Bad Secondary Clutch Symptoms in ATV and How to Solve Them?

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The secondary clutch is an integral part of the ATV. It plays an important role in shifting the gears and power transmission. But sometimes these things are hampered due to a bad secondary clutch. 

So what are the bad secondary clutch symptoms?

Slipping is one of the main symptoms of a bad secondary clutch. This happens due to the wear and tear of the components of the secondary clutch. Besides, the damaged secondary clutch also produces a bad smell due to overheating. Lastly, feeling dragged is also an indication of a faulty secondary clutch. 

This is just the basic idea on the bad secondary clutch. You will need more details to identify and fix it. So keep scrolling!

3 Bad Secondary Clutch Symptoms in ATV with Solutions 

Even the best mud ATVs can suffer from a bad secondary clutch. Several symptoms indicate that the clutch is damaged. And there are also different fixes for these symptoms. Let’s look at the symptoms and solutions of different issues of a damaged secondary clutch in the ATV.

Symptom 1: Slipping

The first symptom that you will notice on a bad secondary clutch is the slipping of the primary clutch. The work of the primary clutch is hugely dependent on the secondary clutch. The secondary clutch can turn on and off according to need during acceleration and deceleration. 

And upon the position of the secondary clutch, the primary clutch can move properly. However, sometimes the secondary clutch fails to do this work properly. As a result, the clutch system does not work. Then the wheels of the ATV might not rotate, though the clutch is in third gear.


Also, the clutch might feel loose and vague. All these happen due to wear in either the primary or secondary clutch. Let’s focus on the secondary clutches for now. There are several connections between the plates of the secondary clutch. These connections are very important for its function.

But the plates seem to wear with time. As a result, the connections between the plates of the secondary clutch get loosened. This causes a hamper in transferring the energy through the clutches. Then the slippage occurs. Moreover, the clutch system will produce a clunking sound in this case.

So if you are facing the symptoms of a loose clutch, make sure to check both clutches thoroughly. You can not prevent this issue by any means. But you can minimize the losses by identifying the loose secondary clutch on time. 


You have to check the secondary clutch components to fix the slipping issue. They might need to be replaced too. Here is a quick outline to fix the slipping issue.

  • Disassemble the clutch system and take out the plates of the secondary clutch. 
  • Check for any loose bolts or parts in the secondary clutch. 
  • Measure the thickness of the drive plates and fiber plates. Use Vernier Calipers for this task.
  • Match the measured thickness with the recommended specs. You will find the recommended specs in your user manual. If not, take advice from a professional. 
  • If the thickness is less than ideal, you will have to replace the plates. It is better to replace the drive plate, fiber plate, and spring altogether. Contact a certified professional for the replacement. 

By following the above steps you will be able to solve the slipping problem of the secondary clutch. These methods are applicable to all ATVs including Chinese ones.

Symptom 2: Bad Smell

Another symptom of a bad secondary clutch is a bad smell from the ATV. However, sometimes the smell remains unnoticed when the clutch cover is closed. The smell comes out upon opening the clutch cover. This smell is very pungent and hard.

Bad Smell

The main reason behind the bad smell is the clutch heating up. This heat is built up in the primary clutch. But the main reason behind the heating can be the secondary clutch. As mentioned earlier, a loose secondary grip causes hindrance in the function of the primary clutch. 

The primary clutch slips as a result of the damaged secondary clutch. Then extra heat is generated in the clutch. This heat burns down different components. The friction plates are burnt first by the extra heat. And the pungent smell is produced from this burning. 

Moreover, you will notice burn marks on the drive plates too after opening the clutch system. The color of the friction plates will become black due to heat. Let’s see the ways to solve this issue in the next section. 


The first thing you have to do is to disassemble the clutch. Then check if all the parts of the secondary are alright and have the correct dimensions. If any of the components have become smaller, you will need to replace them.

If there is no issue with the secondary clutch, then look for burnt components. You must replace the burnt components of the clutch. Then change the oil in the system. It is very important to keep this oil fresh. Because clean oil prevents the heat build-up in the clutch. Clean oil is very important for both Chinese & Japanese ATVs.

Symptom 3: Feeling Drag

The last symptom of a bad secondary clutch is feeling dragged during engagement and disengagement of the main clutch. The lever of the clutch feels uneven during its operation. This is also a symptom that the inner hub of the clutch or secondary clutch is damaged. 

This happens due to manufacturing defects. Some issues during the manufacturing of the primary and secondary clutch can cause problems.


You can not do much in this situation. Take your ATV to a licensed mechanic for repair. You might need to replace the whole system to solve this problem. Anyway, the mechanic will decide on the solution after observing the primary and secondary clutch.

These are the common symptoms and solutions of a bad secondary clutch. I will present some tips on maintaining the secondary clutch of your ATV in the following section. 

Tips to Ensure A Long Lifetime of the Secondary Clutch in ATV 

Both primary and secondary clutch is very important for the performance of the ATV. The secondary clutches are also an integral part of the snowmobile clutch system. So you must maintain them properly for a long lifetime. Here are some tips on maintaining both the primary and secondary clutch.

Keep The Clutch Clean:

You must clean the clutch of your ATV regularly. This is applicable for both secondary and primary clutch. The dirt gets inside the clutch system and sticks there. This causes excessive heat build-up and premature clutch wear. Keep the clutches neat and clean by using water, steam, compressed air, etc.

You can use compressed air cans from Falcone Electronics to clean the nook and cranies of the clutch.

Check for Wears:

Check the clutches regularly for wear. It is normal for the clutch to wear after a long use of time. A torn clutch will affect your driving experience. So inspect it regularly and take necessary actions.


Use Rollers:

Use heavy-duty rollers instead of square blocks in the clutch system. They last about 4 times more than square blocks. Also, rollers have less friction than blocks.

If you are inexperienced with the clutch of the ATV, take help from a professional. Do not work with the clutches if you don’t know how to reassemble them. Aligning the plates and screwing the bolts properly is very important for the performance of the secondary and primary clutch.

Follow these tips properly to ensure a long lifetime of the secondary clutch of your ATV. These tips are equally applicable to the primary clutch too. That means following these tips is also important for the overall health of the ATV. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): 

What problems can a bad clutch cause? 

A bad clutch can cause problems like weak acceleration and loose clutch pedals. Besides, it can cause gear grindings and abnormal noises. Shifting the gear will also be problematic. The clutch pedal can also become sticky because of a bad clutch. Sometimes, a bad clutch produces a burning smell too.

Does a bad clutch affect acceleration? 

Yes, a bad clutch affects acceleration. The main function of the clutch is to engage and disengage the driving shaft with the driven shaft. A bad clutch hampers this work. It will not transfer the power produced by the engine properly. This will affect the acceleration of the vehicle negatively.

What is the lifespan of a clutch?

The lifespan of a clutch is 20,000 to 150,000 miles on average. And in kilometers, the lifespan is 70,000 to 160,000 km. It is normal for the clutch to wear and tear after a certain use. The lifetime of the clutch will be over sooner for more driving. Regular maintenance can increase the lifespan.


This is all on your query: bad secondary clutch symptoms. Now you can identify the bad secondary clutch in the ATV and take the necessary steps.

The secondary clutch of the ATV is as vital as the primary clutch. So make sure to maintain it properly for long-lasting performance.