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Knoble Moto Notes: Don’t Pressure Wash Your Bike!

As an avid rider, who logs about 10,000 miles a year, I understand the battle with keeping your bike clean. Many people have decided to start using pressure washers at their house or the car wash, to blow the road grime off. While this may be a quick solution, it can cause some serious problems down the road.

            Most of your electrical plugs have some form of a seal inside the connector, or at the entrance to the electrical component itself. Those seals are designed to keep road grime, and rain water out. They are not designed to take a 1000 psi blast from a pressure washer, especially on a repeated basis.

What happens is, water gets inside your electrical connectors and begins to corrode the electrical connections. Corrosion means electrical resistance, and resistance means electrical failures and problems. Of course, these problems generally show up at the worst possible times, and nowhere near your garage. These days the newer bikes are loaded with all types of electrical components. With fuel injection, ABS, stereos, traction control, and GPS on many bikes, an electrical problem can prove to be a nightmare to chase down.

Even if you have an “20th century” bike that does not have all those electrical components, you do still have a charging system that is vital to getting you home. A little moisture inside a high current plug, like on your charging system, can kill your charging components in the blink of an eye. This problem likely won’t show up until your battery is beginning to drain, probably in the middle of a ride.

In addition to electrical failures, pressure washers tend to blast the oil off your cables, and out of the pivot points of your controls. Down the road this will lead to sticking controls and cable failure.

The pressure washers can also blast moisture into the foam of your seat and damage any leather attachments you have on your bike. Anyone who has ever tried to dry out a soaked leather jacket knows how long that process can be.

A few tips for keeping your charging system and electrical components in good working order:

  • Regularly inspect your electrical connectors and battery terminals for signs of corrosion or damage.
  • Early corrosion can be cleaned with products from the local auto parts store. After cleaning the corrosion, put some di-electric grease on the connectors before reassembly. This will keep moisture out and protect the conductors from the elements in the atmosphere that cause corrosion.
  • When you are servicing your bike, check the voltage with a digital battery tester. The bike voltage should be 12 volts dc or higher with the bike turned off. With the bike running, the voltage should read 13.4 volts dc to 14.6 volts at 2000 rpms.
  • Keep your bike on a trickle charger in the off months, or when it is sitting for a few days. This keeps your battery in top shape and reduces the load on your charging system.

So, don’t pressure wash that bike! A garden hose, soap and a sponge work better anyways.


Knoble Moto is a partner of Skidmark Garage. We teach classes for the DIY crowd, on all types of bikes, and on all aspects of motorcycle repair. Entry level maintenance, valve adjustments, carburetor cleaning and tuning, drive line service, suspensions, and even engine work. Our class subjects are updated regularly, so check back often. If there is a subject you do not see covered, shoot me an email at knoblemoto@gmail.com  Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/knoblemoto, Instagram Knoble_Moto and www.KnobleMoto.com

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