What kind of problems does a Polaris Sportsman 850 normally have? In this blog, we’ve outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for a Polaris Sportsman 850. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every single problem in detail. Furthermore, we’ll tell you how to identify it, fix it and how much it costs to fix. Read on!

Also read: Are Polaris ATVs Reliable, Check Your Model Here!

polaris sportsman 850 problems

Join our free Facebook group and ask your question there. We promise you, you’ll get an answer from one of our team members or group members. Join the group here!

1. Battery Issues

Polaris stock batteries have been a problem for a long time. Some users had to replace them only a few weeks after purchasing the machine, while others get seven years or more from them. It is quite hit-or-miss.

A customer reports that,

“I began with a dead battery. I boosted it and the machine ran wonderfully and even restarted on its own for the final 60 km run. I cleaned and stored the ATV, and when I checked a day later, the battery was entirely dead. There was no problem with the stator, voltage regulator harness, and no chaffing or exposed wires”.

Getting a better battery can sort the problem.

Also read: 7 x Most Common Polaris Voltage Regulator Problems!

2. Electrical Problems

A customer complains that,

“I recently got a 2019 Sportsman 850 with 350 miles and 75 hours on the clock. I replaced the defective battery, and she operated fine for a few days while trail riding for roughly 5 hours per day. The monitor backlight would occasionally turn off and on while I rode, and the battery light would turn on and off, but she still functioned smoothly. I neglected to connect the battery tender one day, and the next day all I heard was clicking; the battery was dead.
I charged everything up and took it for a test drive, which went OK at first, but then the backlight flickered on and off, and the battery light came back on. After approximately 10 minutes of riding, I noticed smoke coming from beneath the front rack, but before I stopped the ATV, it simply cut out and died with no warning or display. When I removed the front rack, I noticed smoke coming out of the sides of the battery, and it was extremely hot. After that, I couldn’t turn the key or see anything”.

This kind of issue may arise due to a defective voltage regulator. To test the regulator, connect the meter leads to the battery with the ATV operating. It should read between 14.5 and 13.5 volts. If the reading is higher, the battery has overcharged, and you need to replace the regulator rectifier. A genuine OEM Polaris sportsman 850 Voltage Regulator costs around $102.

However, if you can’t identify and resolve the problem, look for a dealership with experienced technicians who have worked on them for years. Typically, electrical issues require a skilled mechanic.

3. Engine Problems

Engine problems include hard starts, misses, backfires, engine running but not idle or idling but not revving up, power loss, and overheating.

Ensure that the battery is functional and charged to solve a starting problem. You can use a multimeter to check that the battery voltage is 12.6 – 12.8V. Replace a bad battery. If the battery is good, check if the spark is powerful. Remove the plug from the cylinder head, reattach it in the boot, and earth it by placing it on the cylinder. Crank the engine and check for the spark.

Replace a defective plug. Check and replace the coil, if malfunctioned. Examine your ignition system if there is no spark or the engine does not crank when you start it. The ignition system includes the kill switch, primary fuse, solenoid and connections, and starter motor.

Check the fuel system if the engine cranks and there is a strong spark. Find out if the gas tank is full. Pull out the fuel line and crank the engine to test whether gas flows. Inspect the fuel pump, the fuel and air intake systems, and a blockage in the fuel line, fuel sieve, or air filters. Check for water in the gas, fuel line, and air filters. Clean and reinstall the air intake system.

Usually, many engine issues, such as hard starts, misses, sputters, backfires, stalling, or even engine shut down while driving, occur due to a defective fuel pump. Test the fuel pump pressure with a fuel pressure gauge attached to the tank outlet. It is critical to rev your engine during the testing because the pressure will often be good at idle but not at higher RPM, indicating losing prime.

When the fuel pump is cold, the pressure may appear normal, but drop as the pump warms up. To properly test the performance of your fuel pump, you must run it with a gauge to measure the fuel PSI during normal operation. The price of an OEM Polaris Sportsman 850 fuel pump replacement is around $201.15. It comes with color instructions, and you can use simple hand tools to install the pump within 30 minutes.

With low compression, your engine can’t pull fuel into the cylinder and stops functioning. A leaking or worn-out head gasket or a blown piston ring are common causes of loss of compression. Perform a leak-down test with a compression tester kit to check for compression. An OEM Polaris Sportsman head gasket costs approximately $52.00.

4. Fire Hazard

There have been multiple fire incidents involving the Sportsman 850. It led to Polaris and the CPSC recalling some 19,200 units of the 2015 and 2016 Sportsman All-Terrain Vehicles, including the 850, due to the fire hazard. The heat shield on the right-side panel may melt, putting riders at risk of burns and fire.

5. Transmission Problems

Transmission issues usually stem from the drive belt, drive clutches, or misalignment. Transmission and gear shifting problems can occur due to a worn or shredded drive belt, misaligned clutches, a defective or loose engine mount, or an aftermarket drive belt. Gear shift issues that only happen when the engine is running are often result from high idle or clutch or belt problems.

Worn-out EBS washers, misaligned clutches, or an offset drive belt are all common causes of the CVT failing to disengage properly or engaging too soon. If the engine is idling too high, the clutch spring is weak, the clutches are unclean, or the belt is not loose enough owing to the driving clutch, you will have gear shift troubles.

For example, a customer reports that,

“I bought a Sportsman 850 in June and rode it for the first 25 hours or so without any issues. Then, shifting became increasingly hard, which turned out to be due to a faulty primary clutch from the factory, which kept changing the belt alignment and eventually destroying the belt. Polaris replaced the clutch under warranty but not the belt, even though the faulty clutch destroyed it due to alignment issues. After a while, I gave each wheel a good shake and noticed the right rear had access play, which turned out to be the arm bushings, which I grease after every rid!”.

An OEM Polaris Sportsman 850 drive belt costs approximately $149.99.

Also read: 6 x Most Common Polaris Transmission Problems!

6. Power Steering Problems

The Sportsman may be prone to power steering issues, posing a crash hazard. It is because of the malfunction of the electronic power steering unit.

For example, a customer complained that,

Also read: 6 x Most Common Polaris Steering Problems!

“My Polaris Sportsman 850 power steering has started to fail. The power steering stops working after a few minutes of riding, and the light comes on. I turn the key off and on again for a few minutes and repeat the process. The time range varies. It may take only 3 or 4 minutes, while other times it can last for 15 minutes or more. The dealer has it right now and claims the voltages are off, and it needs a new power steering unit.”

The problem seems acute with the 2017 Sportsman models, leading to a recall notice Polaris and the CPSC recalled around 10,000 units due to a crash hazard. Polaris or your dealer should have contacted you to schedule a repair if your ATV was among the recalls. Even if your vehicle is not among the recalls, if you have a power steering problem, have it checked.