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  • Writer's pictureBrian Jablon

Engine Light On - Ride to the Mechanic or Ignore?

This posting should appeal to anyone - bike owner or not - who has ever dealt with one of these idiot lights appearing on their dashboard.

The day after scheduling the next (comprehensive and expensive!) service for my bike, this little light that looks like an engine appeared on my dashboard. Perhaps it heard me schedule the service? Never a good sign, I was inclined to immediately take it to the mechanic but experience has shown that these lights have a habit of appearing and disappearing at random times. And since I had a rendezvous with the mechanic in ten days I figured it could wait. So when friends called to ride, I just kept riding. I'm not going to let some stupid indicator get in the way of my enjoyment. Some mornings it would come on and stay on for some time and then disappear. Others days, like today, it stayed on for my entire ride insistent that I continue to see it.

I googled the problem and saw a multitude of hits ranging from using a paper clip to turn it off to oxygen sensors, MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure!) sensors, and a myriad of other issues all connected to the electronic control module (ECM) but most of it in gibberish. The only thing in common with most solutions were the price, most likely this will not be a cheap fix. The majority of Honda CBR650F riders stated they went through multiple trips to the dealer or mechanic before resolving the issue....some stated they NEVER resolved the issue and put a piece of electrical tape over the indicator. I liked the latter solution.

After returning from a long ride with a friend this afternoon, I pulled out the owner's manual and it showed a more alarming issue....that light is actually the "programmed fuel ignition malfunction indicator lamp (MIL)" and is lit when there is a problem with the PGM-FI, the programmed fuel ignition. Again, gibberish. According to the operator's manual:

If the indicator comes on while riding, you may have a serious problem with the PGM-FI system. Reduce speed and have your motorcycle inspected by your dealer as soon as possible.

Glad I didn't read this until after returning from my ride where my speed was definitely NOT reduced. Maybe I DO need to have it checked but now my appointment is only a few days away. It will wait. Until then, I'll use the electrical tape.

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