Started as a spark plug post; now down the rabbit hole we go
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Hooked
GTS 300ie Touring
Joined: 03 Jun 2018
Posts: 302
Location: Limassol, Cyprus
Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:15 pm quote
Mike Holland wrote:
Scooter started fine this morning, so I put on my gear and rode up to cupcake-in-the-Sky, a motorcyclist cupcake and coffee hangout a little way up the windy old Pacific highway. Met up with friends there and chatted. Then I started the scooter again and rode further north up to the Hawkesbury river, turned around and came home. There was a little hesitation starting it that time.

On the way home I stopped to buy some milk. and then the scooter wouldn't start. Same problem. I walked home, just a short distance, and in a couple of hours I will go back to try again. It is not a proposition to push the scooter home, as there is a hill on the way.

So the ECU was not the answer. I now plan to go through the workshop manual checking all the inputs to the ECU - temperature gauges, oil pressure. I have tried Vespa workshops three times, and they cannot solve the problem. So I have to do it myself, or scrap the scooter.

Sorry, theschuman, that I couldn't provide you with a solution.
Hi Mike, commiserations with not finding the underlying cause of your non-starting problems.

Speaking as a total mechanical novice, could it be the automatic choke?, this would explain why it started fine from cold, but after a long ride home when the engine was hot, it would not re-start, it's just a thought.........
Ossessionato
'15 Blue GTS300 Super, '18 White GTS300 Super
Joined: 01 Nov 2005
Posts: 2553
Location: Sydney, Australia
Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:17 pm quote
No, not the choke. Many times it would run fine one day, and then not start first thing the following morning. I can't find any pattern.

Todays episode, after a few hours I walked back to the shops. I removed the spark plug and injector, then ran the starter to clear any excess fuel in the system, and then put it together with a different spark plug. It started first time, and I rode it home.

And in case anyone is trying to draw conclusions, on previous occasions a brand new plug has not solved the problem.

What can I do but scrap my beautiful scooter and buy a new one?
Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Sat Sep 22, 2018 3:48 am quote
Mike - I'm sorry to hear this terrible news. I was hopeful the new ECU would solve your woes. Vespa New Haven seems to think it is the starter relay; I'm not so sure, but it's a cheap part and hopefully easy enough for me to replace. I'm going to pick up the scoot today, pray that it starts, drive it back home, and wait for the part from Scooterpartsco.

I'm no mechanic, but you've replaced so much... What's left? Could it be the starter relay? Fuel injector? Fuel lines to the injector?

Good luck with your next steps. I feel your pain.
Enthusiast
2012 LX150ie
Joined: 28 Jul 2018
Posts: 85
Location: Austin Texas USA
Sat Sep 22, 2018 5:34 am quote
I’vee been reading this sad saga, and I question
the starter relay diagnosis. Understand that I don’t know anything about scooter engines, but on a car the function of the starter relay is simply to engage the starter motor (small electric motor) to spin the engine so that it starts. According to what I have read, your engine turns over (spins) just fine when you try too start it, but doesn’t fire.

That said, it is a cheap part.
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Granturismo 218
Joined: 04 Feb 2013
Posts: 5353
Location: South Carolina
Sat Sep 22, 2018 5:38 am quote
Depending on what's been done in there and the fact that sometimes turning the handlebar will cause it to start, I would suggest taking off the headset and looking to see if any of the wires are binding as you turn the bars. Make sure the kill switch is plugged in well and working. Also check to make sure the brake switches are both working. Do the brake lights come on as you squeeze the levers to start the bike, and can you move the lever up or down and make the bike start? As the brakes wear over time, there can be a lot of play in the levers where they mount to the calipers and this can cause them to not engage the brake switches or engage sporadically.
While the shop might not have had a starter relay in stock, they should have been able to come up with one to test the bike and make sure that's all you need.
Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:25 pm quote
Update - 9/24/18 @ 7:15pm EST - Scooterpartsco order came today, which is unbelievably fast - especially since the shipping was free and the parts competitively priced. I installed the new starter relay (easiest thing I've ever done on the Vespa) and tried to start... Three "turn-overs" and a start on the fourth attempt - not bad, but clearly not fixed. I went for a short ride around the neighborhood and returned. When I tried to restart, I got a mere "click", no turn-over, numerous times (8 or more) before I turned the handlebars in various directions. Finally it started. I turned it off... Then it started again (first try). Then I turned it off again... Then started it again (on the first try). I'm hopeful it will start again tomorrow (and forever), but I have doubts about the "starter relay diagnosis" given my first two attempts this evening.
Moderaptor
The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: 26 Aug 2007
Posts: 37422
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:31 pm quote
I've looked through all the posts - but cannot see where you state you've checked the ground connection on the engine from the battery negative. This needs to be a good connection, capable of handling the large starter stall current of 50A or more.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
2008 MP3 500, 2013 BV350
Joined: 13 Oct 2012
Posts: 7107
Location: Ashburn, Va. Home to the Internet
Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:59 am quote
Stop throwing parts at it, test.
You could have tested your starter with a jumper cable.
Molto Verboso
GTS 250ie, GTV 250
Joined: 01 Jul 2009
Posts: 1360
Location: Charlotte, NC
Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:57 am quote
WEB-Tech wrote:
Stop throwing parts at it, test.
Agreed. ^^^
Hooked
Honda Aero 1100
Joined: 11 Dec 2017
Posts: 187
Location: Allen. TX
Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:58 am quote
jimc wrote:
I've looked through all the posts - but cannot see where you state you've checked the ground connection on the engine from the battery negative. This needs to be a good connection, capable of handling the large starter stall current of 50A or more.
^^^^^^^^What he said^^^^^^^^^^
Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:41 pm quote
Update and Responses - 9/25/18 @ 6:30pm EST - More intermittent starting today. I was hopeful this afternoon, as the bike started flawlessly three or four times in a row. I did not ride, as it is raining very heavily in Connecticut. I left the bike off for about an hour while I did some work. When I returned, more clicks (that new starter relay is definitely clicking!), but no turning over. I turned the handlebars in various directions. Finally it turned over and started after the fourth turn over. Then, I turned off the scoot, balled up in a fetal position, and cried.

Responses:
WEB-Tech wrote:
Stop throwing parts at it, test.
You could have tested your starter with a jumper cable.
I have a multimeter, but no idea how to test anything beyond my battery. I don't even know what I would be testing...Joules? Kilowatts? Calories? How about Ph level? Iron content? Would the Meyers-Briggs personality test help?

I just paid $125 per hour for diagnostics (total bill over $200); this was my test! The Vespa dealer came back with a diagnosis of starter relay, which is why I "threw" the new starter relay at it. They also quoted me over $150 to install the new relay - it's a $20 part (at most - I think I paid $10) and it didn't take more than 15 minutes. Perhaps I should complain?
jimc wrote:
I've looked through all the posts - but cannot see where you state you've checked the ground connection on the engine from the battery negative. This needs to be a good connection, capable of handling the large starter stall current of 50A or more.
Thanks for the advice jimc... I think I found the connection this afternoon - Is it toward the rear of the bike on the engine near where the air pipe leads into the throttle body? I didn't see any other connections on the engine... So if that is indeed the connection, it is secure, unless it needs a specific torque.
Motovista wrote:
Depending on what's been done in there and the fact that sometimes turning the handlebar will cause it to start, I would suggest taking off the headset and looking to see if any of the wires are binding as you turn the bars. Make sure the kill switch is plugged in well and working. Also check to make sure the brake switches are both working. Do the brake lights come on as you squeeze the levers to start the bike, and can you move the lever up or down and make the bike start? As the brakes wear over time, there can be a lot of play in the levers where they mount to the calipers and this can cause them to not engage the brake switches or engage sporadically.
While the shop might not have had a starter relay in stock, they should have been able to come up with one to test the bike and make sure that's all you need.
The brake lights come on regardless of the brake level that I pull. I'm getting power to the starter relay enough to make it click... Unless I'm not holding a brake lever at all - then I get nothing - but that's by design. I haven't taken off the headset, and I don't know what "the headset" is exactly. But I will take it off if you tell me what it looks like. Then, I'll check for binding wires (I assume that means wires getting crimped or something) when I move the handlebars. What is the headset? What are binding wires? Thanks again.
Ossessionato
'15 Blue GTS300 Super, '18 White GTS300 Super
Joined: 01 Nov 2005
Posts: 2553
Location: Sydney, Australia
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:00 pm quote
I feel your pain, theschuman. These modern Vespas are so damn complicated, so many cables and pipes and connectors. I often long for the simplicity of my old two-strokes. I have been pulling these scooters apart and fiddling with them for about 15 years, but there is still a lot I don't know.

When I complained to a friend about two workshops being unable to resolve my problem, he asked whether there was a Vespa guru anywhere in Sydney that I cold go to, and I replied "Yes, me"!

So where can I go, except this forum and the German Vespaforum where there is a lot of technical expertise.(I use an online translator).

But erratic problems are always hell to solve! Give me a total breakdown anytime.
Moderaptor
The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: 26 Aug 2007
Posts: 37422
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:25 pm quote
theschuman wrote:
jimc wrote:
I've looked through all the posts - but cannot see where you state you've checked the ground connection on the engine from the battery negative. This needs to be a good connection, capable of handling the large starter stall current of 50A or more.
Thanks for the advice jimc... I think I found the connection this afternoon - Is it toward the rear of the bike on the engine near where the air pipe leads into the throttle body? I didn't see any other connections on the engine... So if that is indeed the connection, it is secure, unless it needs a specific torque.
If that's the black one at the rear side of the starter motor, that's fine. The red one a couple of inches in front of it is the +12V that the starter motor gets from the starter relay.

Have you checked you get +12V out of the starter relay when it 'clicks'? If there's 12V there but it doesn't start, you need a friend to hold your multimeter probes on those two points on the starter motor itself to check you get 12V at the motor when attempting to start.
Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:55 pm quote
jimc wrote:
If that's the black one at the rear side of the starter motor, that's fine. The red one a couple of inches in front of it is the +12V that the starter motor gets from the starter relay.

Have you checked you get +12V out of the starter relay when it 'clicks'? If there's 12V there but it doesn't start, you need a friend to hold your multimeter probes on those two points on the starter motor itself to check you get 12V at the motor when attempting to start.
Update and Questions - 9/26/18 @ 9:50pm EST -

jimc and everyone else - Thanks again for your continued help and patience with my ineptitude.

A breakthrough? Or perhaps just wishful thinking? See the negative ground connection (at least I think it's the ground connection) in the lower left-hand corner of the photo... Looks good, right?

Now, look at the positive connection to the starter (I think) in the center of the photo. It looks kind of like a cable connection sandwiched between two nuts. So, what's that white stuff below the nut closest to the starter? Corrosion? It feels hard and plastic-like, so I'm not sure if it is supposed to be there or not... The photo in the service manual doesn't show any white bushing or insulator between the positive connection and the starter. Thoughts? Should I take off the throttle body so I can access that positive connection and see what is going on? If it is indeed corrosion, should I try to remove it and then re-connect the positive wire?

IMG_3637.JPG

Member
2014 GTV
Joined: 06 Apr 2015
Posts: 10
Location: CA
Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:04 pm quote
It wasn't my scooter, but my riding lawnmower had a bad ground connection once. Yeah, I threw parts at it. And my tools, a shoe, and I kicked it once too. The symptoms were the same as yours. It would start most of the time. The battery wouldn't stay charged. It wouldn't hurt to unbolt the wires, clean them up with a wire brush, and put them back on with a little dielectric grease. Just think how nice your lawn will look.
Molto Verboso
2009 GTS 250, 2013 Buddy 125, 2014 Triumph Bonneville
Joined: 23 Apr 2016
Posts: 1712
Location: North Jersey
Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:06 am quote
Corrosion is usually like a hard-ish powder. Not rock hard. You can flake some off with little effort. Just looking at the photo, I'd say its not corrosion due to the cleanliness of the nut. I think there'd be some extending to the nut.
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Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:37 am quote
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Moderaptor
The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: 26 Aug 2007
Posts: 37422
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:42 am quote
There must be an insulator there - otherwise the positive wire would be direct to ground - not good!

Check the voltage at that point (with respect to the starter motor body) when trying to start.
Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:40 pm quote
jimc & Vintage1 wrote:
Corrosion is usually like a hard-ish powder. Not rock hard. You can flake some off with little effort. Just looking at the photo, I'd say its not corrosion due to the cleanliness of the nut. I think there'd be some extending to the nut.

There must be an insulator there - otherwise the positive wire would be direct to ground - not good!
Haha... I read your posts after trying to get some of the white stuff off with a wire brush. Oh well - hopefully the insulator is still functional.
Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:16 pm quote
Update and questions - 9/27/18 @ 10:00pm EST -
jimc wrote:
Check the voltage at that point (with respect to the starter motor body) when trying to start.
When nothing was connected, the multimeter had a reading in the hundredths or thousandths place (like 0.007).

So, referencing the photo from yesterday - I put the black multimeter skewer on the bottom left "negative" connection, and at the same time I also held the red multimeter skewer to the "positive" connection (the one with the "faux corrosion" insulator in the center of photo). Then my six year-old actually started the bike (yes, it started) while I held the skewers to the appropriate nuts. When the scoot started, I think the multimeter jumped up into positive territory in the ones place (like 9.234 or something). My multimeter doesn't have a max/min button, and it's highly unlikely that I could figure out how to use the max/min button if it did have one. Anyway, we then shut the scoot off and had some afterschool snacks (beef sticks - yum).

When my wife got home, she attempted to start the bike while I again held the black and red multimeter skewers to what I hope are the correct places. Then, instead of the scoot actually starting, we got clicks... And the multimeter's measurement of voltage (or whatever it measures) increased, but not enough to actually make the voltage go into the ones place... The multimeter was showing like 0.064, i.e. a small increase when she pressed the starter.

So, then I got the scooter to start and took it to an appointment; the appointment lasted about 30 minutes. After the appointment, the bike wouldn't start... Lots of turn-overs, clicks, maybe even some non-clicks (like 10 or more total turn-overs and clicks). Finally, I gave the scoot a really mean look and turned the handle bars... And it started. I drove home, parked the scoot in the garage, and took out my Toyota Corolla. If only my Vespa was as reliable as the Corolla and my Corolla as fun as the Vespa.

Next steps? Should I try bringing it elsewhere for diagnostics? The last attempt to have it diagnosed professionally was a complete waste of time and money (read my previous posts if you want to know all about it). Or should I just keep at it with my limited skill set, knowledgeable vocabulary, and increasing frustration?

As always, I appreciate the assistance. One day, maybe I'll learn the difference between voltage and amperage. And a multimeter and a screwdriver.
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Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Fri Sep 28, 2018 2:12 am quote
tenders wrote:
It is also possible that the battery doesn’t have enough oomph to consistently engage the starter. Will it start consistently if you put it in the battery tender for an hour.
Thanks tenders and everyone else.

Putting the battery on a tender (no pun intended) will not cause the bike to start more consistently. I even swapped out the battery with a brand new battery earlier in my saga. I had the same issue in terms of "turning over" but not starting with the new battery, so I returned the new battery (it was $80 and ineffective) and put back in the Yuasu battery.
tenders wrote:
To me, clicks and an indeterminate voltage difference at the starter but an occasional start points pretty clearly to a bad connection between the starter and the relay. Again you have to be ruthlessly methodical between those two points to find the problem.
So, what do I need to do, exactly? I assume testing involves the multimeter and the wire(s) from the starter relay to the starter, but what do I do? Do I put the the red and/or black multimeter leads up to the insulated wire(s)? And then what?

Or do I visually inspect the wires? What about the wires from the battery to the starter relay (do those even exist)? Or from the battery to the starter itself (again, do such connections exist)?

To give you an idea of my cluelessness, I read somewhere that the relay's job was to regulate the amperage from high amperage loads to low amperage loads (or vice versa)... Whatever that means! It might as well have been written in Sanskrit.

Thanks again.
Molto Verboso
2009 GTS 250, 2013 Buddy 125, 2014 Triumph Bonneville
Joined: 23 Apr 2016
Posts: 1712
Location: North Jersey
Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:23 am quote
Couldn't it still be the starter? Three days ago my wife's Toyota was doing almost the exact same- clicks on the first try, then nothing a couple of times, then a weak attempt to turn over, then finally, a little stronger turn over with a start. Turned out to be both the battery and the starter.

If you moved the handlebars and it started, I'd keep looking at the connections. A wire could be too short, maybe because it's pinched somewhere.

Last edited by Vintage1 on Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:33 am quote
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Molto Verboso
2009 GTS 250, 2013 Buddy 125, 2014 Triumph Bonneville
Joined: 23 Apr 2016
Posts: 1712
Location: North Jersey
Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:46 am quote
Good thinking, tenders. I had a few VW Bugs back in the day and IIRC, two of them I had, had the early starter issues where a light whack with a hammer made it start.
Moderaptor
The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: 26 Aug 2007
Posts: 37422
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:00 am quote
OK. You have confirmed the starter relay is good and you have +12V going in and out of the big thick red wires when you try to start (at least that's what you've said). If so, then the only possible thing left is the most improbable - that the big thick red wire directly from the relay to the starter motor has gone open circuit. This would surely have created a hot spot and melted insulation etc, plus caused a smell.

None of that has happened, so I suggest you double-check that you get volts IN and OUT of the starter relay when you attempt to start but all you get is a click *from the starter relay*.

It may be that the click you hear isn't from the starter relay, but from one of the other relays, like the injection loads relay.

Please check your original findings.
Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:51 pm quote
tenders wrote:
Ah, knowing what the relay does is important in this process. Think of a relay, for some reason also called a solenoid in bigger engines, as a switch-activated switch. More specifically it is a little switch that activates a big switch.

The battery, starter, and engine are all located in the back of the scooter, yet the starter button is all the way up on the handlebars. The juice needed to spin the starter motor is by far the largest electrical demand on the battery - probably 10x the power of the headlight, and maybe even more. Big current needs require thick wires, and for at least three reasons it is impractical to run relatively giant wires from the battery all the way up to the handlebar button and then all the way back to the starter motor. (Reason 1, those wires are expensive and heavy; reason 2, the handlebars move back and forth and big wires wouldn’t flex well; reason 3, running high current over long distances heats up wires and reduces the amount of power that is ultimately delivered.)

So that is where the relay comes in. It sits very near the battery/starter/engine, but the “little switch” part of it is actually controlled by the starter button on the handlebars through a normal-sized wire. The clicking you hear is that little switch trying to activate the big switch inside the relay. The big switch momentarily connects the battery to the starter motor through big wires that are only a few inches long.
Great explanation. Thank you! That's a lot of complexity to start a scooter - does a kickstarter (like on my old Yamaha Vino 125) essentially do the same thing to get the starter moving as the battery and starter relay on the Vespa?
Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:24 pm quote
Update - 9/28/18 @ 10:00pm EST - Thanks for the posts. I think it's the starter. Here's my reasoning:

After work, the bike turned over and started after a few tries. So, I decided to look for loose connections in the wiring around the ignition button and the wiring down the handlebars, through the leg shield, to the battery. I took off a lot of plastic. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary... Not that I would have known if I did see something out of the ordinary, but I was hopeful there would be a frayed wire or a mouse chewing on something. But there was nothing glaringly wrong. So I moved the handle bars around and tried to see if wires got really tight when I did so... I didn't notice anything.

So, then I tried to start again. Click, Click, Click. So, I moved the handlebars around... But when I moved the handlebars enough, I noticed the bike rotated a bit on the centerstand. Perhaps the movement was just jarring enough to give the starter the jolt it needed to work?

The next time I got a "Click, Click, Click", I stopped and walked away. Then, without moving the steering column (and thereby not moving the bike on the centerstand), I repeated the attempt to start and got another "Click, Click, Click". I did this several times, each time without moving the bike so as not to jolt the starter. Then, I got out my diagnostic tools (see photo below). I verified one last "Click, Click, Click" and then gave the starter a light whack with the mallet via the vacuum cleaner nozzle. Boom - the engine turned over - 3 or 4 more turnovers and the bike was running. I then repeated this highly scientific test a couple more times, duplicating the results. The more times I retried the test and banged on the starter, the more times I had to bang the starter to get it to turn over. But it did keep starting.

Thoughts?

IMG_3641.JPG

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Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:43 pm quote
jimc wrote:
It may be that the click you hear isn't from the starter relay, but from one of the other relays, like the injection loads relay.
I'm pretty sure the click is from the starter relay. I can hear it, but also feel it click when I put my finger(s) on it.
Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:46 pm quote
tenders wrote:
It would be helpful to know if, when the relay is clicking but the engine is not turning over, do the headlights dim or blink a little? (Or maybe a lot.)
I just noticed this today, but if the bike isn't running, the headlights aren't on at all... I think the headlights used to turn on as soon as I moved the key to the on position, even if the bike wasn't running. Is that the case for other 300 owners?
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Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:28 pm quote
To remove the starter motor it looks like one would need to remove the throttle body and then disconnecting the wires and two screws holding the starter into place. Am I missing something?
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Granturismo 218
Joined: 04 Feb 2013
Posts: 5353
Location: South Carolina
Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:47 pm quote
tenders wrote:
Round these parts, we call that progress.

I see the aftermarket starter is $80 (and the OEM is $400 - HA HA HA HA HA No. Lexus starters cost $400. Move on.). Assuming you're out of warranty, you just paid $200 tuition to learn that the OEM starter sux, and the dealer kinda sux too. You should have that aftermarket starter delivered to your door, take that newfound knowledge, and install it yourself.
Where are you getting these crazy prices? You're only $10 too high on the aftermarket starter, but the OEM Starter is $179 in original Piaggio packaging. Of course, if you want to pay $400 for one, we can make that happen.

https://scooterpartsco.com/gts-250/gts-250-electrical/starter-piaggio-engine-for-vespa-gts-super-super-sport-125-300

It's a pretty easy change out, but make sure you disconnect the battery before diving in.
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Joined: 06 Sep 2018
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Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:31 am quote
Apologies, Motovista, I'm sure you're right on the parts, and thank you for the correction. I got those prices from one of your competitors' websites as indications and must have been basing them the wrong GTS 300 model. The OEM starter is indeed more competitively priced.

Thank you for your sponsorship of this forum, by the way. Its existence is a major reason I purchased a used Vespa a few weeks ago in pretty good shape, and happily sank the value of a cheap Chinese scooter into parts and upgrades from forum sponsors. I have for decades also owned what now seems to be an impossibly old sailboat, with an impossibly old gas inboard engine. Both have developed superb chatboard forums much like this one that facilitate extraordinary support and enjoyment from informed amateurs and a few pros. The manufacturers have been defunct for decades yet these boards and brands now flourish without the benefit of a dealer network or OEM parts support. It's pretty neat, actually.

It seemed reasonable that the Vespa experience could be even cooler with the inclusion of dealers and OEM parts in the mix. It is. Thank you again.
Molto Verboso
GTS 250ie, GTV 250
Joined: 01 Jul 2009
Posts: 1360
Location: Charlotte, NC
Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:57 am quote
As a side note and totally off topic... I have a friend from South Africa that seems to quickly suggest a hammer to fix any mysterious problem that occurs on his house, vehicles and even relationships. He always makes the point that "if you have a bigger problem... then you must get a bigger hammer!"
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The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
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Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:30 am quote
theschuman wrote:
When my wife got home, she attempted to start the bike while I again held the black and red multimeter skewers to what I hope are the correct places. Then, instead of the scoot actually starting, we got clicks... And the multimeter's measurement of voltage (or whatever it measures) increased, but not enough to actually make the voltage go into the ones place... The multimeter was showing like 0.064, i.e. a small increase when she pressed the starter.
So why do you think it's the starter at fault? If it gets no volts when you try to start, it won't turn anyway! If it did you'd have managed the equivalent of perpetual motion, energy from nowhere!

Go back to checking which relay clicks when it fails to start. Hold a long screwdriver on the relay, and put the handle end on your ear. If that relay clicks, you'll hear it loud and clear! Better still, get a mechanic's stethoscope (cheap and cheerful) which will help in all sorts of diagnostics from time to time.

Please, please, diagnose logically step by step, instead of jumping to expensive conclusions. Although it's *possible* it's the starter motor, it's very unlikely - the failure rate is tiny, and then only after many years and thousands of miles of short journeys.

My money is coming down to a dodgy connection of one of the big red wires on the starter relay - perhaps a corroded crimp. Check this simple stuff thoroughly!
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Sat Sep 29, 2018 8:48 am quote
Content deleted by tenders. A forum where management/moderators repeatedly quash and delete well-intentioned, constructive concerns about governance issues raised by multiple users does not deserve my participation.

Last edited by tenders on Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:48 am; edited 1 time in total
Hooked
2015 Vespa GTS300 Super
Joined: 26 Sep 2017
Posts: 213
Location: Connecticut
Sat Sep 29, 2018 6:34 pm quote
[quote="jimc"]
theschuman wrote:
So why do you think it's the starter at fault? If it gets no volts when you try to start, it won't turn anyway! If it did you'd have managed the equivalent of perpetual motion, energy from nowhere!

Go back to checking which relay clicks when it fails to start. Hold a long screwdriver on the relay, and put the handle end on your ear. If that relay clicks, you'll hear it loud and clear! Better still, get a mechanic's stethoscope (cheap and cheerful) which will help in all sorts of diagnostics from time to time.

Please, please, diagnose logically step by step, instead of jumping to expensive conclusions. Although it's *possible* it's the starter motor, it's very unlikely - the failure rate is tiny, and then only after many years and thousands of miles of short journeys.

My money is coming down to a dodgy connection of one of the big red wires on the starter relay - perhaps a corroded crimp. Check this simple stuff thoroughly!
tenders wrote:
Jimx could be entirely correct, of course, but $200 was already spent with a dealer who replaced the relay and didn’t change the problem.
Yeah, this whole thing makes absolutely no sense to me - from the problem itself to the poor service offered by the dealer. Just to set the record straight - the dealer did not replace the starter relay. I replaced the starter relay myself after the dealer's $200+ "diagnostics" and then a quote of $390 for the already performed diagnostics and the relay replacement. They didn't have a starter relay in stock (nor did they offer to pull one from one of their numerous other Vespas on the floor - and apparently didn't do so for testing purposes). So, when I priced out the starter relay at around $10, I was very worried that it would be too technical a job for me to handle, since the dealer's quote was almost $200 more than the already completed diagnostics. When I actually received the relay and replaced it, I realized the dealer must have been taking advantage of me... They quoted me almost $200 for a $10 relay and 15 minutes of labor? Even a 500% markup ($50) and an hour of labor ($125) would have been less than they quoted me. Someone explain that to me...

So, the service manager said the starter relay was faulty and needed to be replaced, but here's what the dealer's diagnostic report said:

CHARGING 14 VOLTS
STATIC FUEL PRESSURE TEST 2.8 BAR
LOADED FUEL PRESSURE TEST 2.8 BAR
1) ISSUE TOOK AWHILE TO SHOW. ONCE SHOWN WAS ABLE TO ISOLATE AND CONFIRM RELAY SOLENIOD [sic]. NOT ACTIVATING BY REQUEST. WAS ABLE TO MAUALLY [sic] ACTIVE [sic]. TESTED CIRCUIT FUNCTION.

Update - 9/29/18 @ 10:15pm EST So, I'm doing this myself with very little knowledge (but I am learning). It's just frustrating as I don't know how to test the connections in and out of the starter solenoid (relay). Honestly, I don't even know if I'm to measure AC or DC (or voltage or amps or some other magical indicator that I can't trust a dealer to do so I have to do it myself). So, today, I disconnected the battery and then removed the black and red connections at the starter motor. I gently brushed all the connections on the battery and the leads at the starter motor with a bronze brush (just in case there was rust or something). Then, I tried again to measure voltage at the starter motor, but my multimeter is either screwed up, or I'm measuring something incorrectly, or something is very wrong. When the engine is turning over, the voltage "jumps around" but tops out around 10. When the engine is not turning over (i.e. just "clicking") the voltage also "jumps around", but I saw a reading in the 30s and another in the 100s (for a moment). Like I said, I'm not sure I'm using the multimeter correctly. I am, however, an expert with the mallet and vacuum cleaner nozzle.

So, I retested my "handlebars moving the bike on the centerstand and nudging the starter enough to get it to start" theory. When the bike starts "clicking" (and I'm almost positive it's the starter relay clicking) I move the handlebars slowly back-and-forth without causing any movement to the centerstand. After doing so, I try to start again and the scooter continues to click. I've done this repetitively. When I move the handlebars vigorously enough to actually cause a little movement of the bike on the centerstand, and then I try to start, the clicking stops and the bike turns over. My theory is that the movement of the bike on the centerstand is akin to gently tapping the starter motor with a hammer.

So, what do you all think? Should I keep at it? I'm basically out of skill and I don't know how to perform the electrical tests. But the dealer "TESTED CIRCUIT FUNCTION" and was "ABLE TO ISOLATE AND CONFIRM RELAY SOLENOID.NOT ACTIVATING BY REQUEST". But replacing the starter relay, as recommended by the dealer's service manager, did not fix the problem.

Seriously, I'd like to get this fixed, but I don't have a lot of faith in the Vespa dealer. Maybe the Vespa dealer's service manager was mistaken when he told me that the starter relay needed to be replaced? Maybe I should try another shop?
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Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:18 pm quote
Content deleted by tenders. A forum where management/moderators repeatedly quash and delete well-intentioned, constructive concerns about governance issues raised by multiple users does not deserve my participation.

Last edited by tenders on Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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