) with the positive cable from the jump pack.  If the starter is bad, it still won't turn over.  If it turns over, then the issue is upstream from the starter.

To isolate the solenoid, jump it from post to post.  If the starter still won't turn over, then it isn't the solenoid.  If it fires, then you've found the problem.

Chasing electrical problems can be a pain, but at least with the starter you can get to it easily (as long as you are prepared with the right tools for the job!) and trouble shoot up the harness one spot at a time to isolate the issue (if it is electrical in nature).

I know that there have been past issues with some of the starter clutches on KTMs: that's the one way gear under the clutch cover between the starter and the clutch basket/primary gear but I don't have any personal experience with that issue so I am not sure how to exactly trouble shoot that part.

I've done lots of trouble shooting on starters over the years.  Same process if it is an ATV, SxS, dirtbike, or a pickup truck...

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On 10/18/2018 at 4:26 AM, eastreich said:

Typically the brushes can be cleaned fairly easily if buildup is an issue.  However, when brushes start to get dirty it isn't as much a matter of going from starting to no starting, as it is turning over more slowly due to increased electrical resistance.  I guess one of the brushes could hang up, but then rocking it isn't going to do you a lot of good.  That is the realm of tapping it with a hammer to get them to drop back in place on the starter shaft.

If you want to isolate if the problem is in the starter or the wiring external to it, you can test that the next time it doesn't want to start.  Carry a jump pack with you, or at least a chunk of good sized wire that you can jump the starter with.  By that I mean skip the starter solenoid, etc... and when you use the jump pack ground it directly to the starter mount on the cases and hit the post (where the wire from the solenoid mounts) with the positive cable from the jump pack.  If the starter is bad, it still won't turn over.  If it turns over, then the issue is upstream from the starter.

To isolate the solenoid, jump it from post to post.  If the starter still won't turn over, then it isn't the solenoid.  If it fires, then you've found the problem.

Chasing electrical problems can be a pain, but at least with the starter you can get to it easily (as long as you are prepared with the right tools for the job!) and trouble shoot up the harness one spot at a time to isolate the issue (if it is electrical in nature).

I know that there have been past issues with some of the starter clutches on KTMs: that's the one way gear under the clutch cover between the starter and the clutch basket/primary gear but I don't have any personal experience with that issue so I am not sure how to exactly trouble shoot that part.

I've done lots of trouble shooting on starters over the years.  Same process if it is an ATV, SxS, dirtbike, or a pickup truck...

Thanks. What kind of "beefy cable" are we talking about? 

On 10/18/2018 at 1:17 AM, Husqvarna1 said:

I have a 2015 fc 250 and I have had the same problems. You should check the fuses, ground wire connection and test the electrical system for current and charge

I've checked fuses, but not the ground connection. Thanks. How should go around to checking that? I'm alright with mechanical stuff (changed my topend, etc), but horrible with electrical stuff. 

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On 10/20/2018 at 8:47 PM, Bitteeinbit said:

Thanks. What kind of "beefy cable" are we talking about? 

To just check if the starter will turn over (a quick tap) a 12ga wire will get the job done.

If you actually want to try to start it, it should probably be 6ga or larger.  Anything smaller will get hot in a hurry and if it doesn't catch fire will at least melt.  The current draw from the starter gets small wires HOT almost instantly.

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