7 Most Common Kubota Sidekick Problems and How to Fix Them

With a top speed of up to 40 miles per hour, the Kubota Sidekick is one of the fastest UTVs. It has a 4-cylinder gasoline engine that delivers up to 48 horsepower, providing plenty of power for hauling heavy loads and tackling challenging terrain.

Despite these alluring features, this UTV is prone to some hiccups. The most common Kubota Sidekick problems are brake malfunctions, insufficient power, problematic starts, malfunctioning starter, colored exhaust fumes, slipping transmission, and heavy steering.

Most of these problems arise due to preventable issues. For example, you can always check whether your vehicle has sufficient fuel, transmission, and brake fluid before you start working. You can prevent other problems with simple maintenance work like replacing worn or damaged parts and cleaning filters.  

The Engine Won’t Start

The engine might not start in the Kubota Sidekick due to issues in the fuel system or the engine. The leading causes of problematic starts are inadequate fuel, poor fuel quality, water and debris in the fuel system, clogged fuel filters, damaged spark plugs, blocked air intake, or blown fuses.

The solutions to these problems will depend on the underlying cause. Here are potential fixes to get the engine to start:

  • Fuel the UTV
  • Drain stale fuel from the tank, clean the tank, and replace the fuel with the recommended fuel
  • Replace the spark plug if it’s damaged
  • Clean or replace the air intake and air filter
  • Clean or replace the fuel filter
  • Replace the blown fuse

Ensure you replace the damaged or worn-out parts with the recommended manufacturer parts. Contact your dealer to locate these parts.

Insufficient Engine Power

Insufficient engine power could result in issues like poor fuel economy and reduced engine performance.

The problem can occur due to dirty fuel when dust and debris reach the fuel tank, contaminating the fuel. You must drain the fuel tank, clean it, and refill it with clean fuel.

Another reason for low engine power is a defective spark plug. Defects such as a large spark plug gap or damage to the spark plug can prevent the engine from reaching its full potential. When this problem occurs, readjust the gap in the spark plug or replace it if it’s damaged.

Clogging of the air filter can also cause insufficient engine power by limiting the amount of air reaching the carburetor. Insufficient air compromises the effectiveness of combustion in the engine. Cleaning or replacing the air filter should help.

Colored Exhaust Fumes

Colored fumes from your Kubota Sidekick’s exhaust pipe indicate trouble. You’ll likely notice blue, black, and white colors when the engine has a problem.

Overloading your Sidekick can strain the engine, resulting in colored exhaust fumes. Reducing the load should help resolve the issue unless there is another reason behind it.

Colored exhaust fumes are common if you use low-grade fuel to run your UTV. You’ll notice black smoke from the exhaust since poor-quality fuel doesn’t burn well. Draining low-grade gas and replacing it with the recommended quality should help resolve this problem.

The exhaust pipe may release bluish smoke due to excessive engine oil and damaged piston rings. When this happens, you must use the recommended amount of engine oil. It would be best to replace the damaged piston rings.

Malfunctioning Starter

The starter of the Sidekick vehicle is likely to malfunction when there are issues with the battery or connections. Failing to charge the battery, for example, reduces the charge available to start the engine. Charging the battery will resolve the issue unless your battery is dead or the wiring has worn out.

When dealing with a dead battery, you’ll have trouble charging it or detecting any voltage. When this happens, replace the battery and check whether the starter begins to work.

In some cases, loose connections and corroded terminals are to blame. When this happens, clean the terminals and tighten any loose connections. You can also prevent recurring issues by keeping the terminal clean, the connections tight, and the battery terminals treated with an anti-corrosive agent.

Slipping Transmission

Some Kubota Sidekick problems affect the transmission.

You may experience Kubota Sidekick transmission problems due to low transmission fluid, contaminated fluid, worn transmission parts, clutch issues, and problems with the torque converter.

Low transmission fluid is a common cause of slipping that you can resolve by filling up the transmission fluid. Sometimes, you may have the right amount of transmission fluid, but if it’s dirty, contaminated, or of poor quality, it will interfere with the functioning of the transmission system.

You can also encounter transmission slippage due to wear or damage of different components in the transmission system, such as the solenoid, clutch assembly, gears, and transmission bands.

The transmission system cannot work as expected when these are damaged or worn out. Repairing or replacing these parts should fix the issue.

Heavy Steering

Heavy steering is a common Kubota Sidekick problem arising from issues with different systems, including the tires, steering system, and electric system.

The tires should be the first place you check when you notice heavy steering issues. Tires with too much or too little pressure will cause problems navigating the UTV, especially in rough terrain.

It could even cause you to lose control of the vehicle. Check the tire pressure and adjust it according to your dealer’s recommendations.

Heavy steering could occur due to a dead or discharged battery. Without the battery, it will be hard to navigate using the power steering. Charge or replace the battery to resolve the problem.

You can also experience heavy steering due to a blown fuse. A blown fuse could occur due to damaged wiring and defective starter solenoid.

Replace the fuse, the damaged wiring, and the defective starter solenoid to resolve the problem. If your Sidekick keeps blowing fuses afterward, take it to your dealer for a thorough inspection.

Steering issues could also occur due to damage to the steering shift. Kubota discovered a flaw with some of their vehicles’ steering shafts, prompting the Kubota Sidekick recall.

Replacing the steering shaft should fix the issue. If your Sidekick falls within the recalled serial numbers, you can return yours to the manufacturer for replacement. 

Brake Malfunctions

Malfunctioning brakes are among the common Kubota Sidekick problems that could cause accidents. Fortunately, most of the issues are easy to fix when you’ve pinpointed the problem’s source.

You may experience braking issues if your Sidekick is low on brake fluid. Without sufficient brake fluid, the brakes might take time to stop or not work at all, putting you and others at risk.

You may experience low brake fluid due to leaks in the brake lines, calipers, hoses, worn-out brake pads, or a damaged brake line.

You can resolve this problem by replenishing the brake fluid. But before that, check the system for any signs of leaking brake fluid and replace damaged components.

If you haven’t used the Sidekick for a while, check whether the brake fluid is in good condition and replace it if it has gone bad.

Air in the brake lines can cause problems with braking and controlling your Kubota Sidekick. You could be dealing with air in the brake lines if you experience the following issues:

  • A spongy brake when pressing the brake pedal down
  • The brakes don’t work
  • A loose brake pedal

If there’s air in the brake lines, bleed the brake system to remove the air, refill the brake fluid and check whether you’ve resolved the issue. If not, take your Sidekick to a dealer for an inspection.

So, Is the Kubota Sidekick a Worthy Purchase?

The Sidekick is a worthy purchase. Most of the mentioned Kubota Sidekick problems are not deal breakers. Follow Kubota’s guidelines for maintenance and operation to ensure the UTVs’ longevity and performance. Regular maintenance, proper use, and safe operation can also help prevent accidents.