Honda atv wont start

Honda atv wont start DEFAULT
ATV wont shut off

This guide will help you troubleshoot the most common causes for an ATV that won’t start. Some issues are easy to fix at home, while others require assistance from a mechanic.

These are the main reason why an ATV will not start:

  • The ATV is not getting a spark or is only getting a weak spark
  • The ATV is not getting fuel
  • The ATV is not getting enough air
  • The battery is bad or not charged
  • The kill switch is bad or corroded

To identify what is causing your ATV’s starting issues, you need to notice how it behaves when yore trying to start it. Choose the topic below that describes your bikes behavior best to begin your troubleshooting.

The ATV won’t start – the engine is not turning over

If your ATV doesn’t crank at all when you’re trying to start it, there are a few basic things to look into. 

1. Make sure the kill switch/run switch is in the “ON” or “RUN” position. 

You’d be surprised how often the solution to an ATV that won’t start is forgetting to turn on the kill switch.

Also, if your ATV has a tether pull cord style kill switch, make sure it is connected properly. 

2. Make sure the ATV is in “Park” or Neutral

Many ATVs are designed not to start when in gear as a safety precaution. 

3. Make sure the battery is charged

The battery should read 12,6 – 12,8V. Use a multimeter or a voltmeter to check the voltage.

If the voltage drops too low, the battery won’t have enough charge to start the bike. 

Charge the battery or replace it if it’s dead. Am easy way to test your battery is by checking the voltage-drop with a multimeter as you try starting the bike. If your fully charged battery drops below 11,5 volts under load (while you crank the starter), it needs to be replaced. 

4. Check the main fuse

Most ATVs have a main fuse. Your user manual will help you locate it.

If your battery is charged, but you still get nothing when turning the key, you may have a blown main fuse. Replace it with the right size fuse and try starting again.

5. Make sure the solenoid is getting power

The solenoid works as a switch that sends a high current to your starter when you push the start button or turn the key. For it to work, you need to make sure it is getting power from the battery.

The solenoid should make an audible “clicking” sound each time you hit the starter. If it does, you know it is getting power, and the problem is likely with the solenoid itself or possibly the starter. Solenoid and starter issues will be covered later in the post.

If you do NOT hear a clicking sound, you can use a multimeter or voltmeter to verify that the solenoid is, in fact, not getting power.

  • Put your multimeter to DC Voltage.
  • The red lead goes to the battery (red) side of the solenoid.
  • The black lead goes to ground.
  • You should get a voltage reading of 12V or more.

If you don’t get a reading, you need to trace the wiring back to your battery to wind where the connection is broken. Look for loose or corroded terminals or shorts from damaged cables. 

The ATV won’t start but turns over

A gasoline engine needs three essential components to start and run:

  • Gasoline
  • Spark
  • Air (compressed)

1. Check if the bike is getting fuel

  • Locate your spark plug. You may need to remove a few plastic covers to find it.
  • Remove the spark-plug wire (on a carbureted ATV) or the ignition coil (on a fuel-injected ATV) from the spark-plug.
  • Remove the spark-plug from the cylinder head using a spark-plug removal tool.
  • If the plug it’s wet, you know the bike is getting fuel.

If the plug is dry, the bike is not getting fuel and you need to continue the troubleshooting as described below.

2. Check for spark

  • Install the spark plug back into the cylinder head.
  • Connect an inline spark-tester between the spark plug and the spark-plug wire/ignition coil. You can get one for cheap at most auto supply stores.
  • Make sure the run switch is in the “ON” position.
  • Please keep your hands clear of the test tool and the area around it.
  • Push the starter button.
  • The test-light on the spark-tester will light up if there is a spark.

Alternative method: If you don’t have a spark tester tool, you can do a visual test to check for spark. Please note that this method may cause electric shock if done incorrectly.

  • Remove the spark plug from the cylinder-head and connect it to the spark-plug wire or ignition coil.
  • Grab the plug wire and hold the plug about 1/8th of an inch away from the cylinder head. Make sure you are only touching the rubber and not any metal parts.
  • Activate the starter.
  • You should see repetitive bright blue spark arching from the spark plug to the cylinder head as the motor turns. 

You will find the proper steps for troubleshooting an ATV that is not getting a spark further down this post.

The ATV is not getting fuel

If the spark plug is still dry after cranking the engine for a few seconds, you know that fuel, for some reason, is not getting to the cylinder.

It’s often either an issue with the fuel-pump or that the fuel supply line is clogged up somewhere between the gas tank and the carburetor. 

Old or unstabilized gas tends to gum up over time and may create a clog. Dirt and debris getting inside the tank is another common culprit for a clogged-up fuel supply.

The easiest way to identify the cause is through a process of elimination.

Note that if you find contamination such as dirt or gummed-up fuel at one spot, the whole system is likely dirty and needs a complete clean for the best result.

The steps involved are slightly different depending on whether your ATV has EFI (electronic fuel injection) or a traditional carburetor system.

Both carburated and fuel injected ATVs: Make sure the gas cap vent is not clogged

There is either a vent in the gas cap or a separate gas tank vent tube. Make sure neither is clogged and allows air to flow freely.

Fuel needs to be replaced with air as it gets pumped out and used. If the vent is blocked, the fuel pump may not be able to suck fuel out of the tank.

When a carbureted ATV is not getting fuel

Older ATVs, and some of the cheaper models still today are designed with a traditional carburetor fuel-system.

1. Make sure the fuel shut off valve is in the “ON” position

There should be a shut off valve at the lowest part of the fuel tank. Make sure it is turned on.

2. Check if the carburetor is getting fuel or not

This step will help you narrow down the possible causes of why fuel is not reaching the cylinder.

With the fuel valve open, disconnect the fuel line from the fuel inlet of the carburetor. Turn over the engine to see if gas is coming through the fuel line. 

If it is very little or no fuel coming from the fuel line, you likely have either:

  • A clogged up or faulty shut-off valve.
  • A clogged-up fuel filter.
  • A fuel-pump problem.
  • A clogged gas cap or gas tank vent.

If there is a steady or pulsating stream of fuel you know that

  • The fuel pump is ok.
  • Fuel flows all the way undisrupted from the tank to the carb. 
  • The problem is likely a dirty carburetor.

Continue your troubleshooting based on the results of this initial test. 

3. Check if the shut-off valve screen is clogged up

Fuel exits the fuel tank through a shut-off valve at the lowest part of the tank. Inside this valve, a mesh screen is supposed to stop dirt and debris from entering the fuel lines. 

Disconnect the fuel line from the valve to see if gas comes through. If fuel does not flow freely, you need to remove the valve to clean it. 

All of the fuel left in the tank will drain as you remove the valve. Use a bucket to collect the fuel.

Use carb cleaner, some fresh gas, and a toothbrush to clean the valve and mesh screen. Pour some fresh gas in the tank to flush out any remaining gummed-up old fuel or debris before installing the valve.

If the gas in the tank is old or contaminated, you should not put it back in the tank after cleaning the valve. 

4. Check if the fuel filter is clogged up

Not all ATVs have serviceable fuel filters, but some do. Trace the fuel line all the way from the fuel tank to the carburetor. Look for a cylindrical canister unstalled in-line anywhere on the fuel line. 

Fuel filters are cheap and easy to replace, so it’s worth doing if you suspect that something disrupts fuel flow. 

5. Troubleshoot a fuel pump that is not working

ATVs with traditional carburetors usually have a vacuum-operated fuel pump. They are run by vacuum/pressure pulses created in the crankcase. The negative pressure pulls fuel in, while positive pressure pushes fuel out. 

  • Locate the pump by tracing the line coming from the gas tank.
  • There are three rubber hoses attached to the pump. 
    • One is fuel coming from the gas tank.
    • One is fuel exiting the pump and to the carburetor. 
    • One is the pulse-line (air), usually marked with a “P.”
  • Disconnect the inlet fuel line and position it lower than the fuel tank to make sure gas flows undisrupted from the gas tank. 
  • Reconnect the inlet fuel line.
  • Inspect the vacuum line for any damage or cracking and replace it if necessary. Leaks will prevent the pump from working correctly.
  • Make sure the pulse line is connected correctly both at the pump and by the crankcase. 
  • Make sure the engine oil isn’t overfilled. This may cause some oil to get trapped in the pulse-line, obstructing airflow. 
  • Also, inspect the fuel lines going from the fuel tank to the fuel pump. If there are any signs of weather cracking, replace the line. Cracks in the fuel line may cause the pump to suck false air into the tube instead of gas. 
  • If you have a vacuum gauge, connect it to the vacuum. The gauge should follow the pulses. If there is no vacuum, there may be internal problems inside the engine, like a stuck valve. Fixing such issues is usually a job for a mechanic. 

If the pump is still not working, you may need to replace it.

Alternatively, you can pull it apart to give it proper cleaning and a rebuild. Inside there are check-valves that may get suck if dirt enters the pump. There is also a rubber diaphragm that may stretch or crack over time.

6. Test a vacuum-operated shut off valve (petcock valve)

Some ATVs have a vacuum-operated shut-off valve that is designed to open only when the engine is running.

Identify the vacuum line that goes to one of the inlet ports. Disconnect the line and draw a vacuum to the disconnected port. The valve should now open and allow fuel to flow. 

Inspect the vacuum line to make sure it is correctly connected at both ends and has no cracks that will draw false air. 

If you suspect that the valve is not working, put it in “prime” as this will override the vacuum-operated valve. This will tell you if the valve is working or not.

7. Clean the carburetor

Old unstabilized fuel and debris from the gas tank may completely gum up the carburetor or block the jets so that the engine is not getting any fuel. 

I recommend using a product like Seafoam or similar to see if it will dissolve the gummed-up fuel before embarking on a more thorough cleanse. Leave the choke wide open to allow maximum flow. 

Click this link for instructions: 

If Seafoam doesn’t work, your best bet will be to remove and disassemble the carb to clean it properly. This job may not be for everyone. Consider asking a mechanic if disassembling the carb seems intimidating. 

  • Start by draining the carburetor. There should be a drain screw at the bottom of your carb bowl.
  • Disconnect the carb from the ATV and move it over to a tidy workbench. You do not want to be missing any parts when reassembling the carb.
  • Disassemble the carb. Take photos as you remove parts to keep track of where things go. 
  • Use carb cleaner and a toothbrush to clean as much as you can.
  • Use an air compressor with a nozzle to clean all the small passages inside the carb. 
  • Remove both the main jet and the pilot jet. Make sure you can see the light coming through it. If you are not able to clean the jet, it’s best to replace it. Make sure the float assembly is pulling up the float needle and is not stuck.
  • Reassemble the carb and install it on the ATV.
  • You will also need to address the cause for your dirty carburetor, or it will clog up the next time you ride. Drain or siphon all of the old fuel out of the gas tank. Flush the tank with some fresh gas. Replace any fuel filters, as well as they are likely just as dirty as the carb. 
  • Consider adding a cleaner product such as “Seafoam” to your first tank of gas after the cleanse. This will dissolve any gummed-up fuel still trapped in the system. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, depending on which cleaner product you choose to use. 

I recommend these links for a more detailed and illustrated guide on how to disassemble and clean a carburetor (external links):

How to disassemble and properly clean a carburetor:    

Clean a carburetor by using chemical carb cleaner:

When an EFI (electronic fuel injection) ATV is not getting fuel

Fuel-injected engines use an electronic pump to feed pressurized fuel through fuel injectors and into the engine. 

Troubleshooting a fuel-injected ATV is a bit trickier than carbureted ATVs, but it’s possible:

1. Make sure the internal fuel filter is not clogged

Most fuel-injected ATVs do not have a serviceable fuel filter.

Instead, they have a non-serviceable screen or a sump-filter located inside the gas tank. Note that some EFI ATVs also have an inline external fuel filter.

The screen or filter is one component of the complete full fuel pump assembly located inside the tank. These filters are not meant to be serviced but may still clog up. 

You need to remove the whole fuel pump assembly to access the filter.

Begin by removing any plastic covers to access the top of your gas tank. There you will find a large plastic locking-ring that connects the entire fuel filter assembly to the fuel tank. You may need a set of large pliers to remove the ring as they tend to bind. 

Be careful so that you don’t damage any fragile plastic components as you remove the pump assembly. 

The filter will be at the very bottom of the assembly. You will generally need to replace the whole assembly to replace the filter.

If you want to save some money, consider looking up a suitable replacement filter on-line.

2. How to troubleshoot an EFI fuel pump

Electric fuel pumps tend to fail for no apparent reason from time to time. Before they break completely, they may be getting weaker gradually due to wear. 

A worn fuel pump may not create a high enough fuel pressure for the injection system to mist the fuel properly, which may prevent the ATV from starting. Aftermarket fuel pumps are available for most ATVs, but replacing them is not for everyone.  

Also, you have possible fuel pressure regulator issues or bad o-ring seals. 

The best way to test an electric fuel pump is by measuring the fuel pressure at the fuel rail. This will, however, require a specialist tool that the average home mechanic does not have.  

A clogged fuel filter or clogged fuel lines may cause too low fuel pressure as-well. 

Before replacing the fuel pump assembly, it’s worth making sure the bike is charging correctly, as a low voltage will negatively impact fuel pump performance.

3. How to troubleshoot fuel injector problems

Modern EFI ATVs may provide an error code indicating fuel injector issues. Troubleshooting fuel injector problems, however, is a task that often gives even seasoned mechanics a headache. I recommend you save this job for a dealer. 

The ATV is not getting a spark

Here are a few things to try out if your ATV is not getting a spark:

  • Make sure the kill switch is turned “ON.”
  • Test if the kill switch works by using a multimeter, a test light, or a simple continuity tester. Poke one probe into each of the two cables going into the switch. There should be no continuity when the switch is off and continuity when it is on. 
  • Check for unplugged or damaged wires in the wire harness.
  • Replace the spark plug; it may be damaged even if it looks ok. 
  • Test the internal resistance of the ignition coil. Use a multimeter to check for internal resistance between the positive and negative terminal. Set the meter to 200. You should get a reading of 0-2 ohm. Over 2 ohms, the coil is likely bad and needs to be replaced.
  • Test the resistance between the positive terminal of the coil and the spark plug. Set the meter to 200.000. You should get a reading of 10.000 – 25.000 ohms. Any reading outside of this range indicates that you likely have a bad coil.
  • Finally, check if the stator is working properly. You will find a method for testing the stator in this post. 

The ATV won’t start – it just backfires

When you try to start the ATV, the engine seems to crank just as normal. But the engine will not start. All you get is one or several loud bangs coming from the exhaust.

These bangs are known as the ATV backfiring, usually caused by the air/fuel ratio being too rich or too lean.

1. The ATV has become flooded

If you forget to engage the kill switch before trying to start the bike, it will pull gas into the carburetor, but there is no spark to ignite the fuel.

When too much gas enters the carburetor, there won’t be enough space left to mix the required air/fuel ratio for the bike to start and run.

If you have the time, let the bike sit for a couple of hours before trying to start it again.

Alternatively, you can remove the spark plug while turning the engine over for a few seconds. Any excess gas will escape through the spark plug hole. Wipe the plug clean and put it back in. Then try starting the ATV as usual.

2. The spark plug has gone bad

Spark plugs are considered consumables that may need replacing from time to time. A spark plug that has gone bad may prevent the ATV from starting and only cause it to backfire. 

Replace the plug with a new one according to the manufacturer’s specifications. 

3. The air filter is clogged

A clogged air filter will restrict airflow and, therefore, significantly impact how rich your ATV engine operates. Too little air will cause an overly rich mixture, resulting in symptoms like the ones you experience.

Clean or replace the air filter with a new one before trying to start the bike again.

4. The valve clearance is incorrect

Another possible cause of these symptoms is that your valve clearance is incorrect. As the engine gets some hours to it, the valves may seat deeper in valve seats and may need adjusting.

Checking and adjusting the valve clearance on an ATV is not that hard to learn, but it is recommended that you ask for guidance from someone more experienced the first time you do this job. If you do it incorrectly, you risk causing permanent damage to your engine. 

5. The timing is off

Your bike’s timing is what tells the bike when to pull air and fuel into the cylinder, when to ignite the fuel and when to discard exhaust gasses out the exhaust. If one cam is off by just one tooth, you may run into starting issues accompanied by the occasional backfire.

If you’ve been working on or removing some of the timing components, you need to make sure that everything is reassembled correctly. Lookup a timing diagram for your specific ATV and make sure all the timing marks line up. 

If the task of aligning the timing marks sounds intimidating, you are probably better off leaving the job to a mechanic.

6. The flywheel timing key is sheared

The timing might be off even if you did not work on any of the timing components. What often happens is that the timing advance key, also known as a rocket key, has sheared and needs replacing.

The timing key plays a crucial role in timing your bike’s ignition as it locks the flywheel in the right position on the crankshaft. If it breaks, your bike’s timing will be off immediately. 

This little metal part is designed to break to protect other engine components. From time to time, it may break even if there is nothing else wrong.

Luckily they are not that expensive or time-consuming to replace. It is not a job everyone will be comfortable doing for themselves. Still, nothing an averagely skilled home-mechanic can’t manage after watching a couple of youtube videos for their specific brand and model.

The key is located on the crankshaft. You need to unbolt and remove both the flywheel-cover and flywheel (the flywheel on an ATV is actually called a generator) to access it. A flywheel puller may be required.

If the key is sheared, remove all pieces from the old timing key and install a new one according to factory spec. Ask your dealer to make sure you get the right one. Install the flywheel and flywheel cover before trying to start the bike. 

Make sure the timing marks are lined up correctly. The timing mark layout will be different from model to model. Please refer to your service manual.

7. The carburetor has become dirty

A dirty carburetor may prevent enough fuel from getting to the cylinder, causing a lean backfire. 

Due to the backfire, you know that at least some fuel is getting through. Please refer to step 3 on how to clean the carb. 

8. The fuel is bad or contaminated (water in the gas)

Before spending money on a mechanic, it may be worth draining your gas tank and adding fresh gas. Gas may go bad if it sits too long, or it may get contaminated with water due to condensation.

Most gas tanks will have a removable drain plug or on/off switch at the bottom. Your next best option is to pump or siphon the fuel out of the tank.

9. Tere is low compression

If a valve has stuck open, the compression will be too low, and the bike will not start. Repairing a stuck valve is usually a task for a trained mechanic.                                                           

The ATV won’t start – it just buzzes

If all you hear when turning the key is a buzzing sound, it is usually because your battery is dead or needs charging. 

The buzzing sound you hear comes from the starter solenoid relay that won’t kick in due to low voltage. 

The solution is usually quite simple. Charge the battery or replace it if it is dead. 

Also, make sure all of the power wires going from the battery to the solenoid are correctly connected and not corroded. Put a test light across the connection you are testing as you activate the starter.

If the problem is not battery-related, you may have a bad starter or even a seized engine, preventing the starter from engaging. After ruling out a bad battery, it’s recommended to have further troubleshooting done by a mechanic. 

The ATV won’t start – it just clicks

When activating the starter, the engine won’t turn. All you can hear is a clicking sound each time you press the starter button. The clicking sound is coming from the starter solenoid.

1. Bad or corroded solenoid

A solenoid that is working correctly will provide an audible click as you activate the starter. But the solenoid may be bad even if it clicks due to internal corrosion. 

Use a multimeter to test if the solenoid closes the circuit as you try activating the starter. 

Put your multimeter to DC Voltage. The red lead goes to the starter side of the solenoid. The black lead goes to ground. There should be no reading when not pressing the starter button. But when you activate the starter, you should get a voltage reading of 12V or more. 

If you don’t, your solenoid is probably bad and needs replacing. 

As an alternative method, you can use a piece of cable to jump your solenoid. Make sure the cable you use can handle the high current. If the ATV starts when jumping the solenoid, you know that the solenoid is bad and needs replacing. 

2. The starter has gone bad

If your solenoid is good, the problem is likely with the starter. Starters may wear out due to old age, or they may go bad from a busted seal that will allow oil or water to get inside of the starter.

To test the starter, you need to remove it from the ATV. It’s connected with a few bolts. You will also need to remove the cable coming from the solenoid. 

Use a fully charged battery and a set of jumper cables to test if the starter will spin as it’s supposed to. First, you should use the positive lead to connect the positive battery terminal with the positive (red) starter cable. Then attach the negative lead to the negative battery terminal. 

Hold the starter firmly in place and complete the circuit by connecting the negative lead to where your starter ground to the engine.

The starter engine shaft should start spinning freely with no signs of drag or scraping. Replace the starter if it is bad. 

The ATV won’t start after running out of gas

After running your ATV completely dry, you may find that it won’t start even after filling it up with fresh gas.

If it was running fine before you ran it dry, your problem is likely fuel-related as running the bike dry will not cause damage.

1. The fuel pump needs more time

The fuel pump will need some time to suck up fuel after the bike has run completely dry. Fuel-injected ATVs, in particular, can be extra tricky.

  • Make sure the fuel tank is full.
  • Turn the key to the on position, leave it for a few seconds before turning it off. Do not try to start it. Repeat this process a few times, which will help prime the fuel lines and fuel filter.
  • Then try running the starter for several seconds or pulling the starter rope until the bike starts. If the bike doesn’t start after running the starter for about 10 – 15 seconds or pulling the starter rope 15-20 times, you should stop and continue troubleshooting. 

2. Use the carburetor primer

Not all ATVs have one, but if yours has a primer pump, you should use it to pump fuel back into the carb manually.

Look for a button on the side of the carb that may look like a choke knob. You will need to pump it several times for it to have any effect.

3. Running the ATV dry have caused dirt to enter the carburetor

Switching to “Reserve” and letting the bike run completely dry may allow dirt and gummed-up fuel that has set on the bottom of your gas tank to be sucked into the carburetor.

The same applies to gas contaminated with water, which is heavier than gasoline and will fall to the tank’s bottom.

Clean the carburetor, as described in step three.  

4. Pour some gas in the spark plug holes

Remove the spark plugs and pour a dash of gas into the spark plug holes. Reinstall the plugs and try starting the bike.

This will provide enough fuel so that the ATV starts and begin sucking fuel on its own. You may need to do this 2-3 times before you succeed. 

5. Blow air through the gas tank vent

Blowing with a steady pressure into the gas tank vent tube while running the starter may help the fuel to start flowing. 

6. Check for a bad spark plug

Running the bike dry won’t harm the spark plug per se, but contaminated fuel may. You may need to replace your spark plug to get going again. 

7. The fuel-pump is burnt out

Some ATV fuel pumps cant take being run dry. When run dry, the RPMs will go up, and the pump will burn out due to a lack of cooling and lubrication from the fuel.

Try removing the pump and check for internal resistance with an ohm-meter. If there is no resistance, the pump is likely bad. 

The ATV won’t start with starter fluid

First of all, it is not really recommended that you use starter fluid on your ATV in the first place. Starter fluid evaporates very easily, and the vapor is highly flammable. Both you and the ATV can catch fire from a spark caused by a short.

It’s much safer and just as effective to carefully pour or spray some gas straight into the cylinder through the plughole. A couple of ounces should be enough before installing the spark plugs and starting the bike. 

As long as the spark plug provides a bright blue spark and fuel is entering the cylinder, you may suspect that your compression is not good enough. Use a compression gauge and check if the bike’s compression matches factory spec. If it doesn’t, the engine might need an overhaul. 

If the spark seems weak, the problem may be with the pick-up coil. Look for cracks or any other visible damage. If the coil is damaged, replace it with a new one. Note that the coil may be bad even if you’re getting a spark. 

The ATV won’t start after washing

Most ATV manufacturers recommend that you not use a pressure washer to clean your ATV, which may damage electrical components. Instead, it would be best if you washed the ATV by hand using only a garden hose and mild soap. 

Here are a few tips to try if your ATV won’t start after washing it:

  • Washing may have caused grit to enter the kill switch or starter button switch. Open the switch and clean it with an electronics cleaner. 
  • Water trapped inside the spark-plug booth may cause a short that will prevent the ATV from starting. Unplug the boot dry it thoroughly. Using a hairdryer will speed up the process. 
  • Leave the ATV in the sun to dry for a day or two before attempting to start it again. 
  • Open the airbox to drain any water and let the filter dry out. 
  • On a fuel-injected ATV, try spraying the injector with an electronic cleaner to expel any trapped moisture. 
  • Check if any water has entered the fuse box, causing shorts. 
  • Other electronics that don’t like getting wet are the coil pack and CDI/ECU box.
  • If you washed the bike while it was running, it might have sucked water into the carbs. Locate the drain plug on your carb and drain it. You may also need to replace your spark plug. Just a small amount of water may foul the plug instantly.
  • If too much water has entered the cylinders from running the bike when washing it, it may have damaged the valves or piston rings. 
  • Disconnect and apply dielectric grease to every electric connector as a preventive measure for future trouble-free washing!

The ATV is flooded and won’t start

I’ve dedicated an entire post on how to repair an ATV that’s been submerged in water. 

The ATV won’t start in cold weather

  • Start by making sure the battery is healthy and fully charged. If the battery is below 12,6V, it needs a charge to provide the necessary cranking power to start a sub-zero ATV.
  • Make sure the spark plug is healthy.
  • Clean the carb as described earlier in this post. A dirty carb may cause issues when it’s cold. 
  • A carbureted ATV may need a richer fuel mixture to start in the cold. Usually, it’s enough to turn on the choke, but you may need to install one size bigger pilot jet. Try giving it some gas when turning over the engine.
  • The intake valves may be tight. Remove the rocker cover and make sure the valve clearance is according to spec. 

The ATV won’t start with a new battery

You’ve just installed a new battery, but the ATV still won’t start.

  • Make sure the battery is fully charged.
  • Make sure the battery is installed correctly.

Then, refer to the other topics in this post according to how your ATV is behaving. Does the engine turn over? Does it make clicking or buzzing sounds? Start from the top and work your way down if you are not sure where to begin.

The ATV won’t jump start

If you cannot jump-start your ATV, it may not be a dead battery that is causing your starting issues. Make sure you are following the proper procedure for jump-starting an ATV. 

The ATV won’t pull start

If the ATV starts with the electric starter, it should start with a pull starter as-well. I recommend that you begin troubleshooting as if the turns over but won’t start.

Haavard Krislok

I'm an ATV and offroad-enthusiast, an engineer, a farmer, and an avid home-mechanic. I'm also the owner and editor of If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this article, please feel free to contact me.


How do you bypass the ignition switch on a Honda ATV?

Bypass The Ignition On wire is sending power in, and the other wire sends power to the electrical box if the key is inserted. Telling the machine that it’s ok to start. Simply remove the ignition switch from the equation. You can disassemble the switch or just cut the two wires leading to it.

How do you start a Honda four wheeler without a key?

Option Number 2

  1. Locate the wire that connects the solenoid to the battery.
  2. Cut the wire that connects the solenoid to the battery.
  3. Locate the red wire coming out of the battery.
  4. Connect the red wire from the battery to the the wires you just cut.
  5. Start the ATV.

How do you start a four wheeler that won’t start?

If your ATV doesn’t crank at all when you’re trying to start it, there are a few basic things to look into.

  1. Make sure the kill switch/run switch is in the “ON” or “RUN” position.
  2. Make sure the ATV is in “Park” or Neutral.
  3. Make sure the battery is charged.
  4. Check the main fuse.
  5. Make sure the solenoid is getting power.

Can you start a four wheeler with a bad solenoid?

If you have a bad solenoid, you can start your quad by jumping the starter solenoid wires with a wrench. You should see two big main wires once you’ve located the starter solenoid. If it is set up, you can then jump the wires and be able to start the quad.

Why does my four wheeler just click when I try to start it?

Your ATV most likely clicks when you try to start it because of the battery. The reasons for this are numerous, from loose connections to a current draw that drains the battery. If the battery is not the cause, the ATV probably has a faulty starter solenoid.

What does it mean when your four wheeler wont start?

There are two main reasons why an ATV will not start. One is the unit does not have spark and without spark the engine will not fire. Also, if the engine has poor gas flow your ATV will not run. Below are simple steps on how to check to see if your ATV has proper spark and gas flow.

What do you do if you lose your ATV key?

Call or visit your dealership. Even if you did not buy the ATV new, you should be able to find a local dealer that sells the brand you are working with. Call that dealer and tell them you need a new key cut. With the VIN number and model type, they should be able to cut you a new key that will get you up and moving.

How much does a new four wheeler key cost?

The procedure normally would cost around 30$ for a single key, but then again prices can always vary.

How can I tell if my CDI box is bad?

Symptoms could include misfiring, dead cylinders, backfiring, bizarre tach behavior, and countless other things related to how your engine’s running. The problem may get worse as the bike warms up. It might not even hold low revs at all.

How do I know if my CDI is working?

Use your multimeter to check for resistance. It should read in the thousands for Ohms. If your plug wires and caps check out, you can now test your ignition coil. First measure the resistance between the primary wire that comes from the CDI box and the ground or ground wire.

How many volts should ATV stator put out?

How much voltage should a stator put out? For example a 32-amp stator should put out 18 volts AC (VAC) per each 1000-RPM. At 2000 it should be 36 VAC (18×2). At 3000 RPM it should be 54 VAC (18 X 3).

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Honda Foreman wont start

I was not trying to be a a-- I was offering my services for free to help out a fellow gon er but you have yet to say where the atv is located , I live 60 miles south of macon but regularly travel to waycross . I have some family done there .so i cover 50 percent of ga about twice a month, sorry for the comment but with as you put it limited knowldge i could have already fixed it for you before i could get this message chicken pecked out
with that said ,,,
an engine needs three things spark, air and fuel to run.given that it
has enough compression to squeeze the mixture of the above three.
1 spark --remove spark plug from engine place plug back in plug wire hold plug ground prob to engine block with rubber grip pliers turn engine over with starter
if sparks see fuel if no spark check fues under seat aginst back rack inside small black box ,then check wires going to cdi ,that is the box that the plug wire is hooked to opposite the spark plug end.
2 fuel - if sparking the best way to check fuel is to spray the air filter with small amount of either then turn engine with starter if it fires up then the carb is stopped up

3 air remove air filter place hand over hole in air box where filter was turn engine if your hand is suck to hole it has compression ,clean air filter while its off
if carb is stopped up tell me when your going to your lease then pm your number and i'll call you and walk you threw removing carb and cleaning and removing jets and replaceing it
you will neeed an philps screw driver a new one of a good brand ,a 10 12 and 14 mm wrench a small nail and hammer a common flat screw driver with about .125 wide head to remove the jet some either to clean them and carb and some compresses air will also be preferred
just let me know o and a pair of needle noise pliers


If you have spark, compression and fule but your atv wont start. Chinese ATV Bashan 250cc

Another one back from the dead (1997 King Quad 300 LT-FWDX)

By Hagbard

Gotta love Facebook Marketplace, and the crackheads that you can buy things from on there... 

Naturally, I'm like "Hook up the trailer, let's go get this pile of eBay parts!" and hauled ass to this dude's house with 3 crisp Benjamins to wave under his nose. Showed up about 20 minutes early to find him and his buddy hastily reassembling the pile of plastics into a semi-presentable quad, using some real sweet bulk bin galvanized hex bolts from Tractor Supply Racing Co.
Looked it over and handed him the three bills in exchange for a transferrable registration from 11 years ago, and a STACK of handwritten bills of sale from the last 11 years, since apparently no one has gotten it functional (for long). Average ownership period ranges from 6 months to 2 years. Fingers crossed, lads!

Got it home, and hit it with a healthy dose of bike wash and the pressure washer, more bike wash, a lot of scrubbing, and more pressure washing to get years worth of crud off of it. The entire left side of the crankcase was covered in an eighth inch of caked oil mud, as though there had been a catastrophic loss of oil at some point in the past, because it was nowhere near the drain or fill holes. Totally opposite side. Managed to find the VIN hiding in there and ran it for giggles.

PO mentioned that he "had it running at the beginning of the season, but it was 'rough' " and that he had cleaned the carb, but it didn't help much. And now it just plain wouldn't fire at all. Kind of threw his hands up and shrugged.  So, after cleaning it up enough to turn wrenches without looking like a Texas oilman, I took off the plastics and started poking around. Found a few fishy spots in the harness where previous attempts at repairs had been shoddily made and hidden with black tape. Sorted those out, drained and filled with fresh oil and a filter, and hooked up a battery. Turned the key, got a green light, hit the starter switch and got a little grunt and squeak out of it, then nada. No light, no nothing. Pulled out the DeOxIt D5 and started pulling apart all the connectors and giving them the business. put everything back together again, turned the key, got green light, and starter cranked! Then nothing again. Started fiddling with the wiring and connections while watching the green light, and saw a flicker when I bumped the 25A fuse holder. Gave it a squeeze, and sure enough, the light came on. Thing was full of powdered remains of spade terminals, so I installed a NOS replacement model from RADIO SHACK that had been swimming around in my toolbox for nigh a decade. Sure of my fix, I tried the starter again, and NOTHING again. More fiddling revealed that the OTHER fuse holder (15A) was the same. Homebrewed another fuse holder from spade connectors and shrink tubing, hooked it all up and everything was good.

Now that I could crank it, I poured a couple cups of gas in the tank and pulled the plug to check for spark. Good blue spark, once I cleaned up the theretofore fouled plug and gapped it. Screwed it back in, with a healthy dose of ether, and gave it a crank. Not even a wheeze or a sputter. Off with the carb!

So, I think our old friend PO has a drastically different definition of "carb cleaning" than I do. I'm thinking maybe he wiped down the OUTSIDE of the thing, and was shocked that it had little to no result. That white stuff is a combination of powdered aluminum oxide and near-varnish fuel. Has the consistency of slight dried mayonnaise or white library paste, but no pleasant wintergreen aroma to match.   A quick perusal of the Amazon bargain bin turned up a carb (BST31SS) and non-vacuum petcock for $25, with a caveat that the carb required minor modifications to fit. Four days and a lot of sandblasting and surface prep on the plastics while I waited, the carb arrived today and I drilled out the ferrules for the choke and throttle cables to accept slip-fit cables instead of thread-ins. Other than that, the only difference was a lack of one vacuum port for the petcock, which I had anticipated and purchased a regular old one with no vac diaphragm in it. Safety first, amirite?

Now with definite spark, and reliable fuel delivery, I started cranking and fiddling with the idle and air screws, managed to get it to fire up - almost literally~ There was a LOT of smoke coming from near the exhaust port on the head, thought I had loose header studs for a minute, then realized it was just more of the old oil mud I had missed while cleaning, burning off between the fins on the head and the exhaust heat shield.

First fire up - lots of smoke

While I was changing the oil, I took the opportunity to pull off the access covers and adjust the clutch and valve lash, so I was feeling OK about running it a little more. Got the idle and mixture set a bit better and decided to test out the transmission and shifting a little.

Testing reverse

Realized I left the parking brake set, so it stalled out. Oops.  Another thing I did while waiting for Brown Suit Santa to bring my carb was to remove the diff lockout pin from the shifting mechanism and I wanted to see if it worked. Here's the quad, up on the lift, minus the LF wheel (due to a seized cylinder I've since replaced) with range set to HIGH, and Differential Lock engaged. Worked like a charm. Had to holler at the dog who was camped out below the rear tire  Dog under the tire. Again. I think she has a death wish. Or perhaps aspirations of being a jackstand in the pro-leagues.

Testing Diff Lock in High Range

Put the wheel cylinder in, (Dorman w38750 for a 1991 Geo Metro/Suzuki Swift was a precise fit and only $10) to replace this crusty POS:

put the wheel and hub back together, put seat back on and fired it up. Made sure it would start again after turning it off.

Long Live The King

All the repairs appear to have been successful all around! I took it out for a quick rip up the street and back, needs a little bigger main jet (it came with a 145 installed, which I swapped out for the 120 OEM spec, but it feels boggy at WOT, so I'm going to experiment a little after I get the airbox back together, but 145 seems like a big jump.

I'll try to post an update once I have the plastics all refinished and installed next week. Pretty sure it's going to be yellow, no camo or green bullshit for me thanks   Hope you didn't hate my post.


Atv start honda wont

ATV Troubleshooting: Most Common Issues

Everyone who owns anything with a motor has experienced that sinking feeling when you hit the ignition button and things don’t go quite as planned. While you’re ready to load up and hit the trail, your quad isn’t ready to go anywhere. So what’s up?

While ATV troubleshooting there are a few common issues that should be your first line of investigation. Here are three things to especially keep in mind.

Battery Power

If your ATV doesn’t turn over when the ignition is engaged, or only tries lazily to do so, your battery may be low on juice. Fortunately, battery issues are some of the easiest to fix. To test the battery, use a multimeter (which can be purchased on the cheap at any auto parts store) to check for an output of 12V. If a lesser reading is present, it’s time to charge your battery. Do so by hooking the terminals to a battery booster via alligator clips on the charging cables and go make yourself a sandwich while you wait. If the battery doesn’t charge, or continues to lose a charge time and time again, it may be time to install a whole new one.

RELATED: How to Secure Your ATV on a Trailer


Where there’s fuel, there must be spark in order to get your motor running. If an ATV motor turns over, but doesn’t start, and the battery seems to be fine; it’s time to check out your ignition system.

First, check out your spark plugs via a physical inspection. Look for any corrosion or gunk on the plug itself, and ensure that there is a small gap present in the spark gap of the plug. If the plug looks out of sorts, replace it. Otherwise, you can use your multimeter to test the plug and see whether or not a spark is present. Other parts of the ignition system, including the ignition coil and capacitor discharge ignition (CDI) can also fail, however are far less likely to. Refer to your owner’s manual for the best methods to troubleshoot these components.

RELATED: Man Dies in ATV Accident at Kid Rock’s Ranch

Engine System

Failures within the engine system can be tougher to put your finger on due to the high volume of mechanical parts required to make it all run. Starts and stalls, or a complete lack of engine action could be caused by simple fixes like a clogged air filter or exhaust, or more in-depth issues such as blocked fuel lines or over-fueling causing carburetors to flood.

Do-it-yourself’ers may be comfortable checking for issues within the engine system, while others may find that a trip to a mechanic is better suited for their needs.

Regardless of whether you choose to take care of the most common ATV issues yourself, or seek the help of a professional, it’s always handy to have an owner’s manual and be familiar with the basics of how your machine operates. A basic understanding of what makes your machine tick will ensure that you’re armed with the knowledge to figure out mechanical issues in your garage, or out on the trail!


ATV, Evergreen

Honda Rancher 420 Won’t Start - Honda Rancher Starting System - Rancher Starter Relay Replacement
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  1. 08-06-2008, 04:29 PM#1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    LG , New York

    honda wont turn over, just clicks???

    My 86 350 will not start. I thought it was the solenoid and replaced that and the battery. Still just clicks, wont turn over. Does anyone think it might be the starter??? It hasnt sat or anything...just the next day....nothing... help!?!? thanks guys

  2. 08-07-2008, 03:52 PM#2
    check and make sure that your connections are cleaned and conected properly. and check for any cuts in the wireing that runs to your battery

  3. 08-07-2008, 10:35 PM#3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    My friends 300ex is having the same problem, He also baught a new selonioid an it didnt help. We hit the starter with a hammer an it barely turned over. If that is the case you will need to get a new starter. I think you can get just the brushes in the starter for less money than the whole thing.

  4. 08-07-2008, 10:49 PM#4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    South Western PA.
    if both things were replaced the starter needs new brushes,, there like 30 bucks
    Country Boy Can Survive

    -97 F150-

    400EX frame up build in the future.

  5. 08-10-2008, 09:13 PM#5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Sounds like you have corrosion on the connections get some 00 steel wool and buff em. The ground wire is problably gritty. If you touch the solenoid to the frame or tap it on the frame while hittin thhe start button it mite work.
    2005 TRX 250EX
    2003 CRF 450
    1991 RM 250
    1987 CR 125
    1986 650 SX

  6. 08-11-2008, 09:22 AM#6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    The few that are left in the Lon Gisland Woods
    check the fuses in your bike to if there are any.

    06 ltr, Props to pappy for all the PC, Front & Rear Hiper Tech3's,Holeshot mxr6 front/rear. Full yoshi,Fuel atv intake, PC3, Wiseco 13:1 Piston, Intake/Exhaust hotcams, D.I.D 540 x-ring chain, 13/38 gearing, Domminator 2 Axle, East Coast ATV Bearing Carrier,ASR Pro series TieRods, Pro Taper Mid Bends, ASV C/5 blue Shorty Clutch/Brake Levers,EBC pads, Rath Racing Bumper, Rath Grabbar, REM Nerfs &Heal Guards, IMS Pro series Foot Pegs.

    2009 Husqvarna TE510, PC5, IMS 3 gallon Tank, Protaper Bars, GPR V4 Steering Stabilizer, Circa Hand guards, Pro Taper Pillow Tops, Pivot Pegz, Motoz Rear Tire, Michelin Front, Trail tech H.I.D headlight, FMF Q4, 14 tooth front sprocket, UNI air filter, Unbreakable 90 degree flashers. LED Tail light.

  7. 08-29-2008, 03:56 PM#7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    i am also having same problem with my 300ex. i have checked wires, and cleaned connections. i have also tried the banging wile pushing start button. nothing just clicks/pops from the solenoid when the start button is pushed.

    i have heard of people taking the starter out and cleaning off the brushes? or do these have to be replaced?

  8. 08-30-2008, 10:39 AM#8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    You can clean them but it will happen again an again until u just get new brushes. I thinks its worth the 30 bucks to just buy the brushes rather than take ur starter off every 2 weeks.
    04' Honda 450r MX

    AMA DISTRICT 22/17 #05

  9. 09-03-2008, 06:15 AM#9
    Join Date
    May 2006
    stick a screwdriver between the cylinoid and see if it starts.

  10. 09-03-2008, 11:02 AM#10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    i got mine to turn over from slightly taping the top of the starter with a hammer. so apparently ifs basically locked up in there, and i totally will get the new brushes. thanx for the help guys

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Similar news:

How to Bring Your Dead ATV Back to Life

Last time you shut off your quad, everything was working great…but now it won’t start. What do you do?

First, check the battery. If it’s fully charged, move on and check the carburetor. If it’s not gummed up and seems to be in working order, check the ignition wire. If that’s not the culprit, install a new spark plug and see if it’ll fire up.

Still won’t start? Okay, if none of those are the reason your machine isn’t running, your next step is to delve deeper in to the carburetor. Pull out the pilot jet and look through it–if there’s any debris in it, you won’t see daylight. If it’s gunked up, replace it.

Next, check for spark. There may be an unplugged wire in the harness. Finally, if all else fails, check the stator. We suggest running through this list, but if you still can’t get your quad running bring it to a professional mechanic.

Repeat: Don’t Neglect the Battery

Getting your trusty ATV ready for storage after a great season of hunting requires a little more forethought than you may realize. One thing many people will neglect every year is the battery that spins life into your ride.

Batteries come in many shapes, sizes, types and brands. With technology advancing as it has, you will find one on every machine. Most of the newer ATVs will have sealed maintenance-free batteries, which simply means they do not have to be topped off with fluids of any kind. These batteries Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries will still need to be charged though. Here are a few things to consider in order to protect that expensive battery when storing your machine for extended periods.

  1. Remove the battery from the ATV and clean the positive and negative posts thoroughly with a mixture of warm water and baking soda. Cleaning the terminals this way removes any corrosion and allows the charger to do its job. An old toothbrush works well when scrubbing the battery posts.

  2. Add Vaseline or waterproof grease to the posts after reconnecting the power leads to keep corrosion from coming back.

  3. If you have a battery that requires topping off, remember to only use mineral free or distilled water. Wear gloves and safety goggles when opening a serviceable battery because battery acid is caustic and will cause severe burns to bare skin.

  4. The number one killer of any battery is neglect. You need to connect your battery to some form of trickle charger during the off-season to keep it alive.

Regular maintenance prevents breakdowns. Keeping your electrical system happy is one way to be sure your ATV is ready when you are.


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