Start Switch Maintenance

August 23, 2009

While returning from a recent trip, I experienced symptoms of a starter stuck in the “on” position, loss of the starter, and also loss of my headlights.

A Honda dealer in New Richmond, Québec provided me with a workaround to get me the rest of the way home so that I could finish my journey with the headlights working, and not having to push/jump start my bike. The technicians cleaned the terminals of the start switch, and also soldered wires together to always keep the headlights on; even when starting the bike.

The Suzuki OEM wiring configuration is set up as; when I turn the ignition key on, electricity is supplied to various components of the bike. One of those is the headlights.

The connection of power to the headlights is made through two contacts within the start switch.

In the photo below, there are two brass “nubs” on the “plunger” side of the switch and four copper contacts on the “terminal” side of the switch.

With the switch “deactivated”, power passes to the headlights across the two copper terminals on the left.

With the switch “activated”, (meaning pressed “in” to start my motorcycle), power is “cut” to the headlights and transferred to the starter motor. In essence, providing more available power to the starter, (Useful on cold mornings.).

If the switch is not periodically cleaned, dirt and “arcing” erodes the contacts and “nubs”, so that they won’t work properly. Check out the electrical erosion on my contacts below.

What happened with me is, a “burr” was created on the starter contacts. When I pushed the start switch in, the headlights cut out as they should, the starter activated, but did not deactivate upon releasing the switch. The starter stayed on while the bike was running. NOT GOOD! Plus, I didn’t have any headlights! I would frantically pound my fist on the underside of the housing to get the switch to release; which sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t.

Here is how I did some preventative maintenance.

Using a #2 phillips screwdriver, I removed the aft screw of the start switch housing.

I did the same on the forward side of the switch housing.

I made note of the fact that, the forward housing screw is longer then the aft screw.

Using a flat blade screwdriver, I pried up the wire restraint to remove it from the housing.

There is a “nub” on one side of the wire restraint. I had to remember that the “nub” faces towards the center of the bike during reassembly.

Using a #1 phillips screwdriver, I removed the brass screw that holds the switch cover in place.

Once the cover was removed, I used the same screwdriver to remove the silver screw that holds the switch into the housing.

With the switch removed from the housing…..

……I used a flat blade screwdriver to GENTLY pry the shell that holds the “plunger” part of the switch off of the contact plate.

I could now inspect, clean, and add electrical grease to the elements of the switch. Using a product like, WD-40 will attract dirt.

I used flat file to clean the contacts, and a pencil eraser was used to clean the “nubs”.

During reassembly, I discovered that, If I tightened the “silver screw” all the way home, the plunger switch would bind up and not work smoothly. I had to back the tension of the screw off a little bit, so that the switch worked as it should.

Barry B.
“Black Lab”

Categories: Electrical | 74 Comments

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