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Kawasaki Bayou 300 (1989) Cold Start Issues

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I hope someone can help with this problem.

When trying to start the ATV after it has been sitting for as little as overnight, it has a VERY difficult time starting. The starter motor is fine, tested within specs. Once the motor has started, you can let it run for a minute or so, shut it off, and it fires right back up. If I run it for about 500 yds and turn it off for an hour, it will start right back up. It just seems that overnight or longer creates this starting issue.

Air temperature doesn't affect this. I've replaced the carburetor, a new battery, & a new spark plug. All wires related to starting were tested and were within specs. I thought maybe it was an issue with some electronics that get heated by the motor and function properly, so I put a hair dryer to different components to heat them up to see if that fixed, no joy.

I've been told that these are usually hard to start, but this is almost impossible and I"m afraid I'm wearing out the starter motor. I don't understand why once it starts I can turn it off immediately and it'll fire back up. Has anyone had a similar experience or can recommend next steps, either testing or part replacement?


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I have the exact same problem with my 2002 Bayou 300. Once it warms up it will start all day, but when it sits over night it takes me at least a half an hour to get started. My Bayou has never been worked on. I bought it new and has never had any problems until this year, If someone has any ideas please help.

Edited by cougarjim
Added more text.

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Since posting my original request, we (by "we" I mean a man completely unrelated to the parties involved who had unrestricted access to the ATV w/ the freedom to troubleshoot properly) discovered the problem with the ATV. One of the two starter relays in back was faulty. Which one, I couldn't say as a long drive to a repair shop some hours away was preferable to properly testing the relays & now I don't care.

There are two relays/selenoids/made-up-term-to-sound-smarter in the rear (one is for the starter motor itself, one is for (?) the entire circuit (if I remember correctly). On the ATV in question, both are snugged up under the seat/rear fender and accessed from the back (no cowls, etc. need to be removed). In any case, those were tested a number of times via the manual provided and tested within spec. However, they were only ever tested after the motor was successfully started because a certain someone insisted on doing it that way no matter what I said.

Unless you have a tester with alligator clips and long leads, you'll need a helper to test. Since you're a man, you'll find it easier to get your helper to do something you ask without arguing or lying about what he is doing with the switches while you're on the cold ground getting dirty trying to figure out what is wrong with it. The point being, even if they test good, they may still be faulty depending on WHEN you test. They run around $30-40 and if you don't want to try replacing them outright, test while it is acting up.

The only other issue that may have made sense was a problem with holding charge. That was a serious contender with a certain relation & the reason it was sent to the shop. Initially, it wasn't a bad idea, until the vehicle "fixed" itself for some weeks, but around here we don't let facts get in the way of a long, arduous drive.

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I took the CDI off my bayou meaning to take it down to the dealer on Monday to get tested. Just for kicks I plugged it back up and hit the starter and wa-la it started immediately. What the F? I shut it off and started it again and again and again. It fixed itself. The only thing I can figure what happened, is the plugs were not making contact and after I cleaned them they were OK. Saved me from buying parts. If I had bought another CDI I would have thought the old one was bad. I wonder how many times that has happened?

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You bring up an interesting point. About a year or so ago the start-up was fine but it would studder, lose power, and sometimes shut-off while riding, especially when slowing down. Many people recommended spark plugs, spark plug wires, and finally the CDI. I finally convinced him to let me put my meter to the everything and try to troubleshoot the issue. All the electrical connections I tried were dirty and corroded with mud packed into all the connectors in some way or another. When the CDI was removed, mud had creeped in around the connectors and those were the worst. The CDI itself was testing OK save for one, slightly askew reading. After cleaning everything and reinstalling, it's never had that problem again.

I think you are right, there are probably a lot of perfectly good CDI's getting trashed when a simple contact cleaning will do the trick.

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