ATV Answerman: Off-Road Tech & Maintenance Questions Explored

Jul. 06, 2011 By Rick Sosebee
Have an ATV or side-by-side tech question for the Answerman? Send an e-mail with your name, vehicle year, model and a detailed description of the problem to [email protected].

May 2011

March 2011

February 2011

1992 Timber Wolf 250
My quad seems to need help bad. The motor gives off this really crazy noise and just yesterday the motor quit running. I cannot get it to crank back up again. My friendís dad says he thinks the timing belt broke because itís not moving the valve. Iím really lost, please help!

Well, my friend, it sounds like you have definitely got a few issues. Starting with the noises you heard, could they have been grinding or rattling type noises? The timing chain in most ATV engines is kept tight by a tensioner device that can become too loose and eventually become fatal to the engine. This would be really loud, and yes, when it goes/breaks the engine will not run at all. In fact, if it gets lodged in the lower gear case it could really wreak havoc. Sounds like you need attention from a pro at this point. Drop it off at the dealer for a better inspection.

Grizzly 660 Steering
I have a 2004 grizzly 660 and the front end seems really weird every time I ride, I mean, it gets worse each time. It steers like itís really hard to turn, and if I jump it clanks like itís blowing up. The tire on the right leans way in now and Iím not sure what is wrong. Can you help me?

Steering is the most important thing on an ATV or SXS right after putting your helmet on. If you cannot control the machine then you will surely end up in big-time trouble. Sounds to me like you may have a ball joint problem. Over a few years of riding there are a couple of things that just wear out. It doesnít matter how often you clean it or how much Armor All you put on the tires. Itís just going to wear out. Jack the front of the ATV up off the ground and while holding the top of the tire with one hand and the bottom with the other, rock the tire back and forth. Excessive movement will most likely indicate a worn out pair of ball joints.

Honda Foreman 500 Compression
My atv will not crank. The timing chain is on and the valves move but it will not start. I rode at my buddysí house for my birthday and we got stuck in his dadís pond, but I just drove right out and my 500 quit now it wont crank back up.

What in the world were you doing in the family pond anyways? Are you fishing from the bottom side up? Ok, letís think for just a few minutes here and try to get a good picture of what happened. Getting in the water might not have been a problem, but the water getting in the engine could be. Did you really rev the motor hard? This can cause bent valves and that would be a serious problem. Did you really sink the ATV? Getting electrical wiring wet will lead to shortages in the system and that too is a ďno startĒ problem. Did you get in over your intake or exhaust? Water in the engine itself can cause many issues. Check those three things out and get back to us. Meanwhile, stay away from the pond.

Outlander Problems
Our CanAm Outlander 650 is scrolling a maintenance message on the screen. WHY? The only trouble we have ever had with this machine is the frame and now the engine is showing it needs maintenance, but we have done changed the oil and air filters. I put a set of hid lights on the headlights and when I turn on my key the lights just blink then go off and then it says maintenance. I think the lights may have fried my computer.

The HID light set you installed on your Outlander is most likely causing a power surge that stalls the electronics from the start. They are probably ok but you need to unplug all the lights you installed and try again. I bet the Outty will crank with no issues. The problem we have found with HID is that on the Outty the lights need a separate switch to turn them off until the quad goes through its normal checks. The lights draw a huge current at start up and that sends warnings of low voltage to the ECU on the Outlander. This would send the maintenance warning to the dash. That will have to be reset at the dealer.

Welded Electrics on Suzuki KingQuad
I had to fix my frame last weekend and after I welded it up my quad wouldnít start. I know the battery is fully charged but itís like the battery isnít connected at all. What to do?

Welding on a frame or anything attached to it can bring up many little problems. Wiring is just covered in a thin coat of plastic so youíll need to look for melted spots that could have shorted out. The load from a welder could also short out the fuses for the electrics on the quad. This is going to be a search-and-rescue event that youíll need to take your time with. Do not start the machine or even try to start it if you find a shorted fuse. Instead, look for the reason it blew. Shorted wires can cause more problems if not fixed before attempting to re-fire the beast.

Lug Questions
Why do my freaking wheels keep getting loose? I put new tires on my wheels at the tire store and when I put them back on the four-wheeler the wheels wonít stay tight. My buddy says Iím not using the right thread stuff and I put the lugs on with the flat side down.

OK, Iíll try to keep from laughing my head off at your code name in this email! Thread locker isnít something I generally use on my ATV lugs. I NEVER use it as a matter of fact! On most factory ATC wheels the lug nut has a cone-shaped end and a flat one. If youíre putting the flat side against the rim your problem has revealed itself. The cone-shaped end generally goes against the wheel and fits in the cone-shaped dip around the stud itself. Try that and Iíll bet you will have a winner.

Honda Rancher Wonít Move
My 2003 Honda Rancher wonít move but just a little. Even if I rev the motor it still just barely creeps up a little and thatís it. I have it in gear I know because the neutral light isnít on. I want to ride please tell me what to do.

Sounds like the problem may need dealer attention. The clutch system in the automatic transmission ATVs are really fickle and this auto clutch system is even more that way. The Honda auto clutch uses a centrifugal clutch and a regular clutch basket with metal and friction plates. If either of these wear prematurely or is just worn over time it throws the other off. This is where I would look for the slipping transmission. Sometimes the slipping can be adjusted out but from the year and model you have if it has never been serviced the system will probably need repairs.

Raptor on Street?
I asphalt drag race a 660 Raptor on an eighth-mile track.  I now have a 250r ATV because I like 2-strokes and itís faster, but not fast enough. What 2-stroke ATV could you build for me that would be the absolute fastest one out there? I want to do low 6-second times.

Getting down the track is a matter of many different opinions. I could build you almost anything your pocket book would permit, but if you cannot get it down the track then itís useless. Giving a bike a huge amount of power or gearing properly are just a couple of things that make the eighth-mile times shrink. Have you ever considered your reaction time? Or maybe the tire compound on your quad. There is also proper jetting for the entire fuel ramp that will deliver the right amount of power from start to finish. These are just a few more items that make a difference. Just because the guy next to you is beating you doesnít mean he has more power every time. He may just have a better setup than you.

Having fun on your ATV or SXS this summer means you will encounter a few glitches along the way. Time and effort will be the two things you will need to make sure it stays running right. Donít forget to let us know if there is something you just cannot figure out yourself!

Have an ATV or side-by-side tech question for the Answerman? Send an e-mail with your name, vehicle year, model and a detailed description of the problem to [email protected].

May 2011

March 2011

February 2011 Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!