ATV AnswerMan: Your ATV & UTV Questions Answered

Nov. 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.

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Speed Challenged
I have a 2008 650 4x4 Arctic Cat 4 wheeler. At slow speeds it is good but when I try to increase speed it cuts out just as if I was in reverse at a higher speed. But I can push the reverse override button when I am trying to go forward at the higher speed and it levels out as long as I have the reverse override button pushed. Any idea what problem might be?

So if I am reading your question correctly you have pressed the reverse override button and things settle down with the ATV and it runs like it should or just better? If the reverse override is somehow connecting an electrical short and indeed helps the machine run better then you have your answer. Check over every inch of the electrical system starting with the controls on the bars. There could be moisture inside the control switch or possibly a worn wire making semi-contact with the bars. Should this turn up nothing I would then also look into the carb of the quad. Sputtering at higher speeds (whatever that speed is) would lead me toward a fuel delivery problem first or possibly bad gas. As fuel gets older it begins to lose its firepower and also starts to coat any internal carb parts with varnish, which just increases the problems.

Clutch Trouble
Dear AnswerMan ATV,
I just bought a 2001 Suzuki King Quad LT-F300 off my old man. He replaced the wet clutches recently and after having them re-installed we turned the engine on. It started just fine. The problem is when we shifted into first gear or reverse the wheeler would not move more than an inch or so either way. I was told it could be the adjustments on the clutches are off, it could be the centrifugal clutch, or the sub-transmission. I am rather confused and lost. Could you help me to determine the issue? The manual didn't give me great troubleshooting options. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Hi, your Suzuki King Quad has a complicated clutching system but it is very similar to many sub 300cc motor ATVs in the small displacement arena. The clutch is indeed a two-part system with a standard set of clutches just like a sport quad or most typical manual shift ATVs, but this machine also has a centrifugal clutch setup that helps engage the gearing. If both systems were not replaced or upgraded at the same time this could be the problem. Each system, both fiber and steel as well as the centrifugal clutch pads, will wear and they do need to be adjusted properly together to work without trouble. This could be a project best suited for the local Suzuki dealer.

High Revs
A couple times during down shift from third to second the ATV has lurched forward and revved up real high. What could cause this?  Going too fast when trying to down shift? or?

You just answered your own question. Congratulations. Downshifting a manual ATV at a high rate of speed will not only get a really crazy response from the engine but it can also be catastrophic. Itís probably not a great idea to do this very much.

Lights, But No Action
I need your help. I bought this UTV from my neighbor and now I have it running pretty well in daylight hours but as soon as I turn on the headlights the thing starts cutting way down and eventually dies. The red LED tail lights stays on when the unit is running and I'm not sure if they supposed to or not. Is there a couple little tests I can do myself to check for the reason for the headlight problems. 

Sounds to me like the battery is either not taking a charge or has given up the ghost all together. Not all batteries are created equal and I have had new batteries fail as soon as the first cold snap hit. Toss a trickle charger on the battery if you have one and check the battery and get back to us. As for the lights, some run all of the time as a manufacturer safety thing to keep you from getting run over from behind.

2004 Outlander400 4X4
Hello need some help. Guy tried selling me this bike. But of course did not buy. So next thing you know I have it here trying to repair it. He tells me the bike never seen water and that it was making a whining noise then died. I did what I thought to do. Cleaned carb, belt, one-way bearing, adjusted on timing, new battery, changed oil & filters. Got it to fire over and idle. Give it gas it makes a very loud metal-to-metal clunking sound and dies, then wont start. Waited bout 30 min tried it same thing, starts ideal, hit gas, clank sound, dies. Oil light staying on. And gauge humms when first turn key on. Could you help me figure out problem now? Thank you for the help.

It seems as if you may own a shop or at least work on machines as a hobby? Iím not exactly sure what the battery or carb could have had to do with a loud metallic noise, but if he paid you then I guess you obliged. Metal clanging noises usually point to a large piece of the engine coming apart against another large metal part. What about a compression check? What did the oil look like when you changed it? How about the oil pump? Is the top of the motor getting oil at all? These are all common trouble-shooting skills to look for. Another great sign to hang on the wall inside the shop is ďlisten to the customer but sift through their words carefullyĒ! Sometimes people skirt around the truth a little.


Slipping Gears
Hey my name is Stuart I have a 2000 Arctic Cat 300 that cranks and runs good. Itís a manual. When shifting through the gears no matter 1st or 5th it tends to slip out I'm guessing and grind really, really loud every time I push the gas and it wont move just sits there and grinds like hell... but then I can put it in neutral and push it a little ways then it will run right and go through the gears for awhile then it happens again. Have you ever heard of something like this? If so can you help??

I have yet to encounter this problem. I can tell you that this ATV has a dual-clutch system including regular steel plates and fiber plates as well as a centrifugal clutch. It is very possible one or more of these parts have begun to fail and should get attention really quickly before you get stranded on the trail. If you do not work on this machine yourself or do not understand this kind of system I wouldnít fool with it. Just take it to the local AC dealer for help. Youíll thank yourself if you follow my instructions carefully.

Ranger Power Supply
My Polaris Ranger has a power supply of 12 volts on the dash, and I think it is for extra stuff like my fog light bar or radio, but I cannot run anything off of it for more than a few minutes or the motor will not crank. What is wrong?

The most common misconception of the 12-volt power outlet is in thinking that you can run electronics off of the outlet for endless amounts of time. This feeds directly from the battery that starts the machine. The machine needs to be running while running heavy electrical drains from the factory battery. It has to recharge itself sometime. Adding a second battery to the mix can help this situation but the battery still needs a good charge and cannot be run in large intervals without getting a charge. You can buy electronic devices that cut the power once it gets to a safe zone where it needs what is left to start the machine. This may be a wise way of protecting yourself in the future as well.

Sandy Tank
Help! My son has poured a full glass of sand is his ATV gas tank while pretending he was filling it up with gas. What do I do?

The first thing to do is too not panic, and second, do not scold the child as most likely he or she has been taught that messing with gas is dangerous. Wanting to be more like Mommy or Daddy the child probably just wanted to emulate his parents without touching real fuel. This is not a real easy fix, but as long as you have not run the machine you should be ok. The fuel petcock most likely has a filter spout standing up into the tank that wouldnít allow the sand to pass anyways. Youíll need to remove the tank and dispose of any fuel accordingly. Simply rinse the entire tank out with water in a safe location and allow the tank to dry. If it were mine I would remove the fuel petcock and be sure that there is no sand trapped on the filter or in the petcock itself. It may be a good idea to remove the carb and be sure the float bowl is clean inside. Then reassemble and go riding.

 The most important thing we can do aside from working to pay the endless bills is to take a child into the outdoors to ride. I remember when I was young a friendís Dad would go out of his way to ask if I could go walking with he and his son. It wasnít until years later that I realized how important it was to me. My love for the outside world is directly attributed to having been a part of those childhood adventures. We can work forever and the bills may still come, but one day our lives will stop. When your child looks back in remembrance of you let he or she remember the times you stopped to play and not the bills you had to pay. Itís time to ride!

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
October 2013

September 2013

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