Why Does My ATV Engine Cut Out?

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee
Why Does My ATV Engine Cut Out?

Why does my ATV engine cut out? This is what one of our readers wants to know about his Kawasaki Bayou 220.­­

Here is exactly what reader Paul asked the ATV AnswerMan, followed by his answer:

Good afternoon,

I bought a 2001 Kawasaki Bayou 220. When I turn it on, it rev’s very high for about a minute, then it settles down and then cuts out. The previous owner said that he had replaced the carburetor and throttle cable. I turned down the setting screw on the carburetor but then it wont start. As soon as I set it higher it rev’s super high again. Help!

One issue I tend to see with this machine is that Kawasaki had three different carburetors in the 2001 model year for the Bayou 220. While comparing them all together side-by-side there is no visible difference, but I would guess that there had to be something or they would not have spent so much time getting the right carburetor on the ATV. This tells me something was either up with the running of this engine or maybe the engineers just wanted a variety of parts for the fuel system. Who knows?

My very first thought from your description is that the engine is running really lean to a point where it runs out of available fuel. This would typically be a very dirty carburetor or possibly an air-fuel mixture screw that needs cleaning – possibly even replacing. This could also be a choke plunger stuck and not releasing all the way in the carburetor body. Since you had mentioned that you were made aware that the carburetor had been replaced prior to you purchasing the machine, and assuming this was not just an elaborate story told to you to speed up the purchase, I might now search or test in a slightly different direction. First off, be sure fuel is flowing very well from the tank to the carburetor. Then proceed on.

I might pull the carburetor back off and pull the throttle cable along with the slide out of the top of the carburetor. Then press the throttle gently three or four times while making sure the throttle cable works with no restrictions or notions of cable stickage. The choke cable should be examined in the exact same way. You are looking for any resistance on the cables and if there is anything keeping them from smoothly operating then you might have found an issue, possibly the issue. Clean the choke plunger as well to insure that it slides smoothly inside the carburetor body.

Also make sure the slide is not worn out, causing it to jam itself in the body of the carburetor and set the idle to factory specification as well. The idle screw simply holds the slide up to a point where good idle is achieved.

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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