ATV Won't Run When Wet: How to Troubleshoot the Common Issues

Getting yourself and your ATV covered in debris, water, sand, leaves, or mud splashes is inevitable.

While driving through these unfriendly terrains, your ATV can get wet, and, in some scenarios, it won't run. You may also get your quad wet whilst riding in the rain.

Since ATVs generally have uncovered bodies, these splashes can get onto the engine compartments and prevent the engine from starting.

If your ATV won't start after getting wet, it is probably because the ignition system got wet. Here are ways to troubleshoot your ATV if it won't start after getting wet.

atv riding in water.jpg

Wet Ignition System

To be sure the wet ignition system is the underlying cause preventing your ATV from starting, try switching on your ATV. If you hear a cranking sound, it is most likely the moisture has sneaked into the ignition.

There are different means to dry out the ignition system:

  • Use natural air by spreading the ignition in an open space to absorb the moisture trapped in the ignition.

  • Use a towel to clean the ignition system and dry up the water.

  • Make use of compressed air.

  • Rinse the ignition system with the coil cap opened in a little solution of WD40.

Wet Spark Plug

When the spark plugs get wet, your machine probably won't start either; this is when the ATV "floods" the plug with gas. Flooding of the spark plug mostly occurs due to continuously starting the engine when it refuses to start.

You can leave the ATV to dry out the gas in the cylinder itself, which eventually returns the spark plug to its original state.

If, after waiting for some time and your ATV won't start or you simply do not have the luxury of waiting. You can perform it manually by removing the spark plug in a well-ventilated area to let the gas out.

Be careful while carrying out this step; ensure you perform it in a well-ventilated area, disable the ignition system, and always wear your protective glasses to protect yourself from the gas spill.

Remove the spark plug and clean it thoroughly with a wire brush.

After carrying out these two steps, your ATV is sure to start. But if it still fails to run, it is best to take it to a repair shop to prevent further damage to other parts.

Bonus Tip

ATVs are built for hard terrains, but this doesn't immune them to water elements. Avoid passing over knee-depth puddles and riding while it is pouring out there.


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