Serious Engine Problem Polaris Trail RMK 2004 - HCS Snowmobile Forums

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Old 01-17-2009, 10:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I came on here last year asking a question about my Polaris Trail RMK that blew an engine. It had 299 miles when it seized on me. The conditions I ride are primarily packed powder, forest service trails and no off-roading at all. The mechanic who looked at it at the Polaris dealer in northern California (Quincy, CA), said the pistons shattered, "sorry, and the cost is $2600 for a new engine." The snowmobile just happens to be my way of getting in and out of the forest to monitor survey stations near the roads. I was in a pinch, and had to fork over the $$ to complete the contract on time. However, every year we start a new contract, same snow conditions. I ride no more than 25-30 mph, and definitely not over 40mph (as a small business owner, I don't want to be seen being reckless at all). I stop the engine every 5 miles or so to check survey stations which takes me 15 minutes, I warm up the engine every start a minimum of 2 minutes, etc. In other words, I am very easy on the engine. The engine that was put in last year was serviced beforehand, and guess what...380 miles later, just last week, the engine did exactly the same thing and seized up again! So after a total of 680 miles on this sled, we've gone through 2 engines. The sled is garaged and covered off-season, covered when it's trailored.

The problem I have with the dealer is that they say it is out of warranty, but they are looking into trying to get Polaris to cover this. But if not, it is up in the air. After this second problem, I contacted various Polaris dealers and other sledders, there is absolutely no way with the way that I ride, that two engines should blow up in less than 700 miles and that each should last at least 6000 miles. When I talked to Polaris, they pretty much said "sorry, but nothing we can do." The dealer's customer service was pretty shabby.

Is there anyone out there who can help me in how to convince the dealer/ Polaris that this should be covered by them? I don't want to make this a legal issue, but as anyone should understand, this has "fishy" written all over it. And I just can't afford another $2600 engine still not knowing what the root of the problem is - and that it might have been a faulty machine from the very start..

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-18-2009, 12:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't see why you would have needed a whole new engine the first time and definitely not the second time if all it did was seize. Hard to say what happened without being able to see the damage. Did you take any pics? I'd talk to your friends and go to one of their dealers for a second opinion.
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Old 01-18-2009, 01:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't see why you would have needed a whole new engine the first time and definitely not the second time if all it did was seize. Hard to say what happened without being able to see the damage. Did you take any pics? I'd talk to your friends and go to one of their dealers for a second opinion.[/b]
The mechanic in Quincy said that the pistons were blown and in pieces. The engine was running fine on a 0% grade trail, going about 25mph, 30F outside and then it sounded like it ran out of gas, with a soft whine and then dead. The first engine would not turn over but the second one does but it it sounds like broken china in the engine. I didn't take any pics this or the last time since the dealer is about a 200 miles from me.
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Old 01-18-2009, 01:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The mechanic in Quincy said that the pistons were blown and in pieces. The engine was running fine on a 0% grade trail, going about 25mph, 30F outside and then it sounded like it ran out of gas, with a soft whine and then dead. The first engine would not turn over but the second one does but it it sounds like broken china in the engine. I didn't take any pics this or the last time since the dealer is about a 200 miles from me.[/b]
Forgot to mention that the sound was exactly the same as the first engine sound.
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Old 01-18-2009, 11:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Sounds like a lemon
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Old 01-18-2009, 01:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Which engine was this? 550 fan?
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Old 01-18-2009, 02:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Which engine was this? 550 fan?[/b]
No it was the 550 air cooled I believe. After a long search last night it appears that Polaris knew these were engineered incorrectly and that they would heat up from sucking in exausht heat.
Here is a quote from snowmobiler .com

"In my small area there have been hundreds of 500 edge tourings (air cooled) with engines destroyed from overheating. Polaris recognizes this problem but refuses to do a recall. They admit that there is an engineering flaw which allows the fan to draw hot air from the muffler/exhaust area unto the right side piston causing overheating and loss of the engine. They will even pay for the labour to repair your engine but you have to buy all the parts from them ($600 plus). They now even try to sell you a $400 kit to insulate the muffler/exhaust and so keep the heat away.
I have one of these machines and I think the people at Polaris are very stupid if they thing that myself and the other thousands off people who own and know about this problem and the companys response would ever consider buying another Polaris machine again.
I would welcome any and all response to this post.

EDIT: Sorry I meant to say 550 not 500."

Now the question is that the first time it happened the dealer made it sound like our fault and billed me $2600. They never suggested a kit or that Polaris made a tip or service bulletin. As a small business owner and with today's time I cannot afford to fork over another $2600. Suggestions? I'm being VERY civil with the dealer and have stated if I were to receive credit for the first engine we would put that towards a new rig from his lot. No reply
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Old 01-18-2009, 05:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I read through the post above and that could have had an effect or been the cause. I overheated a 488 Trail motor during warm, spring riding conditions in the mountains. A piece of ring broke off and seized the motor. I just needed a top end. I'm don't understand why your dealer elected to install a brand new motor? They should have been able to rebuild yours for far less money.

I would call Polaris directly and file a claim/complaint. You are being extremely patient and I'd be upset since your dealer does not seem to be doing a heck of a lot to help you. I'd first see if you could get the recall info from Polaris or another dealer and then present it to your dealer and ask why they didn't do the update. To me, they screwed up and you shouldn't have to pay for it. I suppose their work only had a 30-90 day warranty? If they won't work with you to make it right, I'd take your business elsewhere.

I don't know if you are mechanically inclined? Another option is to rebuild your motor yourself or buy a used motor off eBay or from a wrecking yard and install it yourself.

I've had older Trail Indys (440's and 488's) for the past 20 years and they have been very reliable. I would have assumed the 550's would have been the same. One of the things I've read about the new ones are they come from the factory jetted pretty lean to meet emissions and that can lead to seizures.
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Old 01-18-2009, 07:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I've had older Trail Indys (440's and 488's) for the past 20 years and they have been very reliable. I would have assumed the 550's would have been the same. One of the things I've read about the new ones are they come from the factory jetted pretty lean to meet emissions and that can lead to seizures.
[/quote]

You hit the nail on the head especially with the alcohol added to todays' gas.I had my fan cooled engine go last year (5600 miles tho).The first thing the dealer said was they fattened up the jets one size to make up for the difference in the fuel.It actually states it on my machine but it's something you don't really pay attention to.The alcohol content will lean out the mixture more and it's especially apparent on a fan cooled motor in warmer temps.Maybe the warmups between stops isn't such a great idea.At the speeds you're driving after the initial warmup it should be good to go anytime even if it sits for 15 mins or so.
I will say 2600 bucks is a good price for a new motor although not twice in 600 or so miles.Last time I checked for my 04 Panther 570 it was 4600 bucks canadian. I bought the sled cheaper and it was a year and a half old.

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Old 01-18-2009, 07:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I know it doesnt help now. But for your type of riding you do, and the slow steady pace, with frequent stops etc.

For your next purchase I would consider the 4 stroke. Regardless of brand, it will have wider range of reliable use in varying temps without having to deal with jetting etc (if EFI of course)
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