gear position indicator not working on 051200GS

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by hyena, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. hyena

    hyena Been here awhile

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    I took my 2005 R1200GS out for a nice 1.5 hour ride in the country this afternoon. Stopped for gas (probably irrelevant) As soon as I took off for the last 15 miles home, I noticed the gear indicator in the instrument cluster was blank. Then it went on and off several times, sometimes indicating the correct gear. sometimes not. That continued until I got home. It was mostly just blank during that time. Put the bike in neutral - no neutral indicator light, and putting the sidestand down killed the bike. I figure there's either a sending unit problem, or a problem in the instrument cluster. Restarting it didn't help.

    Any thoughts from the gurus? I hope it's nothing too expensive. I bought the bike new just a couple weeks shy of 5 years ago, and love it, but it's been such a piece of crap quality wise if this is a big $$$ problem it's likely history. I'll miss it. All the earlier problems were covered under warranty, but now it's way out at 5 years and 41K miles.

    Thanks.
    #1
  2. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer Supporter

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    It could be the sensor - moderate $$$.

    But first: check the connector right at the sensor. Unplug and replug. Corrosion or oxidation could cause malfunction. Also, tug on the wire.

    Happened to me - I know. The connector is immediately in the spray of water and debris from the rear tire, it's the first thing to go.

    The way the sensor works is that it rotates with the shifter drum and changes output resistance. If added resistance exists at the connector, it will show wrong gear; if out or range, it goes blank.
    #2
  3. hyena

    hyena Been here awhile

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    Thanks, Robert. I'm not home right now - will check that in the morning. Is that what's called a potentiometer on the Max BMW parts diagram? $170. That's a lot better than $1000 it shows for the instrument cluster. Hopefully it will just be a faulty connection, and hopefully it's not too hard to get to. $170 I could live with though. Thanks again for the advice.
    #3
  4. Geoffster

    Geoffster Fool - Born This Way

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    My 2005 R1200RT had repeated problems with the gear position indicator.

    Try unplugging it with the bike in neutral, then cycle the key on and off. Plug it back in, and take the bike for a ride. If you're lucky, it will reinitialize when you shift from first to second.

    If not, consult your dealer before ordering the part. 2005's had two different potentiometers, and your dealer can order the correct one by referencing your VIN.
    #4
  5. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer Supporter

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    Yes. The gear-selector sensor is not a switch like on older bikes, but a variable resistor = potentiometer. The resistance is measured by ZFE, translated into gear number and neutral status and displayed by the I-cluster controller.

    Using a resistor requires only two wires, unlike a wire bundle needed for a multi-position switch. Still, even the simpler 2-pin connector can fail - in particular because of its location immediately ahead of the shock, exposed to elements.

    Good point!
    #5
  6. vwluv10338

    vwluv10338 Adventurer

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    Sounds like the connector would be a good place to start on mine. I have had this problem for a few weeks on my 02 GS1150. Sounds like the connector because mine started when I got stuck in a rain storm and hasnt been right since. I havent bothered to check it out because I have never had an indicator on any other bike I have owned.
    #6
  7. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer Supporter

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    I'd suggest checking it out - it takes a whole 2 minutes - because it affects your neutral safety system and will prevent you from starting the bike unless clutch is pulled in.
    #7
  8. CheckerdD

    CheckerdD Long timer

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    Most likely nothing is broke. As the transmission ages the settings for which gear you are in go out of Sync. I had the same problem with my 05 at about 65k miles. The dealer hit the "reset" and the sensor relearns what gear you are in. I don't know how its done, or whether you need to plug into the computer or 911, but the suggestion of Geoffster, above is worth a try. Dave
    #8
  9. Geoffster

    Geoffster Fool - Born This Way

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    As Dave says, plugging the bike into a BMW Mothership/Host computer for recalibration will almost certainly work if the bike's computer doesn't reinitialize on its own, however, that involves a trip to a dealer and whatever minimum the dealer charges for his/her shop time. The first time my RT became gear-position-confused it was still under warranty, and that's what the dealer did. It took less than 10 minutes.

    Oh, and don't try disconnecting/reconnecting the battery because that's easier than crawling under the bike and unplugging/replugging the potentiometer -- BTDT and it did nothing.
    #9
  10. hyena

    hyena Been here awhile

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    Looks like I may have lucked out. I pulled the connector off. I thought maybe I'd be able to clean the terminals with an emory board, but even if I could have got my big hands up there, from looking at the plug end there would be three tiny male prongs. So I just sprayed some electrical cleaner on it. Then took Geoffster's suggestion while I had it unplugged and cycled the ignition. Plugged it back in, worked the plug on and off several times with the needle nosed pliers to hopefully clean the terminals.

    The gear indicator stayed blank and neutral lighted stayed off when I turned the bike on. Took it for a short ride, and as soon as I started up through the gears it began working again. EVerything normal, for now. Bike gets a reprieve !

    Now - for those of you who have changed that potentiometer, what size wrench for the two bolts? I've got Torx female sockets, but there's not enough room to get one on the bolt head. It appears what would be needed is an E8 box end wrench.

    Thanks for the help, everybody. Much appreciated.
    #10
  11. Grad

    Grad Wannabe

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    Happened to me on the road, i pulled the connector and sprayed it down with wd40...it hasn't happened since.
    #11
  12. flyrodder

    flyrodder Donny, please.

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    Yup, try the connector first. I would clean then lube the connection with some dielectric grease when you reconnect it -- that will protect the connection much better than just leaving it dry.
    #12
  13. sirslarti

    sirslarti n00b

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    My 06 GS has had the same issue with the gear display not sure what gear I had it in. I tried removing the plug, cleaning and replugging but still not good. I removed the whole potentiometer (gear position sensor) assembly and found it had ingested some water. Pulled the unit apart (a couple of holding pins break), cleaned and reassembled. Glued the holding pins in, mounted on bike - ALL OK!!!

    It is a bit tricky to pull apart but gently prying apart with a small blade worked well. The holding pins break but can be used again for reassembly.

    One really strange thing was I took the bike for a ride with the potentiometer disconnected and the display still intermittently showed the right gear!!!. The computer must take into account speed and rpm as well as the sensor input to display the selected gear. With one thing missing it has a pretty good guess what is selected...

    hyena - I found a 1/4AF ring spanner to fit the TORX better than anything else. Worked a treat pulling off the sensor.

    I have pics of the pull-apart if anyone is interested.

    Attached Files:

    #13
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  14. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    Excellent thanks for the picture, if you can start a new thread and a detail account of your remedy please. :thumb
    #14
  15. LTCOliverNorth

    LTCOliverNorth Peeping Tom

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    Yes please!
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  16. Andrew

    Andrew Optimus Primer Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    My '00 R1150GS indicator is stuck at zero, through the gears, but I get a working Neutral light. :dunno

    I had the connector off when I replaced my transmission recently, so I'm thinking it's either not back on right, or fouled... I'll pull it off again this weekend to see if some cleaning and dielectric grease helps.
    #16
  17. Andrew

    Andrew Optimus Primer Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Ha... I took the connector off this morning, and I see the problem now. When I originally pulled the connector off, I missed the critical point that it's held on by a spring-clip. Instead, I wrestled with the outer cover. When it came off, which it's designed to do, three small springs and followers fell out. These are the wipers that ride in circular slots, which tell the RID what gear I'm in. Neutral is a different circuit, no problem there.

    I scoured the trash bin, and found one spring and one follower... :bluduh

    New part is 23142333154, $90 list, $115 at one local shop, but Moto Marin has it for $75. True, with Neutral working, the bike is fine to ride, but I like the gear indicator, so I'm getting the new switch.

    Part 15 on the fiche: http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?model=0495&mospid=47979&btnr=23_0871&hg=23&fg=05
    #17
  18. macuis

    macuis n00b

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    I'm having the same problem with the gear selector sensor.
    Can anyone tell me where to find it on my R1200RT, so i can take it off and clean it
    #18
  19. strsout

    strsout Banned Camp

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    By any chance, do you still have those pictures? I'm interested. tks.
    #19