Skip to Content

Can Am Defender Starting Problems & Common Issues [ Fix Now ]

Can Am Defender Starting Problems & Common Issues [ Fix Now ]

The Can-Am Defender is one of the most versatile yet affordable UTVs. But what happens when it starts sputtering or won’t start?

If you have a Can-Am Defender UTV, you know how great it can be. But, if you’ve ever experienced starting problems, it could be frustrating. Start problems can happen to just about any vehicle, but they can be incredibly frustrating for a UTV.

Main Reasons for Can-Am Defender Starting Problems

When you are having trouble starting your Can-Am Defender, there are several possible reasons; you should first check that your battery is charged and then check the battery cables to ensure they are tight and clean.

If you have trouble starting your vehicle on a cold day, you might want to recheck your battery cables because the extreme cold can stiff them. 

Other reasons for not starting include a faulty ignition switch, faulty fuel pump, and even low fuel levels.

Can Am Defender Starting Problems

1. Low Oil Levels

The starting system on the Can-Am Defender line of side-by-side UTVs is electric and is started by depressing the brake while depressing the start button. This is the same system used by the Polaris Ranger line of UTVs.

This system has come under scrutiny when the oil level is low. The issue is that the system uses the brake to turn on the motor and engage the starter.

If the oil level is at or near the bottom of the dipstick, the starter is engaged before the oil level is high enough to lubricate the motor properly. This causes the motor to either allow the starter to spin.

The motor does not engage the flywheel and the starter to spin.

2. Dead Battery

Your Can-Am Defender can have an issue when the battery is dead. If you have attempted to start the machine and it does not start, you should troubleshoot the issue to get your machine started.

The two main reasons for this are the engine not receiving enough fuel and spark. A typical cause of this is the battery being disconnected, discharged, or dead.

Dead batteries are a common reason for vehicle starting problems in most UTVs. You will see multiple dash warning lights in most cases, but the most common are the security and service engine lights.

3. Loose terminals

This is a reason for Can-Am Defender UTV Starting Problems. Loose wire terminals are more than just an annoyance.

Improperly connected wire terminals can cause you not to be able to start your Can-Am Defender UTV. When terminals come loose from the battery, the engine may not get the power it needs to start.

This problem can be easily fixed, but it is the reason for the failure of many starting attempts.

4. Faulty Fuel Pump

The Can-Am Defender UTV is a powerful machine. These machines are equipped with a high-performance engine that provides power and can deliver superior performance.

The fuel pump will supply fuel to the carburetor and deliver it to the engine. The pump should be checked and replaced if it has failed.

Take a look at the fuel pump to see if it is damaged. If it is, it should be replaced.

If the fuel pump is damaged, it could cause the engine to stall and the vehicle to not start. A faulty fuel pump is a reason for Can-Am Defender UTV Starting Problems.

Fuel pumps can fail in various ways, and a few of the most common causes of fuel pump failure are water in the fuel, a faulty fuel pump relay, a dirty fuel filter, a vacuum leak, and loose or corroded connections to the fuel pump.

5. Over Pumping The Throttle

Pumping the throttle is a common reason for Can-Am Defender UTV starting problems. Although it might seem like an unrelated problem, it sometimes happens.

Usually, these problems are easily fixable. The solution is not a complicated task and only requires you to perform a few steps.

The fuel will clog the system and make your engine choke. You will have to close the choke and bleed out the excess fuel to allow your engine to start properly.

6. Bad Ignition Switch

Usually, it is a device that controls the electric current supply to the coil and the ignition coil, which works only when the driver turns the key. The Ignition Coil has a similar function.

It is a part of the ignition system that transforms the current supplied by the ignition coil into the voltage that would be enough to ignite the air and fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. If the coils are worn out, the starter will not supply the current to start your UTV.

The rear ignition switch on Can-Am machines is primarily an on/off switch, but it can interact with the ECU and control a few functions. The most important of these is the ability to control the ignition cut, which prevents the machine from starting if the accelerator pedal is not fully depressed.

In the event of a Can-Am Rear Ignition Switch failure, the on/off switch becomes inoperative, and the vehicle cannot be started. This is a very common problem on Can-Am machines, and the ignition switch can be removed and repaired or replaced.

7. Low Fuel Levels

It’s true. The fuel level in the tank directly affects starting the Can-Am Defender UTV.

When the fuel tank is low, there isn’t enough fuel in the lines for the engine to get a sufficient fuel supply. The engine will choke and stall. Be sure that there is enough fuel in your fuel tank before starting your UTV.

The best solution is to fill the tank with fuel.

8. Security System

The Security system is a reason for Can-Am Defender starting problems because, after a while, the battery starts to be drained by the security system, which is why it seems to be dead, or the battery has to be changed numerous times.

Also, the security system can cause a severe problem in which the key fob will not turn off the system, and the vehicle will not start; this will cause the battery to drain completely.

9. Cold Start in Cold weather conditions

Remember that you need to be prepared for cold weather when starting an engine, especially a diesel engine. If you allow your engine to idle for any time and it gets cold, you can cause severe damage to your engine.

A hard start can be caused by several things, including a low battery, a dirty air filter, a faulty thermostat (inside the cooling system), and a faulty start relay (connected to the key switch).

Can-Am has been having issues with cold start problems. Cold temperatures cause the oil in the engine to thicken.

This thick oil can clog the filter and not allow enough air to the engine to start the machine. The solution is to clean the filter and replace the thermostat and the start relay (contact starter relay).


The UTV has a starting issue. This problem has been affecting Can-Am ATV owners since 2012 and 2013; the starting system has a timing problem.

It is unclear what the remedy is for the starting system, but Can-Am is working on a fix. It appears that there is a design flaw in Can-Am’s fuel system.

This SUV’s gas tank sits at the base of the frame, so the fuel tank is lower than the rear axle. This can be a problem with having the fuel tank punctured and low fuel on the lines, which can cause a hard start.