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My electric start has been working fine until yesterday. It has been sitting for about 4 weeks, when I tried to start it yesterday, it would not start using the electric start. I had to use the crankcord. It started fine with the cord, but I could not change gears. Any ideas what could be going on with the 2001 Honda Rancher TRX350ES?
did u happen to see if the gear indicator says "N" for neutral? If the ECM doesnt see neutral, the electric start wont work. If the bike is indeed in neutral but the gear indicator doesnt show it, maybe you have a bad gear indicator sensor.
It sounds like a electrical problem, It cranked by pull starting=battery good. So mark that off list. In neutral = ECM good. I would try checking all fuses, Then make sure you got power to starter, (test light-ohm meter). But not shifting, (ESP). Which is a Electrical Shift Program. Make sure you don't have water (sweat-from cold weather) in fuse box. That happened once on the trail (of course it was water from playing) but is shorted a couple of fuses out and had to replace them, they blew right out. Had to get some air and blow the fuse box out. Then replace fuses.
2001 Ranchers are fun in the fact that it does not have diagnostic type ECM. Most common troubles I have serviced on this year of a rancher are related to the 2 topics you have mentioned. Your starter brushes are eather worn or simply stuck. depress the starter button and lighty tap on the starter motor ( don't beat on it or the fields may be damaged ). If the starter spins over when tapped on, the starter brush plate and starter brush are worn. Do not keep tapping on the starter to start the unit as armeture damage will result from the worn brushes, arcing, on the armeture. If it must be tapped to turn the engine over, service the starter with a new brush plate and brush.
The electric shift problem is probably the shift angle sensor and or connection, located on the lower front cover of the engine ( under a tin cover held on with 2 bolts ). Most likely if the sensor has never been replaced, it is faulty. If the sensor is removed and it says "Mexico" on it, replace it (remember the o-ring ). Also if the battery is low it may amplify the shift problem. Cold weather does seem to bring on ground troubles. Since the '01 Rancher does not bring up diagnostics on the instrument cluster, Chasing shift problems is more difficult. In my experiences with trouble-shooting this type of system. the problem is usually found at the angle sensor connector, or the sensor itself. (also make sure your idle is not too high or the choke is partially on when trying to shift )
Hope this helps you
----- Gregg -----
Not all winners are heros
Honda Pro Wrench - Red Level Certification
Having same starting issue with 2004 Honda Rancher TRX350ES
Gimpster, I see your note.....the starter brush plate and starter brush are worn. Do not keep tapping on the starter to start the unit as armeture damage will result from the worn brushes, arcing, on the armeture. If it must be tapped to turn the engine over, service the starter with a new brush plate and brush.
Gentle tap on starter has worked but now want to correct worn out parts. Do you have written procedure/diagrams to replace brushes and brush plate.