'13 F700GS EWS Failure, Any Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by Rronalds, May 22, 2020.

  1. Rronalds

    Rronalds Adventurer

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    TL;DR. I have an EWS Warning and the bike won't turn over, but the electronics turn on. The night before the first (and continued) EWS alert symbol came on, it was turning off while riding in such a way that I thought the battery wasn't connected properly. A ring antenna is in the mail, but who knows if it's really gonna be the right fix.
    ---
    Okay, so I just got my friend's 2013 F700GS. 17,000 miles, most of those done on a 'round the country trip he did years ago. He hasn't been riding the bike much in the past years, and offered it to me.

    I registered it last week and had been riding it around regularly, but have only ridden it ~300 miles since I got it from him in April. On Sunday night I take it out for a ride and decide to go visit some friends 1.5 hours away (socially distanced, don't worry...). It's a great ride, and I visit for 20 minutes and then turn around and head home (and of course we stupidly make some comment about the bike being reliable before I head out (It's newer by 30 years than any other bike I have owned)).

    About 40 minutes into the hills, the high beam indicator light starts blinking off, at first just for a fraction of a second, then for longer (I have the high beams on at the time). No other indication of problem. The hand-warmers were on. The first time the indicator blinked the tiniest bit I was driving in the 80s or so. After I see the blink I slow down and start driving a bit more conservatively, just because I am suspicious of something weird happening.

    Soon after, the bike goes totally black, without any change from me. Pretty scary on a moonless night in the middle of nowhere. As I press the brakes in order not to smash into the guard rail in the curvy hills, the bike comes back to life, seemingly from the jolt of the brakes. I slow way down and experience the bike doing this once or twice more before I stop to assess. I figure it must be a loose connection, and that I can at least take a look at the battery and see if one of the terminals is not clamped down fully.

    On the side of the road, in classically idiotic fashion, I discover that the torx driver is not where it should be in the under-seat tool area, but instead i have left it in my tank bag, which I have oh-so-conveniently not brought along for what I thought was a straightforward little trip. I had also looked at my leatherman as I left and declined taking it, which should have been a sure sign that I was gonna run into problems.

    So, what can I do? I know there is a little town not too far up ahead, mostly downhill, and while I am scared that riding the bike with a faulty connection could be detrimental to the bike, I don't feel like I will be too dangerous now that I know the cutting out issue and know to drive super slow. So I limp into town mostly through gravity and going very slowly. Now, when the bike stops and starts, a check engine symbol appears, but it doesn't stay around forever, it just lingers and then goes away.

    Sadly, the town is sleepily quiet and the time has edged almost to midnight before I get onto main street. There is no one around, no open businesses, and no lights on--no one to ask for help from--and not a bar of cell service to be spoken of. And, of course, it is the middle of a pandemic, even though I am in a super safe county, where there have been minimal cases, so anyone I talk to is going to be extra wary of me. I look around town a little bit, but, finding nothing, decide to just sleep on a picnic table outside the Mobile gas station until the morning. With my sheepskin seat cover and my full gear, I am not terribly chilly... Until it starts to rain. i move under the awning that covers some AC units and try to get some more sleep on the cold ground. Successful enough that it passed the night away for me, even though I did wake up cold.

    "Are you okay?" I am awoken by a voice, the owner of which I cannot see, as I am turned the other way against the AC units and I have a hat on and my motorcycle jacket hood up. I turn over and tell the man why I am sleeping on his gas station lawn, and he tells me he doesn't have any help for me and he has to open the store. Cool. Okay, now that it is daylight (6am) and I am awake, maybe I can find someone with some tools? No luck. I ask a few people, but the fiber optics cable repairmen say they don't have torx bits, and no one else seems to be able to help.

    So I decide that, since it is light out, I can probably limp home the last 20 miles. Last night most of the danger was that it was pitch black when the moto shut off, so it was exceedingly dangerous to be moving at all. In the daylight it will not be ideal, but I can be seen and can see, so it should be okay, and the roads home are infrequently trafficked. I roll the bike around in the gas station parking lot, turn the key, and the bike comes to life perfectly, with just a light touch of the ignition. So far so good. I foolishly think I am on the right track and that I will be able to solve all my problems once I get home after the slow ride.

    Less than two miles outside of town, the bike locks up, and gives me an EWS failure warning ("wtf is EWS??"). I try to re-ignite and turn off and on, but all my methods from last night no longer work.

    After some time on the side of the road, a man in a BMW car comes up and asks if he can help. ("Yes, thank you so much! I think my battery connection is loose. I just need a torx driver to check it."). He tells me to push it over to his house, 200 feet down the road. Torx driver provided, I find that the terminals do seem too loose (they can move around on the bolts with no real force), and I tighten them up. ("Nice, I am sure this is the fix"). Turn the key, press the ignition. EWS. "wtf is EWS". While I am looking around deeper on the bike, and double checking the battery, he comes back, looking at google on his phone, and informs me "EWS is a problem with the detection of the digital key." "Errrrr, what? What digital key...."

    This dude very nicely offers me his land line, since, amazingly enough, 1.5 miles outside of town still doesn't have any cell service. I get a ride outta town back home (we tried to jump start it before leaving, but to no success), leave the bike on someone's property there, spend the day looking up what the hell EWS failures mean, and come back for it later with a Uhaul.

    The only eventful thing I have found on the bike since getting it back home and taking it somewhat apart is that there was a mouse nest on top of the air filter.
    ---
    List of issues, in seeming order of importance:
    EWS warning
    Ignition doesn't do anything
    Left Hand warmer was not producing as much heat as the right since I bought it (and I had them on when the original nighttime failure first occurred)
    It seems to be putting up a check engine symbol, but this goes away when the EWS warning appears?
    It, um, doesn't go vroom vroom anymore.

    List of things I've checked:
    The battery I bought a month ago is pushing out 13/14v, I charged it when I brought the bike home and no change.
    Headlight comes on, all instruments work as expected.
    Having kickstand up or down doesn't change ignition result.
    I have disconnected the battery, left it for a long time and then tried again (numerous times) (in theory it might reset the warning or something)
    I have searched for any frayed electrical wires and found nothing.
    I DID find a mouse nest on top of the air box, but, sadly, this didn't fix the problem.....ha.
    Tried to jump start the bike when my friend came to pick me up originally--no change.
    ---
    I am planning on having the BMW dealer pick it up and take a look, but they can't come until next week, and I figure I might as well throw a new key antenna on there and see if that does it. Though I am highly skeptical that it is the only problem.

    Questions:
    Could the bad battery connection fuck up the ring antenna?
    Is it all just coincidence of having a badly connected battery and a faulty ring antenna?
    Could the bad battery connection create all these symptoms without destroying anything too sensitive?
    Is there anything else I could be looking at myself beyond the ring antenna, before I send it to the dealer?
    Why does everywhere talk about needing the security torx bits, when the two little torx screws that actually hold the ring antenna on are accessible alone, albeit you have to take a lot off the bike to get to it (The Central Chassis ECU (i.e. the ZFE), the battery, the airbox).
    Anyone had something similar happen?

    THANKS!

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    #1
  2. zero war

    zero war Zee

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  3. Rronalds

    Rronalds Adventurer

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    Yeah, I've been all up and down that and other forum posts. It seems like no matter what, especially considering that the dealer says they can't get to my bike for a week or two, that I might as well pop a different ring antenna in there and see if that just clears up the whole issue. Pretty scary to not know what is going to happen next time I ride in the dark, though. Ha.
    #3
  4. dpike

    dpike BeeKeeper Supporter

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    When my '09 threw the ews code I replaced the battery and it disappeared.
    #4
  5. Dorito

    Dorito Dreamer and Doer

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    +1 battery. It is 8 years old, depending on build date.
    #5
  6. Rronalds

    Rronalds Adventurer

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    Sorry, I should have made it more clear in the list of issues: I put a new battery (just a regular advanced auto parts one) in it when I got it, less than a month ago. The friend I bought it from has said maybe I should buy another one and see what happens, but I multimetered it and it doesn't seem to be doing anything weird.
    #6
  7. The Maz

    The Maz Clueless and lost

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    It's good to have a spare on hand anyways.
    #7
  8. Duitser

    Duitser Been here awhile

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    Multimeter does not say much, ie only no load voltage etc. My abs switched on and off by itself and after replacing the batt no more issues
    #8
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  9. Rronalds

    Rronalds Adventurer

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    That's what so many of the forums say, but it seems crazy. Is it really such a terribly made or delicate object that it fails so often? Ugh. If it was causing my particular problem, damn that is dangerous. Hopefully it was the battery connection that caused the part failure, as opposed to the part failure that was causing all the problems.
    #9
  10. dpike

    dpike BeeKeeper Supporter

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    Load test the battery
    #10
  11. Rronalds

    Rronalds Adventurer

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    Hmmmmm... What do people think about, like, the advanced auto parts batteries versus elsewhere/a more "moto-specific" battery? I obviously don't wanna spend another hundo to get another battery that may be just as bad for the bike? Anyone ever have any luck with getting a replacement of a purchased battery?

    I've never been particular about where I get batteries, but do feel like I have bought, what, one every two years or something for whatever bike I had. Is that AutoCraft battery just total shit?

    Should I just go to Advanced and get them to switch it out with another of those batteries? I bet they would do that and not give a damn and then I can see if that fixes it. That would be incredible. (except then I wouldn't really trust the battery for too long, but still.... Any insanely silly fix for the bike would make me v happy.)
    #11
  12. nvklr

    nvklr Been here awhile

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    They should be able to load test that battery and determine if it needs to be charged or needs to be replaced, or just fine at no cost.
    #12
  13. Rronalds

    Rronalds Adventurer

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    Yep, stopped by to load test just now and they said it seemed perfect.
    #13
  14. nvklr

    nvklr Been here awhile

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    That’s always a good way to start on troubleshooting electrical gremlins.
    #14
  15. Rronalds

    Rronalds Adventurer

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    By the way, one question I am wondering about is if there is a way to check the ring antenna with a multimeter to see if it is shot or not? It has continuity across some of the pins and not others, but I have no idea how to assess it, either with that tool or otherwise.

    Also, @nvklr , what coolant should I use to top up or refill? The manual doesn't say, the past owner says G48, the forums say silicate- and nitrite-free and/or "anything"..... Thoughts?
    #15
  16. nvklr

    nvklr Been here awhile

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    If just topping off, I would probably use distilled water, or one of those universal antifreeze that claim to be compatible with all antifreeze because that's what I have on hand, but I'm lazy like that so you might want to do more research.
    #16
  17. Eurolanc

    Eurolanc Adventurer Supporter

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    Don't overthink it. Start with the antenna ring and make sure it has proper voltage (you could try a known good battery)

    Do you have a second key to try?
    #17
  18. The Maz

    The Maz Clueless and lost

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    Also, make sure you don't have another chipped key to something else on the keyring. The antenna could be reading it instead of the bike key.
    #18
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  19. Rronalds

    Rronalds Adventurer

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    Yeah, it's a lone key, nothing else on it. Another thing that is in the mail are the spare keys, which I, also very conveniently, don't have at my house. In theory the key I am using could be f'd and the spare could do it??? Highly doubtful, but it would be hilarious if the spare just started it.
    #19
  20. Rronalds

    Rronalds Adventurer

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    Well, maybe this is some good confirmation that the ring antenna is actually the problem, and hopefully it is the only problem...! Definitely looks like something got fried inside the ring antenna. IMG_0974.JPG
    #20