For a novice, troubleshooting your Honda motorcycle's electrical system is easier than you might imagine. Wiring schematics are fine for anyone with electronics experience, but can be confusing to the average motorcycle rider. Electricity flows in a manner similar to water. The source point, or water tank, is the battery. From there, wires conduct the flow from the battery to the ignition switch. Turning the switch on generates a flow to the ignition coil that provides spark to the spark plugs. A voltage meter is used to troubleshoot the electrical system on Honda motorcycles.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Motorcycle tool kit
- Voltage meter
Remove the battery cover. Depending on the model of your motorcycle, the cover is held on by screws, small bolts or knobs. Rotate the particular fasteners or knobs counterclockwise using the appropriate tool or by hand and remove the battery cover.
Connect the red voltage meter clip to the positive battery terminal that is denoted by a (+) sign. Connect the black meter clip to the negative battery terminal, denoted by a (-) sign.
Switch the voltage meter to 12 volts and observe the voltage reading. Troubleshooting the electrical system requires a fully charged battery with a minimum output of 12 volts. Disconnect the voltage meter clips from the battery and charge the battery, if necessary, before proceeding. Otherwise, disconnect the meter clips and proceed with the troubleshooting.
Identify the wiring connections at the back of the ignition switch. The red wire provides electrical current from the battery to the switch. Connect the red voltage meter clip to the red wire terminal on the ignition switch.
Refer to the owner's manual and determine the ignition coil source wire. Depending on the year and model of the motorcycle, a grey or blue wire provides power from the ignition switch to the coil. Connect the black voltage meter clip to the grey or blue wire terminal on the back of the ignition switch.
Switch the voltage meter to 12 volts. Turn the ignition switch to the "On" position and observe the meter reading. If no voltage is shown, the ignition switch is bad and needs to be replaced. A reading of 12 volts indicates the switch is good and you can proceed with the troubleshooting.
Connect the red meter clip to the grey or blue wire connection at the ignition coil. This is the same wire that runs from the back of the ignition switch. Connect the black meter clip to the other wire connection at the opposite side of the coil. The particular colour of this wire is not relevant with regard to the coil voltage test.
Switch the meter to 12 volts and turn the motorcycle ignition switch to the "On" position. A normal reading is low: approximately 0.5 to 1.2 ohms. The absence of a reading indicates the coil is bad and needs to be replaced.
Tips and warnings
- Refer to the owner's manual or consult a motorcycle mechanic for troubleshooting the magneto stator on motorcycles that do not have an ignition coil.
- Damaged wires or faulty connectors will show as a negative voltage test at the ignition switch or coil. Consult a motorcycle mechanic for procedures to test the integrity of electrical wires and connectors.
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