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jk13

98 Arctic Cat 400 4x4 - Cold start problem

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First a potentially important note - my electric start has not worked since I got the quad. I have not yet tried to track down what is wrong, because I bought this when it was warm outside and it always started up on the first or second pull. I never even have to choke or prime it, it just starts.

Now that it's getting colder outside, I'm having a much harder time getting it to start. If I pull until I'm sweating, I can usually get it going. If I have one of my kids hold the throttle down a little it seems to help, but I can't do that and pull at the same time. I have tried combinations of choke and priming it, but they don't seem to make any difference. This leads me to a few questions:

1. Is there a recommended cold-start procedure? Choke and prime?

2. I notice that when I prime, some gas sprays out onto the engine. If I prime once I don't notice it, but if I prime 2 or 3 times I see it spray out. Maybe there is too much fuel in the carb?

3. It pulls pretty hard. Is there any kind of decompression switch that I am not seeing? The pull rope is probably original, but I have snapped it off twice at the handle in the last few months because it pulls so hard.

Once it is warmed up, then it starts on the first pull every time with no problems at all. If I had a heated garage I'd just stick it in, but not going to heat an area just to keep this thing happy :)

Thanks in advance!

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One other piece of information, this is probably just a strange coincidence and some other problem that is unrelated, but if I don't keep the gas tank full on this it doesn't run. Took me a while to figure out the first time. I can fill it, and ride for maybe a handful of miles, and then it will start acting like it's losing power and sputtering, it'll idle but die when I press the throttle. Look in the tank and you can see that there is still plenty of gas in there. But if I top it off again, it can never fit more than a half gallon I bet, then it starts up and runs fine again until a few miles later.

This isn't really a problem for me as this stays on my property and is used mostly for hauling wood and hay around on trailers, but I thought it might be related to the other problems if they are fuel delivery related. Also, I suppose I would like to fix this as well if anyone has any insight. I'm happy to open a new topic about this though, if you don't think it is related to this one.

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I am working on it but I need to track down a 98 service manual. I know they are quite diffrent then the 2000s. All I can say for now is that the newer models have a compression release and/or primer.

If the gas is spraying out of the engine it may be coming form the overflow on the bowl. There should be a plastic tube attached to the bottom of the bowl to keep the gas away from the engine.

Here is what I suggest to try for now untill I can get some more information on your specific quad.

Starting - Your valves may be out of spec and that is causing the hard cold starts. Check the valve clearance.

Starting - Replace the spark plug.

Starting - Drain and replace the gas and add an inline fuel filter if there is not already one there.

Starting - If you feel comfortable doing so give the carb a good cleaning.

I have two carberated arctic cats, newer but similar and I never primed them. As for the electric start I would check the fuses and the wiring in the switch on the handlebars.

As for the gas tank having to be full, do you have a gravity feed or fuel pump. If it is gravity feed when you drain out the old gas remove the line from the carb and blow out the lines both the supply and vent lines. If there pressure released when you open the gas cap?

If it has a fuel pump make sure you can hear the pump working and check for vacuum leaks.

I will try and look over the specs for your quad in more detail over the weekend but this gives you some food for thought.

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Thank you so much for the replies! I will start giving these things a try. That link looks to be a great resource too. The first thing I noticed when I went in there is that the fuel cap in the diagram is very different than mine. It shows a fuel cap with the metal bars going down, and it also shows a vent line coming out the top. Mine does not have either of these things. My fuel cap is a simple black plastic cap that screws on tight, has nothing coming out of the bottom and does not have a vent line opening on the top at all. Could that be causing some of the trouble? Maybe I'm getting some kind of vaporlock in there.

It sounds like you are familiar with the compression release on the newer ones, do you know offhand where it is located and what it looks like (on the newer ones)? I don't see anything obvious on mine but maybe I'm just missing it.

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Country Cats website does have the parts breakdown for that model and it shows it is a gravity fed system and not a fuel pump. You should have an on/off/reserve fuel valve along the side.

Maybe the tank isn't venting properly, next time it dies out like your planning to add gas, open the tank, but don't add an fuel, then try starting it. If the vent is plugged, you will be creating a vacuum in the tank after some gas is used up and it won't allow anymore to flow. Opening it up to fill it releases the vacuum.

Mike

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Yep I would track down a gas cap with a vent line. That sould solve that problem. You can even put a fuel filter on the end of the vent line to keep debris out.

Also see if the valves are within spec.

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Thanks again for the replies! I have been running the quad with the gas cap loose, still on there so nothing gets in but I have it loosened so pressure can release, and so far it seems to be working much better. This morning it took 3 pulls to get it started, and that was after sitting for at least 4 days without running at all. Before I would have expected that I would have been sitting there pulling for about 10 minutes. I also haven't added any gas to it since I loosened the cap, and the tank isn't empty yet so I don't know for sure, but I think it would have died on me by now if I had the cap tightened.

Are there reputable websites for ordering parts? I'd like to get the right gas cap, but I called my local motorsports place where I get parts for my Yamaha and Kawasaki regularly, and they don't seem to carry anything for Cats.

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