If you’re having electrical issues, it might seem like your motorcycle or scooter is cursed.
But that’s just silly superstition – just like there are reasons why your engine is overheating, there’s a reason why you’re having an electrical issue.
This blog post will explore 5 common electrical issues you could run into – and what they mean in plain English.
There are plenty more, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll limit it to just 5.
1. Broken Circuit And/Or A Dead Battery
If the circuit is broken, electricity can’t flow through it – which in turn means that the components that rely on the electricity supplied by that circuit won’t work.
If this is the case, there are a few reasons why.
Sometimes, it happens because a fuse is broken. If that’s the case, check the fuse for the broken circuit. If it’s broken, you should replace it and the problem should be solved.
Of course, it’s crucial that the replacement fuse has the same current rating as the old one.
But it won’t matter if the circuits and all fuses are fine if the battery’s dead.
Why? Because your battery is the heart of the electrical system – it stores all of the electrical energy every component on your motorcycle or scooter needs.
Therefore, if there’s no power in the battery, there’s no electricity to flow through the circuits.
How can you check whether you’ve got a dead battery or a broken fuse?
Multimeter - Tool Tutorial
The easiest way is to use a multimeter.
Check out the Tool Tutorial about multimeters here on DWJ to discover more about:
- What a multimeter is
- How to use it to test electrical equipment (such as fuses and batteries)
- Some FAQs about multimeters
This is just as common as a broken circuit, except it’s a little bit more complicated to understand.
To keep it easy, remember this: electricity has one intended path to take from the energy source (the battery, in this case) to the component (e.g., the front headlight).
If, for some reason, the electricity takes a “shorter” path, such as if you connect the two battery terminals with each other, you might see a few sparks coming out.
It can even happen if a metal spanner comes into contact with one of the battery terminals and another piece of metal, such as the chassis.
Why is short-circuiting bad?
The intended path has a determined amount of resistance.
If the electricity flows through a shorter path, the resistance decreases.
And according to the principle of Ohm’s Law, if the resistance decreases, the amount of electrical current increases.
This excessive amount of current is too much for the circuit to handle – which is why these sparks and fires are often telltale signs of a short circuit.
3. Voltage Drop
The name says it all – a voltage drop means that the voltage “drops” as it travels from one end of the cable to the other.
So even though it’s at 3 V at one end, it might be 1.7 V at the end – fairly self-explanatory.
What isn’t as self-explanatory, however, is why a voltage drop happens.
Why does voltage drop happen?
An excessively long cable is the most common reason for voltage drop. Cables always have some inherent resistance, and although it’s minor, it increases with the length of the cable.
But voltage drop can also occur if too many components are attached to and use the energy from that circuit.
4. Increased Resistance Caused By Rust
Like voltage drop, this one is easy to figure out – increased electrical resistance means the electricity can’t flow as smoothly through the circuit.
And one of the most common reasons for increased electrical resistance is rust.
Therefore, if, e.g., a battery connector looks slightly corroded, it’s time to clean it off with a wire metal brush (remember to disconnect it first).
5. A Blown Lightbulb
Are your lights on (and by that, I mean the ones on your bike)? If they’re not, and the issue is not with the battery, the bulb for that light might have blown.
Or, it could be that the terminals are dirty or broken. Either way, the best way to test is to use your multimeter (remember to let the light bulb cool down before removing it).
If your headlight or turn signals are LEDs, this is unlikely to happen – LED lights are known to last for decades.