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.

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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.

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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!