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Hard starting/High idle

3610 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  smokey
Just got a second hand 1997 XLT SP, first time riding it this past weekend. Had troubles after first day, 1 fouled plug. Replaced plug, later same day fouled again. Tried the NGK fine wire equivalent, BR8 series, no fouling (yet!!) but very hard to start. Probably 20 pulls when cold, if left overnight but starts easily when engine warmed up.

Also, noticed that the idle speed is higher at about 4000, then slowly drops to 2000 over a period of about 20 seconds or so.

I drained the tank & replaced the fuel filter since the machine had been sitting all last winter (this is the reason he sold it) & used 92 octane. Added sta-bil & gas line antifreeze. Also switched to Amsoil 2 cycle injector oil & replaced the oil filter.

Is there something i'm missing? I looked thru some other posts and it seems that the XLT 583 motor is prone to this problem. Is it the air screw? The choke? The plugs (heat range)? What do you think is the next course of action?


PS: lots of snow this past week in the Kawartha Lakes region (Ontario) 6", lakes/rivers at 3" thickness - YIKES!!
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hey i have a 96 xcr 600 which has like teh same 597 engine as your sled! and ya mine is hard as heck to start to anoys me all i can think is mayber there is some watter in teh gas? if anyone else can help me out to i would really apprciat it also!!! liek today it took about 50 pulls to start my sled and im not kidding! and im not some little weak boy either! ive dorve 800;s that pull over easier i dont get it thanks though would love the help!
I've got a 97 XLT SP that was real hard to start. The best I can tell you is what I've been told from this site. Make sure you clean your carbs and jets real well. Also make sure your throtle and choke cables are operating correctly and not sticking. XLT's hate to be choked. When starting it cold, put the choke on full and pull it over... AS SOON AS IT STARTS...shut that choke off. Try to keep it running by just feathering the trottle a little, but not to much. If it gets to much choke or throttle input for to long, you'll flood it every time. One last thing you might want to check is your needle n seat. Even though they may look like they're working, one might not be sealing, and is letting to much gas in. Good luck.
Does anyone have anything to add about the high idle condition? I guess it's obvious the carbs need attention, but will that cure the idle too or is there something relating to electrical system to go with it?


Snow is a comin....... I can just hear the ice cracking as it freezes over!!!!!!!
I have a 96 XCR SP that was having the same type of problems over the past week when I was riding. Except for the starting thing. Pull the carb on the cylinder that is doing it and check for icing or anything else. You can just twist off the top and check it. I had ice in mine cleaned it out poured some dry gas in my tank and it was fine. When it does the idle thing hit your choke on and see if it knocks down to normal. When I hit the choke it did that. Sometimes machines just simply do that. It happens. Happens to my dad's brand new SXViper he has to flick the throttle then it idles right. And Godsmack you don't have the same engine as this guy.(I am pretty sure sorry if I am wrong) THe XLT is a mono-block engine where all 3 cylinders are in one block unlike XCRs where all 3 has there own top end block. You ahve the same block as me which is the 597cc triple but mine came stock with the Agressive chasis(which then became the standard but QUICKLY died out) and triple pipes.
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does it lose power like it is sort of running on 2 cylinders but at the same time is firing on all 3? see at one time this past week my one slide came apart. So I had to pull it apart in the middle of the woods and reattach the slide to the throttle cable. THis happens when you have cut springs like my sleds does.
Sled Dog,

After I replaced the plugs with the fine wire NGK, it seems to have stopped the fouling and the machine is definitely running on all three cylinders with a clean burn (cardboard brown residue). It has loads of power!! It's the idle thing though....

When I go back to the cabin this weekend I will unscrew the top of the carb & see what's inside. Maybe you are right (hope so) and it is the slide(s).

I too can get it to idle at 2000 RPM with a "tap" of the throttle, but haven't tried the choke thing. Even tapping the throttle doesn't drop the idle speed every time, only sometimes...

I snagged the choke lever on the back of my glove and it flicked onto 1/2 position for a split second and the machine quit instantly, so I don't know if that will help or not, will try on the weekend.

I would definitely recommend the fine wire plugs to anyone, they are expensive at $7.50 Canadian each, but hey when you are in the woods a long way from a parts store it's cheap insurance for a great ride & changing plugs is easy. They are the BR8EV series which replaces the BR8ES.

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fine wire? I think I know which you mean. We don't use them my uncle had bad experiences with them fouling A LOT. You may want to try the normal NGK plugs that is what we use in all our sleds and unless the sled has a problem they VERY VERY rarely foul.
I have a 96 XCR 600 that starts easy one or two pulls. Idles @ 2200. But after extended half throttle or better cruising speeds will not idle below 4000 rpm's unless I flip the choke half way.throttle response is great and power is also great it seams that the main metering circuit forgets to shut down. Any ideas guys? Carbs were cleaned and float levels set and balanced Plugs read tan\brown
that is what my sled was doing too me too. Like I said I cleaned teh carb that was iced threw in a bit of dry gas and it was fine. I am not quite sure what the problem is for you. Is it cold there? I mean some guys I ride with say that just happens when it gets cold sometimes and you can change settings to get rid of it but then the temperature just changes and you have to change again. THat is what they so no idea.
Sounds like the jetting needs to be checked. I put some bigger carbs on the 370 long rod motor in my banshee last spring. It was a pain tunning them in, but I experienced just what your describing. The starting circuit is usually controlled by the pilot jet and the air screw. And the excessive high idle could be casued by not being adjusted correctly or being too lean. I'd give the carbs a real good cleaning. Remove all the jets, float, air screw, and everything else you can. Soak them in some parts cleaner and shoot all the passages with air. Assemble them and try running the sled. If your still experiencing high ilde and hard starting. I'd take it to a shop to get the jetting adjusted or you can spend a small fortune in jets like I have done. I have just about every pilot and main jets for my keihin PJ34mm carbs on my banshe in multiples of 2. And just about every size of hex head main Mikuni jets. If you need parts try
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My '96 Ultra also needs help getting the idle down when first started. I am fairly sure it is in the throttle/choke cables. It only started after I had the carbs off and I probably twisted them the wrong way. A quick blip of the choke cable brings the idle right down.

'96 Ultra Sp
'97 SPX
Well guys, i bought my 2000 Triumph Brand new, and it has always had a high idle when it first starts. it idles around 4000 rpm for 1-3 min until it warms up, then it will slow down. I asked the Tech. that set up my sled and he said that this is normal for the sled.

Polaris is my way out - Other people just use a door.
Hi Guys,

Just an update...

Had the sled out last weekend & took some of everyone's advice.

Took apart the top of the carbs, no ice, but I checked the choke slides while at it.

No fouling on the plugs & machine runs great, also no high idling! Perhaps one of the choke slides was sticking or something but it wasn't doing it's tricks from the weekend before.

All is great, ran 85 miles the first day and 25 miles the second day.

I have looked all around for a Clymer or a Haines manual for this sled and my 86' Yamaha. They don't seem to have anything available for any Polaris newer than '95 and there is only one Clymer manual for the Yamaha (it covers two models only, an EZ and a YZ i think). Does any one out there know how/where/if a Clymer manual is available for either sled??

Happy Trails
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The hard starting might also be from a tight belt. If the belt is too tight the engine can't crank over easily. My 96 XLT also has a high idle maybe the carbs just need a good cleaning. Tons of snow here in northern Colorado. I just returned from a two day trip with freshies all day.
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