5 Common Polaris Sportsman 700 Problems & How To Fix

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The Polaris Sportsman 700 made for an excellent step-up from the ever-popular Sportsman 500 for folks who wanted a little more power back in the early 2000’s.

The Sportsman 700 got its start in 2002 around the same time the Polaris Trail Boss 330 debuted, and underwent a series of changes during its production run.

Just as classic Polaris models of old like the Magnum 425 still make for excellent all-around utility ATVs, so too does this model.

But it does have some common problems you’ll need to look out for, including:

  • Ignition system failing
  • T-Bap sensor going bad
  • Carburetor intake boot cracking
  • Cold starting issues
  • Overheating

This guide will review each problem, along with proven ways to help prevent and overcome these issues.

Especially for older models like this one, one of the best ways to prevent the issues above from arising is to cover your ATV between rides whether stored inside or outside.

Ignition System Failing

The stock Ducati ignition system was by far the biggest problem with the Sportsman 700, at least for 2002 to early-2004 models.

The AC-powered ignition in these machines would fail, often while you were out for a ride.

And this issue wasn’t a matter of if, but when it would happen.

When the ignition starts to go, you’ll experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Running rough at idle
  • Stalling at idle
  • The engine cutting out and not turning back on

If you have a 2002-2004 Sportsman 700 that somehow still has the stock ignition in it, I highly advise you to be proactive and replace it.


This problem became so common that Polaris eventually moved from the AC-powered ignition to a DC-powered ignition in late 2004+ models which eliminated the problem in the machines moving forward.

Unfortunately, the only real fix for older Sportsman 700’s is to replace the entire ignition system with the Polaris’ upgraded ignition kit that includes the following new parts:

  • Stator
  • Flywheel
  • CDI/coil
  • Voltage regulator

This comes at a cost of around $500, but will eliminate any ignition problems for good.

An upgrade also gives you a better charging system so that you can run more accessories should you want without draining the battery and burning out the stator.

T-Bap Sensor Going Bad

The T-Bap Sensor is another common issue with these models.

The T-Bap sensor refers to your quad’s temperature and barometric pressure sensor, and helps to regulate the airflow into and out of the engine.

The problem with the sensor originated with the stock wiring harness, which connects and powers the sensor.

The wiring harness was a bit too short in the Sportsman 700’s, which resulted in constant pulling on the wires that connect the sensor.  

This eventually led to the connector being pulled apart and usually braking right around the connector area.

When this happened and the T-Bap sensor quit functioning properly, it would lead to the Sportsman 700 having really weak power and dying out constantly.

Usually these symptoms would be accompanied by the Check Engine light coming on and Error Code 45 displaying.


Polaris became aware of this recurring problem around the 2005/2006 timeframe, and began offering a factory repair kit to alleviate it.

When your sensor goes bad, installing the new wiring harness included in this kit should fix your issue.

You can also simply grab an aftermarket wiring harness that better fits the Sportsman 700.

Carburetor Intake Boot Cracking

The carburetor intake boot on these models is prone to cracking, usually due to the vibration of the engine and due to the design of the carburetor mounting the the frame of the ATV.

When your carburetor intake boot cracks, it can disguise itself as an issue with the carburetor itself being clogged as the symptoms are quite similar.

You may experience any of the following due to a crack in the carb intake:

  • Hesitates when throttling
  • Rough idling
  • Stalls out at idle
  • Only runs with the choke pulled
  • Dies when the choke is pushed in

If your carb is clean and your Sportsman is showing any of these signs, have a close look at your carb intake boot to see if it has cracked.


The only way to fix this issue is to replace the carburetor intake boot, which can be found online and shouldn’t run you more than $40.

Cold Starting Issues

The Sportsman 700 became the first-ever ATV model to offer electronic fuel injection in 2004.

Before then, every model was equipped with a carburetor instead and the option continued to be available after EFI came along.

These carburetors tend to lead to cold starting issues with the Sportsman 700, where your quad may have a hard time starting up when the weather is cold out.

You may also experience the following carburetor-related issues at some point:

  • Engine sputtering or stalling at idle
  • Engine surging
  • Engine refusing to fire up or run without the choke pulled

Carburetors have a tendency to gum up and cause these problems, and the jets within them are often to blame.


You’ll want to remove your carb from your Sportsman and then disassemble it in order to give it a good cleaning.

Be sure and inspect the jets inside the carburetor, taking them out and seeing if you can peer through them unobstructed.

If not, your jets are likely clogged and the reason for some of the symptoms above.

You can run a fine wire through them to clear them out, and then spray through them using WD-40 Carb Cleaner.

Be sure and scrub the carburetor itself down really good using the same spray as well.

Ensuring your carb and jets are clean should have your Sportsman 700 starting and running much smoother moving forward.


Another of the more common issues with these models is their tendency to overheat while out riding.

When this happens, you’ll see the “Hot” indicator come on on your LED display screen.

This overheating usually happens due to one of the following:

  • Radiator cap has gone bad
  • Air in coolant system
  • Radiator has clogged
  • Radiator fan not working properly
  • Blown head gasket

Radiator Cap Has Gone Bad

The stock radiator caps on these models tend to go bad after a while.  

When this happens, it won’t hold pressure in your system and will allow air in.  Air in the system will lead to boiling and overheating.

Replacing an old radiator cap should be your first course of action to stop any overheating.

Air In Coolant System

An air bubble can form in your coolant system from a faulty radiator cap, or really any time your engine overheats or comes close.

An air bubble will prevent your water hose from pumping coolant as it should, leading to overheating.

You’ll need to burp this air from your Sportsman in order to solve the problem.

Radiator Has Clogged

One of the most common causes of overheating on these models is the radiator has become clogged with mud, grass, sand, or other gunk from riding off-road.

If you’re not proactively cleaning your radiator after muddy rides or every so often either way, your radiator can become caked with debris which will cause it to overheat.

You should be thoroughly cleaning the radiator often to avoid this, and using HVAC coil cleaner and then spraying it off is an old trick and will have your radiator clean as a whistle.

Radiator Fan Not Working

The thermostat in the Sportsman 700 should begin opening at 176 (F) degrees and be fully open at 205 (F) degrees at which point your radiator fan should kick on.

This can be problematic when driving on hotter days or at high elevation, as sometimes the fan doesn’t have enough time to keep temps out of the 220+ degrees danger zone.

To keep your ATV from overheating because of the fan, you may consider running a toggle switch to it to bypass the fan sensor and give you the ability to engage the fan when you want.

Blown Head Gasket

A head gasket can blow any time the ATV overheats, and a sign this has happened will be bubbling from the radiator fill area that will not subside.

Use a head gasket tester kit to confirm this and replace your head gasket if needed, as a blown head gasket will lead to continued overheating.

Final Word

The Sportsman 700 still makes for an excellent ATV model all these years later, but it’s not without some drawbacks.

For more classic models, check out this review of the Polaris Sportsman 335 of the same time period before you go.