Each month we receive an overwhelming load of technical questions from our readers. We've taken away Mike Newsom's Xbox and placed him in charge of answering these questions. Mikey may be one of the most talented mechanics we know, but it's his off-the-wall answers that weird us out. If you dare to bear his response, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise not to let Mikey use your name and embarrass you in front of your buddies.
Ask: I have a 2004 Yamaha YFZ450 and it is having serious starter problems. When I try to start the quad, the starter just spins but won't turn over the engine. I installed a new starter and battery and checked the electrical system, but the problem continues to haunt me. Any idea of what I should do next?
Mikey: Now that you have two good starters and two batteries, we know what's not the root of your trouble. Replacing parts until you eventually stumble across the one in need of repair is not the answer. Begin with a thorough inspection of the starting system and test components before wasting any more money. I would say your problem is a damaged gear in the starter assembly that can be found hidden behind the sidecover.
Ask: My Arctic Cat DVX 400 is beginning to get a little beat up. I plan to install new plastic and am curious to know if it is possible to swap to Z400 or KFX400 plastic. I'm guessing that these machines are all basically the same, so I'm hoping this swap is possible.
Mikey: Good eye, detective! All three of these machines are indeed manufactured by Suzuki. You'll be happy to hear that this face-lift is a simple procedure, but before you get too excited you must realize that the seat, headlight assembly and some mounting hardware will have to be replaced as well.
Ask: I was given a 1985 Kawasaki Bayou that won't start. I was told to replace the stator, but there aren't any available through Kawasaki. Do you know where I could possibly find a new stator?
Mikey: Without the help of Marty McFly and Doc Brown's time-traveling DeLorean, you may have to settle for a used or rebuilt stator. There are a number of companies specializing in used components, like East Coast ATV (www.eastcoastatv.com), that could help you out. Another option would be to contact Ricky Stator (www.rickystator.com) to have your stator tested and repaired.
Ask: I have a 2000 Honda Rancher 350 2x4 and noticed over the winter that my manual pull choke would sometimes freeze up. I just started my yearly tune-up and found that the choke will no longer pull out at all. I have to manually use the push-primer to start it. I can't find where the choke actually goes into the carburetor. I was hoping some WD-40 would do the trick. Any suggestions? I hate to go to a dealer and be raked over the coals.
Mikey: Your choke problem could lie in the carburetor, but it's the choke cable that is probably in need of maintenance. After eight years the cable has not likely seen that can of WD-40 while being repeatedly exposed to water, grime and freezing temperatures that have caused its failure.
Ask: A majority of my time is spent riding a local MX track, and I would like to shave my fenders for that cool MX look. I am 16 years old and my talent is on the track, not using tools. Can I get some tips on trimming plastic, beginning with what type of tools to use?
Mikey: A Gillette disposable will shave the fuzz from your 16-year-old chin, but shaving ATV plastic isn't so simple. I recommend using a felt-tip pen to lay out the desired cut, then carefully trimming the fender with an electric Dremel tool. If you don't have access to a rotary tool, a fine-toothed saw blade for metal cutting can also do the trick. It requires more effort but yields the same results. After cutting, file away the rough edges and use a heat gun to bring a gloss finish to the cut. Keep in touch; I'd like to come see you in action at the next talent show.
Ask: Over the weekend I had to put Clyde, my boxer, in the garage with my Raptor 660 while I had family visiting. Apparently Clyde wasn't too happy with this and decided to spend the night chewing the seat of my Raptor to shreds. A new seat is extremely expensive, and I want to know if it is possible to buy replacement foam to save some money.
Mikey: Sounds to me like you should have locked Bonnie the cat in the garage with Clyde to keep him occupied until Grandma left town. Hopefully, Clyde left the seat pan in one piece so you can simply replace the foam and staple on a new seat cover. Both of these can be purchased directly from Yamaha, or you could contact Ceet (www.ceetracing.com) which also offers replacement foam and a variety of seat covers.