ATV AnswerMan: ATV, UTV Off-Road Questions Answered

Apr. 26, 2012 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

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Arctic Cat Prowler Starter Issue
I have a 2006 Arctic Cat Prowler 650 H1 red in color. The engine starts fine when it is cold. When you have driven it awhile and then shut it off it acts like it is difficult to turn over, you can let off of the key and try again and usually it will turn over and run. Sometimes the engine acts like it might be firing out of time and will kick back against the starter. It has hit the starter hard enough to strip the gears on the starter shaft. The starter has been replaced 5 times because of this. I have checked the idler gears inside the engine and they look fine. I've checked the valve clearances they are fine. I'm not sure if I have a problem with the starter mechanism inside the engine or a timing/firing issue. I'm at a loss as to what could be causing this, but I am almost to the point a new engine would've been cheaper than replacing the starter every time the prowler is taken out for a ride.
Any ideas?

My first thoughts would be keyed off of your statement in the above letter. The engine starts fine when cold but gets grumpy when hot. If it were me, the first thing I would do is to make sure the engine is getting ample cooling. Be sure the radiator is free of obstructions and clean enough to see through when looking dead straight on. Be sure the radiator fluid is full as well and test the fluid to be sure its cooling capacity is sufficient. My next step would be to make sure the fan is running when needed by warming the engine at idle and allowing the fan time to engage. You can buy a simple in line temp gauge to be sure youíre not overheating the motor. It sounds like the engine could be overheating and getting close to lockdown conditions, which would cause the piston to swell and become hard to spin over by the starter. Hope this helps.

Suzuki 4x4 Locked?
I have a 2003 Suzuki 500 ATV. Going down a very steep hill, I had it in four-wheel drive and had to use the brakes, and when I got to the bottom it had stalled. I could not get it out of high so I could not restart it. We moved it back and forth a number of times and it finally broke loose so it would shift in other gears. Do you know why that happened?

My only thought would be that possibly the brakes had become stuck. If I remember correctly, this ATV has drum brakes in the rear. This type of brake system can wear and get locked due to poor maintenance. If youíre not sure about how the brake system works on your quad take it to a dealer and have them check it out. If the rear brakes lock then you would obviously not be able to move the machine.

2010 CF Moto Swat 500cc
Having carburetor problems. When I run at full throttle or put under pressure will lose fuel. If I stop and start to give throttle after going full speed it seem to not pick up fuel. If I let it idle for 30 seconds it will work fine again. If I drive at third throttle it works fine. Would this be a problem with the float?
Scott Johnson

It is very possible that you are having trouble with the float needle in your carburetor. It sounds like fuel is having trouble getting into the carb and this is where the starvation begins. My suggestion is to get the carb cleaned thoroughly either by a dealer service tech, or you can do this if you have the skills too. The needle jet that allows fuel into the carb has raised sides on the sliding edges. These sides can get varnished by old gas and the needle will stick. Typically you would also see an overflow problem along with the sluggish running. Be sure to drain all of the fuel out of the tank to be sure there is not trash blocking the pick up tubes as well.


ATV Wonít Start 
I appreciate the help. I have a 2009 lt-f400fsi 4x4 Suzuki. In Costa Rica itís legal to ride your quad and it has about 23000 kilometers on it. I change the oil every 3 to 4 months and filter. For some reason the fan is not turning and the engine, although I can run it like a devil, if I slow down when itís hot it will conk out and wonít start till it cools off about in hour or less. It came with no fan sensor or oil temp sensor. Where they are supposed to be? There are two plugs. I purchased them and they are on the way but I do not see any additional plug to hook them up to. Can you give any advice please?
Alexander Rivera

The first thing I would do is to hook the 12-volt fan up to direct power to see if it comes on. If this fan doesnít spin when connected directly to a good power source then there is the trouble. The air-cooled engine will of course overheat when sitting still because the entire engine compartment is surrounded by plastics. This is why the cooling fan is there. If you can get your hands on a factory service manual this would help you further diagnose the electrical should the fan prove to be good. Try that and get back to us.

Yamaha Rhino 660
When I press the brakes I have always had great brakes. But the last time I rode with my daughter I pressed the brakes and they slipped down about halfway all of a sudden. The brakes havenít been the same since. Do you know what could cause this problem?
Enrico Cauzelua

Brakes are a serious issue when they arenít working correctly. If your brakes are not acting right or like they should according to when you first got the machine, I suggest to park the vehicle until you can have a dealer service tech look at them. With that being said, letís move on to your question. The rear caliper on Yamaha Rhinos has a parking brake cable attached to it. This cable is threaded through a cast metal bracket on the caliper itself, and this can be seen from the passenger-side rear under the cargo bed near the rear differential. Some Rhino owners have reported that the caliper bracket holding the parking brake cable breaks off, which allows the cable to relieve any pressure it could have on it. This could be the sudden drop in the brake pedal and your trouble with the brakes. Unfortunately if the bracket breaks it cannot be purchased separately as a new part. The entire brake caliper has to be purchased.

2008 Suzuki Ozark 250
My sonís Ozark will run for just a few minutes and then once itís hot it tries to cut off. It acts like it is flooding or maybe not getting enough gas. We just had our mechanic clean the carburetor because it was running over and draining out the tube behind the motor every time we put gas in. Any suggestions?

Iím going to take a stab at this question as it has come across my desk several times. Typically the carburetor on an Ozark has very small jetting inside it. These jets, when not properly maintained, can become clogged or varnished over just as yours probably did. The dealer or technician you had clean the carb probably did a great job but most do not realize that when a carburetor continuously floods over it can put large amounts of gas down the intake and eventually into the oil of your engine. You would notice an over full oil reading when you check the oil. If this happens the oil becomes thin and this could lead to overheating of the engine thus causing the sluggish running. My suggestion is to change the oil in the Ozark and give it another go.

2005 Honda 400EX Sport Racer
My race quad will not move. We pushed it from the track at my house to the side of the track and the rear wheels will not spin. The quad is a racer and it has a chain. My friend took the chain off and it is the wheels that are not turning. Please help because I want to race my friend on his motorcycle because I know I can beat him.

Dear fast racer guy,
The fact that youíre a racer really made me want to answer your question fast. The rear wheels on your superfast Honda 400 ex probably canít keep up with your superhuman speed. The bearings in the rear swing arm probably locked up from sheer exhaustion. Take the wild ride to your local dealer or mechanic and have them replace the rear axle bearings. Then you will be superfast again. I know itís not your fault, as most machines cannot keep up with really fast riders like yourself!

2005 Hysong 250cc 4 wheeler
Our sons four wheeler will not crank. It tries to start but just cannot get enough going to actually start. His father and I bought the four wheeler from the local sign shop but they say they do not sell them any more because of the economy. What do we do and can you help us find another dealer?

Well my friends, I donít want to be the messenger but I guess I have to be for now. The machine you have purchased was not anything I could find information about in the vast WWW that I seem to live on. The fact that you had purchased the ATV from a sign shop should have been fair warning that the money you are saving today might need to be saved for parts in the tomorrow. I would have a good mechanic look into the carb for trash or varnishing of the jets inside. Typically, these type of fly by night ATV dealers will open and close mostly around holidays like Christmas. They do not have authorized service techs and no support from the people they buy their products from. The parts are rare if they are even available. Its sad to say but I would find a space in the storage bin for this one and buy something that is built by reputable ATV dealer in your local area.

No Seat Belts
My son has taken the seat belts out of his Kawasaki Mule and says because it only goes 15 mph that they donít even need them. I am not so sure and I want your opinion, as he likes reading your Answerman column.

I cannot believe that as a parent you would even consider allowing the child in your life to ride a SXS with no seat belts. It doesnít matter how fast the vehicle goes, you should always have seatbelts for this kind of off-road vehicle. You wouldnít allow him to stand in front of the car while it is running. would you? I mean if youíre only going to put it in neutral it couldnít go more than 15mph before it ran him over ... Iím just mystified about this. WAKE UP!! Youíre the parent!!

2007 Can-Am Outlander 650
I rode my brotherís ATV in the mud last weekend, and when I was giving it gas it made a loud bang and quit moving. The engine runs but it will not move at all. The noise is mostly in the rear kind of like around the transmission but Iím not sure. I tried to put it in 4WD to get it home but the front wheels will not move either. Help, I donít know what to do and my brother is mad.

Just so you know, this may not be an easy fix. The Outlander has a belt-driven transmission, and for starters I would be sure the belt is intact and working by removing the CVT cover. The next part is the difficult one. The driveline on the Can-Am Outlander 650 gets its power from whatís known as a prop shaft. This little gem resides in the bottom of the engine cases and it sounds like this could be your trouble. When put under extreme load, the prop shaft will break and render the Quad immobile. Only a dealer can tell you if this is the actual problem and if youíre not a skilled, as well as knowledgeable, mechanic I wouldnít attempt the repair. The transmission has to be removed from the engine on the Outlander to access the shaft. Good luck and prepare to cough up some serious dough either way.

Something is Burning in my ATV
Every time I go out on my Arctic Cat 550 I can smell rubber burning. I have noticed the speed starts to get lower as the smell gets worse, but after my last ride it looked like the quad was burning there was so much smoke. What gives?

Youíre slowly loosing the drive belt. It will not be long before you are sitting out on the trail and wishing you had taken better care of your ride. Try replacing the drive belt and get back to riding.

The road to a great ride is paved with regular maintenance and if you choose to ignore the warning signs you too will be sitting on the side lines while the rest of us rip up the fresh trails.

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

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