2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 Review and Specs

During the first decade of the lineup, Polaris added several feature and performance upgrades to the Sportsman 500. In its 11th year, the manufacturer raised the bar further by introducing two revolutionary changes to the four-wheeler – the industry-first Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) and its two-up version, better known as the X2 model.

The 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 began another era of change for the best-selling ATV lineup in history. Featuring a high-performance engine, more efficient Electronic Fuel Injection system, and convertible two-up models, the legendary four-wheeler was, yet again, paces ahead of the competition.

These vehicles were more fuel-efficient, worked better with ECM, and were convertible from having a rear dump bed to being a two-passenger quad. Read on and discover how the 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 trims not only helped Polaris address some of its problems with the carbureted Sportsman models but also made the off-roading experience a whole lot better.

Yellow 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 ATV

Both New and Old

With the 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 lineup, the American firm introduced two monumental developments to the vehicle at half the effort. I say this because only one of the two changes was new. And if you have guessed that it is the Electronic Fuel Injection, you are absolutely right!

What does this make of the X2 model, then? Well, if you look at this innovation more closely, the X2 trim is, in fact, a revamped version of the ATP (All-Terrain Pickup) from 2004. But this time, Polaris made it into a dual-purpose vehicle – one whose rear can be changed into either a dump bed or a 2nd passenger seat, depending on the driver’s need. The company only had to tweak the wheelbase and make the tires larger, but the structure for the two-seater concept was already there.

Trims

X2 model included, all ’06 Sportsman 500s had the same fuel-injection system, superb handling, rugged aesthetics, and All-Wheel Drive locking front differential. Below are the four trims made available to the market, namely:

  • 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. (High Output, base)
  • 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection, base)
  • 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI Mossy Oak (Electronic Fuel Injection, Mossy Oak Break-Up Camouflage)
  • 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI X2 (Electronic Fuel Injection, Two-Up)

The EFI X2 model almost instantly became a hit with riders and enthusiasts, who predominantly preferred it over the single-seater model. They found the vehicle’s versatility to their liking. Not to mention that the machine’s longer wheelbase and overall length made it more stable. Added creature comforts like special handholds and raised rear-seat footrests helped improve passenger input and active weight shifting, making the quad safer.

2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 Specs & Features

2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI Red Flame ATV
  • Engine: The quad uses a four-stroke, liquid-cooled single-cylinder SOHC engine, with a 92 x 75 mm bore-stroke ratio and a 10:2 full-stroke compression ratio. Engine displacement is 499 cm3, delivered by Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) with a 39-mm throttle body for the EFI versions and a 40-mm Mikuni BST carburetor for the H.O. models. It has a dry-sump lubrication system and a fuel tank capacity of 4.25 US gallons/16.09 liters (6 US gallons/22.71 liters for X2 trims). The machine requires either regular leaded or unleaded gasoline with a minimum PON rating of 87 (oxygenated) or 89 (non-oxygenated). A Dynojet AT-300 Fuel Injection Module (view on Amazon) would also come in handy and make your fuel-injected four-wheeler more fuel-efficient.
  • Lubrication: The quad has an oil capacity of 2 US quarts/1.89 liters of SAE 0W-40 Polaris Premium 4 All-Season Synthetic Lubricant or its equivalent. Using any API-certified SJ synthetic oil that meets manufacturer specifications and JASO T903 MA standards allows for ultimate lubrication performance and protection. Take note of the need to do oil change more frequently when using other variants.
  • Drivetrain: An automatic Polaris Variable Transmission with compound EBS clutch system handles power, delivered by a Hilliard-type assembly and a direct rear driveshaft with a H/L/N/R/P gearshift pattern. All 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI and H.O. base models have dual driveline modes (AWD, 2WD) controlled via a thumb switch found on the right side of the vehicle. Remember not to engage All-Wheel Drive if the rear wheels are spinning, as this may result in serious driveshaft and clutch damage.
  • Ignition: The ’06 model has a solid-state DC-CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) electric start system with an auxiliary recoil starter. Ignition timing is 13° +/- 3 BTDC @ 1,150 RPM and requires an NGK BKR6E spark plug with a 0.036 inches (0.9 mm) gap. Its charging system is a triple-phase alternator with a rated output of 350 watts. Located under the left rear fender is a 12V, 30 Ah 385-CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) battery with assembled dimensions of 6.65 x 5.16 x 6.87 inches (169 x 131 x 174 mm – L x W x H) that powers up the 12V DC outlet and other electronic accessories. Current 30L-BS battery (view on Amazon) formats (conventional or sealed) will work perfectly with the quad.
  • Tires & Brakes: The wheels use Polaris PXT 26 x 8-12 and 26 x 11-12 tires. Tire pressure should be 5 psi (34.47 kPa/0.35 kg-f/cm2). Front and rear brakes are single-control hydraulic discs with a fixed, auxiliary hydraulic opposed piston caliper disc and hydraulic all-wheel lock parking brake. When assembling or servicing brakes, use only DOT 3 brake fluid to prevent contamination and swelling of the brake’s rubber components.
  • Suspension: A MacPherson strut front suspension with 8.2 inches (208 mm) of travel and a progressive-rate IRS with a stabilizer bar, preload-adjustable spring tension shocks, and 9.5 inches (241.3 mm) of travel comprises the ’06 model’s superb suspension system. ELKA Suspension STAGE 2 REAR Shocks (view on Amazon) are fantastic alternatives to stock rear suspension without rebound damping. Overall turning radius stays at 5.42 ft (165.1 cm), which makes for great cornering angles.
  • Dimensions: Overall vehicle dimensions of the 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO are 83 x 48 x 48 inches (2,110 x 1,220 x 1,220 mm – L x W x H). The unloaded minimum ground clearance is 11.25 inches (286 mm), and the wheelbase is 50.5 inches (1,283 mm). The seat height is 33.8 inches (857 mm). Dry weight is 715 lbs (324 Kg) for the High Output model and 722 lbs (327 Kg) for the New Break-Up trim. Hitch towing rate remains at 1,225 lbs (556 Kg), while brakeless trailer towing capacity is 1,786 lbs (810 Kg). Hitch tongue capacity is 120 lbs (54.4 Kg) and should be at most 180 lbs (81.6 Kg) when combined with rear rack weight. GVWR is 1,200 lbs (544 Kg) – a combination of curb weight, total rack capacity, plus accessories and passengers.
  •  Exterior: The quad has a steel frame with a medium gloss black finish and a plastic body material in yellow/black, Fire Red/black, red/white, and Mossy Oak Break-Up brand camo. All trims are equipped with the same standard features, such as fenders, brush guards, hand grips and handlebars, full floorboards, and front and rear composite utility racks. Be cautious when giving your vehicle a power clean, as using high-pressure water may damage its components. Washing the quad by hand or with a garden hose using mild soap is still more advisable. You can also purchase Hyperion UTV Cover with Solar Panel (view on Amazon) to protect your quad from the elements – this will fit both the base and two-up Sportsman models.
  • Lighting – Dual 27-watt grille-mounted low-beam lights located on the front bumper and a 50-watt Halogen light located on the headlight pod provide superior light distribution. Lighting also includes an 8.26-watt taillight and a 26.9-watt brake light.
  •  On-Demand AWD/2WD Drive System – This Polaris-exclusive feature provides selectable 2WD or 4WD options for High Output and EFI base models and a 3rd “Turf” mode for X2 models. A thumb switch on the right handlebar activates it. When on, front axles automatically engage whenever the rear wheels lose traction and disengage when the reverse happens.
  •  Lock & Ride Cargo System – This rack technology with no-drill installation allows Sportsman owners to quickly attach or detach rear cargo boxes and other bolt-on accessories when they need access to the composite utility racks. It increases luggage and storage capacity, turning your quad into an excellent all-day transport.
  • Active Descent Control – When the switch is on, this system lends engine braking to all four wheels when descending a hill or incline. For the feature to work, however, the following conditions must be met:
    • The AWD switch must be in the ADC 4WD position.
    • Your four-wheeler’s speed must be at most 15 mph (25 kph).
    • The throttle lever must be released or closed.
    • The transmission must be in any of the following gears – high, low, or reverse.

What Is a 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 Worth?

The 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 price ranges from $6,699 to $7,899, depending on whether it is a High Output, an EFI, or an X2 version. The Mossy Oak Break-Up brand camo trims are the most expensive, with the EFI camo model coming in second at $7,349. Depending on how many package inclusions you purchase, your MSRP can increase by at least $1,150. Most accessories are Lock & Ride compliant or in Mossy Oak finish. But you can also get aftermarket parts that are considerably cheaper than those offered in dealerships.

Average retail pricing is between $2,020 and $3,235 across all 2006 Sportsman models, while auction listings and online resellers sell these units from $1,550 to $6,000. Secondhand wheelers valued above $3,500 are typically in good running condition and come with a 54″ snow blade, pristine plastic body panels, and good tires and lighting. Units above $4,500 usually have a rear drop basket, winch, and grille guard, and All-Wheel Drive is guaranteed to function. Expect minor defects with lower-priced vehicles – such as loose linkage rod and missing key. Miles may not be showing on the odometer, or the quad may turn over with pull-starter but would not run. 

2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 Problems

Black 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO ATV

Battery Warning Light Intermittently Flashing

Ideally, checking the battery terminals and the stator, replacing your battery, or tightening loose connections should solve this problem. However, it may not always be the case. Experts always point out a voltage rectifier/regulator problem. And it would be safe to lean towards that same direction if you are gradually decreasing battery voltage both when at idle and when buzzing along 30 mph. Replacing the defective regulator is the only way to go about permanently fixing the issue. We highly recommend purchasing a Deltran Battery Tender (view on Amazon), as it effectively prevents the problem’s recurrence.

Electric Starter Not Working

You may have this problem even if your pull start works fine. In some instances, this is accompanied by a single click every time you turn the key. Often, riders trace the problem back to a low-voltage battery or a bad solenoid. So, make sure that your battery is always fully charged to at least 12.5 VDC and that you replace your solenoid if it is defective. 

It is a different story if neither the electric starter nor the auxiliary recoil starter works. Should this occur, it is best to get voltage readings and check them against spec. Examine the starter mechanisms further and see if there are any broken chips off of the starter magnets or a rattling sound when you shake the ECM. Either way, you will need to readjust the throttle cable to 1/8″ slack at the thumb lever, allowing Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) contacts to be open.

Gear Sensor Displaying Wrong Information

Now, this can be a big pain – especially when you are out riding with friends. Not only does it make you blind with your current gear, but it also makes engaging 4WD a hassle. For instance, your Sportsman will not engage in 4WD because it thinks you are in neutral when, in fact, you are in low. This situation could be troublesome if you are traversing slow-crawling sections or rocky terrain. To fix the issue, you may need to get a new rotary switch for the gear selector and a replacement relay if you have the Bosch type. To add, it would be worth checking if your wheeler was part of the ECM recall to see if fixing the ECM solves the problem.

Loss of Power

Owners have complained about experiencing this when they open up the throttle for a bit on a straightaway. Typically, they would blame it on a fouled spark plug or their battery, except that they soon discover they had enough power for everything else, including their winch. The kicker is they had to wait for at least three minutes before they can fire up their machines again. Plus, the vehicle’s electrical connections all check out.

Should you encounter this same issue, make sure to verify if you are out of fuel or using the wrong fuel type. Include checking for kinked or plugged fuel vent lines and fuel contamination. Similarly, the air filter and radiator screen should be clog-free (clean and replace as needed). You will need to reach out to your Polaris dealer outside of these first-line steps, especially if the cause is either a reverse speed limiter or ETC malfunction, or any other kind of mechanical failure.

No Spark

In the case of no spark, look for any bare wire from the Crank Position Sensor (CPS) harness that touches the starter. If there are none and the issue persists, inspect the resistance on the stator, the CPS sensor, and the face of the pickup coil. Likewise, check the thin wiring harness on the TPS and TBAP for wear. If you cannot identify the cause from any of these areas, then the controller module at the front of the radiator may be at fault.

Sputtering

Among the most common causes of this issue is either a tuning issue, a vacuum or gas leak, or an ignition issue. A gasket (located right above the float bowl) that became brittle or cracked often causes gas leaks. Similarly, vacuum leaks happen when the intake boots become cracked or brittle. These could also attribute to a loose clamp between the engine and the carb or a C-clip sliding off the needle. Failure to correctly adjust air and fuel screws result in a tuning imbalance, while fouled spark plugs and ignition coils or poorly connected spark plug wires cause ignition issues. These steps would apply to a High Output model.

For EFI-powered trims, the TPS sensor wiring harness is usually the culprit. However, it should come with an error code. If there is none, then you may want to check on the exhaust manifold. If it heats gas abnormally (to the point of boiling), you are guaranteed to experience sputtering. Wrapping your gas tank with a heat shield would resolve the problem completely.

An Idle Air Control (IAC) motor that is stuck or not moving freely is something else to look for, along with a broken fuel injector plug. Additionally, ensure that the sensor on top of the throttle body has not rubbed through and would not ground out, as this is another probable cause. Your Polaris dealer would have a retro kit in stock that allows you to replace the wires and the plug. The kit also comes with a wire loom and waterproof connectors that help get the job done.

Stalling Issues Downhill/At Start-Up

Based on experiences shared in forums amongst riders and owners alike, stalling issues seem to be subjective to an extent. While some encounter the problem with less than 250 miles on their quad, others have rarely had the dilemma, if not never – even for vehicles that have been sunk at least once and with over 100 hours. In truth, getting a lemon is just so unlucky but is not far from happening. Still, avoiding driving into sticks pointed right at your CV boots and staying away from striking things would help keep this issue at bay.

About Polaris

Polaris Inc. is the maker of the 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500. The American firm is widely-known for spawning the snowmobile industry and stopping the Japanese monopoly of the ATV industry with the first-ever U.S.-made ATV, released in 1985. Before venturing into snowmobile and ATV production, it manufactured yard equipment. After the Textron acquisition in 1968, the company has not looked back since. Today, Polaris is a recognized key player in the ATV landscape, widely-known for its ground-breaking innovations such as automatic transmission, Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI), and Independent Rear Suspension (IRS).

Conclusion – 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 Review

The 2006 Polaris Sportsman 500 took off-road riding to new heights with its X2 version and EFI-powered vehicles. The carbureted four-wheelers were already impressive, but they do not have the zip that the EFI trims do. This revolutionary fuel system eradicated the need to fine-tune a carburetor when riding at higher altitudes. Plus, the existence of a convertible, legalized two-up option made the vehicle stand out even better. Undeniably, these modifications are another step by Polaris in the right direction.

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

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