Can A CVT Swim?

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Dear Motorhead:

You helped me with the ride quality of the Polaris 850 touring. You were right on, adjusting the springs firmer made it ride smoother on holes and rocks. Thanks again.

Have a question about the clutch engagement it sometimes engages at 1550 rpm and is smooth and other times are 1900 and is abrupt. Is this normal and is there anything I should do about it?

Also I misjudged the depth of water in a hole and got water in the CVT, drained the water and it seems OK. Does this need to be cleaned or flushed with clean water?

Thanks Again for your expertise.



Thanks for the complete info on your situation.

First and foremost – yes – you definitely must do some work on your CVT – Pronto. As well, if you’ve ingested water into the CVT there’s a good possibility you sucked some into the engine crankcases. Maybe not – but you do not want to take a chance here. Drain your crankcase oil and do a filter change as well.

If you ingested even the slightest bit of water through the intake or the crankcase breather you will ultimately damage your engine. An oil change after this kind of event is mandatory on any ATV.

Unfortunately, most riders don’t bother and six months later they wonder why they need new cam bearings or have scuffed a piston – and why their OEM won’t pay for it under warranty.

The reality is this – ATV’s are impervious to water up to a designed-in limit. When you take on water in the CVT or crankcase or both – you’ve exceeded the design limits of the vehicle and there will be consequences. Your CVT situation is equally as important to address after a dunking.

You can remove the drain, run the ATV in neutral until the CVT sheds all the water – that’s the way to get the unit home. However, in my humble opinion, it is not the way to leave the ATV. There’s dirt in water and your CVT is a sophisticated, constant velocity transmission system which can tolerate heat and hard use but will not last if it gets mud and excessive dust/dirt in it.

Your engagement problem is no doubt related to the dunking and requires the CVT cover be removed and the clutches blown out with compressed air, the belt removed and examined (most often the belt will become “glazed” after dunking) and it should be cleaned with a high flash solvent and/or lightly sanded with very fine emory on the side surfaces.

It may also require replacing if it looks like it has a “clutch bump” hourglass shape anywhere along the side profile. Next, you should contact your dealer for the proper lubrication regime for the primary (engine) clutch and the secondary (driven) clutch.

This may require disassembly and might best be accomplished by a dealer unless you feel exceptionally talented in this regard. Your wandering engagement RPM is likely related to the center post bushing in the primary being fouled with dirt, belt rubber or other contaminants.

Here’s the deal – you might be able to get away with riding the ATV the way it is but I’m pretty sure you’ll only be delaying inescapable and costly repairs down the road if you don’t get in front of this and do the clean up work now.

Oh yeh, next time don’t go so deep in the goo!

Motorhead Mark

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