The battery’s down
Squeezed the brake lever and pressed the ‘Start’ button, single-handed as usual. But instead of the usual whoosh-whoosh-whoosh from the starter, there came only *bleap!* Hmmm. Another hit, not even that much… the instrument display blinked alternately with the check engine light.
I’d been told the GTS would need a new battery, soon. Guess it needs one NOW.
Well, the battery was the one it rolled out the door with at Pontedera in July, 2006, so five years is not an unreasonable life span.
The GTS and I were at the Sehome Village Starbucks, stop number one on a day of errand-running. Okay, think, think… what to do?
Home was not far away, so the first thought was to push it. But I discovered that I can’t push the 326-lb GTS very far, especially uphill. So I rolled it back into a marked parking space, making sure to leave room for another scooter. It would be fine for quite a while, so I walked home to fetch the Fourth Estate.
There’s a store in Bellingham that sells batteries for everything. Cell phones to bulldozers, if it’s got a battery, they’ll have it. I went over and asked for a battery for a 2007 Vespa GTS.
Trevor, the fellow behind the counter, looked at a catalog, but wanted to make sure what it showed was the right battery, so he looked in another. And another. And a couple places online. Each said something different. Terrific.
I should’ve just pulled the GTS’ battery in the first place. I went back and did that, then went back to the battery store, where Trevor found the exact replacement (which in the case of my GTS is a YB10L-B… yours may vary, but the type is printed on the side of the battery). Filled with acid and fully charged, the price came to a bit less than $49, including sales tax.
Swapping out a battery in a Vespa GTS is quite easy, and you’ll only need a size 1 or 2 Phillips screwdriver.
First, remove the matte black plastic insert in the floorboard by removing the four screws.
Next, remove the yoke that holds the battery down.
Finally, pull the battery up so you can get at the terminal connections with your screwdriver, and disconnect them from the battery (you can hold the nuts with a finger, if necessary). While it was drummed into my head quite soundly that you disconnect the ground (black/negative/-) first, you can see the hot cable (red/positive/+) is in the way, so that one must come off first. Luckily, the battery is surrounded by plastic, so there’s no chance of shorting something.
The battery rests in a little tray that holds the overflow tube in place. Disconnect the tube, and the old battery is free. Cliché though it may be, installation is the reverse of removal. Make sure the cable connections are nice and tight before you drop the battery into position, and that everything else goes back together easily and tightly. Make sure the overflow tube is sticking straight down from the bottom of the frame. If yes to all, you’re golden.
The nice thing about modern automotive stuff is there’s only one way to put everything together. The overflow tube passes through a large hole in the frame, closest to the glovebox. The tray has a tab that goes through a much smaller hole about six inches downstream from the big one.
Some batteries have color-coded terminals, but all have a big ‘+’ and ‘-‘. And in this case, the overflow spout should should be facing forward. If you’re seeing a whole bunch of sparks, you’ve got it BACKWARDS! And for gosh sakes, whatever you do, DON’T RUB YOUR EYES—automotive batteries are filled with acid, and a few drops may come out through the overflow spout. Unless you have a sealed battery, which the store didn’t have in the correct size. Wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done.
Everything buttoned up, the moment of truth was at hand: turned the key to the ‘on’ position, all the lights came on; squeezed the brake lever and hit the ‘Start’ button, whoosh-whoosh-whoosh, the engine fires up. A short road test reveals no cutting out, no hesitation, no flickering lights. It’s all good.
Well, disconnecting the battery zeros out the clock. You’ll need to reset it.
Other scooters’ batteries may be in different locations (e.g., an LX’s battery is under the seat; a P/PX/Stella’s battery is under the spare-tire-side cowl), but they’re just as easy to replace.