Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift Problems : Troubleshooting and Tips

As you cruise down the trail on your Honda Rancher 420, the last thing you want is for the electric shift to start malfunctioning. This all-terrain vehicle’s automatic clutch system allows you to swiftly change gears on the fly so you can keep your momentum going over different terrain. However, like any complex mechanical system, the electric shift can develop problems that impact its performance. Let’s find out more.

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What Is The Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift?

The Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift is an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) with an automatic clutch system. Instead of using a manual clutch to change gears, the Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift utilizes an electric shift button to automatically change gears. This is one of the most efficient ways to change gears as it reduces the chances of problems traditional (or manual) clutches will have.

Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift Problems

1. Battery Problems

If the electric shift lever on your Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift is malfunctioning, the most likely culprit is a faulty battery. The electric shift mechanism requires power to operate the motor that engages and disengages gears. This problem is usually caused by;

  • Corroded battery terminals
  • A dead or low battery
  • A blown fuse

Troubleshooting The Battery Problems

  • Check the battery terminals for corrosion and then clean the terminals thoroughly if present.
  • Make sure the battery is fully charged. If the battery is more than a couple of years old then it may need replacement even if it still holds a partial charge.
  • Check the fuse for the electric shift mechanism and replace the fuse and test the electric shift lever.

2. Electric Shift’s Relay

The electric shift relay is responsible for activating the electric shift motor to change gears in your Honda Rancher 420. If you’re experiencing problems shifting gears, it could indicate a problem with the relay or associated components. This is usually because of;

  • A faulty relay
  • Loose or corroded connections
  • Shorted or damaged wiring

Troubleshooting The Electric Shift’s Relay Problem

  • Be sure to check and replace the relay to restore normal shifting operation if needed.
  • Also inspect all connections to the relay, shift motor and battery and then tighten/clean as needed.
  • Carefully inspect all wiring related to the electric shift system and repair or replace any damaged wires.

3. Shift Motor

The Rancher 420’s electric shift motor is responsible for automatically shifting the transmission. If it malfunctions, the vehicle may have issues properly shifting gears. A couple of causes to this issue are;

  • A faulty shift motor
  • A faulty shift motor fuse
  • A faulty shift linkage

Troubleshooting The Shift Motor Problem

  • The shift motor itself could be damaged or worn out, preventing it from correctly actuating the transmission shift forks to change gears so replacing the shift motor assembly will typically resolve this issue.
  • Check the relay or fuse for the shift motor and replace it as needed.
  • Also inspect the shift linkage and replace or repair damaged components.

4. Corrosion In The Shift Linkage

The electric shift linkage in your Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift connects the shift lever to the transmission, allowing you to select between park, neutral, reverse and the drive gears. Over time, this linkage can become corroded, preventing the proper transmission of signals to change gears. This is caused by;

  • Moisture buildup
  • Dirt or debris

Troubleshooting The Corrosion In The Shift Linkage Problem

  • Corrosion occurs when moisture builds up on metal parts, causing oxidation that eats away at the material. Water, dirt and debris can collect around these parts, speeding up deterioration.
  • You can use a dielectric grease to help prevent any corrosion buildup in the shift linkage before hand.
  • You will need to replace the entire shift linkage. So be sure to incur the help of a professional mechanic for further help.

5. Control Unit/ Sensors

The electronic control unit (ECU) and various sensors are responsible for monitoring the Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift’s operation and signaling the shift actuator and motor when to change gears. If the ECU or any sensors (throttle position sensor, vehicle speed sensor, etc.) are not functioning properly, the shift system will not work as intended. This is usually caused by;

  • A faulty/ damaged ECU
  • Faulty wiring connections

Troubleshooting The Control Unit/ Sensors Problem

  • You will need to start repairing or replacing the ECU or sensors to resolve the issue.
  • Be sure to also check the wiring connections around the ATV for any fraying or damage and then replace them if necessary.
  • Make sure to get help from a seasoned ATV technician/ mechanic before attempting any repairs yourself.

How To Avoid Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift Problems

  • Inspect brake pads, tires, belts, and hoses regularly and replace as needed.
  • Also inspect connections for dirt or corrosion and clean them with electrical contact cleaner or fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Dielectric grease can also help prevent any corrosion due to moisture buildup or dirt and debris.
  • Have a certified Honda technician test the electric shift motor to determine if it’s functioning properly before replacing other parts.

Why Is My Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift Not Shifting Properly?

The most common reasons for improper shifting in the Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift are: a faulty shift motor, a faulty shift solenoid and low transmission fluid.

Why Does My Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift Make A Grinding Noise When Shifting?

A grinding noise when shifting usually indicates significant wear or damage in the transmission. The likely causes are: worn or broken gear teeth, faulty synchronizer rings and general transmission wear.


If your Honda Rancher 420 electric shift is malfunctioning, it is likely due to one of the above common issues. But when you startinspecting the electric shift selector cable, shift motor, shift angle sensor, ECU and battery, you should be able to determine the cause of the problem and get your Honda Rancher 420 Electric Shift back up and running. With some patience and the right tools, you will have the ability to fix most of these problems yourself and avoid expensive repair shop fees.