ATV AnswerMan: Tech and Maintenance Q&A

Aug. 29, 2013 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], Attn: ATV AnswerMan.

Previous ATV AnswerMan Columns
July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

Up in Smoke
Hello, I have a 95 Honda 300 4x4 Fourtrax and the cdi box went up in smoke. What would cause this to happen? I have another cdi box same type but don't wont to put it on if the same thing might happen again without fixing the problem.

This is a great question and one that deserves a very close inspection before an answer is given. The electrical on your ATV is sensitive and can create its own problems. I would first look at every ground on the wiring harness. Look for weaping wire insulation, which are areas that will show a wire had been heated up and allowed the plastic insulation to melt off of the copper wire. If nothing looks amiss then inspect the battery connections. Be sure there is no corrosion or swelling of the battery. Without knowing exactly what lead up to the demise of the CDI, I would say if the wiring harness looks good install the new CDI and as the machine runs monitor very closely the voltage going to and from the Stator/Magneto. This could be a problem located in the CDI itself but check every voltage carefully. Your service manual should have details on proper voltage to each electrical component.

Gas Leak?
I have an 07 Outlaw 525. When its not running gas runs out of the bottom

You have a common problem with most any ATV these days, and it could be the fact that it does not get ridden enough or possibly the cheap gas we are being forced to use these days. The float in the carb is stuck open and gas will always run by it until it gets fixed. This will require the carb to be removed and thoroughly cleaned and could require you to replace the main needle and seat. Check out my Carburetor Cleanup story on

More Than Carb Cleanup
I have an 03 ltz 400 that sat for a six months or more. It would not idle but would run fine off idle. Sometimes would back fire when starting and I have to hold the throttle open when starting. I changed the gas and cleaned the carb. Pilot jet was clogged so I thought I fixed it, but it still would not idle. I started to take it back apart when I noticed fuel in the vacuum line from the tank to the carb. I plugged it and ran it on prime and all is good. I thought I would share since I have been searching for a fix to this, I found many of the same complaints with no solution other then clean the carb and that doesn't always fix the problem. I have seen some people say to replace the petcock on the tank but did not give this as a reason why.

Very good, my friend. Shes running and youre happy so blow off some steam!

Shift Issues
Yamaha Rhino 660 transmission acts like it is trying to shift in or out while running. Makes a grinding sound like metal against metal.

Without hearing the noise it is hard to say if it is indeed metal-to-metal or maybe a very bad belt grinding its way around the sheaves. If it were me, I would stop riding the machine first off and start the process to inspect the belt. Im not sure if there is a real easy way to get a good peek at the belt without removing the CVT cover to actually see it, so if you are comfortable in your skills you can start there. I would use a good Factory service manual though as a guide. The 660 Rhino has an Ultra-matic dual-action clutch system that uses a twin-engagement system to keep the feel of the clutch all natural, for lack of a better term. If the clutch is failing in any part of the system it could make the noise you are hearing.

Owners Manual
I have an 2004 Arctic Cat 500 ATV two up and don't have an owners manual with it. Where can I get one? Want to know what kind of oil it takes how much when to change the oil mile wise why does the break light only work on foot break hope you can help

These are all very good questions, and if I were looking for an owners manual I would start at the local dealer. Ebay can also be a great resource for factory owners manuals. Most of these four-stroke engines will run on quality 10w30 or 10w40 oil and have dipsticks on the filler knobs. If it does not there should be a level window to see how much oil is in the engine. Most machines get an oil change twice a year if it is just a leisure ride machine. I look at the oil in my ATV about every other ride just to see if there could be any foreign material in the cases. As far as the brake light goes, the wiring harness looks like it is only set up to run off the rear brake pedal.

Should I Swap?
I have a 2003 Yamaha Kodiak 400 that I want to put a Kodiak 450 pot and piston on the 400 block and crank. Can it be done?

After reviewing both engines it seems, just by sight, that this could indeed work. I would say it may take a lot of cautious moves on your part but the engine cases and cylinders are very similar. If you really want to go through the trouble Id say try it. Although, getting the cylinder on your 400 cut or re-sleeved for the 450 displacement may be a better choice.

No Rev
I have a '94 Honda Foretrax 300 4x4. It starts and runs fine and even revs fine while in neutral, but when I put it in gear it won't rev. Any suggestions?

Will the machine move at all? I need a little more information to make a judgment as to where to start to look. Normally sitting still in gear the engine is not going to rev up but if you are saying it is not revving as you roll out then that could be a little different. Get me some more details and we can go from there.

Flashing Lights
Today I was trail riding and put on 120 miles. About halfway through when I turned the ignition switch to on, the instrument lights would all flash and the speedometer needle would jump. This would last for 3 seconds then stop. The ATV would start right up until the end of the ride. It sat for 5 minutes and when I tried to start it to load, there was not enough juice to turn it over.  There was enough for the lights to go on and the winch to work. After the two-hour trailer ride home, the ATV started but the instruments still flash. The battery was new this spring.  I am not sure what to check.

I would really like to know what kind of ATV we are talking about here, as some have particular ways of telling the rider its in trouble before it leaves you stranded out on the trail. I would say the system could possibly not be charging so start there. Be sure the battery you bought is not bad by plugging it into a trickle charger for a few days to see if its taking a charge. That should direct you to the issue.

Busted Teeth
Hi I have a 650 Arctic Cat and within a matter of days the teeth on the starter keep damaging. What is the possible cause of that and how could I fix it?

There is a great possibility that the starter bendix is not disengaging properly allowing the gears to hang out into the danger zone for the rest of the drive gears to chew on them.

Fall is almost here and winter riding is just after that, so if you plan to get out and watch the leaves change colors be sure the machine you ride or drive is in great shape. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the trail with no way out.
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