One of the most frequent issues showing up at dealerships and garages today is known as slow cranking. What is slow cranking? It’s when the starter cranks but doesn’t produce enough engine RPMs to start your ATV or UTV successfully.
It can be tricky to diagnose. And more often than not, it has us replacing parts that aren’t bad to begin with.
It’s definitely an issue that can become frustrating quickly. So let’s get to the bottom of it!
The first thing that comes to mind is the battery. If the battery isn’t good, it won’t have enough juice to power the engine. It’s a rule of thumb that most UTV and ATV batteries should last, on average, 2-3 years, depending on their environment and usage. Let’s inspect your battery.
It doesn’t hurt to remove the battery from your machine for a thorough inspection. You’ll want to look for the following things:
This is also known as open-circuit voltage. Take a multimeter or voltmeter to read the battery’s voltage under no load. The table below will indicate the level of health your battery should be at.
What is a battery conductance test? Good question—it’s an electrical measurement that determines if the battery can transmit current through an internal electrochemical structure. Essentially, you’re testing the battery’s ability to conduct current.
How does it work? You need a conductance battery tester. The tester will send low-frequency signals into the battery to determine its conductivity. A battery with a higher carrying capacity is stronger and has more conductivity. A lower-capacity battery will have less conductivity (batteries naturally lose their conductivity as they age).
They’re super easy to use and only take 1-2 minutes to give you printed results.
Open-circuit reading your battery gives you a lot of useful information, but sometimes it can be misleading. To double check the condition of your battery you should complete a load test. This type of test will tell you if the voltage of your battery drops when you draw power from it.
A healthy 200-400 CCA ATV or UTV battery should be able to maintain a voltage of 9.6 V or more even under load. And a 400 CCA battery should not drop below 10 V.
There’s two different ways you can complete a load test:
Your battery voltage should never fall under 12.4 V. If you’re battery is in good condition and at the correct voltage reading, then it has to be something else. Maybe its parasitic drain?
Electrical accessories are always great to have, but if you’re not careful they can easily cause you more problems like parasitic drain. What exactly is parasitic drain? It’s when your electrical components consume energy while your rig is parked. In return draining your battery power. It’s normal for this to happen a little bit, especially if your side-by-side has a GPS. But it shouldn’t drain your battery so much that you couldn’t start your side-by-side.
Essentially, you’ll need a multimeter to make this diagnosis and follow these six steps:
Step 1: Prepare for Testing—Make sure your battery is fully charged, and any GPS, lightbars, stereos, or other electrical accessories have been disconnected.
Step 2: Disconnect the Battery—Disconnect the negative cable from the negative battery terminal.
Step 3: Set up a digital multimeter—The multimeter has both a black wire and a red wire attached to it as well as several different input slots. Connect the black wire to the common ground input and plug the red wire into the highest amp input. Set the dial on the multimeter to measure amps.
Step 4: Connect the Multimeter—Place the red lead through the metal circle at the end of negative battery cable. Touch the black lead to the negative battery terminal.
Step 5: Read the Meter—Anything higher than 50 mA generally means something is drawing power, and you likely have a parasitic draw.
Step 6: Pulling/Narrowing Down Fuses—Locate the fuse panel and start pulling out fuses while watching for any drop in the reading on the multimeter. If you have more that 50 milliamps then you’re experiencing a parasitic draw.
If you ruled out a faulty battery and parasitic drain, then it’s most likely your starter. To be sure, here is how you should test it:
Step 1: Use a digital multimeter and connect the multimeter’s probes to the positive and negative terminals of the battery.
Step 2: Using jumper cables, connect the positive cable to the positive terminal on the battery, and the negative cable to the negative terminal.
Step 3: Then attach the negative jumper cable to the starter motor’s body to ground it.
Step 4: Hold the positive jumper cable to the battery cable terminal on the starter motor. If your motor is in good health, this step will activate it.
If there’s something wrong with the starter motor, your starter motor won’t do anything in step 4.
Slow cranking—happens more often then you think and can be a real pain in the butt to diagnosis. If your lucky then maybe it was your battery. Even though batteries can be costly, they’re really easy to replace. On the other hand, installing a starter can be a little more complicated. But first you have to buy a new one. Check out our UTV and ATV starters.
And if our troubleshooting solutions weren’t able to give you a diagnosis, then you’re probably looking at a more complicated problem. Don’t hesitate to take your machine to a dealer or local mechanic. Who knows—you’re warranty may even cover the repairs.
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