One of Honda’s top ATVs of all time, the Honda FourTrax 300, aimed to provide consumers with a tough quad suitable for recreation and work. Its 4×4 model featured a limited-slip front differential, a double-wishbone front suspension, and a heavy-duty steel frame.
The Honda FourTrax 300 goes down in history as Honda’s best-selling ATV. Its revolutionary design made it a huge success, selling over half a million units over its 12-year production run. The 300 and 300 4×4 sported a more compact chassis and introduced four-wheel drive to the market.
Learn all about this legendary all-terrain vehicle, as you read about its specs and features, and more, in this article.
About Honda FourTrax 300 4×4
The Honda FourTrax 300 4×4 (or TRX300FW) is a ground-breaking high-performance ATV produced by Honda from 1988 to 2000. It featured a 282-cc air-cooled four-stroke mono-cylinder engine and boasted remarkable towing capabilities, 45 mph top speed, and 20 horsepower. It superseded the TRX250X – a 246-cc sport model featuring a five-speed transmission and adjustable suspension that made the FourTrax name famous in 1986.
Known to Honda as its highest-grossing utility vehicle, the FourTrax came in two versions:
- The standard 2WD Honda FourTrax 300
- The 4WD Honda FourTrax 300 4×4
With a market that was seeing more value in ATVs and the benefit they bring to utility work and recreation, the Honda FourTrax 300 immediately became a hit with the off-roading community as well as the general public.
FourTrax 300 owners attest to its durability – never letting them down when traversing on sandy wastes and rough terrain or even when riding at an elevation of up to 10,000 feet. Its stock jetting performs excellently under these conditions, provided the spark plug and valves are correctly adjusted. People love its phenomenal gas mileage – allowing them to cover 25 miles of distance with only the 0.7-gallon reserve. Its front independent wishbones and its 4×4 performance are also impressive, considering the vehicle has low ground clearance.
Honda FourTrax 300 Specs & Features
- Engine – A four-stroke, air-cooled SOHC engine powers the 300. It has a bore-stroke ratio of 74 mm by 65.5 mm. The engine displacement is 281.7 cubic centimeters delivered by a piston-valve carburetor, and its compression ratio is 9.0:1. Fuel tank capacity is 3.3 US gallons/12.5 liters, with a reserve of 0.7 US gallons/2.5 liters – unleaded gasoline with a pump Octane number of 86+ or a research Octane number of 91+ is highly recommended. Stay away from gasoline with more than 10% ethanol or 5% methanol. Fluid capacity is 2.6 quarts/2.5 liters – use Honda 4-stroke oil or equivalent with a viscosity of SAE 10W-40 (other viscosities from 5W- to 20W-50 may be used depending on the ambient temperature.
- Drivetrain – The Honda 300 FourTrax sends power to the ground via a five-speed transmission inclusive of a reverse gear and the extra-low first gear. It features an automatic clutch and a maintenance-free shaft drive. Its gear-driven counter-balancer provides smooth and manageable power delivery, and the snorkel-type air intake allows for light mudding and riding on wet terrain.
- Ignition – It has a solid-state digital ignition with electronic advance and a back-up kick-starter hidden under the right-side panel. The FourTrax 300’s battery, electrical system, and airbox are located under the seat.
- Tires – Stock front wheels are equipped with AT 504 Ohtsu AT23 X 8-11 Honda FourTrax 300 tires, while the rear wheels with PA 501 Ohtsu AT25 X 12-9 tires. The recommended tire pressure is 2.9 psi. The least pressure allowed when airing down tires is 2.5 psi; maximum pressure during summer is 3.3 psi. The minimum tread depth requiring replacement is 4 mm/0.16 inches. The vehicle wheelbase is 48.8 inches.
- Brakes – It uses dual-sealed hydraulic drum front brakes and a single-sealed mechanical drum for the rear. The quad’s underside is protected with dual skid plates.
- Suspension – The front suspension uses an independent double-wishbone with 5.1 inches of travel. The rear suspension utilizes a swingarm setup with 5.1 inches of travel – sporting a limited-slip front differential. Both front and rear suspensions are equipped with Arvin shock absorbers – perfect for trail riding. The quad also has a 5° caster angle and 25 mm/0.98 inches trail length (later changed to 7° caster angle and 33 mm/1.26 inches trail length for the 1996 Honda FourTrax 300).
- Dimensions – The length is 75 inches, and the width is 43.9 inches. Its height from the ground is 41.5 inches with a ground clearance of 6.3 inches and a turning radius of 8.2 ft. Dry weight is 439 lbs/199 Kg for the standard trim and 474 lbs/215 Kg for the Honda FourTrax 300 4×4; Succeeding model years increased slightly in dry weight, width, and height.
- Exterior – It uses a steel frame and plastic body material (the quad came in red, olive, and beige) that is tough and easy to clean. It also comes with footpegs with a height of 12.4 inches.
- Capacities – It has a trailer towing capacity of 850 lbs/385.6 Kg, a front rack capacity of 66 lbs/29.9 Kg, and a rear rack capacity of 132 lbs/59.9 Kg. You can equip it with fender flare extenders, steel foot baskets, and a recovery winch like WARN 92000 Vehicle Mounted 2000 Series 12V DC Electric Utility Winch with Steel Cable (view on Amazon).
- Lighting – Two 25-watt lights mounted on the front fenders and a 25-watt handlebar light provide superior light distribution. The quad also has a 5-watt taillight. All other light indicators – neutral, reverse, and oil – are 1.7 watts each. A 12V battery powers all lighting.
This video goes over rebuilding the 1988 Honda FourTrax 300. It explains the differences in plastics between’ 1988-1991 and 1992 and above models. He got the 300 model (no differential lock) for cheap and added functional accessories. Watch how he gives a brief but detailed history of the FourTrax in this video:
Known Issues & Remedies
Although the Honda FourTrax 300 is a durable quad, it does have issues reported by its owners. Luckily, their experience provides us with solutions to these identified problems. Here are a few of them:
Especially for secondhand quads that have seen too many mud bogs and streams, deterioration is unavoidable. To limit corrosion caused by water entering your quad’s brake drums, for instance, grease your O-ring and seals and exercise some restraint. A good practice is to avoid water crossings that go above your brakes.
Slow acceleration and reduced top speed are a couple of tell-tale signs you have this problem. These may happen even if your wheeler starts fine. You may also notice that only your rear wheels are powered when attempting to take your quad out of the mud. Here are things you can do fix the problem:
- Trim off the bulged end of the wire.
- Replace the spark plug cap.
- Check and adjust the valve lash to spec.
- Clean your carburetor, drain, and flush the gas tank.
- Polish all jets in and out.
Following these steps will eliminate the issue and dramatically improve your vehicle’s performance. However, they may not always solve your front-slipping problems. You will need your owner’s manual to guide you on adjusting your clutch. At most, the latter may require you to do a partial or complete clutch kit installation – new pressure plates and all.
In addition to installing a new spark plug, adding sea foam to your fuel will clean your fuel system and free your combustion chamber of excessive carbon deposits that rob the engine of power (which explains the sluggish performance and acceleration). Changing the engine oil and oil filter with manufacturer-recommended options does wonders for your vehicle. Also, nothing beats manually cleaning jets with a #0000 steel wool (if you’re patient enough).
This typically occurs with older FourTrax 300s when upshifting or downshifting. Several possibilities behind this problem include a broken or warped clutch plate, incorrect oil grade, clutch basket wear, improper clutch adjustment, plus a few more unusual causes. Surprisingly, changing the oil to a JASO rating of MA or higher mitigates clutch wear and eliminates the need to ram your shift lever into the next gear.
Weak Axle and Bearings
Savvy enthusiasts and mechanics doing rebuilds advise new owners to check on Honda 300 FourTrax rear end axle, differential bearings, and swingarm bearings. They are the weakest link on the vehicle. Not catching this problem early on will result in damage to the ring and pinion bearings. To inspect, move the axle while looking at the areas where it comes through the differential and where it exits the brake drum cover. Replace the bearings at once if you see any movement or play (unless you prefer replacing the pinion bearings, which is more difficult).
Other Honda FourTrax 300 4×4 parts commonly with issues and tips on how to spot them are covered in this video by Mid Nebraska Motorsports:
Cost of a Honda FourTrax 300
The original price of a 1988 model was $4,399, increasing only by $800 for its last production year. Nowadays, the price could range anywhere from $265 to $3,545, depending on the year and modifications. 1996-2000 models cost at least $3,000. If you’re looking for cheaper, go for used models produced before 1990, which should be around $1,900.
Used FourTrax 300s are mostly available through online and farm auctions. They would typically be models from 1988 to 1996 and would be reasonably priced (only going up to $2,300). Cheaper, older models may come with minor defects such as torn seats and corroded plastics and may require some rear end work. However, some 1988 models still have stock tires, with no cracks or dents, and have never been taken off-road. Sellers may even throw in their service manual for the new owner.
Honda Motor Company Ltd. is a world leader in automotive, AI, robotics, and energy solutions, and is the maker of the Honda FourTrax 300. Founded in 1946 by Soichiro Honda, the Japanese firm began by developing small two-cycle motorcycle engines. The company innovates in other areas like personal mobility, therapeutic machinery, and even hydrogen-powered vehicles. It continues to be the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer since 1959 and currently leads the market in commuter and dynamic sports motorcycle production.
Conclusion – Honda FourTrax 300
After two decades from its final production, the quad is still making noise in the ATV market. It continues to be a favorite among off-roaders and rebuilders and retains its value well, especially in near-stock condition. Even compared to the fit and finish of more recent four-wheelers, there is no comparison to the quality and endurance of the best-selling Honda FourTrax 300 4×4.