Honda Electric Shift (ES) Problem Solved - ATV Enthusiast Community

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Old 03-25-2012, 04:16 PM
Weekend Warrior
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 4
Default Honda Electric Shift (ES) Problem Solved

I just thought I would post my findings and solution to the numerous posts I've found all over the www regarding Honda ES models and shifting problems.

I'm sure I may have some critics but take it for what it's worth.

I have a 2008 Honda Rancher 420 ES. A few years ago I had a problem with it not shifting or sounding sluggish when trying to shift. As well, the display would often flash a bar or flash the gear the machine was stuck in.

After checking the net and finding no real answer to the situation, I read that the problem may be a 'shift angle sensor' or 'bank angle sensor'. After purchasing a new shift angle sensor @$100. as well as cleaning the shift motor, the problem soon came, two years later.

Today I started the machine for the first time this year, and again it won't upshift into 1st. The shift motor sounded sluggish. Back into the garage, pulled apart the shift motor, gave it a cleaning and it's shifting like gangbusters, no problems.

What I have found is that the carbon build up on the 'brushes' and the 'communicator' limits sufficient current to be passed to the motor, in turn limiting it's effectiveness to properly shift gears. My fix is to take some fine grit (600-1000) sandpaper, wrap it around the 'communicator' which is part of the armature, and turn, thus cleaning off the black carbon build up. Once cleaned the communicator will appear as a bright copper color. This will result in good electrical contact between the brushes and the communicator/armature. I then take the same paper and run a couple passes over the contact surface of the brushes. You could probably use a solvent to clean the brushes. Be careful the brushes are delicate.

Putting the motor back together takes some dexterity. Place the armature in the brush housing first. You'll have to use a small screw driver to push the brushes aside while pushing the armature back in. Then put the cylindrical housing over the armature. I think the rest you should be able to figure out.

Hopes this helps.
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Old 04-05-2012, 03:19 PM
Weekend Warrior
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 17

Thanks for the info!

100 Proof
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Old 04-05-2012, 03:37 PM
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TLC TLC is offline
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God forbid he lets the polishing secret out!
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Should be posted as a sticky on the Honda forum.

Funny thing is I had a 2001 450 Foreman ES and sold it to a friend 5 years ago and the ES never acted up and they must of improved since then,I would think. Yet you still see alot of ES trouble posts even on the newer modles.
2001 Yellow 500 H.O
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5.25 gas tank.
2007 350 Grizzly
Diff lock.
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Old 04-05-2012, 07:30 PM
Weekend Warrior
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 4

It should be a sticky. It would save people some cash, not having to buy parts they don't need. Sucks for Honda and the dealers not getting the parts sales.

I did make a mistake in describing a part. 'Commutator' is the right spelling as opposed to 'communicator'. As if it matters, the part is still the same.
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:20 PM
Weekend Warrior
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 17

Originally Posted by chris50362 View Post
...I did make a mistake in describing a part. 'Commutator' is the right spelling as opposed to 'communicator'. As if it matters, the part is still the same.
I knew what you meant. You're right though, it SHOULD be a sticky!

100 Proof
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Old 04-08-2012, 08:39 AM
Weekend Warrior
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 4

I may try adding pictures.

Another alternative to using fine grit sandpaper is to clean the commutator with metal polish. The reason is that fine grit sandpaper will create a course finish on the commutator, more surface area, thus possibly wearing down the brushes which would mean more frequent cleaning. Most metal polishes are finer in grit and have an additive that will protect the metal from wear and oxidation. And since the commutator is copper, which oxidizes, the polish might be a better alternative.
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:58 PM
Weekend Warrior
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 4

Here is a link with pictures on how to fix your Honda electric shift ATV.
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Old 04-29-2013, 06:48 PM
Weekend Warrior
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 2
Default 2001 honda rancher es shift problems

i have had shift problems for the last month now. I have gone threw the manual numerous times checking the angle sensor [which is just a continuity check]. The shift motor which you can check by running a hot wire to the orange wire and a ground wire to the green wire to motor . Motor should spin, reverse wires and motor should spin in the other direction.My problem came down to the computer not sending out up or down shift signals to the shift motor. Called honda and they said i need a new computer which cost roughly 450.00.Upon further research I have found that the computer looses it's internal ground.To check for this problem go back to your angle sensor located beside shift motor there are 3 wires at my angle sensor.Disconnect wires from sensor locate blue/bluishgreen wire.Insert a [small] cotter pin into back of a jumper wire from the cotter pin to a good ground.Plug back into angle sensor if shifter works this is your problem [faulty ground in computer].Make a new ground wire to the blue/bluishgreen wire. HOPE THIS HELPS HAS WORKED FOR ME
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Old 05-02-2013, 09:41 AM
Pro Rider
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 567

great write up, a old thought from years ago to never use metal based sandpaper when cleaning electrical motors.
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Old 06-15-2013, 05:21 PM
Weekend Warrior
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 1

Chris, I created an account on this forum specifically to thank you for the guide. I'm a herbicide applicator and my Rancher is where I live 8 - 5. I read your fix and tried it on my machine and worked like a charm. So thank you for posting it and saving me having to drag my bike 70 miles to the nearest Honda dealer.
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