— By Sarge McCoy —


Dear Sarge,

My hunting buddy has a Polaris RZR 800 with a starting problem. With the battery fully charged (13.76 VDC), he can turn on the key, and all the proper lights, etc. come on. When he presses on the brake and turns the key to start, it’s as though the battery goes immediately dead and nothing lights up or works. Recharge the battery and try to start and it might work. It is an intermittent issue, but not one you want when in the field or backcountry. This appears to be a rather straightforward system—the switch on the brake sending juice to the key, the key sending juice to the solenoid and then battery straight to the starter. He has both a new starter and solenoid that I’m going to install, but is there anything else that we should check? I have checked the wires and cables for shorts and connections for tightness and corrosion; all appears well. Thanks for your input and experienced guidance.

Jack Jenkins

Nine Mile Falls, Washington

Okay, Private JJ, “your hunting buddy,” right? Got that (wink, wink)! Before you install that new starter and solenoid, disconnect your battery, use your truck and jumper cables: “-” to the frame and “+” to the starter motor’s terminal. If it spins, it is good. Then connect the + cable to your + battery cable. Start your Zooter. If it starts, your solenoid is fine, and this means you wasted pay on needless new parts. If, as you stated, your connections to the battery, both + & -, were clean and tight on both ends, then the only thing left is that you have a loose disconnection inside your battery. Replace it. Report to the motor pool, Private JJ.  The motor pool sergeant has some Humvee batteries that need replacing!


Dear Sarge,

I recently picked up a low-mileage 1980 Honda FL250 Odyssey. It runs great except for a bit of a skip on top. I changed the spark plug and there was no improvement. Someone told me it might be the points. I took it to a dealer, and they refused to work on it, stating, “We can’t work on anything with points. It must have a black box or OBD1-type scanning or we can’t deal with it!” Sarge, can you help me either install the CDI upgrade or install the factory 1981 CDI ignition?

Dennis Chandler

Yuma, Arizona

Private Chandelier, I sincerely hope you are pulling your sergeant’s leg! They won’t work on anything with points?! So this is what the UTV service industry has degenerated to? Young snots who can only service the latest Zooters? Okay, so now, after my rant, let’s get down to business and fix your problem. The stock points system works well, so there’s no need to convert to CDI. Go to Chaparral ( or Dennis Kirk ( and requisition the following parts—FL250 service manual, 1977–’84 FL250 points, a flywheel puller and maybe a condenser. Next, requisition a point file, contact cleaner, point grease, a test light and a set of feeler gauges. With these tools and your service manual, you can replace your own points. Here’s a tip, Boot, from a dinosaur like myself who grew up with points: if you open your Zooter’s points up and see either gray splatter pitting or a good-size mound on one contact and a pit on the other contact (called “pitting”), you should definitely replace your condenser. When you have finished this task, you will be more accomplished than the so-called technicians at the dealership! Dismissed!


Dear Sarge,

I just purchased a new 2017 Kawasaki Brute Force 300 from a local dealer. It comes standard with a digital clock. When I adjusted the clock to the correct time, I noticed it was set for military time. I found it impossible to set it for 12-hour standard time. Several calls to Kawasaki didn’t help at all, as they tried to convince me that’s the way it’s set up to be. I have had dozens of ATVs and UTVs, and have never seen this before on a factory clock. Any suggestions?

Dan Winrow

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

So, Private Hayseed, you don’t like military time? Do you understand zero-dark 30? That is when you will be falling out for extra PT until you do like it! If you refer to your owner’s manual, there is no provision for changing time formats. You do have an owner’s manual, don’t you, Private Hayseed? Download yours here: Your factory service manual is here: www.manuals Nowhere in either manual does it allow the time display format to be changed, nor does either manual mention military time. Your display pod is the same number as an EU unit, so there is no difference there. And, the clock setting procedure in the owner’s manual is the same in the EU, AU and the U.S. I would first try a hard reboot by disconnecting the Zooter’s + battery cable for 1/2 hour, then reconnect the + battery cable and see if a reboot will default the clock to civilian time. It should reset to 1:00. Then, put the clock in programming mode and see if you get 1 o’clock past 12 o’clock or 13 o’clock! Laugh, Boot! If that doesn’t do it, then there is most likely a secret code that you may have to discover by trial and error. It might have something to do with the length of time both set buttons are pressed or a combination of them and another button on the pod or one of the single set buttons and another button. Do some recon, Boot, and be sure to let Sarge know the code once you figure it out. Dismissed! 

GOT A PROBLEM WITH YOUR UTV? Tell Sarge McCoy about it and he’ll provide the solution. Email your questions to him at [email protected]. Include your name, city & state.

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