ATV AnswerMan – July 2015

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee
Grinding gears, engine troubles and more

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, Attn: ATV AnswerMan. Just be sure to watch your spelling and write clearly, because it will be out there for the world to see.


My 2013 Honda Rancher 420

Curious to know… My starter is starting to sound funny while starting up. Went from quick starting to a squeakier sounding start up… Checked the oil and its fine.. Checked the coolant and its a lil low.. Could that be causing it.. Was reading your answers to everyone’s problem.. Do you think its my sparkplugs?

I’ve not heard the term “squeakier” used when describing the quickness of an engines start. That is funny for sure. Low coolant should not cause a hard start problem. Bad gas could make the Royal Rancher a little more grouchy, though. Being a fuel injected engine means it is much easier to start, but leaving fuel in the machine and storing it for long periods can cause the beast to growl a bit before firing up. Low battery charge can also cause this as well as drastic temperature changes. If you suspect the plug to be a problem, then by all means, pull it out and give it a look. Or if you have no clue on how to read a plug just drop into the auto parts store or dealer and get you a new one.

Rattling Rancher
2005 Honda Rancher

I have an 05 Honda rancher 350 4×4 won’t start. When spinning over I try to give gas an all it does is back fire can smell gas real strong. Did this about a month ago changed spark plug ran fine now same thing an new plug didn’t help. Lots of oil build up on the plug to. Little smoke brand new carb. Loud rattle when it was running heard maybe timing chain.

Please help


Looking from the outside in, I would guess that you have some serious mechanical issues that need to be addressed. Rattles inside the engine make me nervous. Smoking can be an indication of worn rings, as the engine tries to burn off oil that is getting past them. This is possibly why the plug is oily and black. Other potential rattles can be in the valve train. Worn valves will tend to click loudly and starting can be tough if they are bent or have carbon built up on the seats. I would say if you are not mechanically inclined enough to have realized this, then it is time to take the Rancher to the dealer and have them investigate.

A Long Answer to a Short, Confusing Question
2006 Can-Am Outlander 650

I have a 2006 can am 600 outlander something is pulling the battery down every night and it is making a clicking sound in the front end near the box. The Panel lights are flickering when I don’t unhook the battery need help

After that short read in what seems to be a lowly attempt at Morse code, I’m confused myself. I would say you’re probably working on an Outlander 650 and not a 600 as Bombardier / Can-Am did not make a 600 that year. Regardless, it seems the charging system is where the real problem is. I am also a little confused as to what “box” you are talking about up front.

ATV AnswerMan - May 2015 Let’s address the electrical problem first, though. Batteries need attention almost daily to make them last a good, long time. A good trickle charger will make your battery last many seasons. If the charging system is not generating a charge for the battery, then you have a list of items to look into. I would first make an attempt to check and replace any bad fuses. I would also search the entire length of the wire harness (yes I know that’s gonna be a royal pain) to see if there are any chafed wires that could be shorting out the electrical system itself. You should also have the battery checked to see if it is accepting a charge and holding it from the machine. It really could just be one crazy little shorted out wire that is causing the problem, or it gets worse from there. A genuine service manual from Can-Am will make this trouble shooting much easier, as it contains stats and guides you as to what you should do and expect when working on your electrical system.

If it is the front differential that is clicking (and not a shorted wire bouncing off the frame work sending sparks flying), then I would jack the front end up and wiggle both front wheels looking for any odd movement in the front axles. Clicking can mean several things, but in the world of CV axles it generally leans towards worn out parts. You should be able to tell right away which axle is the problem.

Grinding Gears
Polaris Trail Boss

I got a 1987 polaris trailboss 250 from a buddy and we cleaned the carb and everything and we got it to drive. We drove it and we found out when we put it in hi and max out the fourwheeler I think the gear slips because when you are maxing it put the fourwheeler starts slowing down and the engine gets louder so I think the gear slips. And if I try changing it into any other gear it gets loud and has a grinding noise so I have to shut it off completely to change the gear. What is wrong with it and what do I need to fix it and how? Please help me! Thank you!

I would remove the belt cover and inspect the belt first thing. With a machine of this age it would be possible that the drive belt is now wasted. Belt slippage is really what you are describing and is not a difficult repair. The belt, however, can be expensive. Small rodents like field mice love to build their nests in the confines of belt enclosures, so be careful when opening as you may reveal disgustingly dead mice. If the ATV is idling too high, then you will have trouble changing into another gear. Check/replace the CVT belt and be sure to set the idle to a reasonable pace and let us know how that works out.

Grinding Gears: Part II
Polaris Sportsman 500

I have a 1999 Polaris Sportsman 500. When shifting into gear (while at a complete stand still with hand on brake lever), i would say at least half the time it makes a bit of a grinding noise when going into gear. Does not matter if its high, low, reverse. How can i fix this?

Here are a few items to look into. The engine’s idle sets the stage for an easy gear change or a dramatic “grind ’em till you find ’em” scenerio. If your ATV’s idle is correct and low, turn your attention to the drive clutch. The drive clutch typically has a one-way bearing of some kind that allows the belt to free spin down in the lowest point of the drive sheaves when at idle. If the belt is being nudged or pulled around the drive clutch at any point during idle, the machine will be tough to shift or at the very least somewhat noisy. Bearings can and will eventually go bad so start there and get back to us.

Engine Troubles
Honda Recon 250

2003 250 Honda atv, I can start and run my four wheeler for a little bit. Eventually it dies, and when I try to start it back it just backfires until I let it cool off.

Engine dynamics are very predictable most of the time. What you have described to me is sounding like worn engine internals. The engines parts (piston, rings and valves), get hot and expand, which is when things get loosey goosey. When the loosey goosey (not an actually technical term) comes on, then the piston is not compressing the air and fuel the way it should or pulling fuel into the cylinder either. Your valves could also be playing a role in the problem. I would perform a compression test when cold and then warm the engine up a bit and do the same test. I’d say you’re going to notice a difference.

Engine Troubles Strike Back
Arctic Cat 300 4x4

I have a 2001 arctic cat 300 4×4 it will run for ten to twenty min great after that it will die and when it starts back up it will only ideal when you hit the gas it dies thanks for your time

It seems all of the engine wear questions came at the same time this year. You may have the same issue a previous inquiry had. I would test the compression of the engine when it’s cold and when it’s hot to determine if this could be part of the issue. Worn piston rings can lower compression when the engine is warm and keep the motor from performing as it should.

4WD Won’t Engage
2002 Honda 450

I have a 02 honda 450. The 4 wheel drive does not engage, The fwd fuse is good, checked wires from switch, no juice in either wire. Light on dash does not light up. I need a wiring schematic if possible or your idea of the problem.

This can be a tricky question and it seems you have already eliminated the fuse as a potential problem. Have you tested both sides of the fuse connections to see if there is indeed power coming to the fuse? This model ATV has a device known as a Final Clutch Control Unit (FCCU) that does exactly what its name describes. There is a real possibility that this could be the issue. Be sure there is power getting though the fuse and if so, trace the wires up to the FCCU and be sure it’s getting the power there as well. You may need to get a Honda service manual to trace the wires, but is a great investment if you plan on keeping the machine. There should be trouble shooting information on the FCCU in the manual.

Stop the Presses! Knockoff ATV is Unreliable!
Chinese ATV

We need some advice on my sons China atv. It’s a 150 quad. As we were getting it started and reviving it up we heard a whine/buzz type noise then the bike shut off. Now won’t turn over. We changed starters but it still it makes that noise and will not turn over just makes that noise. Thank you so much your help will be greatly appreciated by my 13 year old son.

Oh my goodness, a knockoff machine that is not reliable? Say it isn’t so! Ok, now that I’ve gotten the sarcasm out of the way, have you tried to spin the motor over by hand? Is it a manually shifted ATV or an automatic belt driven machine? For manually shifted machines, you can put the gearbox in 2nd or 3rd gear and roll the rear wheels to see if the engine is turning over. This will let you know it is not locked down permanently. Belt driven machines, however, can be a bit more difficult and may require the use of a rachet and socket to turn the crank over, or you can simply try to turn the drive clutch by hand. Some smaller displacement quads have kickstarters and that would be a good way to spin the engine over as well. I say all of this because if the engine is seized up then your starter will not spin it over and that is why you get the whine or buzzing noises.

Rick Sosebee
Rick Sosebee

Whether he is in Mexico covering the Baja 1000, building ATVs for local racers, or out enjoying the trails, Rick’s passion shows in his stories. Learning to wrench his own machines from his grandfather, Rick also has an undying appreciation for the mechanics of off-road vehicles. Do not let the dirt and mud fool you, though, as Rick also has a deep love for street cars.

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