Diagnosing a ticking FJR1300

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Diagnosing a ticker

...without removing the cylinder head

February 4, 2006, with an update from September, 2008

Important note:
2006 and newer FJR's do not have this problem!
This is about "Gen 1" FJR's, not "Gen 2."

I have been working with my dealer and Yamaha Customer Service regarding my re-ticker. They've confirmed the problem and it's going to get fixed.

But here's a new twist: to diagnose my ticker, Yamaha advised my dealer to take the exhaust headers off and look for oil on the now-exposed exhaust side of the engine or in the pipes themselves. My dealer did this and saw oil, which proves that something's wrong inside. Coupled with the sound, this confirms The Tick.

This diagnostic test is a relatively cheap way to confirm that a given bike is a ticker, or that it isn't. I think it takes between one and two hours of labor to remove the headers, which is way easier and cheaper than the old way of confirming a ticker: removing the cylinder head and measuring the guides. This new, cheaper test might encourage more people to get their bikes checked out.

You see, if you think you have a ticker and ask the dealer to diagnose it, you might have to authorize an estimate for the cost of the diagnostic. If they find something that is covered by the warranty (or if you're out of warranty but Yamaha covers it anyway), you won't be out of pocket at all: the diagnostic procedure is part of the covered expense.

But if you were wrong about having a ticker and they find nothing wrong and nothing to repair, you might have to pay for the diagnostic costs. That's how my dealer wanted me to do it. For the full head removal, that's a major chunk of change, north of $750, and would make you think twice even if you were "almost sure" you had a ticker. (It sure did me, last year.)

With this new diagnostic test, you're not risking so much dough to find out for certain. You can ask your dealer about the parts and labor cost to take the exhaust headers off and put them on again: that's how much you're putting at risk. If your dealer finds oil inside, you've got a ticker and you can go from there.

If you're handy enough and trust your own workmanship on these critical components, you could even do it yourself. The radiator has to come off first, which is really the time-consuming part. If you find oil, button it up, take it to a dealer, and work with them and Yamaha, confident that they'll find something when they look.

(If you get the tick repair, MAKE SURE the dealer uses the new part numbers for the valve guide seals. See other discussion threads for info about that.)

With this new, cheaper diagnostic test, we may get this thing licked yet. People who want to know for sure about their bikes can get an answer by risking only a couple of hundred dollars, not four times that much.

Update from September, 2008: I believe my 2004 FJR is re-re-ticking. The sound is there, and I believe I have the loss of power also. However, it's not getting worse nearly as fast as the original tick. I had my local dealer remove the exhaust headers and look for oil, and there isn't any. It's been over 5,000 miles since the ticking sound became noticeable (to my hyper-sensitive ears). Either this is still too early in the progression of the problem, or I don't have it again. Maybe in another 5K miles I'll have them look again.

Good luck, Brothers. And thanks as always to Warchild for making all this possible. Without his efforts we'd still be facing unbelieving dealers and customer service reps, and convincing them one at a time that there might be something going on here.

This page was last edited September 17, 2008.