Can-Am is a pioneer when it comes to off-road vehicles such as ATVs and UTVs. They have a massive client base, and they do have a successful lineup to back that up. Even with all this success, you cannot overlook the fact that the company has been plagued by Can-Am clutch problems for a long time.

Depending on the year your ride was manufactured, you could either have trouble with the timing chain or the timing belt. Apart from that, the main issue is with the one-way bearing which can be avoided with a routine clean-up and lubrication.

Due to this issue, some models are more consistently affected than others.  Let us look at some of the problems that you could encounter with the clutch on your Can-Am. Furthermore, at the end of this, you will know how to perform required repairs and their costs.

Also read: Are Can-Ams Reliable, Check Your Model Here!

Can am Clutch problems

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1. Shredded Belt – Can-AM Outlander

Can-Am Outlander from recent years consist of a timing belt rather than a timing chain. Though belts are considered a significant improvement over chains, belts are prone to shredding. That being said, belts are supposed to last upwards of 3000 miles. This doesn’t seem to be the case with the Can-Am Outlander.

Here’s what an Outlander owner had to say about the belt. “When I bought it the belt was blown, so I ordered a new one, installed it, and then it was acting weird, was creeping in gear, would hardly go anywhere. If I backed off the throttle a little I could feel it slowly gear up in the CVT but didn’t have near the acceleration a 1000 outlander should have. Then I blew my new belt after less than 30 minutes of riding.”

In these cases, before the belt shreds, you would notice a significant increase in RPMs. In most cases, you’d max out the RPMs at around 20 mph. Riding slow and keeping the RPMs low can save your belt from shredding. Though it is not a permanent solution, you might be able to make it back with the belt intact.

In the case of a Can-Am, shredded belts are often a result of a dirty primary clutch. It is also to be noted that the clutch in the Outlander is quite exposed, so requires regular attention. You need to allocate some time every 6 months or at least every year to take apart your clutch and clean it.

Also read: 6 x Most Common Can-Am Outlander Problems!

Another possible cause for shredded belts is worn sheaves. This is not common among ATVs, but there is an odd chance of this happening. When it does happen, it is often due to a piece of debris that finds its way inside the clutch. This grinds on the sheaves and, possibly, your weights as well.

In this case, the best solution is to replace the clutch. This is one of those rare instances where an after-market clutch could be better than the stock. But if you wanted to go with the stock instead, you can get them for next to nothing if you do some digging, since many owners swap it out for an after-market clutch.

2. Shifting Hard

This is often a result of a lack of maintenance. There are 2 possible reasons why your gears might not be shifting smoothly as mentioned below.

  1. Lack of gear oil
  2. Lack of lubrication

The first thing you could look into is the gear oil. It is easier to solve, and it is a cheap fix. So, even if it doesn’t solve your problem, you won’t be investing too much money or time.

Now let’s look at what to do if gearbox oil doesn’t do the trick. In this case, you need to focus on lubrication. The component that requires your attention is the one-way bearing. When it isn’t adequately lubricated, that is when you start facing problems with the shifting.

If your ATV is more than 3 years old, you might as well consider replacing the one-way bearing altogether, since it isn’t going to cost a lot. Otherwise, you could just clean the bearing and get it back in. While you are at it, it might be beneficial to replace your clutch spring as well, if your ATV is over 3 years old.

The Can-Am dealership recommends the use of Isoflex grease for lubricating the one-way bearing. But you can use Super lube grease, which is just a fraction of the cost and is better than Isoflex when looking at the specs.

When cleaning the one-way bearing, make sure to pull it out carefully, so you don’t lose any springs or the cups. Continue to pull the dust shields off both sides. Wash the bearing with dish soap or any other suitable detergent. An old toothbrush should be suitable for scrubbing the bearing.

Once you clean, run a final check to ensure that there is no grit stuck to it. Rinse it with hot water, dry it, lubricate it, and put it back in. Add a dab of grease to the springs and cups as well.

Also read: 6 x Most Common Can-Am Defender Problems!

3. Gears Stuck

A customer explained,

“when started, will not allow me to shift gears while the bike is on. When I have it off, it shifts fine. Also, when starting the bike I hear metal clanking which just doesn’t sound right. When in gear or reverse, the bike will start to creep when not using the throttle”.

This is a more severe case of the earlier problem. Let’s assume your one-way bearing lacks lubrication and your gears are shifting hard. Since you are still able to shift gears, you don’t mind the hassles and continue to use your ATV. Eventually, your gears will get stuck, and you’ll encounter similar symptoms as the user above.

This happens when your one-way bearing is dried out, starving for grease, and eventually starts to wear off. When it ceases to function, it would result in gears that cannot be shifted, rendering your ATV unrideable. Sometimes, the issue accelerated with the presence of debris inside the primary clutch. If foreign matter is stuck around the bearing, grease might not be enough to protect it.

You’d have to take your clutch apart and inspect the bearing to solve the problem. A thorough inspection will let you know whether the bearing can be salvaged. But you’d probably have to replace it.

A complete one-way bearing replacement kit would cost around $35. This comes with the springs and the cups. Time-wise, it’ll take around 2 hours. Even if you are inexperienced, it won’t take more than 3 hours.

4. Stretched Timing Chain

If you have a new Can-Am, this is not something to be worried about. This problem is present in the earlier generations of Can-Am, when timing belts weren’t as popular as they are today.

This can be one of the hardest problems to fix, depending on the model and the engine. A quick look at the timing chain is enough to find out whether the timing chain is stretched or not. If the chain feels soggy and loose, it is definitely stretched. The tensioner can only take in so much chain before the chain needs to be replaced.

Usually, you’d calibrate the tensioner to tighten the timing chain. So, how do you know that it is no longer an option?

Also read: 7 x Most Common Can-Am Commander Problems!

Remove the cam chain tensioner, and let the arm extend all the way out. Then, go ahead and install the tensioner back onto the cylinder. In theory, you shouldn’t be able to bolt it back on, there should be a gap between the tensioner body and cylinder, that way you know you still have enough throw in the arm to keep tension on the chain – if it installs without any force, you’ve got a stretched chain that needs to be replaced.

In some engines, replacing the timing chain is not that hard, since you can do the repair without removing the engine. On the other hand, in some models, the engine has to come off to replace the timing chain.

A replacement timing chain for your Can AM should cost anywhere between $100 to $200. With the gaskets and other miscellaneous tools, you should expect to spend a total of around $300.