How to crank a atv after you have drained the carb

How To Get An ATV That Has Been Sitting To Run Again – AtvHelper

If you have an old ATV that has been sitting for years, it can be difficult to decide what you need to do to get it running again. Let this article act as a guide for you to follow to get your machine out on the trail again.

After a quad has been sitting for a while the oil in the engine, and the gas in the tank will start to separate. Your tires will go flat, and the battery will die. If it’s been sitting out in the weather, you could have worse problems like rust and corrosion.

Here’s a quick list of the things you should be looking to check on. And then I will go into more detail about each, and how to get your ATV running again.

To Get An Old ATV Running Again

  • Drain And Clean The Fuel Tank
  • Clean The Carburetor
  • Change The Air Filter
  • Change The Oil
  • Change The Spark Plugs
  • Change Differential Fluid (4X4)
  • Charge Or Replace Battery

Assuming your ATV doesn’t look like this one below, these steps should get you up and running again. If not, I have some trouble shooting steps to follow later on. But first, lets go over these steps in more detail.

Drain And Clean The Fuel Tank

If the ATV has been sitting for more than 6 months, you will need to get fresh gas in it. Over time fuel will degrade, become less combustible, and start to gum up. Also, water can condense and collect inside a fuel tank that has been sitting for too long, especially fuel with ethanol in it.

It’s best to drain the gas tank completely and clean out any gelled or gummed up gas. This gel like gas residue could also be affecting your fuel lines and other parts in your ATVs fuel system.

Check the fuel filter, and replace it or clean it out if you have to. Also make sure the petcock valve or fuel on/off valves are all working properly. Turn them to make sure they move nicely and aren’t leaking.

If you have a metal fuel tank, the water condensation over time may have rusted out the inside of the fuel tank. I have had good luck emptying the tank and putting a little diesel gas and some small metal BB’s in the tank and shaking it around. The metal BB’s will knock off most of the rust from the inside the tank with the help of the diesel fuel.

Clean The Carburetor

If your ATV has a carburetor, you will want to clean that out completely. You may want to just get a carburetor rebuild kit since you will have the carb already taken apart. Just spraying some carb cleaner in there may not be enough, you will probably need a rebuild kit.

They are pretty cheap and it’s recommended you rebuild the carburetor on a quad that has been sitting anyway. Here’s the link to a Carburetor Repair And Rebuild Kit on Amazon to give you an idea of you can expect to pay.

Check the fuel line coming from the tank and going to the carb. If you can get fuel to flow through the fuel line, then great. If you don’t have a nice continuous flow of fuel, will will need to clean out or replace the fuel lines.

If you are still having problems with the fuel system on the machine, check out this ATV Not Getting Fuel, Common Reasons And How To Fix article where I go into a lot more detail about the fuel system. But if you can at least clean the tank and the carburetor, you’ll probably be fine.

Change The Air Filter

If the air filter is in pretty good shape you might be able to re-use it. But for the most part, I would say it’s best to just replace the air filter altogether. Unless you have one of the re-usable type air filters like a K&N.

Getting a new air filter isn’t going to brake the bank, I recommend just replacing it. But if you do want to try salvaging the existing air filter, or you want to clean a re-usable air filter, check out my How To Clean The Air Filter On An ATV article, where I go through step by step how to get your existing air filter up to snuff on your machine.

Either way you need to make sure the engine is not going to be pulling in dirt, dust, or debris through the air intake. Even small amounts of sand can scratch the cylinder walls and cause you major problems with the engine. Since most ATVs that have been sitting tend to have dust, sand, and dirt collected, you have to sort out the air filter.

Change The Oil

The oil in the engine will usually take longer to go bad than the fuel in the gas tank will, but the additives in the oil will eventually degrade over time. Since you’re supposed to regularly change the oil in the engine anyway, it’s a good idea to do an oil change before trying to start an ATV that has been sitting.

I suggest trying a synthetic blend or a full synthetic oil like this Castrol Power1 10W-40 Full Synthetic 4-Stroke Motor Oil. The reason I would choose synthetic oil is because it was made for older engines. The synthetic oil has additives that will help swell your gaskets, which will help prevent leaks and loss of compression in the engine.

Also, change the oil filter. A lot of people over look this simple step. Every time I do an oil change I change the oil filter out too. The filter could be holding gunk and other things that will contaminate your fresh oil change.

This is a good time to make sure the pistons aren’t rusted into place and the engine isn’t seized up. I like to add a little penetrating oil or deep sea foam into the cylinder head and let it sit in there a while. Simply remove the spark plug to spray a little sea foam into the cylinder head through the spark plug hole.

After letting it sit a couple hours (overnight if it’s real bad looking), I will try to turn it over with the spark plugs out to make sure everything moves the way it should. Since this is easiest done with the spark plugs out, lets talk about that next.

Change The Spark Plugs

The spark plugs on the ATV may be fine and not need to be changed. I know I change spark plugs all the time, and on a quad that sat for a while I would change the plugs out. But this step is really about making sure you are getting spark to the engine.

To do a quick check, simply remove the spark plug from the engine, insert it back into the spark plug wire, hold the electrode on the plug close to the engine or frame, and try to start the quad. If you’re seeing spark jump from the electrodes on the spark plug, you’re probably good to go.

If you aren’t getting spark, try a new plug. If still no spark, you should check out my ATV Not Getting Spark, How To Fix article, where I go more in depth about the spark plugs and the electrical system troubleshooting on the ATV. Also, make sure you get the right spark plugs for your year, make, and model and that they are gapped correctly.

Change Differential Fluid (4X4)

This step is only needed for 4X4 ATVs, and even then you may not need to do this. I usually do it just because I’m already changing all the other fluids anyway, so why not. Besides it’s just as easy as doing an oil change.

You will have a front and a rear differential, you’ll want to change the oil in both. The important thing for differential oil is to use the one that is recommended for your machine. You’ll have to look through your service manual or call the dealer to find out.

There are a few different types and different manufacturers recommend using different oils. Using the wrong one might cause damage to your differential. Once you have the right diff oil, all you need is some socket wrenches and a drain pan.

There will be a drain plug and an inspection plug for both front and rear differentials. First remove the drain plug and let all the diff oil drain. If you notice metal shavings in the oil, you could have a gearing problem. If you notice water or mud in the oil, you may have problem with the seals.

Once the oil has drained put the drain plug back in and remove the inspection plug. This is where you fill the differential with new diff oil. If the oil bottle doesn’t have a fill spout, you may need a funnel for this part.

Fill the differential with oil until it starts coming out of the inspection hole. Let it drain out until it is barely trickling, then replace the inspection plug. That’s it, follow those steps for both front and rear and you should be good to go.

Charge Or Replace Battery

Depending on how long the ATV has been sitting, you may be able to use the existing battery, it will just need to be charged. But if it sat for anything over a year, you’ll probably need to replace the battery all together.

If you need some tips on what charger to use or how to charge an ATV battery, check out my How To Charge An ATV Battery article. But most likely, this won’t help you all that much and you’ll end up needing to get a new battery.

You can usually get an ATV battery at your local auto parts store or at an ATV dealer. But I’ve been able to get batteries online for cheaper than they charge in the store. If you can wait for shipping, just get an ATV Battery On Amazon.

Try To Start It Up

Alright, you’ve done the tune up, now it’s time to try starting up the ATV. Put some fresh fuel in the tank, make sure the kill switch is on run, the key is on, and give it a go.

ATVs that have been sitting may be a little harder to start, especially older models. Give it some time and be patient, but not so much that you kill the battery trying to start it.

If you do get it running, I suggest putting some fuel system cleaner in with the gas and letting it run with that in it for a little bit. That way it can really clean out the rest of the engine. I use this Gumout Complete Fuel System Cleaner in my quads about once a year, and it works great.

Troubleshooting, Still Doesn’t Run

If you still can’t get the ATV running, you may have bigger problems you need to dive into. Most likely you have a problem with spark, fuel, or compression. Those are the most common reasons an ATV fails to start up.

To get more in depth step by step instruction to troubleshoot why your ATV still won’t start up, check out my ATV Won’t Start, Common Problems And How To Fix article. That article will solve 90 percent of the reasons an ATV won’t start.

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ATV Won’t Start – Troubleshooting the Most Common Causes

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 you attempt to start it. Choose the topic below that describes your bike’s behavior best to begin your troubleshooting.

Page Contents

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

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

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, ensure 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. An 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.

The solenoid is usually located near or on the starter.
  • 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. Ensure the float assembly is not stuck and pull up the float needle.
  • 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.

ATV does not start and stalls

Every ATV owner sooner or later faces a breakdown. And it doesn’t matter if you decide to buy an inexpensive ATV or a branded device. Of course, this is an unpleasant situation, but most problems can be fixed by hand. So let's figure out what to do if the ATV does not start.

Common causes of failure

Constant driving to the limit and improper operation of the equipment often causes a number of breakdowns. Due to high loads, it can fail:

  • Battery.
  • Starter.
  • Switch.
  • Ignition system.
  • Fuel system.

But most often, problems arise due to some trifle, such as low-quality gasoline, lack of oil or improper preservation of equipment.

Checking fluids

The first thing a motorist needs to do if the ATV does not start or stalls is to check the gas tank. If the fuel is idle for a long time, it may evaporate, and if the tank is empty, gasoline should be added. But if there is fuel in it, it is advisable to drain it. Very often, low-quality fuel comes across, which after a while simply ceases to ignite.

Don't forget the oil. If a low-quality liquid was poured into the system, the device will lose dynamics and may even stall. This problem is especially relevant for four-stroke quads, since their power unit must literally “float” in oil.

Starting the engine after a long period of inactivity

Another reason why the ATV does not start is improper preservation of the equipment. Even if you leave the device for a day in the garage, it must be prepared for downtime, otherwise starting the engine will be a real test.

Preservation requires:

  • Start the ATV.
  • Close the fuel cock.
  • Wait until the remaining gasoline in the carburetor is used up. This takes approximately 5-10 minutes.
  • Raise the machine seat.
  • Remove fuse. You can also remove the battery of the device if the outside temperature is low.

Many riders ignore this simple procedure, but this is the one that most often causes problems with starting equipment. For example, it is almost impossible to immediately start a “cold” engine. Therefore, the driver begins to methodically press the "start" button, and at this time the battery is discharged. After 10-15 attempts, the battery runs out, and it becomes unrealistic to start the equipment.

Important: In severe frost, it is imperative to carry out conservation of the ATV. If this is not done, condensation will collect at the bottom of the carburetor, and the quadric will have to “warm up” for several days.

Starter problems

ATV won't start due to starter or bad contacts. In this case, follow:

  • Check the condition of the wires. Very often, starter contacts oxidize, so they need to be regularly inspected and cleaned.
  • Check the starter relay. Oxidation may also appear here. Although the part is sealed, moisture can enter the device through microcracks. If the problem is in the relay, then it must be removed, cleaned of corrosion and oxidation. After that, the contacts are lubricated with a special grease. However, if the damage is severe, it is better to replace the part.

But what if the Chinese ATV won't start due to problems with the starter in the field or away from home? In this case, the rider needs to close the relay contacts with a screwdriver. Thus, the rider will be able to start the device bypassing the faulty starter.

No spark

No spark is another simple but annoying failure. It usually occurs due to damage to the coil or a break in the wires that go to the candle. Solving the problem is easy. The rider just needs to unscrew the candle, insert it into the cap, attach it with a metal part to the motor and press "start".

What should I do if my ATV won't start after winter?

Even minor downtime can prevent the ATV from starting, especially if it has been improperly preserved. And in order to “reanimate” the equipment after the winter, you should:

  • Fill with "fresh" fuel.
  • Check the condition of the starter wires and relay.
  • Check that the fuel system filter is dry.
  • Remove condensate from carburetor. The procedure is necessary if gasoline was not removed from the system before conservation. To do this, you need to flush the system or fill in special auto chemicals.
  • Check battery charge level and recharge if necessary.

Note: In winter or during the cold season, the rider is advised to open the choke to enrich the fuel mixture. This makes it easier to start the engine in cold weather. After the device has started, the damper must be returned to its original position.

06/16/2020 14025

How to start an ATV: methods and problems


  • Common failures
    • No fuel in the tank
    • Dead battery
    • Contact failure
    • Stop button
    • Pin buckled
    • Blown fuse
    • Switch failure
    • No spark
  • Start10
  • New models of ATVs are equipped with an electric starter. Therefore, problems with starting almost never arise. But in older models, manual kick starter can be installed. With him, beginners sometimes have difficulties.

    To start the ATV, do the following:

    • Check for fuel in tank and ignition key position. It must be in the "on" position. Also, the ignition switch must be in the "on" position on the control panel.
    • Speed ​​should be switched to "neutral ". You need to squeeze the clutch (if any), and then set the switch to the "neutral" position. The light on the control panel usually comes on at this point. You can also try pushing the ATV. If the wheels are spinning, then everything is done correctly.
    • If the ATV is cold, pull the choke lever towards you. So the mixture of gasoline will be enriched with air. This will make it easier to start a cold system. If the engine is warm, this manipulation is not required.
    • If the model is equipped with electric starter , just press and hold the corresponding button until the engine starts. If there is a kick starter, you need to get on the ATV and press the starter until the factory. In both cases, you need squeeze gas . The throttle valve will open, adding fuel to the engine.
    • choke lever is pressed back. As soon as the engine starts, the vehicle is ready to move.

    Start the CFMOTO 500 ATV with a manual starter?

    Watch this video on YouTube

    Common failures

    Lack of fuel in the tank

    Paradoxically, but sometimes the owners of ATVs simply forget to pour gasoline into the tank. Therefore, before proceeding with the diagnosis, it is worth checking the fuel level.

    Dead battery

    It is not uncommon for the cause of the problem to be insufficient battery charge . It can be charged at home. If the ATV is small, you can purchase an additional battery. The cost of batteries for budget models is relatively low.

    How to start an ATV?! If the battery is dead!? Life hacks! Subscriber reply | Irbis Atv 250s | SJ8Pro

    Watch this video on YouTube

    Contact failure

    If the battery is good, but the starter does not work, it may be worth looking for the cause in the starting system. It is necessary to try to close the contacts , which are located on the starter relay. To do this, you need to use a screwdriver. The relay is usually located under the seat. Two thick wires are connected to it.

    If you need to find a way to start the ATV without a key, you can also follow these steps. This technique will be effective only if the system is not controlled by the central computer . Otherwise, blocking will work.

    If, after the manipulations, the engine starts up, then the problem is in the launch system . Otherwise, you will need to look for the cause of the malfunction further or visit a service center.

    Stop button

    Each ATV has a stop button on the steering wheel. Usually it is red. This button is responsible for turning off the ignition, they turn off the engine . If you do not bring it to its previous position, the engine, of course, will not start. Therefore, it is worth checking in what position the "Stop" button is located.

    Clipped check

    Another security system provided in ATVs is a special check. This is a cable that is attached to the ATV at one end and to the driver at the other. If the latter falls off the ATV while driving, check flies out and the ignition turns off. You won't be able to start the vehicle without this receipt either. If this part is lost, you will need to look for the appropriate contacts and close them directly.

    Blown fuse

    Another possible reason why the ATV won't start is a blown fuse. If the ATV is small, there is usually only one fuse. He is located next to the battery . The suitability of this part for operation can be assessed visually. The cost of the fuse is cheap, so it is better to have several of these parts in stock.

    If there is no spare fuse, and the failure happened away from home, you can insert wire instead. This is a temporary solution that will allow you to get home. It is impossible to constantly replace the fuse with wire. You can burn much more expensive elements of the system.

    Switch failure

    This part is located under the seat or next to the motor (depending on the model). It's a small box with wires coming out of it. They are connected to the ignition coil. It is difficult to assess the health of this part, so it is better to contact a service center with a similar problem.

    No spark

    If the spark plug wire is broken or the ignition coil is broken, it will not be difficult to check the performance of these systems. The candle is unscrewed and inserted into the candle cap. Next, you need to attach it with the metal side to the engine and press the starter button. If there is no spark between the electrodes, this is a sign of a breakdown. Try cleaning the spark plug electrodes and adjusting the gap between them.

    If there is a spark, then the problem lies either in the candle cap or in the candle. You need to buy a new part and change it.

    Field launch

    It will be possible to eliminate many malfunctions and start the ATV even in the forest. For models with a manual transmission, you can try to start the engine from the pusher.

    Learn more