Need Help DCT Error Code 52 and DCT Error Code 57 at 28,000 miles with ants

bmega

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I read through @telecam (@tumo on the UK site I think) thread on a similar problem he was having with his DCT and his 3 month saga in 2018. I’ve only been able to find a few somewhat related issues on the web so I thought I would share my experience in case others have suggestions or could benefit. I have a 2014 NC700XD DCT purchased new from dealer in May 2015. I’ve put 28,000 miles on it; mostly commuting (about 30 miles round trip daily including riding home for lunch) and in town miles. Other than the starter switch relay recall, I’ve done all of my own maintenance. I use Honda brand recommended oil and change every 4000 miles and I change both the oil filter (K&N) and the DCT filter (OEM) at each change. Lithium battery in good shape installed January 2019.

A few years ago (probably sometime in 2017) the DCT indicator showed error code 52 – “neutral switch stuck off.” The neutral switch worked normally despite this error and since this error doesn’t impact the rideability of the bike I just lived with it. I cleared it a few times, but it always came back at some point although not on every ride. While the error code is always stored until it’s cleared, it would show as a current error on probably half of my rides. I eventually bought all parts, gaskets and seals needed to replace the neutral switch, but didn’t rush into the job. I just figured that it was some electrical anomaly that would hopefully be remedied by replacing it at some point.

Then a few weeks ago (mid September 2020) I was on the way to work, slowed down for a stop light and the DCT jerked hard as it was trying to downshift then went into limp mode with flashing dash on gear indicator. I was only about ½ mile away so I rode in limp mode back home. I used the service procedure to read the DTC codes: 52 (neutral switch - which has been there for years) and now error 57 too. Error 57 “gearshift mechanism malfunction” according the service manual. I had heard a tick tick tick sound just before DCT started jerking and went into error so I assumed (yeah, I know) that the shifter motor was likely the problem after 28,000 miles of mostly in-town use so I went ahead and dropped $192 and got it ordered. Took 3 weeks to arrive from MotoSport since USPS lost it in transit. Finally got it, replaced it and replaced the neutral switch at the same time while I had everything apart. I did not clear the error codes or do the clutch initialize learning procedure. Since I didn’t replace the clutch assembly or the PCM, the clutch learning procedure is not necessary according to the manual. And I would clear the error codes later. Hopped on the bike and rode it around town for 20 minutes. Seemed to do fine with only one time during the ride where shifting down seemed less-than-smooth, but since I was hyper-aware of DCT performance after doing the repair, I figured I was just imagining things.

Next day I attempted to ride it to work. Again, about ½ mile from home at a stoplight, it went into limp mode but this time not with noticeable jerking. I got out of the intersection, turned it off/on, heard it drop into neutral, started it then rode back home. During the short ride back home it still seemed “unsure” about downshifting is the only way I can describe it. Maybe slightly out-of-sync with what the shift indicator was showing? Upshifting seems normal. Error code was 57 again when I checked it. Error 52 (stuck off neutral switch) has not come back since replacing it.

That night I noticed that my last oil change was just over a year ago. Even though it’s been only 3000 miles (rainy 12 months), I was actually overdue by a few weeks timewise for a lube. I’m thinking, seriously? The initial response to seemingly every mechanical post says “did you check oil? battery?” I had checked the battery, which is fine, and I knew I only had 3K on the oil, but forgot to account for time. So I changed the oil and filter (including the DCT filter as always) and also decided to perform the clutch initialization learning procedure, and cleared all error codes. Went for a ride and it seemed to do very well, again with the exception of one instance where it seemed to hang for a moment in 2nd before dropping down to 1st (again, was I just imagining that one hiccup?) but otherwise it did great for a 30 minute stop-and-go in town ride during which I was intentionally working the heck out of the DCT.

Next morning rode it to work. Again I noticed a downshift hesitation at one stoplight, but made it to work without a problem (7 miles). On the way home from work that day, at the second stoplight, same issue – no jerking, but it went into limp mode, I hobbled to the side of the road, turned ignition off-on, seemed to reset itself then rode the rest of the way home, again with it seeming to be unsure of itself when slowing/downshifting. Hard to describe and even harder to analyze in traffic. Error code 57.

The service manual also mentions TR sensor malfunction as a potential reason for error code 57. This error code seems to be interconnected with other codes including 27. The manual points you back to the diagnostic procedures for shift drum position malfunction which focuses on shifter motor and the TR sensor.

Next up in the shotgun repair approach? New TR sensor ordered. While it is on the way, I decided to start peeling away all the parts of the bike necessary to actually access the connector plug. The sensor itself on the DCT is easy to access down near the shifter motor, but it’s unbelievable where and how Honda affixed the plug/connector at the other end of the wire should you need to replace the sensor assembly. It almost seems intentionally difficult. They welded a unique metal tab to a cross member of the frame behind the PCM, under the frunk, to which the TR sensor’s connector plug first snaps onto, then the wire from the main wiring harness snaps into the TR sensor’s connector. It took me 3 hours of disassembly to get to this one connector, and even then I still couldn’t dislodge it from the metal tab. It has a catch-tab on the back side of the metal which you can’t see even though your bike is in 125 pieces and unidentifiable as a motorcycle. At first I thought the metal tab had something to do with grounding. Nope. Only plastic touches that tab. And unless there is some reason I’m not aware of, I’m not reconnecting it to that metal tab. I can literally zip-tie the connection 5 inches from its current location, it still be protected from the weather, and make this about a 10 minute job in the future. I ended up snapping off the plastic catch that affixed it to the metal tab to free it. Now I’m ready for the new sensor to arrive, install, and hopefully figure out how to put the bike back together.

While disconnecting a ton of wiring surrounding and connected to the PCM to finally get down to the TR sensor connector, I began to pull the PCM from the plastic box that it nests into. When I did this, live ants carrying their eggs came spewing from the PCM box and wiring (not the PCM module itself since it is sealed, but the box surrounding the module - see picture). There were hundreds if not thousands of them that scattered to different parts of the bike. Keep in mind that up to this point I have taken apart almost the entire top half of the bike and haven’t seen a single bug. I’ll occasionally see an ant on the bike depending on the season, but that makes sense as I have to store my bike outside, no garage, no driveway, etc. I have a tarp staked to the ground that I park on at night and I cover the bike when rain is expected, but with pop-up thunderstorms, she’ll get drenched without warning sometimes. But I wasn’t expecting a fully active ant nest deep in a bike that gets used most days of the week. I constantly perform maintenance – including the 500 mile chain clean/lube and a full wash at least once a month. No sign of ants when I’m doing all this maintenance and inspections. These are “sugar ants” Argentine or Pharaoh ants. I don’t carry food on/in the bike and there are rarely dead bugs on the bike that would provide a protein meal for the colony. They don’t bite and as far as I can tell they can’t/don’t chew wiring, but they were inside connector housings and inside the wire runs that have the loose jacket tubing (not where electrical tape is used). Were ants causing the DTC or some sort of electrical short? I’ve had no other electrical issues, so for now I’m ruling out the ants as the cause. The connections themselves are very tight so I don’t see where they could get in and cause an actual short where the pins insert to their respective connectors. I put the cover on the bike, sealed the electrical connector tips and set off a bug fogger in there. Lots of debate on whether this should be done; whether it’s safe or not, etc. etc. but I want the ants gone. And yeah even if that just scatters them elsewhere (away from the bike), it’s better than them residing in my wiring harness.

The service manual focuses on the shifter motor and TR sensor as the first diagnostic tasks for error 57, but the if there is an actual gearshift mechanical issue, it’s a bigger task than I think I can handle. A few posts I’ve found mention a snapped shifter pin, but I assume that I would not have (mostly) successful 20-30 minute rides amongst my repair attempts if I had a snapped shifter pin, right? I can’t find a reference to “shifter pin” in the service manual. Are they referring to the gearshift spindle and gearshift arm? That would be one of the mechanical tasks to complete in response to error code 57. It would include inspection of the spindle and return spring for fatigue or damage. I would just replace the whole gearshift spindle assembly, shifter guide plate, drum shifter, ratchet pawls, and plungers if I got that deep into it. Posts about the shifter pin mention that it’s an easy replacement, but spindle replacement seems fairly complex.
 

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670cc

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I service my bikes myself but, sorry, I can’t help much with DCT failures since my motorcycles are all manuals. However, I do really appreciate when people post a well written, detailed description of their bike’s problem. That hopefully will get you some good suggestions from the forum. Good luck to you.
 

davidc83

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It is common for ants to get into electrical gear and cause problems. On my well pump I occasionally have to clean them off the pressure switch contacts for the pump to work.
Agreed. My house in Florida has a well with an electrical pump....about every 6 months the pump doesnt kick on...Time to get out a brush, open the electrical box and brush out colonies of ants...and these are fire ants....nasty little critters....once brushed out, the electrical pump kicks on....somehow their colony creates a grounding/shorting point and the electrons dont pass thru...dont matter how tight the electrical box is sealed, somehow they find a way to get in the electrical panel.
 

bmega

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I appreciate the feedback. A couple of coworkers also mentioned ants in their well pumps. Maybe ant removal will ultimately be the solution. I'll update when I get the TR sensor installed. I'll just need to figure out how to keep the ants out going forward. I guess spraying the tires and side stand is the only option. Or maybe keep Terro in the frunk.
 

bmega

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Just an update that the TR sensor replacement didn't fix the problem - nor did expelling the ants. And I guess that's what I get for taking the shotgun repair approach. I'm noticing that the error 57 typically appears within a few minutes of riding from a cold engine (at a stoplight, typically within 1/2 mile of starting the ride). Downshifting is becoming slower to respond. For example it might stick in 3rd when it should be down in 1st, but it keeps trying and will eventually "catch up" to where it is supposed to be. When the error appears as it does only at a stop, I can turn off and restart the bike and ride away normally. Had to stop/restart 3 times this morning until I learned that I can quickly switch to neutral at a stop before the computer throws the error then switch to D and ride normally until the next stop. When the engine is at it's full normal operating temperature the error won't pop up, but the downshifting problems are still very noticeable. The next set of steps to take, according to the service manual, are getting more complex than I think I can handle on my own, but at $100 per hour for the dealer to do the job and their 46% markup on parts, I can see this repair approaching half or more than the bike is currently worth. Man I love the DCT (when it works), but the dealer only has a 2020 (NC750) manual in stock. My riding buddies say switch to the manual to avoid future DCT problems or if I do get another DCT, to trade it well before I get to 28,000 miles.
 

670cc

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Be aware that some dealers are not familiar with or experts on DCT repairs, and have been known to shotgun problems, too. If it goes down that path, be sure not to pay for parts or labor that did not ultimately fix the problem.

Switching to a manual transmission model is the option I would take, but only you can decide what is right for you.
 

bmega

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Yeah exactly, and I just figure they are required to follow the service manual as I have already and i’m guessing I can’t ask (or they wouldn’t if I did ask) them to start at step 3 of troubleshooting. They want $200 to start the diagnostic process and if they say they’ll replace the shifter motor and TR sensor to start, welp, I’ve already done that and I’m out another $200 to get it out of service department jail. I’d be going down the same rabbit hole that @telecam did. fwiw, when I called the service department the guy did say they were “having some issues with the DCTs” and that they were in the process today of replacing the clutch in a Goldwing 1800.
 

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Yes, the telecam saga is one story that I was thinking about when I made my last comment, but it seems you, bmega, are very much on top of things regarding your bike’s problem.

From where I sit, having read nearly every post on this forum for 8 years, the DCT appears to be very reliable. But when it fails, it can be pretty ugly. Very high on my list of desirable attibutes for a motorcycle is dependable reliability, especially when traveling in the boonies far from home. What troubles me about Honda’s DCT design is that it does not incorporate enough limp modes to get you home when it fails. Take electronic fuel injection, for example. When a sensor fails, the FI typically goes into a mapped open loop program and the bike still runs quite well until the problem is fixed. On the other hand, I personally witnessed an Africa Twin DCT that had a failed rear wheel speed sensor. Due to that one failed sensor, the bike was essentially disabled. Because it could only be ridden a few hundred feet before going back into neutral in a fault mode, and then requiring an engine restart to proceed a few hundred more feet, the owner elected to have it towed back to a campsite.

In summary, I‘m not impressed with the way the Honda DCT programming handles component failures. When far away from home, the higher potential for being stranded outweighs any convenience or fun factor the automatic transmission might have to offer. Everyone’s situation is different, but my view is to keep it as simple as possible by using a manual transmission.
 

bmega

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Still trying to figure this out. So if I'm pulling away from a stoplight and the DCT stays in 1st beyond the speed where it should be shifting up, then I briefly/quickly let off the throttle and the DCT seems to say "thank you" and shifts up normally into 2nd and beyond, that would indicate that the clutch(es) is/are the problem, right? Downshifting is also hesitant and inconsistent in a similar way. The problems are always most prevalent when the engine has not reached full operating temperature. The problems still exist somewhat when engine is hot, but it won't error-out and go into limp mode when hot. The only remaining (I think) potential issues would be clutch, shift drum, or shift spindle. Would clutch replacement make the most sense to do next if I'm continuing with shotgun repair approach based on these symptoms?
 

davidc83

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A few years ago, didnt someone on the forum have an issue with their DCT similiar to this...it was some kind of shift mechanism within the clutch basket, not the clutch plates but some kind of shift mechanism (sensor?)...the bike spent weeks in the dealership and they couldnt figure it out for a long time,,,throwing new this and new that and they couldnt determine the problem because the shift mechanism wasnt throwing a code...dont know if it was telecam or someone else having the issue.
 

bmega

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I think that was telecam. There was one other who had success with sensor replacements. I've replaced the TR sensor, but not the angle sensor assembly (not to be confused with the unrelated bank angle sensor). Although with higher engine temperature making shifting work better I keep thinking that it's got to be mechanical related, not a sensor fault.
 
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