Sidekick RTV-XG850 backfiring / loss of power

Tughill Tom

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B3200
Dec 23, 2013
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This sounds like some of the sleds i used to run, rule #1 don't leave home without 6 fresh plugs!... Those were the days.
 
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lugbolt

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I was never happy with the sidekick.

Kubota attempted to get into the UTV market, and being Kubota, they tried to overbuild it yet still make it "sporty" enough to be "fun".

Intimidator did the same thing but they've also failed. They sell them (and the kubota's) for a lower price point than some other brands, to get people to buy them.

IMO kubota, if they want to stay in the UTV market, they're going to have to make some major changes.

And they (kubota) failed in the fun part, and a lot of other areas as well. The throttle was so jerky on them that they were uncontrollable; before I left the dealer there were multiple owners who have complained about it, with at least one who ran it through his barn and injured himself, because of the jerky uncontrollable throttle.

At that dealer I sold yamaha kawasaki and kubota. The way I always addressed an indecisive customer was this. If you just NEED diesel, get the RTVx900, 1120, or if you need A/C and heat, the RTVx1100. Forget the diesel Mules. If you want gas (and I tried to put the majority of them in a gas burner), forget the sidekick and RTV400 & RTV500. The latter two were an absolute JOKE especially the 500! Mules were the way to go on those. Do you need more of a recreational ride? Viking and/or Wolverine. In 20 the RMAX came out and while I like it, there are so many points where Yamaha missed the target. I never had much dealin with Honda or Suzuki-Suzuki was in big financial issues for a while and I'm not sure they actually recovered? Anyway, for the 30 years I did dealer work at yamaha/kawasaki/kubota/and some deere, we cussed the Polaris units to no end. In the 90's and early 2000's they were mostly poor. Noisy, etc. Then they introduced the ranger 700 and later the 800. Smoother, quieter, plenty of power, and the engine was pretty much bulletproof; although not "fast", it was still more powerful than anything the japanese had at the time. I hated Polaris.

In 20 I changed jobs. Left that dealer, "retired" and then was offered a job at a Polaris dealer, of all places.

Now that I have some Polaris experience, I can tell you from both a mechanical standpoint AND an owner's standpoint, AND a dealer tech's standpoint, that Polaris owns the SxS market, and for good reason.

Comparing the Ranger 1000 to the Sidekick? There is no comparison. The ranger is more powerful, faster, pulls better, MUCH more comfortable, much quieter, easier to drive, easier to service, easier to maintain, does trails AND farm work WAY better than the Sidekick, better customization/accessorizing options, and so much more. And from "my" end of it (the technician), Polaris takes VERY good care of the dealers, the techs, and everyone within. I'm quite impressed with them.. That also means much better customer service if the manufacturer helps the dealers, then the dealers can help the customers.

Conversely when the Sidekick was introduced I drove one around before any of them hit the dealers, and I had serious issues with the throttle, the ride quality, the seats, and a lot of other things (noise, heat, etc). They partially "fixed" the throttle issue for the newer ones but they still don't ride very good. Uncomfortable. And the engine, derived from Subaru (which...the KGZ770 engine was also derived from a Subrau engine, as was the RTV500, RTV400, and a few others).

Plug fouling often happens due to frequent short trips. Same as contamination of the lube oil, is more frequent with short trips where the engine is not allowed to warm up. I've never see a Ranger 1000 or Ranger 1000xp with this issue. Some of the 900's would eat a plug once in a while but in the 3 years I've been doing Polaris, I've only seen this twice. .
 
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mikester

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I like the polaris rangers but hesitate for only two reasons - price, and reliability issue experiences on a previous polaris ownership. Once burned twice shy.
 

Mr. Bull

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2018 RTV-XG850
May 26, 2023
4
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Comparing the Ranger 1000 to the Sidekick? There is no comparison. The ranger is more powerful, faster, pulls better, MUCH more comfortable, much quieter, easier to drive, easier to service, easier to maintain, does trails AND farm work WAY better than the Sidekick, better customization/accessorizing options, and so much more. And from "my" end of it (the technician), Polaris takes VERY good care of the dealers, the techs, and everyone within. I'm quite impressed with them.. That also means much better customer service if the manufacturer helps the dealers, then the dealers can help the customers.
I was on a list with Merced Customs for a brand new 2022 Electric Ranger for 11 months. When it arrived they upped the price $1,000. I told them to choke on it. That is not customer service. I would rather ride in a weird looking, throttle issue having Kubota than ever buy a Polaris ever. We rent about 150 UTV buggies out on the Utility Solar site I am working on in Central California. We always have suspension issues with the Polaris Rangers. I see the repair bills. Our team thinks the Kubota's are more reliable. That is why I got one and was shocked by the spark plug issue.

Thank you for sharing your experience it was a good post.
 

lugbolt

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Oct 15, 2015
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I was on a list with Merced Customs for a brand new 2022 Electric Ranger for 11 months. When it arrived they upped the price $1,000. I told them to choke on it. That is not customer service. I would rather ride in a weird looking, throttle issue having Kubota than ever buy a Polaris ever. We rent about 150 UTV buggies out on the Utility Solar site I am working on in Central California. We always have suspension issues with the Polaris Rangers. I see the repair bills. Our team thinks the Kubota's are more reliable. That is why I got one and was shocked by the spark plug issue.

Thank you for sharing your experience it was a good post.

I'm glad you don't like Polaris. I didn't either, for 3 decades. Once in that business I realized what "they" are all about. It's a complete 180 from Kubota. Kubota stuff is slow, heavy, and in the case of the sidekick, poorly engineered in a few areas. They are workhorses (except the sidekick, it's not a play toy, it's not a work horse, it's just someone at kubota's brainchild saying "hey lets try to compete with the Mule".

It would've been worth the $1000 extra, trust me. but that's ok, I'm sure they sold it to someone else, and probably the same day. The Kinetic's use a little different suspension and frame stuff than the Ranger Xp's do. Still new, so I don't know how well they hold up. We have about a dozen of them out now. The OBS Ranger EV's, those things were junk. I mean, they were "ok" but the FLA batteries were problematic and expensive to replace. Kind of a sore subject with me since I now own one (abandoned at work) and have to figure out what to do with it. The acid has rusted the frame pretty good and I ain't sure it's fixable. May just scrap it. I have a few Li-Ion OBS EV's out, and they have zero issues other than one that had a bad 48vDC-14vDC converter. Replaced, has not had any issue since.Those use the old style suspension bushing setup, if you kept up with greasing, they last a while. Bushings, batteries were the biggest issues with em. Similar to the old 800 900 and early 1000 Rangers, bushings were always an issue. Luckily they're cheap. New style Rangers use different style bushings which last a lot longer.

I learnt something the other day about Polaris. The logo is of "Polaris" the brightest star in the sky. It also never moves much in the sky from season to season, the same star which many looked toward to find their way before we had GPS and such. Polaris Industries follows that, in that they are steady, and always focused on providing equipment that leads the industry. I dealt with Kubota for over 30 years and in that 30, the last 20 or so did quite a bit with the RTV line. In this part of the country off-road vehicle market is huge, and while at Kubota dealer I saw this first hand (we also had kawasaki and yamaha). Having 3 brands of ORV's you'd think they would sell a bunch. And they did. For a while, they were at 150-170 a year between the 3 brands. I thought that was pretty good! In 2020 when I left the dealer, and went to a Polaris dealer, the boss and I were talking about sales numbers between the old place and Polaris dealer. Old place was at 137 when I left. The same timeframe at the Polaris dealer, they were at 534. 2021 they did 597. 2022 599. We are slower this year as predicted. BUT the key takeaway here is that they own the ORV market and for a lot of reasons. Sure the RTV line is more of a workhorse, and they do that...but not everyone wants one to just work with and to go 20 mph down trails.

I always said I'd never own one and I will eat crow. I bought a 2023 General XP. The only thing that compares is the Yamaha RMAX 2 and the Can-Am Commander. Don't like the jerky throttle of the Commander, it runs hot around your legs and your back as well. The Yamaha is a little nicer interior but the side bolsters are diggin into my side the whole time, and i like the Yamaha engine a little better...until it comes time to maintain it. Plus, Polaris offers much better pricing for dealer personnel, MUCH better accessorizing options, and frankly better resale. So I bought one. Put 160 miles on it yesterday. Man I really do like it. Comfortable. 160 miles of trails and I'm not even remotely sore. I will be tomorrow though, after spending all evening washing it off ;)
 
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Sidekick

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Sidekick 850, BX3260, Z726XKW-3-60
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I purchased a 2022 Sidekick a year ago and have a serious gas dilution of my crankcase oil. Just found this thread and thought I would add my issue. The oil level kept rising over the first 20 hours and was extremely gray and thin thin with white gunk at the first change. Had about a 12 ounces over the 4 quarts when drained. New oil and filter and a little over 5 hours later it had gone up again on the stick. I would guess about 4 or 5 ounces and turned grayish color. Contacted the dealer and at first Kubota said it is common, you have to let it warm up 15 minutes before driving and leave it idle instead of shutting it off for short periods. I tried that and still went up. Finally they have accepted a warranty claim and it is at my dealer with Kubota supposedly involved. I will update if and when it is fixed. Sure sounds like a serious problem that may not just be mine after reading this. Sounds like I made a mistake putting my trust in Kubota for this purchase. I sure hope they can fix it. Was wondering why there are none on any lots lately.
 

matt850

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Kubota sidekick
Jun 13, 2023
4
1
3
pa
I purchased a 2022 Sidekick a year ago and have a serious gas dilution of my crankcase oil. Just found this thread and thought I would add my issue. The oil level kept rising over the first 20 hours and was extremely gray and thin thin with white gunk at the first change. Had about a 12 ounces over the 4 quarts when drained. New oil and filter and a little over 5 hours later it had gone up again on the stick. I would guess about 4 or 5 ounces and turned grayish color. Contacted the dealer and at first Kubota said it is common, you have to let it warm up 15 minutes before driving and leave it idle instead of shutting it off for short periods. I tried that and still went up. Finally they have accepted a warranty claim and it is at my dealer with Kubota supposedly involved. I will update if and when it is fixed. Sure sounds like a serious problem that may not just be mine after reading this. Sounds like I made a mistake putting my trust in Kubota for this purchase. I sure hope they can fix it. Was wondering why there are none on any lots lately.
Mine is a different problem it just cuts out for 4 sec and the RPM readout starts blinking. The guys I talked to said go to a hotter range plugs. They are making a new plug because the old one isn't available so I put the new ones in they aren't a hotter range and they made no difference. When I do start it cold it smells rich so I don't let it warm up I just floor the stupid thing and that does help. Drive it like you stole it don't let it idle for 15 min. Maybe try to find the hotter plugs and let me know what happened.
 

Sidekick

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Mine is a different problem it just cuts out for 4 sec and the RPM readout starts blinking. The guys I talked to said go to a hotter range plugs. They are making a new plug because the old one isn't available so I put the new ones in they aren't a hotter range and they made no difference. When I do start it cold it smells rich so I don't let it warm up I just floor the stupid thing and that does help. Drive it like you stole it don't let it idle for 15 min. Maybe try to find the hotter plugs and let me know what happened.
I saw the post about Messick's saying the oil was being diluted and yes it is on mine. I heard a rumor they may possibly be working on a new intake manifold. I don't want it back if they don't fix it under warranty. I'm not messing with a new machine.
 

matt850

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Kubota sidekick
Jun 13, 2023
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I saw the post about Messick's saying the oil was being diluted and yes it is on mine. I heard a rumor they may possibly be working on a new intake manifold. I don't want it back if they don't fix it under warranty. I'm not messing with a new machine.
Now that you say it I guess it could be some low pressure in the manifold making the performance problems. It does seem kinda goofy looking and this problem seems to be unsolvable for most people. The only thing you can do is maybe mess around take the air filter off and see if it stays the same or improves.
 

mikester

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I'm not overly impressed with the subaru motor mostly due to poor fuel economy. Zippy enough for me and decent towing.

I'd try to swap in a diesel motor if the subaru gives up its ghost.
 
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Sidekick

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I'm not overly impressed with the subaru motor mostly due to poor fuel economy. Zippy enough for me and decent towing.

I'd try to swap in a diesel motor if the subaru gives up its ghost.
Yes mine sucks gas like crazy. Can smell it coming out the exhaust unburned. Mine is one of the first off the Kubota line after they bought the tooling and I wonder if something changed. None of the earlier reviews I watched mentioned any issues. It would be an awesome machine with a diesel that has smoother low torque.
 

mikester

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Yes mine sucks gas like crazy. Can smell it coming out the exhaust unburned. Mine is one of the first off the Kubota line after they bought the tooling and I wonder if something changed. None of the earlier reviews I watched mentioned any issues. It would be an awesome machine with a diesel that has smoother low torque.
You shouldn't be smelling un-burned gas, I don't have that issue. Sounds like a bad coil or ignition system problem on yours.

Out of curiosity how was your break in driving style? I tended to run it hot, hard and fast as opposed to cold, slow and gentle.
 

Sidekick

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Sidekick 850, BX3260, Z726XKW-3-60
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You shouldn't be smelling un-burned gas, I don't have that issue. Sounds like a bad coil or ignition system problem on yours.

Out of curiosity how was your break in driving style? I tended to run it hot, hard and fast as opposed to cold, slow and gentle.
I ran it cold, slow, and gentle. Just moving firewood, yard work, moving trailers, grandkid rides around the yard, and plowing some snow. Runs perfect, just dilutes the oil with gas at about the rate of an ounce of gas per hour of runtime. Still no word from the dealer about a solution.
 

Sidekick

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Just a little update at this point. Turns out there are both gas and water in the oil. So far the injectors have been replaced to hopefully fix the fuel and next the head gasket will be checked but the antifreeze level has not dropped since new. Kubota says water in the oil from condensation on these engines is normal if they aren't warmed up for 15 minutes before each use. I only warm it for about 5 minutes and use it for short trips around the yard and in the woods for firewood so it could be my fault. Wonder why they don't put that in the sales literature. The way it goes through fuel the EPA must love just letting it sit there and run to warm up and instead of shutting it off for less then 15 minute stops. Sounds like I may have wasted my money buying it as this engine has specific operating requirements not mentioned up front. Should hear more next week. Breaks my heart but may have to go if Kubota can't fix it right.
20230509_170548.jpg
 

mikester

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Just a little update at this point. Turns out there are both gas and water in the oil. So far the injectors have been replaced to hopefully fix the fuel and next the head gasket will be checked but the antifreeze level has not dropped since new. Kubota says water in the oil from condensation on these engines is normal if they aren't warmed up for 15 minutes before each use. I only warm it for about 5 minutes and use it for short trips around the yard and in the woods for firewood so it could be my fault. Wonder why they don't put that in the sales literature. The way it goes through fuel the EPA must love just letting it sit there and run to warm up and instead of shutting it off for less then 15 minute stops. Sounds like I may have wasted my money buying it as this engine has specific operating requirements not mentioned up front. Should hear more next week. Breaks my heart but may have to go if Kubota can't fix it right. View attachment 108928
I wouldn't warm up for 15 minutes, the tank would be empty for the drive!

Just run it hot and run it longer than you currently do. Avoid lots of short runs or leave the engine idling between pickups. Tour the perimeter of the property each time before you start work!
 

Sidekick

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I wouldn't warm up for 15 minutes, the tank would be empty for the drive!

Just run it hot and run it longer than you currently do. Avoid lots of short runs or leave the engine idling between pickups. Tour the perimeter of the property each time before you start work!
That's a big waste of time and fuel that they should mention in the sales brochure. I am going to wait and see if there are other issues causing this because it gains about an ounce of fuel and water an hour in the oil that really seems excessive compared to other UTVs in the same class. I give It 5 minutes and any requirements over that means Kubota is producing environmental nightmares. Friends with Rangers and mules don't have this problem.
 

mikester

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That's a big waste of time and fuel that they should mention in the sales brochure. I am going to wait and see if there are other issues causing this because it gains about an ounce of fuel and water an hour in the oil that really seems excessive compared to other UTVs in the same class. I give It 5 minutes and any requirements over that means Kubota is producing environmental nightmares. Friends with Rangers and mules don't have this problem.
Something doesn't sound right. Do you leave the machine outdoors all the time? Did your teenage kids take the RTV through deep water or mud bogging and not tell you?

What's your machine hours and odometer reading?
 

Sidekick

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Something doesn't sound right. Do you leave the machine outdoors all the time? Did your teenage kids take the RTV through deep water or mud bogging and not tell you?

What's your machine hours and odometer reading?
Stored indoors in a unheated pole barn and I am the only driver. Went in at 26 hours and under 100 miles. Still looks like brand new and hasn't been in any water at all. Was told they are checking the head gasket first but Kubota has said it looks normal condensation and fuel accumulation from not letting it warm up 15 minutes each time it is started. So sounds like they know there is a problem in certain situations. The 20 hour oil change had about a cup and a half extra fluid that stunk like gas and when put in a bottle settled out to about 10% white slimy gook, 80% grayish brown oil and 10% very thin lighter what smelled like gas that separated after about a week. Dealer has one bottle of it I gave to him to hopefully have analyzed but Kubota wasn't interested. I have the rest and probably will send a sample to Blackstone if they don't fix it and legal action is needed. Was one of the pandemic engines built after Kubota took them over I think but am not 100% sure because it took over 14 months to get after ordering.
 

lugbolt

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ZG127S-54
Oct 15, 2015
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Stored indoors in a unheated pole barn and I am the only driver. Went in at 26 hours and under 100 miles. Still looks like brand new and hasn't been in any water at all. Was told they are checking the head gasket first but Kubota has said it looks normal condensation and fuel accumulation from not letting it warm up 15 minutes each time it is started. So sounds like they know there is a problem in certain situations.

I'm not surprised. It's fairly common on units that are used short distances and/or idled, especially in cooler air temps. As fuel and air are combusted, there are always a small amount of gases that get past the piston rings-they are not a "total seal", and there is no way to make them totally sealed. Those gases get into the engine oil, and over time build up. The only way to get rid of the contamination is to either (1) change the oil or (2) run the engine until the OIL temp is high enough to boil off those contaminants.

The Kawasaki Mule 3000 and 4000 series were horrible about this. Some of the 600 series as well. I did a number of 610's and 600's where the customer would bring it in complaining of a blowed head gasket. Why do you think you have a blowed head gasket sir? There's water in the oil. Has it been submerged in water deep enough to get into the engine? NO!! It runs on dry ground 100% of the time you dumb greedy grease monkey! Well sir, hate to tell you this, but there is no other way for water to get into the oil other than not running it hard enough. 600/610/XC are air cooled, no antifreeze or water cooling. On the Mules I just instructed people to run them against the governor in low gear, which is about 10mph. 22-24 mph in high. They're slow. But at least in low against the governor the engine oil would heat up enough to boil off contaminants. Not sure I'd want to do that on a sidekick, for fear of losing my hearing.
 

Sidekick

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Sidekick 850, BX3260, Z726XKW-3-60
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I'm not surprised. It's fairly common on units that are used short distances and/or idled, especially in cooler air temps. As fuel and air are combusted, there are always a small amount of gases that get past the piston rings-they are not a "total seal", and there is no way to make them totally sealed. Those gases get into the engine oil, and over time build up. The only way to get rid of the contamination is to either (1) change the oil or (2) run the engine until the OIL temp is high enough to boil off those contaminants.

The Kawasaki Mule 3000 and 4000 series were horrible about this. Some of the 600 series as well. I did a number of 610's and 600's where the customer would bring it in complaining of a blowed head gasket. Why do you think you have a blowed head gasket sir? There's water in the oil. Has it been submerged in water deep enough to get into the engine? NO!! It runs on dry ground 100% of the time you dumb greedy grease monkey! Well sir, hate to tell you this, but there is no other way for water to get into the oil other than not running it hard enough. 600/610/XC are air cooled, no antifreeze or water cooling. On the Mules I just instructed people to run them against the governor in low gear, which is about 10mph. 22-24 mph in high. They're slow. But at least in low against the governor the engine oil would heat up enough to boil off contaminants. Not sure I'd want to do that on a sidekick, for fear of losing my hearing.
The engine never gets hot enough to kick the fan in during the summer. Only time I hear it is in the winter when plowing. No temp gauge so I have no idea of the temp even after sitting there idling to warm up. Total piece of garbage to me if this is the case and no mention in the sales literature or by the dealer there are special operating conditions. Not worth having something that needs the oil changed every 5 hours or just has to sit there and run being an environmental nightmare. Never had a problem like this with a machine before and hopefully in the end I can help others avoid this machine for around the farm use if what you're saying is true. I should find out more next week.