Before American manufacturer Polaris became famous for its innovations such as Electronic Fuel Injection, Independent Rear Suspension, and automatic transmission, it first produced stark, straightforward four-wheelers like the Polaris Magnum 500. And while today’s advanced tech is remarkable, the old-generation 4x4s remind consumers what ATVs genuinely stand for – a vehicle that helps people accomplish tasks and takes them on spellbinding outdoor adventures.
The Polaris Magnum 500 is a 498-cc quad that was among the first Polaris 4x4s targeted at the then rising rec/utility ATV segment. Featuring an automatic PVT, long-travel suspension, smart storage, and On-Demand 4WD, this classic wheeler appealed to outdoor enthusiasts and ranchers.
Whether for yard duty or trail riding, you can count on the Polaris Magnum 500 to deliver a best-in-class ride. Read on and discover more about this utility four-wheeler in this article.
About the Polaris Magnum 500
The Polaris Magnum 500 is a utility ATV that preceded the Magnum 300 and 325 versions. Launched in the market from 1999 to 2002, the 500-class machine was seemingly intended as an experimental vehicle – Polaris wanted to see if it can compete head-to-head with Honda’s FourTrax Foreman TRX450. If for this purpose, the Magnum 500 was able to do it successfully.
The early 2000s proved that the 450-/500-class quads were a hit for the sport ATV segment. However, consumers preferred a slightly smaller displacement and size for utility four-wheelers.
With an introductory price of $6,499, the Magnum 500 offered more than its worth. The vehicle tickled the fancy of riders who preferred a mid-sized 4×4 capable of performing both ranch work and leisure applications.
Additionally, it provided impressive hauling capabilities, an ingenious storage system, and ample legroom for taller operators. Its added weight, although frowned upon by some off-roaders, improved vehicle stability and boosted rider confidence.
Despite its short 4-year production run, the Magnum underwent updates that later benefited its slightly smaller versions. Because 300-/330-class Magnums eventually inherited the ATV’s 34-mm carb and 329-cm3 displacement, power output and quality of airflow to the engine improved significantly. These positive changes also translated to improved shifting, control, and handling.
1999 Polaris Magnum 500 Specs & Features (Model A99CD50AA)
Engine & Lubrication
Unlike its 325-class sibling, the Polaris Magnum 500 has a liquid-cooled power mill. Some vehicle parts are only slightly bigger versions of the engine components of the former. The carb, for instance, increased from 31 mm to 34 mm but is still a Mikuni BST carburetor.
|Engine Brand Name / Model No.||EH50PLE08|
|Cylinder Arrangement||Single cylinder|
|Carburetion System||Carburetion, Mikuni CV BST34 x 1|
|Pilot Air Screw||2 5/8 turns out|
|Needle & Seat||1.5|
|Engine Cooling||Liquid cooling|
|Engine Fuel||Unleaded gasoline of at least PON 87/89 rating (oxygenated/non-oxygenated), containing MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether), < 10% ethanol, or < 5% methanol.|
|Fuel Capacity||14.2 L/3.75 US gal|
|Bore x Stroke Ratio||92×75 mm (3.62 x 2.95 in)|
|Starting System||Electric start w/ recoil backup|
|Displacement||498 cm³ / 30.45 in³|
|Top Speed||55-60 mph (88.5-96.6 km/h) – owner’s claim|
|Air Filtration||High-quality foam element|
|Engine Oil & Quantity||1.89 L (2 US quarts) of SAE 0W-40 Polaris Synthetic Engine Lubricant|
Main gearcase: 80-90 GL5 Engine Counter Balancer, 10 fl oz (300 mL) for the rear & 5 fl oz (150 mL) for the front
The Magnum 500 shared the same powertrain with the Trail Boss 325 – an RPM-and torque-sensing Polaris Variable Transmission and E-Z shift. But instead of a 520 O-ring chain, a shaft drive transfers power from the engine to the wheels. This drive system design makes for better transmission efficiency, longer service life, and quieter vehicle operation.
|Transfer, Transmission Type||Automatic POLARIS Variable Transmission w/ 30-mm belt & Compound EBS|
|Gearshifting||PRD, side-lever-activated (H-L-N-R)|
|Drive System||Shaft ride system|
|Gear Ratio||Low – 7.46/1; High – 3.3/1; Reverse – 5.12/1|
A 200-watt triple-phase alternator serves as the 4×4’s charging system. Mated to this is a CDI box and YB14A-A2 battery (view on Amazon), which powers up the engine and electronic accessories.
|Ignition||CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition)|
|Ignition Timing||30° BTDC @ 3,500 RPM ± 1.5°|
|Spark Plug, Gap||NGKBKR5E, 0.70 mm (0.028 in) gap|
|Alternator Type||A.C. magneto|
|Rated Output||250 W|
|Battery||12V (14 Ah)/10 Hr, YB14A-A2 formats|
|Battery Dimensions (L x W x H)||134 x 89 x 176 mm (5.31 x 3.50 x 6.94 in)|
Tires & Brakes
25-inch tires are on aluminum rims, which can be replaced with Carlisle All-Trail ATV Tires (view on Amazon) or GBC Grim Reaper Radials (view on Amazon) – depending on whether you do a lot of mudding or trail riding. You would know it is time to swap out your old knobbies once the tread depth is 1/8 inch or less. As for brakes, inspecting Polaris Magnum 500 parts for sponginess, excessive wear, or fluid leaks would best determine when it is appropriate to get new brake pads.
|Front Tire, off-road/road air pressure||Dunlop AT25 x 8-12, 27.6 kPa (0.28 kgf-cm2, 4 psi)|
|Rear Tire, off-road/road air pressure||Dunlop AT25 x 11-10, 20.7 kPa (0.21 kgf-cm2, 3 psi)|
|Front Brake Type||Hydraulic disc brakes w/ all-wheel hydraulic-lock auxiliary & parking brake|
|Rear Brake Type||Hydraulic disc brakes w/ all-wheel hydraulic-lock auxiliary & parking brake|
The vehicle boasts of front MacPherson strut suspension and rear progressive-rate swingarm suspension with adjustable cams enclosed in a Gen-IV body frame. Wheel travel and turning radius are exactly as they are with the Magnum 325. While this suspension setup allows tighter turning and cornering angles, it can do better with upgrades given the weight of the 500-cc Magnum.
|Toe-out||3 – 6.35 mm (1/8 – ¼ in)|
|Turning Radius||1.65 m (5.42 ft)|
|Front Suspension Type, Travel||MacPherson Struts w/ Sachs ZF HPG shocks, 170 mm (6.7 in)|
|Rear Suspension Type, Travel||Progressive-rate Swingarm w/ 2-inch gas-charged Bilstein® mono-shock & adjustable cams, 165 mm (6.5 in)|
Compared to its 325-class sibling, the Polaris Magnum 500 is only higher by an inch. The rest of its dimensions, seat height, ground clearance, wheelbase, and load capacities are a replica of its smaller version. The vehicle’s height increased by half an inch for 2000 models onward, and the towing capacity went from 850 to 1,225 lbs for succeeding versions. GVWR of the 500-cc quad is 1,117 lbs – inclusive of rider, curb weight, maximum payload capacity, and accessories.
|Overall Dimensions||2,060 x 1,170 x 1,195 mm (81 x 46 x 47 in – L x W x H)|
|Seat Height (Unloaded)||864 mm (34 in)|
|Ground Clearance||184 mm (7.25 in)|
|Wheelbase||1,264 mm (49.75 in)|
|Dry Weight||293.5 Kg (647 lbs)|
|Carrier Capacity (F/R)||40.8 Kg (90 lbs) / 81.6 Kg (180 lbs)|
|Tongue Weight||13.6 Kg (30 lbs)|
|Towing Capacity||385.6 Kg (850 lbs)|
It consists of a tubular steel frame standard with mudguards, front and rear fender flares, a footwell, front and rear composite racks, aluminum rims, and a vinyl seat. The front rack opens to reveal a cargo box, which provides much-needed water-resistant storage for riding essentials. Multiple D-ring tie-downs on both front and rear carriers secure hunting gear and other equipment in place.
Body panels were made available in Bonnie Blue, Black, and Forest Green. To add some character to your four-wheeler, a Kolpin Matrix Seat Bag in Mossy Oak Breakup (view on Amazon) is a great add-on to have.
|Speedometer||Standard, 3-inch, electronic|
|Indicator Lamps||Standard (hot temperature, neutral, reverse)|
|Headlight||Halogen pod light, 12V 60 W x 1|
Grille-mounted single-beam lights, 12V 27/27 W x 2
|Brake Light/Taillight||12V 26.9/8.26 W x 1|
|Indicator Lights||12V 1 W x 1|
Polaris Magnum 500 4×4 Price
The list price of the Polaris Magnum 500 is almost $1,000 more expensive than its 300-class siblings. During its 4-year production run, the quad increased its price only once and for $100. The table below sums up the base values for all Magnum 500 models released, not including any add-on accessories or inclusions through dealerships:
(Source: Nada Guides)
|Year – Trim – Model Number||List Price||Retail/Trade-In Values|
|1999 Polaris Magnum 500||$6,499||$850 – $1,120|
|2000 Polaris Magnum 500||$6,499||$920 – $1,210|
|2001 Polaris Magnum 500||$6,599||$1,030 – $1,355|
|2002 Polaris Magnum 500||$6,599||$1,060 – $1,395|
Unlike the smaller-displacement Magnums, the 500-class ones did not have multiple trims nor special-edition models. However, they did come in blue, red, Hunter Green, and yellow. Pre-loved vehicles over $2,000 are in mint condition, with low mileage/hours and well-maintained body panels. Most units seen in auction and trader sites are ‘99 Magnums, although you will still be able to find 2000-2002 models. Interestingly, 1999 trims appear to hold their value best, costing up to $2,970 – whereas the maximum pricing for newer year models goes up to only $2,300.
Among the things to expect from a secondhand Magnum are a dead battery, a non-functioning odometer, or scuffed plastics. You may also need to replace tires and a few bearings, especially if they are stock. As for mileage, used Magnums typically have over 2,400 miles and 600 hours. So, if you happen to find one that has considerably low mileage and hours, don’t pass it up! Just make sure to ask about the history of the quad – for instance, if it has sat too long outside or even inside the previous owner’s garage or severely crashed – as this may mean possible carb or tranny issues in the long run.
Polaris Magnum 500 Problems
This section covers common challenges encountered by Magnum owners (especially those who purchased secondhand quads). While the below pieces of information is from the manual, it would be best to secure your own copy. Having an owner’s manual handy during servicing or repairs will tremendously help with the upkeep and longevity of your wheeler:
Does Not Run
Like all other ATVs, the Magnum 500 has three things that need to be looked into when a no-run issue occurs – fuel system, compression, and ignition. The fuel system has the most parts that warrant inspection, such as dirt in the fuel lines/filter, restrictions in the fuel valve, tank vent, and pump, or flooding in the engine. The compression is, supposedly, the easiest to determine if gone awry. But because some off-roaders opt not to buy a service manual, determining if compression is according to spec sometimes turns into a guessing game.
Depending on symptoms given off by the machine, you may need to check on electronic components first or last. If found as the culprit, the problem source often boils down to either a fouled spark plug, a low-voltage or defective battery, or corroded terminals/coils. Otherwise, you may have to go back to examining the fuel system or wait to see if a different set of indications would surface after initial troubleshooting has been performed.
Idles, But Does Not Rev Up
A no-rev issue often follows after a running problem has been resolved. By this time, you have already completed an inspection of the abovementioned systems. Hence, you will need to look into the air intake, controls, jetting, and exhaust system. Ensure that airflow to the engine is not restricted, controls are not limiting speed unnecessarily, throttle cables are not broken, and that ignition timing is correct.
Because of the different applications ATVs are used for, this issue is almost an expectation for every owner. However, it does not mean you should easily dismiss it. If it occurs one too many times, chances are there is something wrong with your vehicle’s cooling system (radiator, in particular), hot light circuit, or fuel pump. Using the incorrect heat range for the spark plug and system leaks going unnoticed are other causes.
These issues are a far cry from the number of problems encountered by Magnum owners collectively. If you want to find out what to expect ahead of time, invest in an owner’s manual. Additionally, make sure to visit Polaris forums as there is a wealth of knowledge there that can help you make your four-wheeler operate more seamlessly. Watch out for any complications following the resolution of the above problems, as these would typically indicate the need for a rebuild kit, an exhaust cam lobe repair, or assistance from a professional mechanic.
Polaris Inc. is an American manufacturer globally renowned for spawning the snowmobile industry in 1954. Three decades later, it entered the ATV scene with its first three-wheeler, the Scrambler 250. Fast-forward to 1999, it has introduced the Polaris Magnum 500 4×4, along with a slew of other industry-leading off-road vehicles that are proudly American-made. At present, Polaris continues its quality manufacturing practices in its current motorcycle and ATV offerings.
Conclusion – Polaris Magnum 500 4×4 Review
The Polaris Magnum 500 is one of many Polaris quads that paved the way for present-day behemoths. Despite not being equipped with advanced tech, the vehicle never compromised on functionality and practical features. The reliability of its design is instrumental not only in making its 300-class namesake a success but also in other Polaris quad series that followed suit. While the Polaris Magnum 500 did not get enough recognition during its production period, it is definitely worth all the credit it is due.