Honda 350 ES shifting problems
Honda Rancher 350 ES shifter problems by papawrancher:
Owning a 2006 Honda 350 ES I had heard stories of disgruntled owners with electric shift problems just trading off their machines to rid themselves of the problem. I had mine about one year with 1,000 miles on my machine when my problems started. I was riding with fellow ATVTORTURE riders on a Hatfield and McCoy trail south of Logan WV when it happened. Ten miles back into the steep rocky trails the machine locked into second gear. So I did what most people would do. I turned the machine off and restarted hoping the problem would go away, how wrong I was. I found out why Honda put an emergency shift handle in the tool box. Believe me when I say it takes forever to get out of those hills.
The nice people at the Logan WV Honda shop sold me a new shift sensor, the eighteenth they had sold in a year. It seams most bad ones were made in Mexico. The shifting problems appeared to disappear while test riding my machine in the nearby trails parking area. It seamed the replacement shift sensor fixed the problem. As my friends were unloading their machines and it was about time to start a day long ride my shift indicator started double flashing again. We just packed up our machines and drove three hours home.
The Honda technician had said checkout procedures called for a wiring harness or ECM replacement could also be the problem. To make matters worse the shift problems were intermittent which made trouble shooting difficult. A riding friend has a 06 Rancher ES like mine and we swapped ECM’s. My ECM was good. I rechecked my shift sensor which was also good.
I must say I was about stumped. I was an Air Force aircraft instrument technician, an electrical engineering designer, and master electrician. Imagine my self disgust not fixing this problem. I talked to the local Honda shop and they incorrectly described the testing procedure so I wouldn’t allow them to touch my Rancher. The Marietta Ohio service manager was very helpful with advice.
So I bite the bullet and bought a new wiring harness plus Honda’s service manual. Now after spending over $300 and spending numerous hours I was so happy when my Electric Shift Rancher started shifting properly. This shifting bliss lasted about a month and 100 miles. One of the weird conditions that happened is when the key is on and no shift fault exists just applying any break leaver would cause a fault. But now I have a Honda service manual and electrical schematic of the shifting system. After spending hours trouble shooting wiring connections I recalled that aluminum oxide is an insulator, not a conductor, which prohibits the electrical circuit I applied anti corrosive paste on the aluminum ground connections. Next I removed the front plastic to access the dash meter wiring connector. After disconnecting and then applying anti corrosive paste directly to the connectors I reconnected the connector.
That joyous moment in time was six months and 400 miles ago, with no problems since. I can honestly advise anyone with Honda Rancher Electric Shifter problems to apply anti corrosive paste for aluminum conductors before spending hundreds of dollars and numerous hours as I did. My electrical connectors showed no sign of moisture or oxidation. Examples of the anti corrosive paste are Nolox, Pentatrox , or as I used, MacTex inhibiting compound.
Last edited by papawrancher; 12-24-2008 at 11:43 AM.