2001 Sportsman 400 Conversion to TRUE ‘On (your) Demand’ 4 wheel Drive - Polaris ATV Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-31-2013, 11:49 AM Thread Starter
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2001 Sportsman 400 Conversion to TRUE ‘On (your) Demand’ 4 wheel Drive

Anyone else frustrated with the Sportsman’s 4 wheel drive system? Can you imagine owning a 4 wheel drive vehicle, Jeep or Pickup Truck and not being able to engage the 4 wheel drive when YOU want it? After reading numerous threads, it became readily apparent that the Sportsman, and Polaris in general, speedos fail after only a few years. The speedo is absolutely necessary in order for the 4 wheel drive to work as there is a simple comparator circuit in the speedo unit that determines when there is sufficient difference between the front wheel drive rotation and the rear wheel rotation to engage the electric 4 wheel drive. (By the way, does anyone know what the ratio between the front and rear wheel rotation delta is? It’s not published ANYWHERE that I can find. Since the Speedo pickup is on the right front wheel, would there be less of a chance of front wheel drive engagement in a left hand turn?) Simple truth, Speedo FAIL = NO 4 wheel drive, EVER! At the current price (July-2013) of $355.00, NO WAY I was going to replace something that is otherwise useless! (Kinda like replacing a body panel because the ‘Sportsman’ logo decal was scratched.)

Frustrated, I decided to convert my 2001 Sportsman 400 into a TRUE, ‘On (MY) Demand’ 4 wheel drive system. Now, whenever I want 4 wheel drive, I simply slide the EXISTING switch on the right handlebar to the ‘ON’ position. No more waiting for the rear wheels to slip, hoping that the speedo works correctly, hoping that something else doesn’t fail before the “all wheel drive” decides to engage. Rather than surfing and sliding across the forest floor on leaf letter and loose dirt, ramming into fallen logs, hoping the rear wheels will slip, I can now simply turn the front wheels and get traction, pulling me in the direction I want to go. When I don't want it I simply slide the 4 wheel drive switch to the OFF position and it's done, the same way I did in my 4 wheel drive Lada, I simply engaged or disengaged the transfer case, WHEN I WANTED!

Convert with No gears to change, no ratios to worry about.

The conversion took me about an hour to complete and works perfectly every time. Based on other wiring diagrams, you would need to check your specific year and model to determine exactly which wires should be altered. I have included a wiring diagram showing those wires I cut, isolated and modified. Like the Mikuni carburetor, the wiring of a Polaris sportsman 400 is also unnecessarily complex. Not quite sure why they decided to leave almost the entire 4 wheel drive circuit 'hot' all the time but they did (Safety? Why? Chances of it failing are GREATER that way. When you need it, it fails, for safety? Say what!)

Just a suggestion but you should consider soldering all your electrical connections to insure they are weather and vibration proof. Additionally, I added a small 3 amp circuit breaker, but a 1.5 to 2 Amp automotive fuse and fuse holder will do nicely.

Process:

1- Disassemble the ‘Instrument/Light’ cluster cover.

2- Remove the ‘Radiator access’ panel.

>>>Perform This Test BEFORE Proceeding and make SURE all power is OFF!<<<

3-On the drivers LEFT side of the radiator access area, locate two (2) connectors, each with SOLID GREY wires and BROWN wires with a WHITE Stripe on top and smaller diameter Solid Grey and Brown wires with a White stripe leading down.
--a) Disconnect both connectors by pulling the top and bottom sections away from each other. (DO NOT pull the WIRES, use the connector body to pull).
--b) Test EACH of the two (2) connectors with the SMALL DIAMETER wires leading down. (see Hub Coil Connectors pix)
--c) Using an OHM meter, measure the resistance across the two pins (one connector at a time) for each connector. Depending on the accuracy and sensitivity of the meter, each connector should read between 25 and 28 OHMS. NOTE: If EITHER of the two (2) Hub Coils reads ZERO (0) or less than 25 or Greater than 28 OHMS STOP!!! The Hub Coil itself OR the wires OR the connectors may be defective or in need of repair!
--d) Using an OHM meter, on EACH of the two connectors, measure the resistance between one pin of each connector and GROUND (any bare metal point on the ATV frame). NOTE: If EITHER of the two (2) connectors resistance to GROUND reads anything GREATER/ABOVE than ZERO ( 0 ) OHMS STOP!!! The Hub Coil itself OR the wires OR the connectors may be defective or in need of repair!

>>>If the test in ‘c)’ or ‘d)’ FAIL STOP, DO NOT proceed!! The Hub Coil itself OR the wires OR the connectors may be defective and MUST be repaired before ANYTHING else is done!<<<

4-(For my model) On the right handlebar, check the lamp in the AWD switch to make sure it is not burned out or missing. Replace lamp if necessary. (Not essential to the AWD operation, just nice to have to confirm voltage is being applied to the front wheel Hub Coils)

5-In the ‘Radiator Access’ area, locate the Red/White stripe wires providing (switched) full time + (battery plus) voltage (accessory power) via a ¼” female connector. “Accessory Leads” – in the wiring diagram.

6-Using a volt meter (or continuity light), CONFIRM that the terminal is OFF (NO voltage) when the ignition switch and the ‘Engine STOP/START switch (on the left handlebar) are both OFF, and has + (positive) battery voltage, when the ignition switch and ‘Engine STOP/START switch are both ON, with the engine NOT running.

7-Start the engine and confirm that the terminal has + voltage, turn off the engine and switch OFF the ignition.

--If all the checks prove true, proceed—(If NOT, check wiring diagram for YOUR model)

8-DISCONNECT THE NEGATIVE BATTERY LEAD! This is essential to prevent electrical shorts and fires.

9-In the instrument cluster housing, locate the Brown/White stripe wire leading to the 6 conductor connector to the speedo assembly. This is the AWD “Grounding” signal wire used by the Speedo Comparator circuit to engage the AWD system.

10-Cut the Brown/White stripe wire about 1”, or so, near the end of the cable harness cover leading out of the instrument cluster. (see pix)

11-Label the cut wire (leading to the speedo assembly connector) for future reference. (This wire end will no longer be used) (see pix)

12-From the radiator access area, locate the wire harness leading to the instrument cluster above.

13-At the wire harness intersection between the main harness (horizontal) and the harness leading to the instrument cluster (vertical), locate the Brown/White stripe wire leading up to the instrument cluster.

14-Pull the cut Brown/White stripe wire back through the wire harness cover into the radiator access area and label it for reference.

15-Solder a ‘Ring tongue’ terminal to the end of this Brown/White stripe wire.

16-Assemble the Brown/White stripe wire with the ‘Ring Tongue’ terminal to the ‘Ground Point’ (use existing bolt) at the top of the Ignition coil. (see pix)

17-From the main wire harness (driver right side) locate the wire harness leading to the Right Handlebar. At the junction, dig out the Grey/White Stripe wire. This wire leads to the “AWD (On/Off) Switch” in the drivers right handlebar. This part of the circuit gives a false sense of SOME control of the AWD (All Wheel Drive) on the ATV; however, the speedo comparator circuit actually determines that AWD, MAY be (or NOT) ALLOWED, in the opinion of Polaris, to engage when a predetermined set of conditions arise, NOT the driver!

18-Work the Grey/White Stripe wire out of the main wire harness cover, back across the front, about 2” and cut the wire about half way, leaving 1” free on each side of the cut.

19-On the Grey/White Stripe wire leading FROM the right side handlebar harness, solder an insulated connector to the end (OR if you chose to use an automotive single fuse holder; one end of a fuse holder assembly - I used a small circuit breaker shown in the pix) Also see ‘Fuse Holder’ pix.

20-Fold away and label the free end of the Grey/White Stripe wire and label it for future reference (This wire end will no longer be used) (see pix)

21-Solder an INSULATED, male ¼” push on connector to a 16 AWG (or 18AWG) insulated wire (OR, if you chose, the free end of your automotive blade style fuse holder).

22-IF (a circuit breaker or cylindrical fuse holder used) Solder a female ¼” push on connector to the free end of the wire used in step # 21 and connect the circuit breaker/cylindrical fuse holder terminals to the insulated female connectors.

23-Connect the insulated MALE ¼” push on connector to the “Accessory Leads” – in the wiring diagram - Red/White striped wires (you tested in step # 5, 6, 7 above).

{I always use a shot of WD-40 in the connectors , prior to assembly, to provide added protection against oxidation and maintain good electrical contact over time.}

24-IF you used an automotive fuse holder, install the 1-1/2 to 2 Amp automotive fuse in the Fuse holder installed in step #21.

25-Reconnect your NEGATIVE battery terminal wire.

26-Reassemble Speedo Instrument Cluster housing.

27-Replace Radiator Access Panel.

28-Turn the Ignition switch and the ‘Engine STOP/START switch’ (on the left handlebar) to the ON position.

29-Slide the AWD switch on the right handlebar to the ON position. The small lamp behind the switch decal should be lit!

You now have TRUE – ON (your) DEMAND 4 wheel drive!

Suggestion:

Make sure you have fresh/sufficient lube in the front hubs. (Based on what I’ve read, and seen, I use Synthetic ATF, spec; Dexron III)

NOTE: At times (maybe 3%) my left front hub is slow to release when I switch the AWD ‘OFF’. Not sure if that is just a characteristic of the Electric Engagement system or some oddity specific to my hub. I just don’t have the time to pull it apart and check.

NOTE-2: Given the ‘Flaky’ nature of the electromagnetic engagement/disengagement system on the Polaris, engagement or disengagement at speed could be disastrous! For example, as I stated above, my left front hub is slow to disengage about 3% of the time. If I were to disengage at speed and tap the throttle, the slow disengagement of the left hub could cause me to FLIP OVER!

STOP to engage, STOP to disengage
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Last edited by GrumpyDude; 08-02-2013 at 11:04 AM. Reason: Oversight
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-31-2013, 01:12 PM
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Excellent write up! Well done man!

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-31-2013, 01:32 PM
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I did something very close to this and mine works fine but I got an unexpected and welcome result my reverse override is no longer needed but my light does not work.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-31-2013, 04:06 PM
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Welcome to the board!

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-31-2013, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Race14 View Post
I did something very close to this and mine works fine but I got an unexpected and welcome result my reverse override is no longer needed but my light does not work.

Thanks for the 'Heads Up'. Yep, I forgot to add that the the end of my write-up.

The 'Reverse Override' switch is no longer in the circuit. Now it's simply 'If you want 4 wheel drive in reverse, turn the AWD switch ON'.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 06:17 AM
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Not sure what you are getting at here. I get that you bypass an unnecessarily complex wiring system, but you are still only getting 4x4 engagement when the rear tires slip. This idea is good, don't get me wrong, but it still seems like more than it needs to be. If the speedo is out, all you need to do is ground the awd coils. The switch still provides 12 volts, regardless of speedo condition. The speedo provides ground, for reverse override and to keep awd from engaging at too high of speed. Cut ground wires coming from coils, hook them to common ground. Speedometer bypassed.

I apologize if this came off sounding rude, as that is not my intention. I would just like some insight as to why you chose to do this the way you did. Perhaps I'm missing something.

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Last edited by turboshelby; 08-01-2013 at 07:11 AM.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 11:02 AM
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As for mine the previous owner had rigged a toggle switch when the speedo went bad and I wanted the awd switch back and the reverse overide switch is a pain if you are stuck and trying to fight your way out of a bad mudhole.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 02:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turboshelby View Post
Not sure what you are getting at here. I get that you bypass an unnecessarily complex wiring system, but you are still only getting 4x4 engagement when the rear tires slip. This idea is good, don't get me wrong, but it still seems like more than it needs to be. If the speedo is out, all you need to do is ground the awd coils. The switch still provides 12 volts, regardless of speedo condition. The speedo provides ground, for reverse override and to keep awd from engaging at too high of speed. Cut ground wires coming from coils, hook them to common ground. Speedometer bypassed.

I apologize if this came off sounding rude, as that is not my intention. I would just like some insight as to why you chose to do this the way you did. Perhaps I'm missing something.

No problem, not rude at all.

I bypassed the comparator in the Speedo completely. When the driver slides the AWD switch to the ‘ON’ position, then the 4 wheel drive is fully engaged, all the time. The rear wheels can slip or not slip, slipping NO LONGER dictates when the 4 wheel drive is engaged.

Had to come back and edit my reply, glad you provoked some thought.

I assumed that the reader/converter knew NOT to EVER engage or disengage the 4 wheel drive at speed. I had assumed that most people have driven a 4-wheel drive vehicle and were aware that you do not shift into/out of the 4-wheel drive system while in motion (typically, the transfer case does not have 4-wheel syncromesh anyway).

Given the ‘Flaky’ nature of the electromagnetic engagement/disengagement system on the Polaris, engagement or disengagement at speed could be disastrous! For example, as I stated in my write-up, my left front hub is slow to disengage about 3% of the time. If I were to disengage at speed and tap the throttle, the slow disengagement of the left hub could cause me to FLIP OVER!

STOP to engage, STOP to disengage. (Added to my write-up)

Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

Last edited by GrumpyDude; 08-02-2013 at 11:05 AM. Reason: More thought
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-12-2013, 07:49 PM
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very nice write up. I wish my '13 550 was 4x4 when I wanted it not when the rear wheels slip. and I hate that stupid reverse override button. A off roader told me once, dont wait to go to 4x4 until you are stuck. By then its to late. Polaris is designed to "wait" to go to 4x4 until you are just about stuck.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 04:24 AM
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Not being an expert by no means. I am assuming that Polaris and for me 04-08 versions don't have 4-wd in reverse? and by pressing the over ride button just allows us to backwards faster? would this be true or could someone explain further,please..
thnx in advance!
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