Reversed the polarities – bike does not start

reverse polarity jump start solution

just got through dealing with this scenario on my kawasaki ninja 650r. battery got low from leaving headlights on; tried to jump start from car battery (the car itself was off), but the negative terminal had a red cap, so i mistook it for the positive terminal; connected the car battery and got some sparks with the final connection (the negative lead to the body of the motorcycle), and then – nothing; no readout in the instrument panel, nothing happens when the key is turned. called the shop; they said to “follow the ninja’s positive battery wire” to the bike’s starter solenoid where a 30 amp fuse could be found, which was kind of bad advice because the wire wasn’t quite able to be followed; it disappeared inside the middle of the frame where it couldn’t be seen. so, i just started taking panels off the bike on both sides, and eventually accidentally found something that looked like it might be electrical and might have a place for a fuse, located under a palm-sized almost triangular cover held with one screw, somewhat below the upper-middle left-side frame (just below the back end of the gas tank). i took off the cover, and visually found a 30 amp fuse! i pulled out the fuse, but it was whole (not burned out), but then i noticed it wasn’t hooked to anything, and that it was just being held there, presumably as a spare (whew!) there was a blocky looking pinkish connector with two little holding levers that had to be squeezed in order to pull the plug out (had to use a screwdriver to help get it moving – took a lot of effort and several minutes); finally got the plug out of its socket, and found the actual in-circuit 30 amp fuse. pulled it out and it was indeed blown (yay!) i replaced it with the spare, and the bike’s electronics were up and running again. did the jump start (again, with just the car’s battery – not with the car running), and got it started. i let it idle for about a half hour, turned it off, and was able to get it started again under its own power (barely). after riding it for 140 miles for a couple of hours, the battery was once again fully charged with power to spare for startups.

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this was particularly good news for me, as i was located in a somewhat isolated area nowhere near a motorcycle repair shop, and i had visions of trying to buy and replace the bike’s ecm (electronic control module) which might have been blown instead of just a $0.50 fuse, by myself, or spending lots of $$ getting the bike transported to a shop so they could do it. missed the bullet on that one!

so, the lesson is: don’t use cap colors to determine battery polarity, and it’s a good idea to be familiar with where the bike’s 30 amp fuse is located before you need to replace it.

note: the location on whatever motorcycle you’ve got will probably vary from this write-up’s description. know your own bike.

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Category: Headlights