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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Proper way to wash your bike?

This may sound dumb, but what is the best way to wash a motorcycle without getting electrical components wet?

I just washed my VN750 for the first time today and I believe I got one of the coils wet. I'm pretty sure the bike was only running on 1 cylinder. It was missing really bad and cutting out when I revved it. Like I said, I am pretty sure only 1 cylinder was firing.

I have had a few bikes before that were the same way. After a good wash, they wouldn't run right until I let them sit and dry for a long time.

I checked all my plug wires, boots, and all electrical connections for water. Then I sprayed WD-40 on everything that may have gotten wet. Nothing looked soaked, but there was a little water in a few spots.

The bike runs now after the WD-40 and some time to dry, but it still seems unusual that it would respond this way after a little water.

I washed it at the car wash using only the soap and water from the wand. I didn't spray anything electrical at close range with high pressure, however the water goes everywhere when spraying at a distance.

So, 1: Is this normal when power washing a bike?
2: What is the best way to prevent this from happening again?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 05:46 PM
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It should be ok to get a motorcycle completely wet, as if caught out riding in a rain storm, without effecting the electrical system. Sounds like you might have an exposed connection or leaking ignition wires (due to cracks/dry rot/etc.). A little dielectric grease on the ignition wire boots will help seal them as well.

I live in an apartment and do not have access to a garden hose, which is probably the base way to wash a motorcycle. So, I am forces to use the local DIY car wash, and I have never had any post washing electrical issues. I do try to use the low power rinse as much as possible to avoid blasting water into places it would enter under normal conditions and direct the water from above the bike (hold the pressure wand above the bike). Also, I bring my own set of brushes for the wheels, chrome, small spaces etc., using the car wash soaping brush for applying soap only. So, I use the pressure wand very little, more for getting the bike wet and rinsing the soap off.


Chris Glennon - Portland, OR
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cglennon View Post
It should be ok to get a motorcycle completely wet, as if caught out riding in a rain storm, without effecting the electrical system. Sounds like you might have an exposed connection or leaking ignition wires (due to cracks/dry rot/etc.). A little dielectric grease on the ignition wire boots will help seal them as well.
To find out if you have some bad wiring try using a spray bottle to get a light mist of water around the ignition componets while the engine is running, and parked in a dark area. You should be able to see arcing if the insulation is cracked or damaged. I used a commercial product for this on a small block Chevy several years ago, and it worked pretty well. Using water was suggested sometime later, but I have not actually tried it myself.

Gordon

1991 VN 750 -"Cosmic Lady" or "Bad Girl"?
Purchased May 16, 2008
Approx.19,300km (12,000 miles)

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July 13, 2016, Riding on the DARKSIDE now, Classic Radial 165/80-15


TOP TEN THINGS A NEW RIDER/OWNER SHOULD DO. Click on link.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 09:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlHossCanada View Post
To find out if you have some bad wiring try using a spray bottle to get a light mist of water around the ignition componets while the engine is running, and parked in a dark area. You should be able to see arcing if the insulation is cracked or damaged. I used a commercial product for this on a small block Chevy several years ago, and it worked pretty well. Using water was suggested sometime later, but I have not actually tried it myself.
I use a garden hose and occasionally give it a quickie at the car wash.Here is a tip about drying it off .

I have an electric leaf blower that after I rinse it off good I use to blow all the water I can off the bike and out of those nooks and crannies that water hides in until you go down the road and spots up your bike,also a lot less drying with the chamois,I suppose an air hose with a blow gun would do the same trick but it takes longer.My.02,Denny.




If you see it on my bike I did it
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 09:42 PM
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That is a very good question nearma12. I think there's a right and wrong way to wash any vehicle (one that you care about anyway).

Personally I don't use a pressure washer on any painted surface. Over time, that's a pretty sure way to ruin a paint job, even on a car. If there is a chip somewhere, a pressure washer will find it and make it bigger. Frankly, it just tears stuff up! And never use the soap brush that is in most car washes. You scrub pots and pans....not paint. Good ol' hand washing is the only safe way to clean any vehicle with paint.

Cglennon is right. You shouldn't have any problems after a washing it with a garden hose setup. I'd say you do have a problem.

Anyway, I like olhoss's solution to diagnose your apparant electrical problem. Good luck!

2003
Name: "Bike"
*Battery connected at both ends!
*Real air in the tires
*New Registration sticker
*Seat wiped off
*Low AND Hi beam headlight!
*New #1157 tail light bulb
*Brake pedal still on the right
*Custom valve stem caps made from black plastic!
*Custom built ignition key from Kawasaki
Does anybody really care?

"When I die, I want to go peacefully like my Grandfather did, in his sleep -- not screaming, like the passengers in his car"

Last edited by IronMan750; 09-15-2010 at 09:45 PM.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 09:44 PM
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The blower trick is good!

2003
Name: "Bike"
*Battery connected at both ends!
*Real air in the tires
*New Registration sticker
*Seat wiped off
*Low AND Hi beam headlight!
*New #1157 tail light bulb
*Brake pedal still on the right
*Custom valve stem caps made from black plastic!
*Custom built ignition key from Kawasaki
Does anybody really care?

"When I die, I want to go peacefully like my Grandfather did, in his sleep -- not screaming, like the passengers in his car"
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 10:59 PM
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i never thought about using the blower on the bike. i am going to try it. i always used the blower when i open my mother in laws pool to dry the cover faster, and now everyone on her street does it
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 11:12 PM
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I wash the bike down with cotton wash cloths dunked in warm water and Dawn dish detergent. Then I rinse it off using an inexpensive "garden wand" attachment on the end of the garden hose ~ it's like a low-pressure shower head that provides a thick spray of water. (The off-on lever is useful too ~ saves water.) Finally, I dry the bike with cotton towels (I don't have a leaf blower!), then take it out on the road to blow the water off. When I get back I wipe it one last time to get the water spots off.

I have a few extra products to clean aluminum and chrome and remove oil and grime, but I rarely use them. Sometimes I wax the tank. I haven't yet treated the Corbin leather seat.

EZC


Last edited by EasyRector; 09-15-2010 at 11:16 PM.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2010, 12:18 AM
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Related, I carry a chamois in my bag and use it after washing or after rain or dew.


Jim
'95 Kawasaki Concours

Sold my Vulcan




I do LOTS of dumb stuff. Riding is only one of them.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2010, 12:36 AM
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With the advent of electronic ignition, it's unlikely, unless your electrical wiring is in really poor shape, or your spark plug caps are cracked, that electric is the cause of your washing problem. Check the deep socket plugs are not filled up with water. There's a drain hole, but it may be plugged. Back in the day of point ignition, any water or even moisture getting under the point cover would be a dead bike.

I bet you are getting water in a fuel intake, carb, or air cleaner causing you to 'dry out' the bike before it starts or runs well again.

As for my washing technique, I live at the end of a gravel drive, ride in any weather, and usually pressure wash most of the bike (at home) on wide fan setting to reduce the chance of blowing paint off. I do try to stay away from the controls, cables, dash. There I use mild spray cleaner and polish.

How about a pic?

DT

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Last edited by dirtrack650; 09-16-2010 at 12:39 AM.
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