How to Fix Tao Tao ATV Won’t Start (Beginner’s Guide)

Nothing is more annoying than your ATV not starting when you are getting ready to take it out for a ride on the trails. As annoying as an ATV not starting might be, this problem is more common than you would think and it affects even some of the best four-wheelers made by reputable manufacturers around the world. In fact, Tao Tao ATV riders keep complaining that their ATVs will randomly stop starting. If you find yourself in this situation, you shouldn’t worry because today I will show why the Tao Tao ATV won’t start and how to fix it.

In general, Tao Tao ATVs will not start when an important function is turned off or switched to the wrong position. Go through all these steps before trying to start it again: hold down the foot brake, press the handle brake, check the position of the kill switch on your handlebars (or press the unlock button on the remote), check the position of the petcock, and make sure your engine is getting gas. Lastly, if you have a voltmeter, check the battery to see if it is sufficiently charged. The Tao Tao ATV should run without any problems if you followed the steps correctly. 

If your ATV is still not starting after following the aforementioned steps, you should pay attention to whether it is turning over or not. The most common causes why a quad will turn over but not fire are a faulty spark plug, a compression problem, or the fact that the engine isn’t getting enough fuel. A faulty spark plug is definitely the most common issue that affects these quads, but the silver lining is that fixing a bad ATV spark plug super easy to fix and quite inexpensive. I wrote a full guide that shows how you can do that.

There can be numerous reasons why a Tao Tao won’t start but don’t worry, most of them are easy to troubleshoot at home with just a few tools and little to no special skills. Keep on reading to find out what might be the reason why your Tao Tao won’t start.

infographic showing hot to fix Tao Tao ATV if it won't start

Top 6 Reasons Why Tao Tao ATV Won’t Start (and how to fix them)

a white and red Tao Tao ATV

Even though no one likes to think that this can happen to them, the most common reason why an ATV will not start (no matter the brand) is that people forget to press or turn on a switch. So before rushing to the mechanic’s shop and paying a small fortune for check-ups, you should make sure that everything is set right on your Tao Tao ATV. Follow the steps below:

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#1 Hold down the break and then press the electric start

It is important to know that most Chinese ATVs require holding down the break in order to get the engine started. One of the most common reasons Tao Tao four-wheelers won’t start is that people forget to hold down the break when pressing the electric start. If you press it without holding the brake, the engine won’t start. Make sure you read the four-wheeler’s manual as it provides you with all the information you need in order to understand how to operate and maneuver your quad.

Click here to read more about Chinese ATVs and what makes them stand out from American and European four-wheelers.

#2 Make sure the kill switch is in the right position

A kill switch is a safety mechanism designed to help you turn off your quad quickly in case of an emergency. The kill switch is connected to the ignition coil, the part of your ATV that sends a spark that ignites the engine, and when it is activated, it breaks the ground circuit. Basically, what it does is interrupt the circuit that sends electricity toward the engine so it goes without saying that if your kill switch is on, you will not be able to use your ATV. Most kill switches are installed on the handlebars for easy access but Chinese ATVs usually have an extra remote kill switch for emergency situations, such as when kids are driving the quad and you may need to kill the engine in order to prevent an accident. If you used the remote kill switch to turn off your ATV the last time you used it, make sure you press the unlock button on your remote before trying to start it again, otherwise, it will not start.

#3 Check the position of the petcock

A petcock or a gas shutoff valve is a system designed to control the flow of the fuel to the engine. It is typically located at the bottom of the tank and it needs to be open in order for your ATV to start. If the petcock is closed, it means that the gas flow to the engine is interrupted and obviously, your quad will not be able to start. Basically, the long side of the handle needs to be parallel to the incoming gas line for it to be open and to allow the gas to flow.

#4 Make sure the battery is sufficiently charged

Your Tao Tao won’t start if the battery isn’t charged. If you have trouble starting your ATV and you ruled out all the other possible issues, try charging your battery first. Another easy way to figure out if this is the problem is to check the battery with a voltmeter or multimeter if you have one on hand or, you can even change your battery with a new one if you sense that this is the problem.

#5 Check the spark plug

The most common technical issue that can cause a problem starting your Tao Tao is the spark plug. Don’t panic, this is one the cheapest things to fix and it is pretty easy to troubleshoot too. If anything is wrong with your starting system you would want it to be this issue because it’s that cheap and easy to fix.

To quickly check if the spark plug needs to be changed, start by visually inspecting it. If you notice it has any carbon residue build-up at the end of the plug, you definitely need to change it. If the spark plug looks fine but you still suspect that is the problem with your quad, take it out from the engine and insert it back into the coil wire. Lay the spark plug on a surface, such as a cylinder, so that the electrodes are relatively close to something grounded. Try starting the engine and observe if there is any spark coming out of the spark plug. If not, it needs to be changed.

#6 Check the Air Flow

All ATVs need air to start, so if you have trouble starting yours, make sure you check if it is getting enough air. A clogged air filter may result in problems running your quad or even starting it to begin with. In order to see if the air filter is the actual problem you just need to visually inspect it and see if it has any dirt built up that could interfere with the flow of air through it. If your air filter is not extremely old, you may solve the problem by giving it a good clean. Cleaning your Tao Tao ATVs air filter is an easy process that requires a cleaning solution, waterproof protection, and a tray. However, it would be best to change your air filter once in a while to prevent blockages.

How to Fix Tao Tao ATV Turns Over But Won’t Start

regular white on red ATV kill switch


In order to correctly diagnose your ATV, it is essential that you know the difference between your engine “starting” and “turning over.” Whether your ATV is not starting at all or turning over but not starting is completely different and it can mean either a cheap and easy fix or a more expensive and complicated one.

Turning Over

Turning over or cranking is the first process happening when you try to start your ATV. Basically, before your engine can ”fire” it needs to turn over. This mechanical process involves a lot of components and it starts by engaging the flywheel and rotating the crankshaft which creates that specific cranking noise you hear when you turn your key. If you don’t hear the noise that means your engine is not turning over. However, until the engine “fires” or “starts,” it’s only cranking and will not start unless it has a spark, fuel, and proper compression.


The mechanical process or turning over completes with the ignition system creating the spark, which will fire your engine. Your quad needs spark, fuel, and air in order to start so if your engine is turning over but not starting, look into these possible causes:

  • Check the spark plug

One of the most common reasons your engine will turn over but won’t start is a faulty spark plug, so make sure you first check this following the indications I left above. If your spark plug is not properly working, simply change it with a new one and see if that fixes the problem.

  • Check the fuel flow to the engine

It is possible that you forgot to fuel up your tank so start by checking if your gas tank has enough fuel in it to start your quad. Next, move on to the petcock and check its position. Remember that if the petcock is closed, the fuel flow to the engine is paused and your quad won’t be able to start. If you have gas in your tank and the petcock is open, it is time to look into the deeper stuff.

  • Perform a compression test

If you have checked for fuel and spark and your ATV is still not starting, it is time to do a compression test. You can test for compression using a compression tester that you can find at any hardware store.

How to perform the test:

  1. Remove the spark plug;
  2. Place the tester where your spark plug would go and proceed to start your machine as you would normally do;
  3. Remember to disconnect the carburetor from the manifold or perform the test with the throttle open;
  4. The compression should be around 120 psi.

An ATV whose compression is lower than 100 psi will not run well and it may not start at all. The most common causes that lead to low compression in quads are damaged or broken valve seals or worn pistons or piston rings. Replacing these components requires disassembling the engine to some degree so it is best to leave it in the hands of the professionals.

How Do You Start a Tao Tao ATV?

Tao Tao ATVs start basically like any other quad. If you just bought a Tao Tao, make sure you check the user’s manual in order to understand better how your quad operates and how to take better care of it. However, if you follow these 4 steps you should be able to start your Tao Tao in no time and hit the road:

  1. Put the ignition key in the ignition and turn it on;
  2. Pull the handle break/hold down the foot break/set the parking break feature;
  3. Make sure the kill switch is off (the one on the handle bars & the remote kill switch);
  4. Push the start button on the left handle and hit the road.

Final Words

The reasons why a Tao Tao won’t start are numerous and can go from simple issues like forgetting to turn your kill switch to more complex problems that require seeing a mechanic for repairs. However, make sure you check all the simple things before panicking as most of the time, people forget to hold down the break or that they had the kill switch on. Pay attention to whether your machine is turning over or not, as this is crucial information that can guide and help you better diagnose the problem. Other factors that can make a Tao Tao ATV stop starting are a drained battery or a clogged air filter, which can all be easily diagnosed and fixed at home if you have a few tools and if you are a little handy.

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 if you want to get in touch.

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