Solenoid/Starter Diagnostic Help . . . .

I’ve been reading TT since getting my 03 WR450F in February and have learned a lot about my bike and 4 strokes in general, which is great b/c my level of knowledge before reading TT was pretty low. However, haven’t been able to figure this one out . . . .

Most of the time the e-start works great. Several times per ride or even on the initial startup, though, when I push the e-start button, the solenoid clicks once but the starter doesn’t turn. Absolutely nothing happens after the solenoid switches. Kicking fires the bike up no problem when this happens.

I’ve learned that if I move the piston even just a few inches with the k-starter and then push the button, the e-start fires the bike right up.

That fact and that this happens sometimes after riding for a while makes me think the problem is not a weak battery. Also, we put a volt-meter on the battery and it’s pushing out 12.8 v. I didn’t measure amperage though.

This started happening within the last couple of rides -- At first, I attributed this issue to a loose wire caused by my drops, get offs, and at least one attempt to move a tree (am a pretty new rider). Given that it seems to fire up if I just move the piston a little, I don’t think that anymore.

Any thoughts you have on this and what to check would be much appreciated -- loose wire (seems inconsistent with starting after simply moving the piston)? weak battery? auto decompression issue? . . . Thanks for any help on this.


I'm sorry I won't be able to help you much with the problem you're having other than to say the manual makes mention of this issue. It states that if the bike doesn't turn over with the electric start to use the kick starter. I have never had this happen personally but it sounds like it's happening way too often for you. Good luck!

I bought a new battery for my bike last week when it started doing the same thing. It didn't help. I put the new battery on a tender btw so I'm sure it was fully charged. I taking my bike into the shop this week to try to figure it out, because now the e start rarely will start the bike hot or cold. The solenoid just clicks or does nothing.

WR250, have you tried "bypassing" the solenoid i.e. battery to starter side of solenoid with jumper etc. With both these issues, my auto experience would indicate either bad solenoid or not enough power getting starter (bad battery, bad connections, crappy starter.)

The constant clicking with new battery would make me quess solenoid, but the intermitent problem that is remedied by moving the piston with the kickstart would tell the starter isn't getting enough amps (or just isn't powerfull enough) to kick it over at the point of highest resistence (at other positions in the stroke it can generate momentum to push it through etc.)

I agree with GeorgiaJim.

It is either the solenoid or the battery. Most likely the battery. Try another battery from a street bike and see if it turns over or put a meter on your battery and determine if you have a full charge. If that checks out get a new solenoid and you will be good to go.

Thanks for the responses - I had not put the manual reference and my issue together, but it literally applies. It makes further sense that it eventually fires right up if I do the right thing by using the k-start or moving the piston.

I am going to conduct add'l tests on the solenoid and battery tho, since it (a) it has gotten progressively worse (maybe compression has gotten better as the parts have broken in) and (:) seems to happen too often to be the piston stopping at just the wrong point . . .

I'm new to this web site as you. I bought my wr450 on Feb. 14,2003. The woodruff key broke at 21 miles. Luckly, I was somewhat scared of that beast of a bike, so I wasn't far from my truck. My woodruff key problem was corrected by my dealer in a week. No problems since. Now, For the starter problem. I immediatley noticed the starter didn't seem to work but about a third of the time. I mentioned this to the dealer. There answer was because of the compression you needed to get the piston on a downstroke to help. Well it didn't! The starter eventually got to the place it would not work at all. The battery was fine as well as all connections. Because I notified them of the problem prior to the warranty running out, they kept an open work order on my bike so when I took it back(March 15,2003)they had no problems fixing it. It ended up being a bad starter. They replaced it and I haven't had a minutes trouble since.

My woodruff key broke also -- around 120 miles . . . Looks like I'm headed for a new starter motor (not in warranty).

Well, looking on the bright side, I can say my WR450's teaching me alot more about dirt bikes than I knew before . . . . :)

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