No power to ignition or headlights...Need help

Discussion in 'Electrical' started by Randy007, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. Randy007

    Randy007 Member


    I need some help diagnosing an electrical gremlin. Before I go out and buy parts I think I need, maybe somebody can jump in and pinpoint the problem.

    1995 Sportster 1200 XLH.

    Ride it daily to work. Last Friday I shut the motor off with the stop switch and then turned the ignition key off. I re-set the stop switch to On. 1 minute later, I turned the ignition switch to ignition and noticed I had no power to my headlights and instrument lights. The stop switch had already
    turned to On. Pressed the start button.......nothing. Not even a click.
    I noticed that I had power from the accessory mode of the ignition switch.
    Horn, brake lights, turn signals have power.

    Bike is at home. This is what I tested(most with a meter) and cleaned:

    1) Battery is good.
    2) Battery cables and connections are good.
    3) Stop or kill switch was taken apart and tested.
    4) Circuit breakers for ignition, instruments, lights, accessories, and main breaker were tested for continuity.

    5) Continuity of wires from ignition switch to main breaker were tested.
    6) Breaker panel wires to the starter relay were tested.

    Knowing that I have power from the ignition switch to circuit panel to
    accessories, am I okay in assuming the the ignition switch itself is working?

    A common wire black/red are used in the circuit panel for ignition, instruments, and lights. The black/red wire is connected to the starter relay via SPL8 (another bundle).
    Am I correct in assuming that if the relay was bad, it would affect the instruments, lights, and ignition? The bike has been trouble free up until now. Prior to this dilemma, the ride to work was uneventful.

    On the starter relay, I show continuity between spade 30 and 86. Spade 30 connect both to the ignition circuit breaker and the ignition switch. Spade 86 connects to the start switch.

    Hope I've provided enough information to assist me diagnose this problem.

    Thank you for your future help!
  2. Randy007

    Randy007 Member


    I just had a thought. I have my starter relay unplugged. In theory
    I should have power to my accessories when I hookup the battery. Is
    my assumption correct if that event happens, I have a defective starter
    I'm still stumped by the correlation of no headlights or instruments lights
    regarding the starter relay.

  3. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Guest

    HMMM, the battery connection at the starter solenoid feeds all power so if the relay is bad you may have solved the mystery Good luck and let us all know you may have already helped some one else:s
  4. Randy007

    Randy007 Member

    Hi Jack,

    Thanks for the reply. I am posting this in hopes it will help others in the future. I've found threads with a similar problem (not exactly) but did not end the thread with a resolution. Very frustrating.

    Last night I unplugged the starter relay and powered up the bike. Same power to the headlights or the solenoid.

    This morning I double checked the continuity of the breaker wires, the
    main fuse (maxi fuse) wires to the ignition and the circuit breaker. I took
    apart the starter relay. It has coil winding and contacts similar to points on an ignition. I checked the points and metered the contacts for continuity.
    Everything worked as it should.
    Checking the schematic, the only thing the starter relay has in common with headlights and the starter was a ground.

    Now I'm thinking I have bad contacts in the ignition switch. It's the only other thing I couldn't check because it is a sealed unit. And its the only thing left on the checklist that is in line to power the solenoid and headlights.
    Purchased an aftermarket ignition and spliced it in place of the old ignition switch. A starter relay was inexpensive so I purchased one just in case. I put the old starter relay back into the plug. Powered the system up......Voila!

    It was a bad ignition switch. Lights and starter solenoid have power!

    Just for kicks, I'm going to take apart the ignition switch to determine what
    wears out.........after I get the bike together!

    I know this is a unique event and I hope it does happen to anyone else.
  5. nuker02

    nuker02 Member

    Glad to see you found the problem. I just saw your post, otherwise I would have offered my 2 cents.

    I had the same issue a couple weeks ago. My softail switch has 2 contacts in it. One for Acc and the other for Ignition. When turned to Ignition position both contacts are supposed to close. One day my Ign one stopped making contact, so all I got was Acc stuff.

    On mine I could remove a spring clip and take it apart. I then saw a groove and a burr on the one contact. I sanded it smooth put it back together and it works fine again.
  6. Randy007

    Randy007 Member

    Hi Nuker02,

    Yeah what threw for a loop is that I had power on the accessory
    mode of the ignition switch. Had no idea that the ignition mode of the switch
    was defective. I ASSUMED that the entire ignition module worked as designed.

    Lesson learned. Thanks for the reply!