Polaris Sportsman 500 Starting Problems: Causes and Fixes

The starting problems of Polaris Sportsman 500 include issues in 5 systems of the engines. The electrical system, fuel system, compression system, battery, and starting system are involved. Parts of these systems can face many scenarios, resulting in starting difficulties.

The most important thing to do in such a case is to find out the actual cause of the problem. Whenever the reason is found, usually replacement becomes the prominent solution if there are damaged parts. However, in some cases, you can do it with some resets. Also, some problems will require pro supervision.

Causes of The Starting Problems And Solutions At A Glance

Responsible System



Fuel System Issue Shortage of fuel Refuel
Jammed fuel filter Check and clean the filter or replace if necessary.
Fuel mixed with water After completely emptying the fuel system, refuel it.
Expired fuel Use fresh fuel.
The fuel valve is closed Open the valve.
Excessive choking Check and change spark plugs if needed.
Malfunctioning fuel pump Clean the fuel pump to remove clogs and replace them if necessary.
Electrical System Issue Malfunctioning spark plug(s) Check and replace if needed.
Spark plug(s) not getting proper spark Check and confirm whether the stop switch is in the correct position.
Engine Compression Issue The crankcase is flooded Get professional help.
Malfunctioning gaskets and pistons Inspect and replace with new ones with the help of a mechanic.
Battery Issue Battery under-voltage Ensure 12.8 VDC charge.
Starting System Issue Starting system components malfunctioning Test all the components of the starting system and replace them if there is a damaged part.

Common Starting Problems of Polaris Sportsman 500 And How to Fix Them?

It’s worth mentioning that the 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 starting problems are similar to the problems of the 1998, 2000, and 2013 models.

Let’s look at the reasons why your Polaris Sportsman 500 cranks but won’t start with fixes.

1. Electrical System Issues

Wiring harness and connector issues are some of the neglected but significant causes of starting problems. This often happens due to the following reasons:

  • Malfunctioning spark plug(s)
  • Spark plug(s) not getting proper sparks
  • Damaged ignition coil with corroded wiring
  • Broken auxiliary or shut-off switch
  • Malfunctioning CDI module

Whenever there is a problem with the switch, your Polaris Sportsman 500 won’t start with the key.


To fix the above-mentioned issues, you need to take the following measures:

  • Inspect the spark plug(s) properly and replace them if the damage is severe
  • If there is a lack of spark, inspect if the stop switch is on
  • Replace all the broken switches and the ignition coil if necessary
  • Inspect the CDI module

Here’s a diagram of the ignition system that can be used to solve the starting problems of the 1998 Polaris Sportsman 500, as well as the 2000 and 2002 models:

2. Fuel System Problems

When a fuel system is contaminated, engine performance and starting will be affected. The issues include:

  • Shortage of fuel
  • Jammed and leaky fuel filter
  • Fuel mixed with water
  • Expired fuel
  • The fuel valve is closed
  • Excessive choking due to jammed choke system and malfunctioning jets
  • Improper float or malfunctioning needle valve
  • Malfunctioning fuel pump due to clogging


To solve these issues, you need to check out the following steps:

  • Refuel the fuel tank with fresh fuel to ensure proper fuel level and performance
  • Check and clean the filter or replace it if necessary.
  • If the fuel is contaminated through water, after completely emptying the fuel system, refuel it
  • Make sure the fuel valve is open and well-functioning
  • You might need new spark plug(s) and jets if choking problems arise
  • Ensure proper float level
  • Replace the damaged needle valve and fuel pump if necessary

Here is a video that might help you to route the fuel lines of your Sportsman 500.

3. Engine Compression Issues

Problems with this system can also cause starting difficulties. Let’s look at all the specific issues:

  • The crankcase is flooded with water or fuel
  • Malfunctioning gaskets and pistons
  • Damaged crankcase and crankshaft


When it comes to this particular system of the engine, it’s always the best option to seek a well-versed mechanic’s opinion. You can either take your ATV to a dealer shop or ask the mechanic to come to your location.

4. Battery Problems

This is an especially common reason for the starting problems of the 2013 Polaris Sportsman 500 model. However, it prevails in other models too.

Whenever the battery doesn’t run at the proper voltage level, it causes the engine to have starting difficulties.


Ensuring 12.8 VDC charging of the battery with proper surveillance and charging equipment solves this problem.

5. Starting System Issues

The starting system of a Polaris Sportsman 500 consists of the starter motor, gear, button, and solenoid. If there is any kind of malfunction in this system, then it also causes starting difficulties.


You need to conduct a test using the battery, ohmmeter, and jumper cables. Then you need to check the resistance and effectiveness of all the components and take action accordingly. You might need to replace the damaged parts.


What Charges The Battery On A Polaris ATV?

Polaris recommends using a BatteryMINDer® 12V 1.5 AMP Convertible charger. You should recharge the battery at a rate that is less than one-tenth of the amp/hour capacity of the battery.

What Size Spark Plug Is Polaris Sportsman 500?

The size of the spark plug of Polaris Sportsman 500 is 14mm 3/4 Reach.

Final Thoughts

As it is an off-road vehicle, staring problems are not rare in Polaris Sportsman 500. Most of these starting difficulties revolve around electrical causes and fuel issues.

Knowing the exact Polaris Sportsman 500 problems will help you to fix them quickly. If you find things hard, consider professional help.

Mark Williams

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