Shazaam's Tech Library - Low Fuel Sensor

A useful technical article from guest contributor Larry Kelly of San Diego CA (aka Shazaam!).

Low Fuel Warning Circuit Troubleshooting


Troubleshooting an erratic low fuel light is pretty simple. A faulty fuel level sensor is usually the problem but an intermittent open or short circuit in the wiring or connectors could also be the problem.

The electrical circuit is a simple one. The fuel level warning light becomes lit when the fuel level sensor (switch) closes the circuit allowing current to flow through the sensor to the light and then to ground to complete the circuit.

So, a problem in the wiring or connectors will either prevent current flow (open circuit) or bypass the sensor (short circuit.)

But, since erratic behavior of the fuel level sensor is quite common it should be the first suspect. Ducati has tried a number of different sensor and connector designs and changed vendor sources over the years in an attempt to improve reliability. Consequently, if you have to replace a fuel level sensor on an early year bike, it's probably best to replace it with a unit made for a later year even though this will sometimes require changing the connector type.

A faulty sensor will continuously, or intermittently, stick open or closed.

If the light stays on, either the sensor switch is stuck closed, or there is a short circuit that has bypassed the sensor.

If the light stays off, either the sensor switch is stuck open, or there is an open circuit, or the indicator light has burned out.

So for example, the warning light may come on prematurely due to fuel sloshing, and stay on due to a sticking sensor even though there is an adequate fuel reserve in the tank. Or, an intermittent short circuit will cause the same behavior.

Similarly, the warning light may extinguish due to fuel sloshing, and stay off due to a sticking sensor even though there is a low fuel reserve. Or, an intermittent open circuit will cause the same behavior.

If the sensor starts to behave erratically just after you've washed the bike or replaced the fuel filter (disconnecting the plug) for example, I'd suspect a connector problem first.

But the only way to be sure is to use your service manual and a multimeter and check it out yourself or take it to your dealer.

Addition from Gizmo

Multistrada owners - please see our multistrada pages or there are known issues with the fuel light and wherethe sender is placed in the tank.

Please note that cannot accept any liability for the accuracy or content of this section. Visitors who rely on this information do so at their own risk. If you are unsure it's worth contacting your local Ducati dealer who will be able to help. Do not attempt a repair or modification if you do not have the correct tools or knowledge to do so.