Top 6 Can-Am ATV Problems: How to fix your ATV


New off-roaders looking to buy their first quad might be conflicted on which brand to choose. If Can-Am is top of your list, here are the 6 most common Can-Am problems that you need to be aware of before you purchase your new Outlander, Renegade, or DS.

The most common Can-Am problems that users report are severe overheating, low-grade brake pads, leaking CVT cover, easily breakable frames, timing chain stretching, and fuel pump issues. However, factors such as environment, riding style, and maintenance can have a huge impact on the likelihood of encountering these Can-Am problems. All of these issues can be fixed either in your own garage or at the dealer’s shop free of charge, depending on your insurance.

Can-Am fans are aware of these concerns and decide to prevent them with adjustments such as adding skid plates and changing the brake pads. While some people consider the hefty price of a Can-Am ATV should protect from such issues, others prefer to make an additional effort to enjoy the powerful Can-Am engines and premium features.

Now that you know what are the most common issues you might run into, you need to know how to fix them as well. Keep on reading to learn more about the top 6 Can-Am problems and discover how to fix them. Stay tuned for a couple of helpful videos that are lifesavers for Can-Am users as well.

Most Common Can-Am ATV Problems

man riding ATV in desert

Let me say this right from the start: not one brand of ATVs is perfect. Whether you are a Yamaha, Honda, Polaris, or Can-Am fan, there will always be some minor issues characteristic for your brand that you have to get accustomed to. At the same time, all these brands listen to their customers and do their best to come with fixes to problems in their newer models. After all, it’s in their best interest to satisfy their customers.

So what I’m saying is that you shouldn’t dismiss Can-Am altogether, just because you see all of these potential problems all together in one article. I’ll talk more in-depth later about how reliable Can-Am truly is and you can make a decision on your own. But for now, let’s just talk a bit more about these common Can-Am problems and their solutions.

Overheating

To be fair, overheating is a common issue you can find in all 4-wheelers. ATVs run hot, it’s a given. Still, Can-Am customers seem to be more vocal about this issue, even though there doesn’t seem to be just one cause. There are quite a few reasons why a Can-Am ATV can overheat, so let’s go over them:

  1. Adding the wrong type of coolant, which can be solved by performing a coolant test and changing it up;
  2. A faulty thermostat that needs changing;
  3. A faulty cooling fan that needs changing.

Another very common reason for overheating is mud in the radiator, but that is a self-induced issue. Make sure to check it before you make costly changes on your quad though. To prevent overheating in the future, there are quite a few aftermarket upgrades that could help. Lots of off-road riders add a high-pressure radiator cap and an electric radiator fan to their quads to keep their engine cool all year round.

If you feel extreme heat on your left foot while riding, then the overheating is caused by the exhaust pipe. You can cool your quad down with some heat wrapping that retails for around $15.

Low-Grade Brake Pads

There is no beating around the bush with this one: when you buy a Can-Am straight out of the factory, you need to research good brake pads. The pads wear down in under 300 miles and need changing way sooner than any other OEM brake pads on the market.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints online about this issue, and it’s so well-known that even the official Can-Am YouTube channel has a video on how to change them.

The good news is that brake pads are not expensive and quite easy to change. Here is a Can-Am mechanic explaining the process in under four minutes:

Leaking CVT Cover

Next on the list of Can-Am problems we have the CVT cover leaking oil. If you have bought your ATV at a dealer shop, then this is not even an issue for you. Bring it into the dealer and they will most likely fix it free of charge.

In case you bought it off another person and you’re not going in for a check any time soon, you can patch the cover-up with a gasket and seal. Still, this solution won’t last forever and you’ll have to hit a mechanic’s shop sooner or later.

Easily Breakable Frames

This seems to be an issue specifically found in Gen 2 Can-Ams, where frames get easily bent or break after riding on a rough trail. This depends on your style of riding of course, but, after all, quads are made for all types of terrain.

If you do not baby your machine and only ride it on paved roads, then you might be interested in adding skid plates and a frame mod.

Can-Am owners are more than accustomed to frame mods, whether that is an aftermarket system or a DIY reinforced rod. Still, I will mention that some people don’t like to add a mod because of the risk of the A-Arm ripping completely off.

Want to find out what is the best paint for ATV frame? Check out this article I wrote about choosing the best paint for ATV frame and knowing how to avoid the most common issues.

The skid plates are some of the most common aftermarket upgrades for ATVs that protect the underbelly from rocks, sticks, and tree trunks. They are, however, quite expensive as well. Frame mods or A-arm guards will protect the front part of your frame in case you crash into a tree.

Let’s say you didn’t have time to prepare for this issue and your frame is already bent. What is the solution then? Well, depending on the gravity of the situation, you could use a come along to bend it back or contact a welder to put it back into place. This is the cheaper alternative to changing out your frame completely, which might be the only solution in severe cases.

Timing Chain Stretching

While shabby frames are a Gen 2 issue, it seems that Gen 1 Can-Ams have a specific issue too: excessive timing chain stretching. When the timing chain is too stretched out, you will notice that your engine backfires and you are losing power while riding.

Here is a quick video I found on how to check your timing chain on a Can-Am in just a few easy steps:

If you find your timing chain is stretched out, go ahead and replace it. It is one of the least expensive fixes on this list of Can-Am problems.

Fuel Pump Issues

From what I’ve seen and heard on fuel pump problems from Can-Am, these are directly related to how you ride it. If you are a careful rider that keeps the fuel tank full at all hours and who doesn’t swamp their machine on a regular basis, chances are you will not have issues with your fuel pump.

When encountering problems with your fuel pump, a billet gas cap might do the trick, or you might need to change your fuel pump completely. If you want to do it yourself, there are quite a few videos online that will help you step by step. Keep in mind that there’s a big difference in Gen 1 and Gen 2 systems.

Below you can see a very detailed guide on how to put your new fuel pump together and insert it in your Gen 2 Can-Am ATV without an issue:

Are Can-Am Rotax engines reliable?

It seems to be a consensus in the off-road community that Rotax engines are the most reliable ATV engines on the market today. Rotax is a brand with a good reputation all over the world, making powerful and dependable engines for a variety of machines like ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and aircraft. These four-stroke engines are known for being engineered for durability, which is probably why BMW uses them in some of their motorcycle models as well.

While I’m not saying other types of engines are bad, I’ve kept my ear on the ground about Rotax engines and have hardly heard of any issues with it. Regarding other brands like Yamahas and Hondas, for example, forums are filled with pages and pages of people talking about their engine breakdowns. With proper maintenance and care, Can-Ams powered by Rotax engines will last you years on end.

Are Can-Ams Reliable?

Red Can-Am ATV riding in forest

As a general rule, Can Ams are reliable ATVs with sleek designs, powerful engines, and a vast array of helpful features. More often than not you will have to change the OEM brake pads for better ones, but other than small fixes the Can-Am machine stands strong.

The electrical system and the engine are what you should be looking at when deciding reliability, and Can-Am knows how to do both. Apart from some power steering issues here and there, I could not find people complaining about Can-Am in this regard. People tend to be divided on the topic of the most reliable ATV brand, but Can-Am is definitely a top contestant for the number one spot.

Now that we’ve covered that Can-Ams are reliable quads, while we’re still on the topic I wanted to go over one more issue that I see new buyers asking about: how to un-swamp a Can-Am. Although this is a self-induced problem, it can be quite common and the reason you are reading this article, so I decided to help you out and go over the best method of fixing a swamped quad.

How Do You Fix a Swamped Can-Am?

The first thing you want to do when fixing a swamped Can-Am is to kill off the engine to avoid water getting in it. Afterward, you want to pull out the spark plugs and drain the engine. You will need to check your air box first and remove the air filter. You will need to purchase a brand new one because water and mud in the air filter can destroy your engine.

Afterward, drain the clutch of engine oil, and the oil filter of any water. Fill the engine with fuel and drain out the exhaust pipe by tipping the quad vertically. After a minute or so, prop up the quad on an angle so that leftover water can get out of the exhaust when you kick start it. Start the engine a few times so that your quad spews out all the water from your cylinders.

I also wrote a great article about how to fix a flooded dirt bike. Read it here.

After your cylinders are clean of water, drain the diesel, and put in a new oil and air filter. It’s recommended to put in cheap engine oil at first because after one run you will need to drain out your engine again for safety reasons.

Here is a helpful video from fellow off-road experts Team Muskrat that shows how they un-swamp a Can-Am Outlander 1000 following the exact steps I described above:

Final Words

I hope getting acquainted with the most common Can-Am problems has given you a good sense of what fixing you might have to do on your new quad and how much more you will have to invest in your quad to avoid any issues. The truth of the matter is that if you keep up with your maintenance checks and clean your quad after each ride, you are sure to avoid 90% of these problems.

An off-road vehicle is not made to be kept in pristine condition, so do not beat yourself up about some minor issues like a bent frame or a leaking CVT cover. With all these problems in mind, I still believe Can-Am to be one of the most reliable ATV brands on the market today. If you are ready to pay a pretty sum for extra premium features and a well-regarded engine, then you are sure to love your new Can-Am quad.

My advice is to protect your quad with skid plates if you have it in your budget, as well as to invest in a good pair of brake plates. In case you ever face one of these 6 Can-Am problems in the future, you can refer back to this article and find the solution.

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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