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What should I do when my powersport engine loses power?

Loss of Power

When the time comes to get away from life’s daily grind, at least for a few hours, many look to their power sport vehicle to provide that getaway. Power sport vehicles include snowmobiles, ATVs, UTVs, personal watercraft and motorcycles. Depending on the season, power sport vehicles allow you to ride along a scenic wooded trail, or take off across your favorite waterway—in short, power sport vehicles allow you to go where roads can’t take you.

Power sport vehicles may be powered by two-stroke or a four-stroke internal combustion engines. While these engines are fairly simple and reliable, problems may pop up to ruin your day. One of the most annoying problems is an engine that starts and seems to run fine for a time, but then loses power. The power loss may be continuous, or it may ebb and flow, making it impossible to enjoy your trip, and raising the specter of your engine not being able to run at all. Such a power loss may be caused by a variety of factors, some of which you can easily remedy.


Your power sport engine, just like the engine in your car, truck or SUV, needs air, gas and a spark to ignite the air/fuel mixture in order to run properly. If any of these elements are not supplied to the engine in the proper amounts and at the proper time, your engine will not run smoothly and may lose power.

Most power sport engines use a carburetor to mix the proper amount of air and fuel together, and direct the mixture into the combustion chamber. Once in the chamber, your spark plug sparks at the proper time to ignite the mixture and apply a driving force to the piston. An engine not getting the right amounts of fuel and air, or a proper spark, will exhibit a loss of power. 

What to Look For

Faulty Spark Plug – A spark plug fouled with fuel, carbon, dirt and oil on the electrodes will result in an inconsistent spark and loss of power.   

Clogged Air Filter – The air filter cleans the air before it is drawn into the carburetor and when it does its job properly, it may get clogged with debris removed from the air. A clogged air filter may not allow a sufficient amount of air into the carburetor, reducing the power of your engine.

Bad Gas – Bad or dirty gas will also cause your engine to lose power. Gas can go stale in as few as 30 days, especially when mixed with ethanol as it is in many areas. Ethanol attracts moisture over time and the moisture will dilute the gas.

Improper Oil Level – Loss of power may also be caused by an improper level of oil in the engine. Too high a level will lead to froth introducing air into the lubrication system and reducing the ability of the oil to lubricate the moving parts. Too low an oil level will also reduce your system’s ability to provide adequate lubrication, increasing friction and putting more of a load on your engine.

What to Do 

Change: If the gas in your engine is old, it should be properly disposed of and replaced with fresh gas. For the spark plugs and air filter, these items can be checked by a professional mechanic and replaced, if necessary. If your power sport vehicle needs new parts, insist on a product from a name-brand manufacturer, such as Champion. Also, make sure that whatever parts you buy are genuine, not low budget knock-offs. 


When your engine is humming along nicely without the slightest hint of any power loss, you’ll be able to really enjoy your time spent off the beaten path without the slightest worry about safely getting back home.

Learn more about power sport maintenance products, find your part, or find where to buy your part today.

The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

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