You are driving your Polaris and suddenly a light comes on your dashboard that you hoped would never come on. The check engine light indicates that something is wrong with the engine. Since the light is orange, you can continue driving, but it is best to stop and look for the problem that caused the light to come on.
The Polaris check engine light can be a cause for concern when it appears during your ride. It means that your vehicle’s engine or other parts may be having problems. In this detailed guide, we will explain the reasons why Polaris check engine lights happen, explain what’s causing the problem, and suggest ways to fix it. By following the troubleshooting steps and considering the costs, you can fix the problem and get back on the road.
What Is The Problem?
Picture this scenario: You embark on a long ride with your trusty Polaris ATV or UTV, relishing the thrill of the open road. However, after approximately 20 miles, your excitement is dampened as the vehicle begins to lose power and eventually backfire. In an attempt to rectify the issue, you turn off the ignition and wait a couple of minutes before starting the engine again. It runs smoothly for a short while, only to repeat the same pattern of power loss and backfiring. This frustrating experience continues intermittently until you finally return to your trailer or home, seeking answers to the perplexing question: What is going on with your Polaris vehicle?
When your Polaris vehicle’s engine loses power and backfires, accompanied by a check engine light, it can be a frustrating experience. A customer says:
“I had a moment of panic when the check engine light in my Polaris vehicle suddenly came on during a long ride. It started losing power and backfiring, making the whole experience frustrating. It turned out to be a faulty spark plug, and replacing it resolved the problem.”
The symptoms described by the customer in the example indicate potential issues within the engine system. To address the problem effectively, we will explore possible causes and provide suggested fixes.
Troubleshooting Steps and Fixes
This is what you can do to solve the problem.
1. Check the Battery
The first step in troubleshooting a starting problem is to ensure the battery is functional and charged. Use a multimeter to check the battery voltage, which should read between 12.6V and 12.8V. If the battery is defective or not adequately charged, it is recommended to replace it. The cost of a new battery varies depending on the model, but generally ranges from $50 to $150.
2. Assess the Spark
A weak or absent spark can prevent the engine from starting. To check the spark, unscrew the spark plug from the cylinder head and insert it into the spark plug wire socket. Ground the spark plug against a metal surface like the cylinder and start the engine to evaluate the strength of the spark. If the spark is weak or lacking, replace the spark plug.
Additionally, inspect the coil and replace it if it is not functioning properly. The cost of a new spark plug typically ranges from $5 to $15, while a replacement coil can cost between $30 and $100.
3. Inspect the Ignition System
If there is no spark or the engine does not crank when attempting to start it, it is necessary to inspect the ignition system. Check the kill switch, primary fuse, solenoid, and their connections for any damage or loose connections. Additionally, examine the starter motor for any issues. Repairing or replacing components of the ignition system can vary in cost depending on the specific problem and parts needed.
4. Evaluate the Fuel System
If the engine cranks and there is a strong spark, the fuel system should be assessed. Begin by ensuring the gas tank is full. Next, remove the fuel line and start the engine to see if fuel flows properly. If there is no fuel flow, inspect the fuel and intake systems, including the fuel pump, fuel line, and fuel and air filters for clogs or damage.
Old fuel, over six months, can cause corrosion in the fuel system and should be replaced. Check for water in the air filters and clean or reinstall the air intake system as needed. If the fuel pump is malfunctioning, it is recommended to replace it.
The cost of an OEM fuel pump replacement is approximately $179.99, and it usually includes color instructions. Installation can typically be done within 30 minutes using simple hand tools.
5. Assess Engine Compression
Insufficient engine compression can result in difficulty pulling fuel into the cylinder and maintaining engine operation. To check engine compression, a leak-down test using a compression tester kit is recommended. This test helps identify potential issues such as
A leaking or worn-out head gasket or a blown piston ring. The cost of an OEM engine head gasket for a Polaris Sportsman, for example, is around $52.00.
Beyond The Battery, Fuel System And Spark
While the battery and spark-related issues are often the first suspects, it is important to consider the less explored realms that could contribute to the check engine light’s unsettling presence. Let us venture forth and shed light on these lesser-known causes:
- Faulty Oxygen Sensor: The oxygen sensor measures the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gases and helps regulate the fuel-air mixture. A malfunctioning oxygen sensor can lead to an incorrect fuel mixture, affecting engine performance and triggering the check engine light.
- Malfunctioning Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF): The MAF sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine and adjusts fuel injection accordingly. If the MAF sensor becomes contaminated or fails, it can cause irregular fuel-air mixture and trigger the check engine light.
- Sensor or Wiring Harness Problems: Faulty sensors or damaged wiring harnesses can disrupt communication between different engine components, leading to incorrect readings and triggering the check engine light.
- ECM/ECU Malfunction: The Engine Control Module (ECM), also known as the Engine Control Unit (ECU), is responsible for managing various engine functions. In rare cases, a malfunctioning ECM/ECU can result in erroneous signals, leading to the check engine light activation.
The Polaris check engine light should not be ignored, as it indicates potential problems within the engine system. By following the troubleshooting steps provided in this guide and considering the associated costs, you can diagnose and address common causes effectively.
However, if you encounter persistent issues or are unsure about performing any of the troubleshooting steps, go to your dealer.