6 Ways to Fix ATV Keeps Stalling (Easier than you think)

As much as we would like our ATVs to run smoothly in any condition, with time every machine can get into some trouble. If your ATV keeps stalling, there are a number of issues to check for. Today I will give you the complete rundown on stalling quads, sputtering, and backfiring so that you can solve your ATV’s problems in no time.

ATV stalling can be caused by a variety of factors, such as dirty carburetor, dirty fuel filter, dirty air filter, bad petcock, valves in need of adjustment, faulty spark plug, and vapor lock. Since there are so many possible causes for a stalling quad, the key to solving this problem is starting with the basics and moving on to more specific issues. If there are other symptoms such as backfiring or sputtering, these can indicate mainly a bad fuel mixture or ignition issue. It is important to take into account all the signs of malfunctioning to test and determine the reason why your ATV keeps stalling.

An ATV that keeps stalling is not a problem that you can ignore, because it hinders the off-road experience and can result in even more serious issues with your quad. Keep on reading to learn my recommended steps to follow when your ATV keeps stalling.

What to Do When Your ATV Keeps Stalling

In order to solve the issue of a stalling ATV, you need to find the source of the problem. Depending on the maintenance you performed on your quad and its riding history, the answer you are looking for will vary. That being said, in most cases ATVs that keep stalling are facing a carburetor issue. This is why I recommend you start by checking this cause first.

#1 Clean your fuel tank and carburetor

A common reason for stalling is that your ATV is either running a rich or lean mixture of fuel. This indicates a problem with your carburetor. Before moving onto changing parts, I recommend you clean the carburetor and fuel tank. This is especially important if your quad has not been regularly used, meaning that the fuel sitting in it can turn bad.

Start by removing and draining the fuel tank and washing it out thoroughly. Then, use a carb cleaner to cleanse the carburetor. Once you put everything back together, run the quad to see if the same issue arises. If so, move on to the next step.

Talking about the carburetor, you might want to check out this article I wrote where I highlight what can happen if an ATV overheats.

#2 Change fuel filter and air filter

Another reason why you might be getting the wrong mixture of fuel is a clogged or dirty filter. Make sure to check both the fuel filter and air filter and change them if necessary.

#3 Adjust the valves

If you notice that your ATV stalls after a cold start, then you might be dealing with valves that choke off fuel. As a general rule, valves need to be adjusted after around three oil changes. If you have not been keeping up with this maintenance procedure, then it might be time to go in a mechanic’s shop and check your valves.

#4 Check your spark plug

Your stalling problem can be caused by a dirty or worn spark plug that causes an inconsistent spark. Test the spark plug and notice the color of the spark. If you have a blue spark that is strong, then the spark plug is not the issue. However, if you notice a weak orange spark, then it might be time to change your spark plug.

#5 Check the petcock

When you check the spark plug, make sure to look at its color too. If it is a dark brown or almost black, then it indicates a rich mixture. If none of the fixes above solved the issue and you are running a rich mixture, there is a chance your petcock is the cause. Check to see if the bike runs in prime, reserve, and on. If the first two positions work fine but the third one not, then you know your petcock needs changing.

#6 Check for vapor lock

Vapor lock means that your fuel is so overheated that it vaporizes and no longer works how it should. This can be caused by high temperatures under your hood, dirty fuel filter, or fuel lines that touch the hot engine. If your ATV starts stalling after around 20 minutes and then works fine when it’s cooled, then this might be the culprit of your issues.

If none of these solutions fix your problem, then it might be time to get into a mechanic’s shop. Some less common causes are a bad TPS, bad pilot jets, bad ECU, or even a broken sensor.

In case your ATV shuts off when idle, you should look at the air filter, spark plug, adjust the valves, and clean the carburetor. Another cause might be that the choke is sticking. A dirty carburetor can also result in an ATV that won’t idle without a throttle.

How Do I Fix My ATV Sputter?

An ATV that sputters might be the sign of a bad spark plug, a faulty ignition coil, or a carb-related issue. Start by cleaning out your carburetor, then check for a gas leak in your float bowl gasket. If your carb looks like it is working just fine, then see if there is any corrosion on your spark plug. Last but not least, your ATV sputter might be caused by an ignition coil that does not send enough spark. Change the ignition coil and check if your ATV is still sputtering.

The best way to avoid dealing with annoying issues like ATV stalling or backfiring is to invest in a premium model that is built to last. Take a look at the toughest ATVs on the market and their top features.

How Do I Stop My ATV From Backfiring?

Much like most ATVs that keep stalling, backfiring is caused by a lean or rich fuel mixture. In order to stop your ATV from backfiring, clean the fuel tank and carburetor. If a maintenance check is coming up, then it might be time to change your fuel and air filter. Last but not least, check for delayed engine timing, another common cause of backfiring.


If you run regular maintenance checks on your ATV, you are likely not to run into a stalling, sputtering, or backfiring issue. In case your four wheeler has been sitting in a shed or garage for a long period of time, make sure to clean out the fuel tank and carburetor before going out off-roading. These measures will prevent these problems from happening again. If you live in a hot climate and vapor lock is likely to happen, then try using a thermal barrier to prevent your fuel lines from getting hot.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at bobtheatvguy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.

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