Troubleshooting Tips for the Polaris Sportsman 500

Not Turning Over

If the engine does not turn over, Polaris suggests three potential problems and solutions. First, there may be low battery voltage, and owners should try to recharge the battery to 12.8 VDC. Two other problems may be that there are loose connections on the battery or on the solenoid. In either case, owners should check and tighten all connections.

Not Starting

If the engine turns over but will not start, it is possible that the ATV is out of fuel. If that turns out to be the case, fill the tank. Then turn the cycle key to “on” three times for five seconds each, at which point the engine should start if lack of fuel was the problem. It is also possible that water is present in the fuel or that the fuel is too old, in which case it must be drained and refilled. If there are defective spark plugs or no spark is going to them, then the spark plugs should be inspected and replaced as necessary.


If the engine backfires, it is possible that there is a weak spark, an incorrect spark plug gap, old or waterlogged fuel, or loose ignition connections. Owners should inspect/clean/replace spark plugs, set correct gap distance, drain and replace fuel and check/tighten all connections, respectively. For other possible problems, such as incorrectly installed spark plug wires, incorrect ignition timing, or leaking exhaust components, consult our sponsor,


If the engine runs irregularly, stalls or misfires, it is possible that there are dirty or defective spark plugs, which must be inspected, cleaned or replaced accordingly. It is also possible that there is low battery voltage. The 2011 Scrambler 500 battery must be charged to 12.8 VDC. Additionally, there may be incorrect or water-filled fuel, which must be drained and replaced. Engine stalling may happen if a rider starts/stops without adequate warm-up. In that case, a rider should allow the engine to fully warm up before operation. A dealer should be consulted if there is a clogged fuel filter, a reverse speed limiter malfunction, worn/defective spark plug wires, electronic throttle control malfunction or any kind of mechanical failure.


If the Sportsman 500 engine is overheating, it may be that there is debris stuck in the screen. The debris must be removed prior to further operation. It is also possible that the radiator is plugged. An owner can take care of this by using a garden hose to wash debris from the radiator fins. Polaris cautions that powerful hoses (i.e. from pressure washers) can damage and deform these fins and thus should not be used.

Stopping/Losing Power

When the Sportsman 500 stops or loses power, this may be because there is not enough fuel. Owners should refill fuel and turn the cycle key to the “on” position three times before attempting to start the engine again. If this is not the problem, it may be that there is a damaged or clogged fuel vent line, which should be inspected or replaced if necessary. The engine may also stop if there is watered-down or incorrect fuel, which must be drained and replaced. Ignition connections should be inspected and tightened, and spark plugs should be cleaned and replaced if necessary.