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Newbie to site with a honda foreman ES questions

Discussion in 'ATV / UTV Snow Removal' started by wintersteelhead, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. wintersteelhead

    wintersteelhead Junior Member
    from oregon
    Messages: 3

    Hi all I'm new to the site. I've been commercially plowing with skid steers for several years and am looking to expand our services by adding an ATV. Before buying new I started out looking at the local used inventory and found an 2006 HONDA FOREMAN 4X4 ELECTRONIC SHIFT WITH 250 HRS AND 750MILES, asking price $4,600.
    Looking for any advice on plowing with this machine. Mostly concerned about the electronic shift. Will only be using it for sidewalks with average snow depth of about 4-6". And any general advice on buying one used and or new. And plow set ups would be much appreciated. Thanks a bunch in advance! And here's to a big winter
  2. hghgrad

    hghgrad Member
    from MI
    Messages: 69

    The honda electric shifts are notorious for going bad. I'm not sure what the cost to replace the shift solenoid is, but I'd take that into consideration. They do make a normal foot shift clutchless shift that is problem free.
  3. 06Sierra

    06Sierra PlowSite.com Addict
    from Maine
    Messages: 1,329

    Really??? I haven't heard of many issues at all with the ES. Never had a problem on my Rincon either.
  4. silverstreek

    silverstreek Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    Absolutely, the shift solenoids have had troubles on the Honda ES Models.

    But, The solenoid problem is almost the luck of the draw so to speak. Either you have problems, or you don't! The problem is when they decide to go, they give no warning at all. This information comes from different ATV Forums about the Honda's and the solenoid ES problems.

    Something else. When adding a plow, the front end is planted more making for harder steering on hard surfaces like blacktop and concrete. They do make the Foreman with power steering. However, when plowing snow, the front end is easier to steer due to the tires in the snow. Power Steering is a nice feature if you can get one with it. The only problem is it's something else that can cause grief if it doesn't operate correctly, or breaks.

    I plow with my 07 Foreman FM Model (foot shift). In some ways I would like the ES just for the ease of shifting, but I'm not totally sold on the reliability of the ES. The foot shift model is easy to use, plus it's just super reliable. And add to that, when you're plowing you mostly only use reverse and 1st gear. Plow any faster, and you take a chance of busting something hitting some unknown obstacle.

    Nothing worse than plowing snow and equipment breaks!
  5. JoeCool

    JoeCool Senior Member
    from Canada
    Messages: 214

    ES worked well for me when I had it. I think I plowed three seasons, just a half dozen driveways and a mile of sidewalk each time I was out for two of the seasons. Only real issue I had was when the battery was run down from the frequent winch use and having lights on at the time. Until the battery got enough voltage again it wouldn't shift out of 1st. Lights off and plows forever regardless of winch use. Was heavy steering but that has been the case with anything I have used.
  6. jim331656

    jim331656 Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 44

    My neighbor and I both brought new Honda ranchers at the same time. Mine is a foot ****, his is electronic. He hasn't had a single issue and there are a lot of times I wish I has ES... Like when I am kneeling on the seat cause the water/mud is deep and need to change gears or go in reverse. It sucks to have to put my foot in ice cold water. He just laughs and stabs the buttons on the bars. That said, $4600 seems pretty steep for a 6 year old ATV. I think I paid 5k for a brand new rancher. The reason I chose it was it was EFI and had pretty much the same HP as the foreman. EFI was a must for me. Of course the new for 2012 foreman is EFI now but also got a hefty price hike.
  7. silverstreek

    silverstreek Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    Something else that causes shift problems on the ES Models that has not been brought up is the angle sensor. Usually when the ES has this problem, it goes into reverse but when shifted into 1st it will usually go into and directly out of 1st and back into reverse.

    Another issue is the battery. If the batteries aren't holding the correct charge, this can cause problems with the electronic shift as well. I put this in just in case someone runs into a problem such as this, they know about it.

    And last but not least. The ES Models have an emergency foot shifter usually located in with the tool kit. If the ES fails to operate correctly, you have the emergency shifter to use.

    The point being is this. The ES isn't completely bullet proof. Thus the need for the emergency foot shifter IF something does go wrong. Which on a Honda usually doesn't!!!

    All and all, I'd completely trust the ES Model for doing what-ever it is you'd like to do with it. From Plowing Snow, to running through the mud. Plus it's a Honda! I've worked on different ATV's for friends, most of them being something other than the Honda ATV's. The main thing is you know there could be a problem, so you're prepaired for it should one occur.

    I would have loved to have gotten a brand new ES when I got my Foreman. The thing for me was I got a smokin deal on a brand new 07 model in 09 that wasn't sold. For me, it was a no brain-er. I guess the biggest difference between the foot shift and the electronic shift models is this. The more options you get on anything means there is more that can go wrong with it! And this is true for everything from cars and trucks to ATV's!
  8. irv

    irv Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    yuasa has a 260 cca battery that helps the winch and light probs.
    ytx14hbs. have had 1 in 2 rubicons w/2 extra plow lights and a
    warn winch.batterystuff.com has it. also works in my vtx--irv
  9. Banksy

    Banksy PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,113

    I've replaced the shift position sensor about 3 times on my 2004 Honda. It only has 700 miles on it. Now it will not always go into reverse with the first try. A strong battery also seems to be key to the ES being reliable. The sensors are easy to change, but it's a pain to order them, so I keep a used one on hand. They do go bad with no warning and will usually make the gear position on the dash blink a code. Other than that, it works great and puts the power to the wheels just fine.
  10. blackhillshonda

    blackhillshonda Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota where we can get 300 inches of snow a year. I use both a 2003 Rancher ES with 3000 miles and a 2007 Forman ES with 1000 miles on it for plowing. I work them very hard. NO ISSUES with the ES at all...none. It seems like there is a lot of hear-say on this issue without actually using one. Now I understand there will be exceptions as is the case with most things. Trying to foot shift while wearing a boots would seem to me to be a lot more of a pain then thumb shifting.

    I would recommend them again. Once you use them I don't think you would want to go back. Just my 2 cents worth. I also don't necessarily think you need power steering either however I sure wouldn't turn it down if it were given to me. Thumbs Up
  11. silverstreek

    silverstreek Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    Reading on the Honda ATV Forum I found one poor guy who was reading another persons post about shift problems. My guess is because this Aus Rancher has the same type of problem, he asks more questions. Here is a short story about him. Unfortunately there is a guy in Australia who owns a fleet of 10, 420 Rancher, with ES, the Model Year being 2010. Every one of his machines has encountered problems with shifting. He was looking for advice on the Forum because apparently the Honda Dealer he asked about this didn't or couldn't help him. I'm trying to find out what one of the wrenches told him in a private message about his problems? I'd gladly pass this along to you guys just in case....

    His machines he said have some-where between 3500 miles and 500 hours on them. He operates a huge Ranch where he lives and needs his equipment to function properly. If you'd like to read this for yourself? Go to the Honda ATV site, enter search with the words Bad shift solenoid. Look for Need Help with shifting... 09 Rancher 420 FA. Continue on down until you hit the 5th post. "AusRancher" The date on these posts are 04/10/2011.

    Could this be tied into certain years more than others? I don't know? My guess is it really depends on a lot of factors. Where and what these machines are used for? How many hours and miles do they have on them when issues start popping up? And last but not least, exactly how many people use this forum compared to one like the Honda ATV Forum. I would imagine the Honda Forum has many more people asking questions and running into problems that this one does? As with anything, the law of odds goes up with more people using it.

    I own a Honda Foreman. And it's the only Make I'd consider owning! Well built machines that do what you need them to do. I hate saying this, even Honda has a glitch every now and then.........
  12. bullseye

    bullseye Member
    Messages: 57

    I use to own an '03 Honda 350es with a moose county plow and NEVER had a single issue with quad or plow !!! Perfect machine for just enough power to plow huge amounts of snow and being able to maneyver around things. My Dad now owns it and he still uses it for plowin snow and he loves it !!
    I presently own '08 Honda 420es with a moose county plow and it too has never had an issue with either the quad or plow !!! Great power and great plow. Upgraded my tires to mudlite copies and now traction is not an issue !! Full plow width and push !!!!!!!!!
    Love my Hondas !!! Never had an issue just be good to your quad and it will be good to you!! Make sure you look after it , regular oil changes, etc. And don't get to "rammy" when plow snow , thats when things break or you get hurt !!
  13. Cyber36

    Cyber36 Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    How long was the Moose on the 350cc? 50 or 60"??
  14. bullseye

    bullseye Member
    Messages: 57

    50". It works good on the 350es (Rancher) and on the 420es. Cause when it's angled either way the quad is still within the blade width !! I thought the 60" might be a little too much and make the quad harder to move around too. The county plow is nice too because when you do driveways or laneways just angle the blade one notch and with a little speed, you sure can throw the snow !! JUST know your terrian !!! Thumbs Up
  15. irv

    irv Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    ive had a 350es, 400at, and 2 rubicons, all w/plows. never a minutes trouble.
    liked the at best because it had a faster reverse.--irv
  16. silverstreek

    silverstreek Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    I took my Foot Shift where you first have to push the button in, and then pull in the lever in so you can shift it into reverse. It is a pain in the arse! But..... I took a plastic piece (like that of a straw) 1" long and inserted it around the cable (the one that attaches to the button), hooking it where the cable comes out at the left lever. This just keeps the cable retracted all of the time is all!

    This allows me to shift from 1st to neutral and then to reverse without hitting any buttons or pulling in any levers. Not as fast as ES, but not nearly as slow as it used to be. The only thing is you just need to be careful and watch what gear your in if you down-shift a lot.

    I've yet to have a problem doing it like this.
  17. wintersteelhead

    wintersteelhead Junior Member
    from oregon
    Messages: 3

    Thanks for all the very helpful feedback. I picked out a 2012 olive green 4x4 foreman today.... decided to go with the manual shift with power steering. Im getting it outfitted with a moose plow, the warn 2500 pound winch,and thumb and grip heaters. Should be a good fit for the sidewalk plowing portion of our business. I decided the newer model with liquid cooling and fuel injection was worth paying for over the used ones on the local market. Thanks again....this site is a great resource.
  18. jim331656

    jim331656 Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 44

    Nice work... The EFI is totally worth the extra money and I too opted for the power steering over the ES.

    IPLOWSNO PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,620

    10 years from now revisit this post and look out at your still working quad and smile lol
  20. irv

    irv Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    that reverse trick is a good mod and simple too. works on most hondas
    w/the button.did something similar to that in 02 when i got the 350es.
    i think the dealer told me how[in confidence] and you can read about it on
    the honda atv forums. sure was a time saver when plowing--irv