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  1. #1

    No Spark - 1995 Kawasaki 900 ZXI

    Hi folks, and thanks in advance.

    I bought a jet ski primarily for a project to become more mechanically inclined. Interestingly, so far the issues have been all electrical. My background: very little engine or electrical experience, but I am a quick study. I have a service manual.

    Jet ski: 1995 Kawasaki 900 ZXI. I purchased for $500, in good cosmetic condition, with a trailer. Sellers says it sat for two years unused. The seller said the last time he addressed the jet ski, the starter relay was bad (diagnosed by a jet ski shop that went out of biz and left the work undone). For the sale, he had it rigged up to crank using a portable battery hooked up to the leads. He cranked it at his house and I watched the driveshaft and impeller spin, came to the conclusion the engine was not seized, and went ahead and purchased it.

    Done so far: Siphoned 2-year old gas out of gas tank, tank is currently empty. Removed oil tank in order to have room to work on the e-box. Replaced battery. Opened the electrical box and noted the old relay was completely gone; snipped right off the wires and the wires were still connected in the e-box. I ordered a new starter relay, installed and tried to crank. Nothing. Checked connections in the e-box and found the Molex plug leading to the yellow/red wire of the relay to have a corroded post. Sanded and cleaned, reconnected, engine now has strong crank.

    Current problem: no spark. Spark plugs are connected to the leads and laying against the heads so I can look for spark. Cranking shows no spark on any plug.

    My current plan: I’m partway through cleaning and reconnecting all the e-box Molex plugs given corrosion has already caused one issue. If that doesn’t fix the no spark issue my plan is to check the ignition and stop switch to see if perhaps those are grounding out (correct terminology?).

    I’m looking for confirmation that this is a good course of action and some tips on how exactly to check the ignition and start/stop switch. And if ya’ll are feeling generous, tips on steps beyond those two items if it doesn’t work.

    Thanks!


  2. #2
    steve45's Avatar
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    Sounds like a plan! Kawasaki harness connectors are known for getting corroded. They're not very waterproof.

    $500 sounds like a good price if it doesn't need engine work.

  3. #3
    Thanks steve45. I've been through about 45 pages of threads here looking at all the ZXI info folks have posted, and you've been helping here for a while it seems. Appreciate it.

    It's not entirely clear to me yet if the engine needs any work, but it sure seems like the guts of it are ok. I am not sure what condition the carbs are in but I plan to leave them alone until I get my electrical issues sorted out and I try to fire it up.

    If I'm reading correctly, malfunctions in either the ignition switch and/or the start/stop switch can allow the engine to crank but prevent spark. How exactly would I see if either of those two switches are doing that?

  4. #4
    steve45's Avatar
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    I haven't had to troubleshoot the Kawasaki switches, only Yamaha. However, I would guess they are similar in operation. Check the schematic in your manual to verify. In the Yamaha, the kill switch turns off the ignition by connecting the hot wire to ground. In other words, the switch is open when the engine is running. You can check that with an ohmmeter.

  5. #5
    The problem was a bad CDI igniter.

    I went through the cheaper/easier potential problems first. Near the end of that testing, though, I happened across a real good price on a used CDI on Craigslist. Cheap enough to give it a try without feeling like I was throwing money/parts at it. Swapped the old CDI for the "new" one (which, incidentally, was a different part number because the original is deprecated) and voila, plugs now have spark.

    I now move on to the engine testing. I've got the two year old gas siphoned out of the tank. The fuel pickup lines have filter screens on the ends that are deteriorating or broken. Here's a pic. You can see that the primary pickup is missing the plastic end-cap (which is sitting in the bottom of the tank), making it useless:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'd like to replace these but it looks like they're integral to the whole fuel pickup assembly. Replacement cost is $77 new OEM for the whole apparatus, plus the labor involved. Does anyone have a solution to replace just these filter screens?

    Thanks.

  6. #6
    steve45's Avatar
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    I took mine off and replaced with rubber hose of different lengths. Since there is an inline filter downstream, there is no need for these screens.

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  8. #7
    Ok, got the engine fired up after replacing the CDI. Seemed to idle ok in the driveway and I put it on the water for a brief test tonight. Only had about a half hour. Did some just above idle testing, then slowly ramped up to WOT. Did about four very brief runs of WOT, then had to come in. The ski hit 40 on the mph gauge. In my haste I failed to note the max RPMs.

    After I got it home I pulled the plugs. Unfortunately, it looks like I've got an issue in cylinder #1. The plug is almost completely clean. Photos below. Tomorrow I'll confirm spark again just to be sure that's not it. The theory at the moment is a blocked carb. Wondering your thoughts and a next step? Recall that this ski sat for over 2 years. Thanks in advance.

    PS - I'm running 40:1 premix on this first tank since the ski hasn't run in so long, so I expected some oil fouling like I see in #2 and #3.

    Plug1: Click image for larger version. 

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    Plug2: Click image for larger version. 

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    Plug3: Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #8
    steve45's Avatar
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    Yep, you should be showing a lot more than 40 MPH.

    Is the plug wet If not, then it's not getting fuel.

  10. #9
    Thanks Steve.

    It took me a day, but I felt and smelled the #1 plug. I could smell fuel on it and a very light coat of oily stuff came off on my finger. So I opted to do a spark test again, and lo and behold, no spark on #1. This is a regression because I had spark on all three plugs after replacing the CDI. The last significant thing I did was pull apart all the e-box connections, use some dielectric grease, then put it all back together. So I back-tracked and cleaned out the Molex connector joining the CDI and plug wire #1. Voila, spark returned. Maybe dielectric grease wasn't such a good idea on 19-year old connectors that are probably relatively loose compared to new. A bit of reading on dielectric grease reveals that it is non-conducting. Also, I should have tested spark after putting the e-box back together. I confirmed spark on all plugs after replacing the CDI, but the dielectric greasing happened after that and I should have tested again.

    Ah well. Today I'm going to fire it up in the driveway, let it run a bit with the hose hooked up, then pull the plugs again and make sure it looks like plug #1 is burning fuel. I could still have a fuel delivery problem I guess, but I believe the spark issue was the problem.

    Thanks for the continued help.

  11. #10
    PS: While I had the plugs out, I rented a compression gauge from O'Reilly and tested all three cylinders. The service manual directs to do the test with the engine thoroughly warmed up, but since I had a problem in cylinder #1 I didn't want to warm the engine up, so I did the test cold.

    Got 95 - 100 PSI on all three cylinders. That's within the serviceable range according to the service manual, and I was happy that all three tested similarly. Not too bad considering the engine was cold and this thing is 19 years old!

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