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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
Our outlander 400 is a 2006 and has nearly 3000 miles on it. WE have never swamped it and have always changed oil and filters on time with good quality synthetic 40w oil. We had to pack a bunch of 'toys' on a small utility trailer so we towed the quad with the front wheels draped up over the front wall of a utility trailer. Basically it was parked at a 45 degree angle with front wheels up over the front wall of the trailer. It sat that way over night and in the morning we saw oil on the floor of the trailer. We then leveled it back out, replaced a tiny bit of lost oil, and it ran fine. We then transported an hour to the trails, ran it a few hours, ran it back an hour on the trailer in same position, it sat outside overnight in that position, and then we cleaned everything up in the morning. There was another small puddle of oil under the rig the next day. I have no idea if a little oil came out of the dipstick or where it could come out of. If there was a way oil got out then there is a possibility that water got in when we power washed.

We ran it that day and it had a knocking noise on the top end. Hard to tell exactly where but it seemed to be a bit more noticeable on the left side rather than right. I tried to see if it could be coming from the clutch (right side) but too hard to tell. It was a very metallic clink clink clink in time with the exhaust beat.

So I checked oil and it seemed a bit 'runny' on the dipstick but didn't notice any separation or sign of water in oil. I changed it immediately. That didn't help at all.

No change in how it runs or idles. I don't want to run it hard for fear of doing more damage but a leisurely ride on pavement suggests normal power and acceleration, no hesitation, miss, or idle issues.

The frame is no longer straight and the plastic is a bit rough, the muffler has a hole on the bottom side, it is mostly used as a utility quad around the house and the kids do a little trail riding. I'm not ready to pay for a engine tear down and rebuild, but I'm willing to put some effort and money into getting a correct diagnosis and a good idea on what the damage is or how easy it is to fix.

Could it be clutch noise and how do I isolate? Run with the clutch (clutches?) off?
Is there a way to inspect parts related to the piston, rod, etc without separating the engine?

Assuming that a little oil loss or storing the quad on a 45 had nothing to do with this and this was just a normal wear and tear failure that just happened to happen at the same time, what is the most common thing that ends up making the metallic clinking sound? Is there some troubleshooting?

I read about the loose bolts on the clutch that can make a clicking sound but this sound more like it is a metal clink from the top front of the engine.

I can try to record it with my phone and upload maybe to youtube but not sure if the microphone will pick it up correctly.
 

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There are a couple of likely culprits, nearly free to check and/or eliminate, so that's some good news.

Both myself and Jungleman have documented our own experiences with our 400's decompression lever removal, and timing chain tensioner re-adjustment. (as have others, those are just the two most recent that come to mind)

About the only thing you may want to have handy is a new valve cover gasket for after you pop the top. It's 4 simple 8mm bolts to remove the valve cover, can be done with merely removing the body side panels for access.

There are videos on youtube that also show what you need to do, but neither task are particularly difficult, they're actually very easy, and more than like one or the other, or a combination of both, are to blame for the recent upper end noise.

Oh! while I'm thinking about it, that leak after being propped up, more than likely is your rear gearbox output shaft seal. Check it out.

Lemme see if I can find the posts...
 

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Hi,
synthetic 40w oil. Straight 40 weight ( if that's what you mean ) is much too thick for proper lubrication.

The frame is no longer straight How did the frame get bent ??
Could it be clutch noise and how do I isolate? You can run your bike with the primary off . The internal rotating assembly ( crank / rod etc. ) and the primary are balanced individually .

I read about the loose bolts on the clutch that can make a clicking sound The "loose" bolts are probably the cam arm pivot bolts . they can be quieted down by adding a felt or plastic washer to take up the sideways slop when tightened .but this sound more like it is a metal clink from the top front of the engine.

I can try to record it with my phone and upload maybe to youtube but not sure if the microphone will pick it up correctly.
Get back to us ^^^
Bonz .
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Yes, my usual tractor, atv, dirt bike, small engine mechanic gets stoked when he reads all the reviews and controversies about fossil oil vs synthetic oil. He is a AMSOIL fan but also understands that synthetic is not for every application all the time. He has made extensive online study of properties of synthetic oil and its advantages and behaviors. I bet he has filled my head with facts and figures at least a dozen times and has tried to explain it all to me. I have read pages of arguments on the dirt bike forums where everyone has a different idea on what my son should put in his Honda CRF250R. He ended up putting oil meant for heavy duty diesel equipment which many have done and it works well, but then again that oil gets changed so often it probably doesn't matter. But I digress. Yes, so most of my small engine and yard/garden equipment all gets the same, synthetic straight 40w oil. It has good viscosity at all temperatures, not to thick, not to thin. When I changed the oil when it started knocking it seemed to drip off the stick more than usual, but the oil I use always seems to be thin/free flowing even in cooler temps. I would be happy to relay your concerns to my man in charge, but I'm sure I'll only get a weeks worth of phone calls, lectures, and many emailed links and youtube links assigned to me and I no longer have the energy to read them all and I don't understand exactly how this all creates so much discord. I have not seen any scientific studies, but a lot of people are experts.


Frame bent. Yes, My young daughter was taking a leisurely ride on the trails in the woods by our house and the story she told when she came back was that a tree jumped out in front of her. It was a low speed impact to the front bumper, The bumper and brushguard were replaced, the radiator was put back into proper position, no coolant leaks, but I think one wheel is not perfectly aligned with the other anymore. We have not brought it in for an alignment as I suspect it might get some more bumps and bruises in its role as utility quad.


The oil seemed to be coming from the engine rather than the rear as the puddle was right in the front of the trailer. I can check rear seal. I wonder if it came from the front seal?


What is clattering when the timing chain or tensioner is the problem? what is the cost for someone else to do that repair? I need to study on what parts I need to track down first.


I can take primary clutch off and try that


While it is off I can check the can arm pivot bolts. I have watched youtubes of how to take up the sideway slop.


Thanks to all for the reply. I was debating selling as is but maybe I will try to tear into it myself.
 

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The oil seemed to be coming from the engine rather than the rear as the puddle was right in the front of the trailer. I can check rear seal. I wonder if it came from the front seal?


What is clattering when the timing chain or tensioner is the problem? what is the cost for someone else to do that repair? I need to study on what parts I need to track down first.


I can take primary clutch off and try that


While it is off I can check the can arm pivot bolts. I have watched youtubes of how to take up the sideway slop.


Thanks to all for the reply. I was debating selling as is but maybe I will try to tear into it myself.
I suppose it's always possible it's the front seal as well, mine has a little seep from there, but I was fixated on the front end being picked up, which would elevate the oil level sitting against the rear seal, made me think it could perhaps leak past it.

The timing chain rubs against guides internal to the engine. The timing chain tensioner is a spring-loaded "nut", for lack of a better term, intended to push that guide against the timing chain, keeping the free-slapping slack to a minimum. As the chain stretches and the spring runs out of "recoil" travel to keep the guide tight against the chain, you get a little more noise from the two interacting. You absolutely can re-run that spring yourself, it's super simple to try and see what it does for ya. Find the tensioner "nut", back it out, and the spring will come with it. You'll see the spring is dogged at both ends to grab the adjustment nut and the tensioner. Replace the spring back into the tensioner and make sure its anchored into the guide. Set the nut back on the other end of it and pre-load it, twist it, in a clockwise, I believe it was, fashion. By the time you're this far it should be crystal clear what the goal is. After you've sufficiently pre-loaded the spring, THEN engage the nut threads into the flange there, and continue snugging the nut to tight. Don't need to over muscle it, everything's just plastic.

I'd advise you checking the threads and pictures here relating to the decompression lever removal, that's also something that's super simple to do. While you're under the valve cover (totally forgot to mention this before) check and adjust your valves. The specs are detailed under your seat, and I also grabbed a picture of mine, for reference.

All the info that I believe is going to resolve your issue can be found here, you just gotta do a little searching.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the helpful reply. I remember now watching the youtubes on that spring tensioner device. I remember how they took out and checked its tension. They then rewound it and made sure when the nut was loose that the tensioner would spin out under its own wound up tension. I'll check that. I would guess chain noise would be more a mechanical metal on metal grinding or chatter where mine is almost like clink or maybe a better word is 'ting ting' with a little higher pitch as it hits the top of the motor 'somewhere'.Can you get me a picture or a link to the valve adjustment process?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
BombardierB says: "The timing chain rubs against guides internal to the engine. The timing chain tensioner is a spring-loaded "nut", for lack of a better term, intended to push that guide against the timing chain, keeping the free-slapping slack to a minimum. As the chain stretches and the spring runs out of "recoil" travel to keep the guide tight against the chain, you get a little more noise from the two interacting. You absolutely can re-run that spring yourself, it's super simple to try and see what it does for ya. Find the tensioner "nut", back it out, and the spring will come with it. You'll see the spring is dogged at both ends to grab the adjustment nut and the tensioner. Replace the spring back into the tensioner and make sure its anchored into the guide. Set the nut back on the other end of it and pre-load it, twist it, in a clockwise, I believe it was, fashion. By the time you're this far it should be crystal clear what the goal is. After you've sufficiently pre-loaded the spring, THEN engage the nut threads into the flange there, and continue snugging the nut to tight. Don't need to over muscle it, everything's just plastic. "

Thanks BB - that is a good description. Sorry for the late reply but the machine sat this summer as many other priorities got in the way. I moved it into the basement to tear it down. It is on level ground but I had an unexpected surprise. When I got enough parts off to get down to the tensioner nut, it was easy to start backing it out. As the threads finished loosening it did spring out a bit at me which indicates there must have been some spring action left yet. However right after that oil started coming out of that hole! The youtube video didn't mention draining out (some?) all the oil first? Is that required? I felt some spring action and didn't have a drain pan ready at the moment so I quickly shoved the spring back in and set the nut tight again. I would like to take it back out, check the spring, give it a few more turns and then put it back in to preload it some more but need some advice.

I've researched and some have shown pictures where loss of 'adjustment' on the tensioner and perhaps a stretched timing chain led to excessive wear on screws or bolts where the chain was rubbing. If the noise goes away with tensioner adjustment to I still need to open up the top and inspect for wear of timing chain due to rubbing? How do I determine how much stretch on the timing chain is too much?

If I open then I do want to redo valves. I know the specs and have watched the process done with feeler gauges. I just am confused as to when they give you a wide 'range' for what is normal if you go on the low side of the range, the high side, or in the middle. I can pick what measurement spacer/feeler i want to use when i tighten down the adjuster on the valve. I'm hesitant to change that too much since it starts great and idles great.

Finally I need to find a description of removing the decompression, haven't found that yet. will search the forum. A link would be great.

By the way, after not really adjusting the tensioner nut at all but taking it out and putting it back in, the machine already runs quieter with much less clinking noise. Maybe somehow most of the problem is solved already?

Thanks!
 

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If you haven't already, you need to download the shop manual for your bike, it will answer many of your questions:


A little oil running out of that tensioner hole wouldn't be unexpected, there's plenty of oil splashing and sloshing around the chain and guide area, so there was some just kinda hanging out in the "spring tube" there.

Removing the decompression lever and related bits isn't really difficult, but you do need to be steady and careful.

#72

You're going to take the bolt out that holds the timing gear to the cam, but as long as you don't take the gear off, or roll the motor or anything, it will all just kinda chill out there, no worries. Take the decompression lever and spring and pin out, and then put the bolt back in, the torque value escapes me at the moment, but again, shop manual.

As for adjusting the valves, I'd probably shade towards the "thinnest" allowable tolerance, but yeah you certainly don't need to be on the tenth of one side of the scale or other, but if you notice still a little bit of valve tick, go back in and adjust em again, it's not that hard.

There is one last thing that I've recently discovered these little motors have, that can affect oil supply. There's a screen at the bottom of the crankcase, the oil pump safety screen, that over time/age, eventually will start to cake over and restrict oil flow and related pressure. That could be in some way responsible for your upper end noise. Someone not long ago did a nice write-up on removing and cleaning theirs.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the help BB, this time we were fortunate. We (my 16 year old son who is way better at wrenches than I am and I) stripped everything down till we could get to the tensioner plastic 'bolt cap' We turned it out and it did kind of spring out at us so it seemed there was some 'preload on the spring' We took it out and put it right back in. It seemed like the clinking noise was better or almost all the way gone. That was unexpected as we hadn't really changed anything, just took the spring out and in. Then we thought about going further and taking the top cover off the engine and inspecting the guides and chain and possibly tackling the decompression lever, but thought a second time about it since were weren't too confident we could get at it without taking the engine out of the frame. We didn't feel up to that if the problem is mostly fixed already.

For good measure we took the spring out again, gave it some extra twists of the spring to be sure we added some additional preload, and then reinstalled it. Started it again and the clinking noise is definitely gone. There still is a tiny bit of what sounds like lifter/valve type noise but it is very faint and only at a slow idle. Saving adjusting valves and decompression lever for another day.

It starts very nicely, idles good, accelerates fast enough for what we need it for so will ride it for now. 3500 miles. Hopefully it goes a little bit yet with good maintenance.

Then of course the kids rode it around and suddenly the A frame/arm broke free from its weld point on the frame on the front left tire. That frame part had cracked once before about a year ago and we replaced it with a used one from a parted out machine. When we installed the used one we could see that where the bolt goes through the bushing and where that mount is welded to the frame that the metal used is very thin metal and it is at a high stress point. Tonight we replaced that sleeve with a thick walled steel plumbing pipe coupling from the hardware store that would accomodate the bushing and the mounting bolt. We then drilled and tapped and installed a grease zerk into the side wall of the new piece and welded it securely to the frame. I believe it will be stronger than the original mount points. Looking at the other side those mount points look a bit thin in other places as well on the other sides.

I really appreciate the help. I would like to check the oil screen but I couldn't find a way to get to it unless I remove the motor so that too may have to wait till another day.
 

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Good to hear it. Sounds like re-tensioning the spring did the trick, then.

Only counter-point I'll say again, there's really no need to wait on removing that decompression lever, I'd absolutely get it outta there asap, it's just a bomb waiting to go off. It doesn't require any special parts or purchases to remove, just a new valve cover gasket perhaps? And a torque wrench to resnug the cam gear bolt. Can be done in the bike with merely removing the side body panels for access. Easy easy easy, and serves no useful purpose, and just fails and can potentially destroy the motor. Not worth leaving it in there, imo.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Quick update. We added quite a bit of tension to that spring and put it back in place. At first it seemed like we only changed the sound to a rubbing rather than a clicking as if maybe we over tensioned it the opposite way. But soon after it all faded away and that sound is gone now. I'm going to say that probably was the problem. I don't know if we will face that again or if soon we will have worn guides or need to do some more repairs but for now it is good. Muffler is getting quite loud and can't seem to find a good used one or a new one. A few aftermarket ones are tuned for extra noise and performance and I don't see any utility in that.

I see the wisdom of removing the decompression lever and we need to tackle that during our next oil change. The cam gear bolt torque? Sounds like it is important to get that correct?
 

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Aftermarket mufflers for these bikes are few and far between. There's a recent thread going around, user trailrunner(something, sorry) is also looking for a replacement OE-comparable muffler for his 400. I think we found Kimpex on Dennis Kirk's website had what they state to be an OE muffler for the 400's, as well as a generic muffler, that could do the trick, if you can weld, or have access to a muffler shop. Those weren't, that I could tell, supposed to be "racy" or loud or anything of that sort.

Yeah you'd want to make sure anything engine internal is torqued to correct spec, upon reassembly. You could probably get away with an ugga-dugga or two on that bolt, but if you have a torque wrench, obviously, that's the safer play.
 
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