Coleman 550 UTV Problems: Symptoms, Causes, DIY Fixes

coleman 550 utv problems

Have you ever turned the key on your Coleman 550 UTV, only to have it sputter and stall? Or maybe it starts up fine, but begins overheating after a short ride. Any experienced off-roading enthusiast knows how frustrating UTV breakdowns can be, especially when you’re miles from home on the trails.

If your Coleman 550 has started acting up, don’t panic. In this comprehensive troubleshooting guide, you’ll learn about the most common Coleman 550 problems, what causes UTV issues, how to diagnose and fix minor problems yourself, when to seek professional repairs, maintenance tips to avoid future breakdowns, and where to find replacement parts.

Introduction: Getting to Know the Coleman 550 UTV

First, let’s quickly review what makes the Coleman 550 tick. This two-seat recreational utility vehicle packs a 49cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine. It comes standard with two-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive models are also available for maximum traction and performance off-road.

Other key Coleman 550 features include:

  • Independent front and rear suspension – Provides a smoother ride over rough terrain
  • Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) – Offers smooth, automatic shifting without gears
  • Dump bed – Allows you to haul and dump up to 300 pounds of cargo
  • Tow hitch – Can tow up to 1100 pounds on a trailer or small vehicle

Now that you’re familiar with the Coleman 550’s capabilities, let’s look at some of the most common problems these tough UTVs can develop.

Five Most Common Coleman 550 UTV Problems

Here are 5 of the most frequently reported issues with the Coleman 550 UTV:

1. Engine Won’t Start or Stalls Out

Difficulty starting the engine or stalling is one of the most common Coleman 550 problems owners experience. Typical causes include:

  • Faulty spark plugs
  • Weak battery
  • Clogged air filter
  • Bad fuel pump or filter
  • Defective starter

If the engine turns over but won’t fire, you likely have an ignition problem. If the starter only clicks or power is very weak, the issue is electrical.

2. Overheating

Coleman 550s are air-cooled, so overheating is always a risk, especially when working the vehicle hard. Some reasons your UTV may run hot include:

  • Low coolant level
  • Damaged radiator, hoses, water pump
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Clogged radiator screen
  • Failing head gasket

Watch the temperature gauge and stop riding if it gets too high. Severe overheating can lead to blown head gaskets, warped cylinders, and other expensive repairs.

3. Electrical Issues

Like most UTVs, the Coleman 550 has an intricate set of electrical components that can sometimes malfunction. Electrical problems include:

  • Loose battery terminals
  • Dirty battery posts causing corrosion
  • Faulty alternator, solenoid, or starter
  • Damaged ignition switch
  • Blown fuses

Electrical gremlins often cause power loss or prevent the engine from starting.

4. Transmission Problems

The transmission takes quite a beating off-road. Some common issues include:

  • Leaking fluid
  • Slipping or lack of power
  • Delayed engagement
  • Grinding noises, vibration

Transmission repairs like a rebuild or replacement are costly, so watch for early signs of trouble.

5. Excessive Noise/Vibration

Abnormal noises and shaking while driving can indicate problems like:

  • Low oil level
  • Worn ball joints or wheel bearings
  • Misaligned or unbalanced wheels
  • Loose lug nuts
  • Driveline issues
  • Engine knock or worn parts

Don’t ignore strange new sounds – have them inspected to identify the cause.

What Causes Coleman 550 UTV Breakdowns?

Now that we’ve covered some prevalent Coleman 550 issues, what causes these problems to crop up? Here are the most common underlying causes of UTV breakdowns:

Neglected Maintenance

Lack of routine maintenance is the #1 reason ATVs and UTVs end up with mechanical problems. Critical maintenance tasks like oil changes, filter replacement, belt inspection, tire rotation, and air filter cleaning cannot be overlooked.


Excessive heat damages internal engine components, oil, seals, and more. Letting your Coleman 550 overheat even once can bring future problems.


Oil, coolant, and transmission fluid leaks leave vital systems low on lubrication and operating fluids. Watch for leaks and fix them quickly.

Extreme Use

Pushing your Coleman 550 to its limits by hauling/towing heavy loads, riding in deep water/mud, or jumping will accelerate wear and tear. Go easier on it when possible.

Loose Fasteners

Off-road riding vibrations can loosen nuts, bolts, clamps, and fittings over time. Check chassis and drivetrain fasteners regularly.

Old Age and High Mileage

Even with proper care, parts like belts, hoses, and suspension bushings deteriorate over time and miles. Be prepared for repairs as your UTV ages.

Paying attention to your Coleman 550 and avoiding potential damage from overheating, leaks, heavy loads, and riding extremes will help prevent many problems. But no machine lasts forever. Learn how to diagnose issues yourself so you can handle basic repairs and maintenance.

Fixing Minor Coleman 550 Problems at Home

With some basic tools and mechanical skills, you can troubleshoot and fix a number of minor Coleman 550 issues on your own rather than hauling it to the shop every time. Let’s look at some DIY repairs and maintenance you can perform:

Spark Plug Inspection and Replacement

Faulty spark plugs are a leading cause of startup and stalling problems. Over time, spark plugs become fouled or the electrodes wear down. It’s smart to inspect and replace your spark plugs every year or 100 hours of riding. Look for:

  • Cracked, damaged, or corroded plugs
  • Excessive oil or carbon deposits on the plug tip
  • Too large or small of a spark gap

Grab a spark plug socket and ratchet to remove and install new plugs one at a time. Use the recommended plug type in your owner’s manual.

Cleaning or Replacing the Air Filter

A clogged air filter starves the engine of oxygen, potentially causing misfires, power loss, stalling, and black smoke from the exhaust. Clean or replace your air filter element at least every 3 oil changes. Use pressure or hot soapy water to clean foam elements.

Replace damaged filters. Avoid riding in wet conditions or thick dust/dirt to extend filter life.

Checking Fluid Levels

It takes just minutes to check the engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid levels. Top them up as needed – running low can lead to serious damage from overheating or lack of lubrication. Watch for leaks.

Inspecting/Tightening Belts

The Coleman 550 uses several V-belts to operate components like the CVT, charging system, and 4WD system. Inspect belts frequently for cracking, fraying, and proper tension. Loose belts will skip or squeal. Tighten any loose belts, or replace if worn or damaged.

Testing/Charging Battery

Use a multimeter to check battery voltage. A fully charged battery should show 12.6 to 12.8 volts. If voltage is lower, charge the battery and clean the terminals. If it won’t hold a charge, replace it. Loose battery cables also need tightening.

Adjusting the Drive Chain

Check chain tension often, especially after riding over rough terrain. The chain should have around 1/2 inch of vertical play when pressed. Tighten or loosen the chain adjuster bolts as needed to set proper tension. This prevents wear and binding.

Radiator Flush

As your Coleman builds up sediment inside the cooling system over time, it inhibits proper heat transfer. Flush the radiator once a year using a garden hose and radiator flush solution to maintain optimal performance. Check the thermostat too.

These and other basic troubleshooting and maintenance steps will keep your Coleman 550 running smoothly with minimal investment of your time and money on home repairs. But what about more serious mechanical issues?

Knowing When to Seek Professional Coleman 550 Repairs

While routine maintenance is within the capability of most owners, major engine or transmission repairs require certified technicians and specialized tools. Seek professional service for:

  • Engine repairs – If you have low compression, knocking noises, blown head gasket, or other internal engine issues. Pro mechanics can disassemble and properly diagnose.
  • Transmission rebuild/replacement – If you see metal shavings in the fluid, complete lack of power, or grinding noises indicating gear damage.
  • Rewiring electrical issues – For shorts, damaged switches/relays, or cases where harness replacement is required. Avoid amateur electrical repairs.
  • Overheating damage – If overheating warped or cracked the cylinder head, block, or caused engine bearing failure. Machine shop work may be needed.
  • Excessive driveline noise – Whirring, clunking or howling noises from axles, CV joints, differentials or other internal parts often require a mechanic’s diagnosis.
  • Major suspension damage – Badly bent or broken suspension arms, shocks, or other components causing a lack of control or safety.

Don’t delay getting professional help when you encounter major mechanical issues beyond your experience level. Continuing to run your Coleman 550 with symptoms like metal-on-metal grinding, smoking, or loss of power can turn an inexpensive repair into a complete engine overhaul or replacement.

Coleman 550 Maintenance Tips to Avoid Breakdowns

The best way to minimize breakdowns is to follow a rigorous preventive maintenance schedule. Here are some important maintenance tips for your Coleman 550:

  • Change the engine oil and filter every 50 hours or at least twice a year minimum. More often with heavy use. Use 10W-40 or 5W-40 4-stroke oil.
  • Inspect air filter every ride. Clean often and replace when damaged. Use OEM filters only.
  • Check tire pressure before each ride . Lack of pressure causes faster wear and poor handling.
  • Adjust valve clearance – Valves can become tight over time, leading to compression issues. Have them adjusted every 100 hours.
  • Clean radiator screen and fins – Remove debris so air flows freely. Flush the system annually.
  • Check cables and rubber parts – Inspect control cables, brake lines, wheel bearings, bushings, and boots. Replace if cracked or worn.
  • Inspect belts, chains, sprockets. Tighten, adjust, or replace damaged drive system parts.
  • Lubricate joints – Keep U-joints, prop shafts, and steering/suspension greased.
  • Check lights, controls, safety gear. Make sure all electrics, the throttle, brakes, and safety equipment function properly.

Sticking to scheduled maintenance intervals in the owner’s manual is key to minimizing premature part failures and breakdowns. Don’t take shortcuts or ignore signs of wear.

Finding Coleman 550 UTV Parts and Replacements

Eventually parts on your Coleman 550 will need replacement due to normal wear and tear. Here are some tips for finding parts:

  • Consult your owner’s manual diagrams for part numbers and specs
  • Shop online Coleman or powersports parts retailers like Partzilla or PartsTree
  • Check with local Coleman dealers – they can order factory parts
  • Search eBay and Craigslist for used parts in a pinch
  • Join Coleman owner forums to ask about part sourcing
  • Use your VIN when ordering as parts often differ by model year

Avoid “will fit” parts since they may not integrate properly or meet OEM specifications. Purchase Coleman Genuine Parts or OEM quality replacements when possible, especially for critical engine and drivetrain components.

Aftermarket or performance parts can enhance certain aspects like suspension, tires, or electrical output. Just make sure to research fitment and compatibility thoroughly.


Like any machine, the Coleman 550 UTV may occasionally suffer minor breakdowns or need troubleshooting during its service life. But armed with some mechanical knowledge and preventive maintenance habits, you don’t need to fear being stranded out on the trails.

This guide covered the most prevalent Coleman 550 problems, how to diagnose issues, make common DIY repairs, determine when professional shop service is prudent, extend the health of your UTV through scheduled maintenance, and source repair parts and replacements.

Owning and relying on an ATV or side-by-side comes with responsibility. Learn your Coleman 550 inside and out, and tend carefully to its needs. Then it will deliver many miles of reliable off-road adventure. Let us know if you have any other questions about maintaining or repairing your trusty Coleman!

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