How to Start an ATV with Bad Starter: Revive Your Ride

Starting an ATV with a bad starter can be a real challenge. I’ve been in situations where my ATV wouldn’t start, and I had to find a way to get it going. It can be frustrating, especially if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have any tools or resources to help you. Luckily, there are multiple ways to get an ATV started without a functioning starter.

There are three methods to start an ATV that doesn’t have a working starter. You can use a screwdriver to touch the two metal posts on the solenoid together and create a spark that will start the ATV. The second method is to jump start the ATV with help from a running ATV or car and starter cables. The final method and easiest one is the push start method. You get the four-wheeler on a flat surface, keep the clutch pressed, and ask to push from behind while you put in second gear and release the clutch quickly.

I know from experience that dealing with a bad ATV starter can be scary, especially if you get stuck on the trail. This is why I decided to write this comprehensive guide on starting four-wheelers even when the starter is not working right. Keep reading because I will also explain how an ATV starter works.

information aboout How to Start an ATV with Bad Starter

Starting an ATV with Bad Starter

Kawasaki Brute Force 300

If you have a bad starter on your ATV, don’t worry, there are still ways to start it up. You don’t even have to visit the mechanic. Here are the best ways to start your four-wheeler that doesn’t have a good starter:

#1 The Screwdriver Method

One way to start an ATV with a bad starter is by using a screwdriver. Follow the steps below”

  1. Locate the starter solenoid on your ATV.
  2. Take a screwdriver and touch the two metal posts on the solenoid together.
  3. This should create a spark and start the ATV.

Sidenote: You need to be careful when using the screwdriver method to start your quad because the spark can be dangerous.

#2 Jump Start the ATV

Another method to start an ATV with a bad starter is by jump-starting it. Even though this jump starting ATVs might seem complicated, I assure you this is not the case. Here is how I do it:

  1. Get a car or another ATV with a good battery.
  2. Connect the two batteries with jumper cables.
  3. Turn on the good battery and try to start the ATV.
  4. If the ATV starts, disconnect the jumper cables and let it run for a while. This will charge the battery.

Keep in mind that push starting an automatic ATV is a bit more complicated than a manual one.

#3 Push Start

The push-start technique is one of the simplest ways to start an ATV with a bad starter. However, the downside is that you will need someone to help you do it.

  1. Find a flat surface and get the ATV rolling.
  2. Put the ATV in second gear and hold the clutch in.
  3. Get someone to push you from behind.
  4. Release the clutch quickly and the ATV should start.

It can be super annoying to deal with a bad starter. Trust me, I’ve been there myself. My advice to all ATV riders is to fix the starter as soon as possible. This is an annoying issue that can lead to serious issues such as engine timing issues.

How to Identify a Bad Starter

atv battery hooked up to jumper cables-min


Learning how to identify a bad starter in your ATV is a useful skill. You will be able to determine when the ATV starter needs fixed early on, therefore, avoiding further problems or getting stuck in the middle of nowehere. Let’s explore some common signs that your ATV may have a bad starter.

#1 Difficulty in Starting Your ATV

The most obvious sign of a bad starter is if the ATV has trouble starting, or doesn’t start at all. This can be characterized by the engine not turning over, or the ignition taking longer than usual to kick in.

#2 Unusual Noises

If you hear unusual sounds, like a clicking noise when you turn the key, this could be an indication of a faulty starter. This sound is usually caused by the starter drive gear not engaging properly. If you are dealing with unusual noises, you might want to learn how to turn off an ATV in case of emergency.

#3 Frequent Jump-Starts Needed

If your ATV requires frequent jump-starts, it may be due to a problem with the starter. While it could also indicate a battery issue, if your battery is in good condition and your ATV still needs frequent jump-starts, it’s time to inspect the starter.

#4 Weak or No Response from Ignition

If turning the key results in a weak start or no start at all (especially if the headlights and dashboard lights are working fine), this may suggest a bad starter. The power is there, but it isn’t making its way to the engine.

Keep in mind that these signs could also be indicative of other problems like a dead battery or a bad ignition switch. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult with a professional or carry out a thorough check of your ATV’s starting system.

How Does an ATV Starter System Work?

To troubleshoot and manage a bad starter effectively, it’s essential to understand how the ATV starter system works. Let’s break it down:

1. Ignition Switch

The process starts with the ignition switch. When you turn the key or press the start button, it activates the electrical system, signaling the battery to send power to the rest of the ATV, including the starter.

2. Starter Solenoid

The electrical current from the battery then travels to the starter solenoid. This is a kind of electric relay that safely connects the high power battery to the starter motor when the ignition switch is turned on.

3. Starter Motor

The starter motor comes into play next. Once the solenoid has closed the circuit between the battery and the starter motor, the motor uses this electrical energy to rotate a gear called the pinion.

4. Flywheel

The pinion engages the flywheel, which is a large gear attached to the engine’s crankshaft. When the pinion rotates, it spins the flywheel and, in turn, the crankshaft.

5. Combustion Process

With the crankshaft spinning, the engine’s pistons start moving. This action draws air and fuel into the engine cylinders, and a spark from the ignition system ignites this mixture. The combustion process begins, driving the pistons, which continues the crankshaft’s motion and keeps the engine running.

Once the engine is running, the starter system disengages, waiting for the next time you need to start your ATV. In our next section, we’ll explore practical methods of starting an ATV with a bad starter.


Yes, starting an ATV with a bad starter can be tricky and it’s not ideal. However, the three methods I presented today should help you get the four-wheleer running in case of emergency so that you can get safely home. I need to stress that you shouldn’t rely on these methods of starting ATVs with faulty starters and instead, you should get the starter fixed as soon as possible.

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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