My ATV Is Sputtering: What Causes It and How to Fix It

Owning and riding a 4 wheeler for adults is always an exhilarating and welcoming experience. However, that experience can be easily disrupted once your ATV starts sputtering, or worse, it starts backfiring or stalling. Nobody enjoys experiencing mechanical problems with their ATVs. If your vehicle starts to sputter, you need to zero in on what’s causing it in order to fix it.

There are many possible reasons for a sputtering ATV, but more often than not, it has something to do with your carburetor. Here are some possible causes and fixes for a sputtering ATV.

Sputtering Due to Carburetor Problems

Having some issues with your carburetor is one of the most common reasons why ATVs sputter. 4 wheelers for adults with fuel injectors are an entirely different issue to tackle, and we won’t be discussing them here. Going back to carburetors, they’re a much older form of technology, but they still work great with ATVs because they provide the correct combination of air and fuel necessary to power up your quad. 

However, carburetors are not immune to any performance issues. They can sometimes be a little finicky, which is why fuel injectors are slowly replacing them on newer ATV models. When something goes wrong with an ATV’s carburetor, there are three main things that could have possibly caused the ATV to sputter. They can be due to:

  • A gas leak
  • The carburetor isn’t tuned
  • A vacuum leak

Diagnosing and Fixing Sputtering Problems

Now, these issues can be easily resolved as long as you have the right set of tools on hand. The following are some ways you can do to diagnose the problem properly and possibly fix it.

  • Diagnosing and Fixing a Gas Leak

  • A gas leak on your carburetor leads to the engine starving for gas, which is the most obvious reason for a sputtering ATV. The question is, what could have caused the leak? The most probable cause is a cracked or brittle gasket located right above the float bowl, which is at the bottom of your carburetor. If you notice the lingering scent of gas around your ATV, then you’re diagnosis is on point.

    The easiest way to fix this is by replacing your float bowl gasket. If your ATV has more than one carburetor, you need to change each of its float bowl gaskets. There’s a very good chance that all of your gaskets will need to be replaced if one of them was cracked. 

  • Tuning Your Carburetor

  • Whenever your carburetor isn’t adjusted correctly, it’s highly likely that the air screw and fuel screw’s balance are out of line. You’ll have to readjust your carburetor to fix this. There’s no other way but to take your ATV to the shop and have it tuned there. Once the carburetor has been tuned, the sputtering should stop.

  • Fixing a Vacuum Leak

  • Vacuum leaks occur when the intake boots become cracked or brittle. It’s also possible that the clamp surrounding them becomes loose between the engine and the carburetor. This will result in your carburetor not producing enough air to the air-fuel mixture, resulting in sputtering. 

    To fix the leak, you need to replace your intake boots. Fortunately, intake boots are relatively cheap, and you can do the replacement yourself.


    Nobody wants to have a sputtering ATV, but it can be easily fixed if you happen to have this problem. You can use this quick and easy guide to help you properly diagnose what’s your to your ATV and what’s causing it to sputter.

    To learn more about ATVs, Go Karts, and other 4 wheelers for adults, go to Tribal Motorsports. We are the nation’s largest powersports retailer with a great selection of affordable ATVs, dirt bikes, UTVs, and Go Karts. Contact us to stay updated on the latest models!