5 Most Common Can Am Defender Problems and Effective Solutions

The Can Am Defender is an extra-tough, multipurpose UTV designed for off-roading and handling tasks around the farm. It’s one of the top-selling UTVs prized for its comfortable and smooth rides. However, this side-by-side has some problems you’ll need to deal with. The most common Can Am Defender problems are overheating, heater issues, problematic starts, belt problems, and steering issues.

Whether you already own a Can-Am Defender or are in the market for one, it’s necessary to understand these problems and their solutions. This article discusses the common issues with Can Am Defenders and how to resolve them effectively.


Most Can-Am Defender users complain about the overheating problem with their vehicles. UTVs can heat up when towing heavy equipment or tackling rough terrains. When the engine overheats, it may compromise your operations and lead to more issues.

The engine may overheat and turn off, spoiling the riding experience. Waiting for the engine to cool before starting again may not help. You can only fix this problem by first identifying the cause of overheating.

Can-Am Defender engines can overheat due to the following reasons:

  • Insufficient airflow
  • A malfunctioning cooling fan
  • A faulty thermostat
  • A malfunctioning water pump

Overheating can damage engine parts such as the gaskets or jam the clutch system. When you face an overheating problem, stop your UTV and fix it.

Effective Solutions:

Inspect the air filter for dirt and dust particles that may be causing insufficient airflow into the engine. Clean the filters or replace them. You can also adjust the air filter to allow more air into the engine while preventing the accumulation of dirt and dust.

The cooling fan could also be the cause of the overheating engine. The fan can be stuck due to excess mud, dust, or objects such as twigs and pet fur. Clean the fan and remove any stuck objects. If damaged, replace it. If the thermostat is faulty, replace it and add fresh, high-quality coolant.

Inspect the water pump for clogs or signs of damage. A professional mechanic can inspect the water pump to unclog, repair or replace it.

Can-Am Defender Heater Problems

This is one of the most common Can Am Defender problems you’ll likely encounter when off-roading. The cab gets too hot even when the heater is turned off. In most cases, the heater problem goes hand in hand with the engine overheating.

The cause of heater problems in your UTV can result from a few faulty components, such as the heater control valve, temperature control selector, heater core, or actuator. The cab may also get a lot of heat from the engine due to a broken thermostat or insufficient coolant.


  • If the heater doesn’t cool your cab, check for a malfunctioning heater core, heater control valve, temperature control selector, and actuator. Replace any damaged component.
  • Check for blown fuses behind the heating unit and replace them.
  • Check for broken or loose wires and connections. Replace broken wires and secure the loose connections.
  • Add fresh coolant.
  • If the thermostat is broken, replace it. If you can’t replace the malfunctioning pieces on your own, hire a mechanic to do the job.

Starting Problems

An engine that won’t start can be annoying. Can-Am Defender starting problems may indicate issues with the ignition switch, motor, battery, or engine.

When you neglect your UTV maintenance, you will likely have a defective ignition switch, motor, battery, or engine.

Most users face this problem in winter. When they turn the key, the engine fails to start, or it produces a sound but cannot start.


  • Test the ignition switch and motor for continuity with a multimeter. Replace them if they’re malfunctioning.
  • Examine the engine and repair or replace any dysfunctional parts.
  • Inspect the battery for bad wire connections, corroded terminals, a dead battery, and an old battery. Clean the terminals and fix the bad wire connection. Charge the battery if it’s dead. If you have an old battery, replace it.

Inspect your UTV regularly and improve your maintenance strategy to avoid starting problems. During winter, park your Can-Am Defender in the garage and keep the door closed.

Can-Am Defender Belt Problems

This is another common problem that troubles the Can-Am Defender. Most owners report a high-pitched noise coming from the engine drive belts. The squealing or whining noise occurs when idling or driving downhill.

The drive belt can squeal due to various reasons such as improper tension, contaminants, and worn or old belt.

Other users have faced the problem of belt slippage, which causes their UTVs to take off when the brakes are not engaged. This problem usually results from damaged or worn rollers and the one-way bearing.


  • Inspect the belt for improper tension and adjust it.
  • Check if contaminants such as oil or dirt are to blame. Fix this by spraying belt dressing.
  • Replace the belt if it looks worn or old.
  • Inspect the rollers and the one-way bearing for signs of damage. Replace them if necessary.

Can-Am Defender Steering Problems

One of the most frustrating Can Am Defender problems occurs when the steering won’t work as it should. Sometimes, the power steering system may become dysfunctional and lose power. An alarm usually accompanies this problem.

When this steering problem occurs, turning the vehicle can be difficult, which may result in accidents. Can-Am Defender steering problems may arise from a connection problem, damaged fuse box, or worn steering rack.

If you’ve driven the vehicle for extended periods, the issue may result from an overheated Dynamic Power Steering (DPS).

Effective Solutions:

  • Inspect the power steering system for any loose connections or broken wires. Secure any loose wires and replace the broken ones.
  • Check the fuse box for signs of damage and replace it if necessary.
  • If the steering rack appears worn or damaged, replace it.
  • Allow the overheated DPS to cool down, and your steering will start working properly.
  • Replace the DPS if the above fixes won’t work.

Avoid These Issues Through Preventive Maintenance

Hopefully, you know what to do when you experience the most common Can Am Defender problems. Whether it’s a heater, belt, steering, or starting problem, the solutions above will help fix it and get your UTV back on the road.

Remember to perform routine preventive maintenance to keep your Can-Am Defender in good condition.