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First, is this an ES or foot shifter??? If it is an ES, I'm thankfully not familiar with those!
If it is a foot shifter, maybe the switch that senses the neutral position has gone out? You can disable the switch anyway, so it will start in any gear. Do a search, because there are recent posts about that.
It should still bump start, whether in neutral or not. Guess it probably has to be in neutral to use the pull starter.
Apply ground (- power) to the green wire with a red stripe on the starter solenoid located near the battery. If this gives you a neutral light and lets you start you know that the neutral switch is gone. Plus, if you wire a togle swith into this new circuit you will have start in gear (turn off the switch once its started to turn off the neutral light)
Check to see if the bulb is burned out, or missing.
action450s, is right, the motor can be fooled into thinking its in nuetral, and then it can be started.
Heres a page with the start in gear intructions for bypassing the nuetral switch, its for a foreman but works for rancher too. Its just like he said.
If you look at this pictoral alba
#10 is the nuetral switch, and make sure the wire is still on it, and that it makes good contact. Its the same green/red wire,that the bypass taps in to. You could put an ohmeter on the nuetral switch, with the wire off,and when the tranny is in nuetral, you should read continuity to ground, if the switch is working . If the switch is good, then its a bulb or wiring issue.
Thanks for the help guys.I ran a ground wire to the green/red stripe wire and got the neutral light on and the quad started.I did a test on the neutral/reverse switch and I don't get a ground when in neutral or reverse(from the switch).How big of a job is it to install a new switch?
Im not sure about the rancher, but on the foreman, which should be similar, you have to remove the cover over the stator, and unbolt the switch from behind. Real straight forward. They also recommend using a light threadlocker on the bolt when its installed.
The clymers manual for the rancher should have all the info on it, check the local library, they may have a copy, it would be in the 629.2 area of non fiction.
It is not your switch but the Shift Drum. I have a 2000 rancher and am in the process of going through the same issues. If you jump the switch you have to worry about the broken piece in your case. this could cause severe damage in your gears if it goes through them. I was on the same track as you, but came to my senses when explained and shown exactly what happened.