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Merit

08 Honda 420 Rancher FE/ES Shifting issues

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Evening All!
New to the forums here, My name is Chris and I'm looking to get some input on here as to my issues but need to provide some backstory so that you can see the full picture. I've searched the forums but haven't seen anything that matches my issues with the bike not shifting properly.

Purchased an 08 420 Rancher FE/ES back in 2013 and it's my first purchase. Purchase was for hunting as I was apart of a hunt club at the time.
I had intermittent issues with it shifting over the next year or so if water (possibly splashed up as I didn't really pay attention) was involved. Ex: Crossing a small creek and water barely making halfway on the tires. Note: Tires are 27'' Swamp Witches on SS rims. I could let it sit and at times found water in my shift motor connector so I would dry it out and would start back working. I started using dielectric grease on all the connectors in hopes that a splash wouldn't leave me stranded (Found out later that I had no shift tool under the seat) or stuck in one gear. This has only happened a few times but has gotten worse over time and now won't shift unless you do it manually.

I use to live out in the country and had a rat or mouse chew on my wiring harness right at the ECU. Never broke the wire just chewed off the plastic sheathing of the wire so I taped it up with electrical tape until I could address it later. I was still drive-able and shifted gears just fine unless it got wet like it normally would. Between then and now it quit shifting properly, I quit riding it as much and would only let it run for 20 -30 mins a few weeks at a time to keep the battery up. The other part of not riding it was because It would shift up but not down and I had to do it manually without a shifter and now it won't shift at all. So today I replaced the angle sensor and it seemed to work but it would only do the shift up and not down. After checking all the connectors and testing to fix the down shift as the manual says to at some point I must have had the shift motor connector on the front of the bike disconnected when I turned the key on and it start going back to what it was doing...Just blinking a code and not shifting at all. I connected it back but its still acting like it has the same issue as before replacing the angle sensor.
I can select all gears manually on level ground but have had to rock it at times for a gear to catch. Not sure of that is normal or not but thought I would mention it.

What I've done so far:
1. Replaced angle sensor - Starting somewhat working then quit after trying find why it wouldn't down shift.
2. Per the manual - tested and check the harness wires and everything seems to check out just fine.
3. Thought that the chewed up wires was to blame but I've cutout the bad part of the wires out and soldered in a new one with heat-shrink tubing.
4. Check the shift motor- taken apart cleaned the communicator and verified that it works with 12v direct line to battery, Reversed the leads and it works. Also checked the resistance and it checks to be good. (Note: I didn't rotate the motor while checking resistance but will try this when I can. Not real sure what it should show but I'm sure it's posted somewhere about that.
5. Reset DCT to clear memory. Still not working.
Code on it before angle sensor replacement was 23-1, 2 long blinks and 3 short blinks, Code on it now is 24-1. 2 long blinks and 4 short blinks.
Testied what it says to test given the current code and eveything checkd out good. Am I missing something?

Nothing that I've tried from the manual helps. Anything else I can try? I don't want to buy parts just to throw at it to see if its going to fix it or not.

Thanks in advance!

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Have you tested the shift switches? I've had some that passed the test yet was dirty enough to cause issues. Most of them I could take the left handlebar switch apart and just clean them with electrical cleaner to get them working again.

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When you had the shift motor out did you repack with any grease?  Mobil synthetic works great, not sure about the newer shift motors but the older ones came from the factory with very little grease.  Clean out any of the old junk in there first.

 

Also does this have a clutch adjustment screw on the motor?  Mine on my 450 is on the front of the engine and needs to be adjusted for proper shifting...

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Someday when I find time (not soon) I'll write a ES Prep tutorial. Yours has multiple problems.

 

Start by replacing the chewed wiring harnesses and use dielectric grease inside every connector on the bike. Then disassemble the shift motor completely and remove the reduction gears, disassemble the shift switches, clean & dielectric grease the contacts in the shift switches and reassemble. Clean the shift motor rotor and magnets housing using warm water and dish soap and flush them with 90% alcohol to dry them. Then use #2 synthetic grease to lube each bearing/bushing/seal in the shift motor housings. Use small alligator clips to hold the two brushes back while you put the armature in, then remove the clips.

 

Coat thinly the rubber o-ring gasket around the base with Ultra-black gasket maker. Smear a very thin film of Ultra black inside the end of the magnets housing where the o-ring gasket will seat.

Hold onto the end of the armature shaft tight while you lower the magnets housing over the armature and seat it down against the reduction gears housing. Start the bolts in it and snug them up finger tight.

Then repack every reduction gear bearing with #2 synthetic grease using your finger to push grease past the metal shields. That'll take ya 20 minutes or so to pack them right. Then coat every reduction gear with syn grease and lubricate the rubber housing gasket and torque the bolts carefully a bit at a time in a criss-cross pattern until each are snugged up. Do not overtighten any of those bolts.

Seal the rubber gasket on the angle sensor using a thin film of Ultra-black and snug up those screws.

Dielectric grease the connectors and plug them in.

Loosen the ground cables on the motor and frame and clean & dielectric grease them before bolting them down tight.

 

Finally, replace the battery with a new one, properly sized. Yours is junk.

You'll need a copy of the service manual, a new wiring harness, new battery, dielectric grease, #2 syn grease (Mobil 1 in a 1 lb tub is about $10), two alligator clips, a bottle cleaning brush, cleaning solvent, dish soap & warm water, a pint of 90% rubbing alcohol, Ultra black, A clean scotchbrite pad, standard tools and many, many hours of free time.

 

If ya skip steps or slack off on it you'll get to do it all over again. Its easy work... :-)

  • Haha 1

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"  Have you tested the shift switches? I've had some that passed the test yet was dirty enough to cause issues. Most of them I could take the left handlebar switch apart and just clean them with electrical cleaner to get them working again. "

 

Yes, but only the down-shift as the up-shift was working.  After pulling the push button apart I did notice a bent spring but I chalked it up to just years of use. Bent it back as good as I could get it and put it back togeather.

 

Thanks!

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10 hours ago, bcsman said:

When you had the shift motor out did you repack with any grease?  Mobil synthetic works great, not sure about the newer shift motors but the older ones came from the factory with very little grease.  Clean out any of the old junk in there first.

 

Also does this have a clutch adjustment screw on the motor?  Mine on my 450 is on the front of the engine and needs to be adjusted for proper shifting...

Yes, I did re-pack with grease as the old stuff was terrible. It dose and I did adjust it per the specs on the manual- Counter-Clockwise until you get tension and then back off a 1/4 turn if memory serves me right.

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10 hours ago, shadetree said:

^^^^^ fresh grease in the transfer gear area !.

Can you elaborate (Gear Area).  Shift motor/gears? Yes.  Final Drive? No  Front Diff? No.

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8 hours ago, retro said:

Someday when I find time (not soon) I'll write a ES Prep tutorial. Yours has multiple problems.

 

Start by replacing the chewed wiring harnesses and use dielectric grease inside every connector on the bike. Then disassemble the shift motor completely and remove the reduction gears, disassemble the shift switches, clean & dielectric grease the contacts in the shift switches and reassemble. Clean the shift motor rotor and magnets housing using warm water and dish soap and flush them with 90% alcohol to dry them. Then use #2 synthetic grease to lube each bearing/bushing/seal in the shift motor housings. Use small alligator clips to hold the two brushes back while you put the armature in, then remove the clips.

 

Coat thinly the rubber o-ring gasket around the base with Ultra-black gasket maker. Smear a very thin film of Ultra black inside the end of the magnets housing where the o-ring gasket will seat.

Hold onto the end of the armature shaft tight while you lower the magnets housing over the armature and seat it down against the reduction gears housing. Start the bolts in it and snug them up finger tight.

Then repack every reduction gear bearing with #2 synthetic grease using your finger to push grease past the metal shields. That'll take ya 20 minutes or so to pack them right. Then coat every reduction gear with syn grease and lubricate the rubber housing gasket and torque the bolts carefully a bit at a time in a criss-cross pattern until each are snugged up. Do not overtighten any of those bolts.

Seal the rubber gasket on the angle sensor using a thin film of Ultra-black and snug up those screws.

Dielectric grease the connectors and plug them in.

Loosen the ground cables on the motor and frame and clean & dielectric grease them before bolting them down tight.

 

Finally, replace the battery with a new one, properly sized. Yours is junk.

You'll need a copy of the service manual, a new wiring harness, new battery, dielectric grease, #2 syn grease (Mobil 1 in a 1 lb tub is about $10), two alligator clips, a bottle cleaning brush, cleaning solvent, dish soap & warm water, a pint of 90% rubbing alcohol, Ultra black, A clean scotchbrite pad, standard tools and many, many hours of free time.

 

If ya skip steps or slack off on it you'll get to do it all over again. Its easy work... 🙂

I did the majority of this but not in the exact detail laid out. I'll go back through everything mentioned above and report back my findings. Good info to have on each specific area.

I didn't mention in my original post but the Battery has been replaced with a new one. 

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Don't forget to test for continuity through the shift switches using a multimeter while the connector is unplugged.

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5 hours ago, Merit said:

Can you elaborate (Gear Area).  Shift motor/gears? Yes.  Final Drive? No  Front Diff? No.

just shift gears is what I meant :-).

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 I have 2013 honda rancher es  that we just put electrical grease in all electrical plug in back end to keep water and mud out but its stuck in 3 gear and have not been in mud or water  any ideal what else it could be   

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Hi Sandra, welcome to ATV Honda!

 

May I ask, what is the full model number of your 2013 Rancher? Thanks.

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59 minutes ago, SANDRA BLACKMON said:

 I have 2013 honda rancher es  that we just put electrical grease in all electrical plug in back end to keep water and mud out but its stuck in 3 gear and have not been in mud or water  any ideal what else it could be   

 

Have you tried shifting it manually? Was the problem there before the dielectric grease or after? It's always best to start our own thread with a problem to get the best outcome. Posting on someone elses thread that has already been answered people will look past it.

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9 hours ago, toodeep said:

 

Have you tried shifting it manually? Was the problem there before the dielectric grease or after? It's always best to start our own thread with a problem to get the best outcome. Posting on someone elses thread that has already been answered people will look past it.

Yes we tried  and Yes we had problem before we put grease on 

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10 hours ago, retro said:

Hi Sandra, welcome to ATV Honda!

 

May I ask, what is the full model number of your 2013 Rancher? Thanks.

TRX420OFE ES 4X4

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Update.

 

After going back through the steps above and adding a few steps I found that the shift motor was having an issue with the armature/communicator of the motor.  I followed the mentioned steps in this video here to validate the motor correctly.

Doing this, I found that the motor was bad even though it was working once plugged up to a battery. Resolution =  Buy a new one. Purchased one online for about $50 here but your results and preference may vary.

 

After replacement of the shift motor I found that it would shift up properly but not down. After doing the wiring tests I concluded that the shifter wires on the downshift had an issue and I replaced the electric shift selector/switch found here.   

Once installed it shifted perfect up and down with no issues and all my issues are resolved.

 

Final thoughts?!?!?! 

It pays to research and ask people who know or have been there so you don't go crazy and run in circles.   I originally thought that I was about to replace the ECU but thankfully that wasn't the case here after taking the time to seek proper advice.

I did find out that the ECU on my ATV is very sensitive and if it reads anything outside of it's normal range it will shutdown the entire function inside the ECU in order to keep from damaging anything else.  This can trick you into thinking that it an ECU issue when in fact it's not the ECU at all.

 

Thanks for all the help! 

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12 hours ago, SANDRA BLACKMON said:

 I have 2013 honda rancher es  that we just put electrical grease in all electrical plug in back end to keep water and mud out but its stuck in 3 gear and have not been in mud or water  any ideal what else it could be   

Hey Sandra,

 

It could be anything really it all just depends, I see this was an issue prior to you using the grease as was my issue but it would come and go. Best thing to do is to test each item mentioned above Angle Sensor, Shift Motor, Wire harness testing.

 

Thanks!

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