The number of clicks you hear can determine which of the two it is. In the rare chances, it might not even be the battery or starter relay at all.
Continue reading to see what this all means for you and your ATV.
If you hear multiple clicks coming from your ATV, usually it’s around the engine or electrical box, then it’s a bad or weak battery.
To be honest, a weak battery is going to be 90% of the problem for most ATV riders and why they hear clicking. The clicking sound is usually rapid and one after the other when you press the start button.
Charging the battery overnight with a 2 amp 12-volt charger will be good enough. You do NOT want to charge over 2 amps and you for sure do NOT want to jump the ATV off with your truck as that could do damage.
Sometimes the battery may charge to completion but still be dead. Even if the battery charger says its okay and charges, it could be lying. Yes, they can lie and give a false positive.
To make sure the battery is not entirely dead you need to load test it. The easiest way to load test a battery is to go to the local auto parts store and let them do it. Most, if not all, will load test a battery for free. You can even pick up a new battery from them too. If you do get a new battery try to get an AGM sealed battery as they’re the best.
If you need to charge the battery or learn more about how to better take care of your ATV battery, then read this here.
Make sure the connections to the battery are clean too. Dirty contacts can make it seem like the battery is weak or dying but it’s the cables not allowing enough power through.
Why Does The Battery Die?
The battery dies because you’re not riding your ATV enough or you used a cheap “Walmart” battery. Don’t go cheap on your batteries unless you got a pull-start backup on your ATV.
I’ve been known to carry a jump pack for this reason when going on rides with others, just in case someone’s battery goes flat.
You can learn more about why your ATV battery dies and how to keep it from happening.
The starter relay going bad is not as common as the battery going bad but does happen. The starter relay takes a lot of abuse because of the amount of electrical current that goes through it. The starter relay is what connects the battery to the starter motor to turn the engine over and get it running.
Before messing with the starter relay, you want to disconnect the battery from the ATV. Might be worth it to get it load tested as we mention in above sections while you’re at it. I’ve seen batteries and starter relay both go bad at the same time before.
The starter relay is often not too far from the battery or near the fuse box. It will have 2 big wires going to it, one from the battery itself and 2 little cables going to the electrical/fuse area.
It’s not hard to replace one if you have basic tools, but make sure the battery is disconnected before you do so. I say this because I’ve welded my finger to a battery post and a wrench before and have the scars to prove it, so when doing anything electrical disconnect the battery!
While you’re there replacing the relay makes sure the connections are nice and clean. Sometimes mud and dirt can get on the connectors, and that can cause your ATV to click or not start.
If you replaced the battery or even the starter relay and it still clicks then recheck the battery.
Yes, recheck it.
I’m telling you, the battery is 90% of the starting issues that most people see. Even if the battery is new get it check with a load tester at the auto parts store. I’ve seen many new batteries that are “charged” but in fact are actually dead.
If you rechecked the battery, then it’s something else.
The next thing I would check is all of the fuses to make sure none of them are blown. Make sure all the connections to the fuses are clean and don’t have dirt on them.
Bad Starter Motor or Hydro-Locked?
It could be a bad starter motor not fully engaging that is making the clicking sounds.
If you have taken the ATV out in the mud, you could also hydro-locked it. Water got in the engine and the click could be the engine ceased up. If that is the case, you need to stop pressing the start button as you could be bending a rod.
If you have gotten to this point, you need to get it to a shop to get worked on. There could be many things to look for, and there is only so much I can say here.
For the most of you, it’s either going to be…
- Bad or Weak Battery
- Bad Starter Relay
- Bad Starter Motor
Anything beyond the first two requires a mechanic to look at.