How to Troubleshoot a Polaris Sportsman 500

The Sportsman 500 make of ATV first went on sale by Polaris Industries in 1996. Polaris engineers designed the ATV as a utility quad, to be able to handle heavy loads, towing, and rugged or rocky trails. Well-received by consumers and professional reviewers alike, this bike has won much praise throughout the years, including a "Best Value ATV" awarded for 2008 by In 2011 Polaris will release three different Sportsman 500 models: the Sportsman 500 H.O., the Forest 500, and the Touring H.O. 500. Polaris gave similar troubleshooting tips for all three models.

If the engine does not turn over, the circuit breaker may be tripped. Reset the breaker.

If the engine still does not turn over, a blown fuse may be the problem. Replace the fuse and try to start the engine again.

If the engine still does not turn over, it is possible that the battery voltage is low. Recharge the battery to 12.8 volts.

If the engine still does not turn over, check and tighten all battery and solenoid connections.

For continued problems in turning over the engine, take the quad to a certified Polaris dealer for inspection and possible repairs.

If the engine turns over but does not start, the quad may be out of fuel. Fill the gas tank to an adequate level with unleaded gasoline.

A clogged fuel valve may also prevent the engine from starting. Inspect and clean the fuel valve and replaceit if necessary.

Water may also be present in the fuel system, particularly if the quad has been exposed to large amounts of water or rain. If this cause is likely, drain the fuel system and refuel with unleaded gasoline.

If the engine still will not start, check the spark plug. If it is dirty beyond cleaning or defective, replace with an NGK BKR6E spark plug.

If you suspect water in the crankcase or some kind of mechanical failure, take the quad to a Polaris dealer for repairs.

If the engine starts but stalls or misfires, the spark plug may also be the problem. Clean, replace if necessary, and ensure that the spark plug gap is set to 0.035 inches.

If it appears as though the spark plug wires are worn or defective, the quad should be taken to a dealer for repairs.

A kinked or plugged fuel tank vent line may also be the problem. Inspect and replace if this is the case.

Ensure that the quad is filled with unleaded gasoline. Any other kind of fuel can cause misfiring problems.

Inspect the air filter. If it is clogged, replace it.

If the engine still misfires or stalls, take it to the shop for inspection.

If the engine suddenly loses power, this may be because the quad ran out of fuel. If this is the case, refill with unleaded gasoline, turn the cycle key to the "on" three times for five seconds each and then restart it.

It is also possible that the engine is overheated. If so, clean the radiator screen and core with a dry cloth, clean the engine's exterior, and let the quad cool down.

Defective spark plugs, low battery voltage, incorrect fuel, or low battery voltage may also cause the engine to stop. If so, follow instructions for each above.

If the engine still loses power, take the Sportsman 500 to a certified Polaris dealer for inspection.

If the driving belt is wearing out or burning, this may be because the quad has been driven at consistently low RPMs or ground speeds of three to seven miles per hour. Drive at faster speeds for slower driver belt wear.

It is also possible that the quad hasn't had time to warm up properly before operation, which can cause the belt to burn. To protect against this, warm the engine for a minimum of five minutes. Put the transmission in neutral and advance to about one-eighth of the throttle for short bursts, five to seven times, allowing the belt to become more flexible before operation.

A worn driving belt can also be caused by a slow clutch engagement. Instead, use the throttle quickly.

The belt must also be warmed properly, particularly in cold weather conditions. Operate the quad for at least one mile under 30 miles per hour in cold weather. After one mile, the quad may be driven at faster speeds

Poor engine performance can also cause the belt to wear quickly. Ensure that the engine is working properly, as troubleshooted above.


For any more serious repairs or mechanical failures, take the 2011 Sportsman 500 to a certified Polaris dealer for repairs.


Exercise caution when handling fuel or batteries, as both can emit explosive fumes. Battery fluid also can burn skin or eyes. Wear gloves and eye protection when handling the quad's battery.

Things You'll Need

  • Unleaded gasoline
  • NGK BKR6E spark plug
  • Dry cloth
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About the Author

Brianna has been writing professionally since 2009. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and is excited to be part of a community that contributes to the free sharing of information and ideas.