The Yamaha Wolverine 350 created a buzz for sport-utility vehicles when it came out in 1995. During this time, all efforts focused on improving all-terrain vehicles, leaving sport UTVs on the sidelines. Fast-forward to today; the Wolverine series has evolved into a mighty four-wheeler that leads the pack in technology features and ergonomic design. Apart from its intriguing moniker, quiet 15-year run, and grand comeback, is there more to this ATV than most people know?
The Yamaha Wolverine 350 was the first true sport-utility four-wheeler. This light, agile, and robust vehicle set the bar for hybrid UTVs during its time. It was both sporty and multifunctional and was fantastic for leisurely trail rides and yard work.
Learn more about its history, specs, known issues, and corresponding fixes (and more!) before you invest in this unsung hero and restore it to its former glory. A must-read for the Wolverine enthusiast!
With a vehicle that can balance farm work and sport riding in mind, Yamaha innovators developed the Wolverine 350 4×4 for launch in 1995. It was a utility style ATV – a sporty option with specs that can undertake utility work around the house and farm. The quad intended to provide torquey, smooth off-roading performance with its user-friendly, straightforward features, and terrific handling for the occasional challenging rock ledges, dunes, and high ridge-tops. It also featured other convenient functions that made it a well-known choice for people who enjoyed trail riding in the deserts, woods, and grasslands.
Another benefit of the Wolverine 350 4×4 was that it gave its owners the freedom to accessorize to their personal preference. Adding a winch, a snowplow, or a stereo are just some options, without mentioning what aftermarket companies had to offer. This quad was solid as a tank. Despite aggressive driving, riders rarely got a punctured tire, saw leaking fluid, or experienced a breakage that would sidetrack the vehicle – they could ride to their hearts’ content until their gas tank dried up.
The Wolverine went through a 10-year hiatus, staying unchanged since its release in 1995. It was not until 2005 that Yamaha designed a successor – the Wolverine 450 4×4 – for release to the public the following year. This bigger-engine version was produced until 2010 when Yamaha pulled the plug on its manufacture after a collective 15-year production run and a waning in sales. Yamaha’s loyal following can only speculate the cease of the Wolverine 350 and 450 – as they have hoped for a reintroduction of the 4×4 with IRS, power steering, and an EFI engine.
No resource or reference explains why this brute was named the way it was. But if we look up what a wolverine is, the animal’s description is befitting the four-wheeler. A wolverine is ferocious and strong. The Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 delivers power and reliability beyond its size and can go head to head in terms of handling and performance with its 400-cc and above counterparts.
Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 Specs
- Engine – Power is delivered by an air-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder SOHC engine. It has a bore of 83 millimeters and a stroke of 64.5 millimeters. The engine is forward-inclined with a displacement of 348 cubic centimeters. A 34-millimeter BSR Mikuni Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 carburetor handles the air-fuel mixture with a compression ratio of 9.2:1. Fuel tank capacity is 3.4 US gallons/12.9 liters with a reserve amount of 0.45 US gallons/1.7 liters.
- Drivetrain – Power travels via a five-speed manual/centrifugal Ultramatic® wet type transmission (CVT type with F/N/R) with an auxiliary recoil mechanical backup and inclusive of a reverse gear. It has a four-wheel-drive with a maximum power output of 20.6kW (28.0PS) / 7,000r/min and a limited slip front-differential.
- Ignition – A push-button starts it, with a high-output DC-CDI electric start system, and auxiliary recoil mechanical backup. It also has an A.C.-magneto generator system.
- Tires – The Yamaha Wolverine 350 tires consist of Dunlop KT403 AT 23 X 8-12 front tires and Dunlop KT407 AT 23 X 10-12 rear tires with tubeless steel wheels (Wolverine X series came with Maxxis Radial tires – another topic).
- Brakes – It uses a right-hand operated front dual-disc brake, and a left-hand operated single, rear hydraulic disc foot brake (fully sealed drum brake for models after 2000).
- Suspension – The Wolverine features an independent double-wishbone front suspension with five-way preload-adjustable shocks that allows 6.3 to 7.1 inches of travel. The rear suspension utilizes a swing arm with single preload-adjustable shocks, a solid axle, and 7.1 inches of travel.
- Dimensions – The quad’s overall length is 73.6 inches. Width is 42.3 inches, and height is 45.3 inches; minimum ground clearance is 8.7 inches. The vehicle wheelbase is 48.4 inches. The seat height is 31.1 inches. Dry weight is 477 lbs/216.4 kg (517 lbs/234.5 kg with oil and a full fuel tank), towing capacity is 728 lbs/330.2 kg, and storage capacity is 132 lbs/59.9 kg. The minimum turning radius of 138 inches makes for a smoother ride.
- Exterior – It is composed of a high-tensile steel frame and plastic body material, and comes with standard grips, brush and light guards, and full skid plates. It also features a winch, front and rear fenders, brash plates, integrated floorboards, and a sports seat made of vinyl. It comes equipped with 30-watt Krypton headlights and a 21-watt taillight, an under-seat storage box with a maximum load limit of 4.4 lbs/2 kg. Wrap items in cushion material to prevent damage.
Wolverine’s Top Speed
The Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 top speed is 50 mph on stock. It will go up to 55-60 mph (by 5-10 mph) on a level road if jetted and fitted with an aftermarket exhaust. Top speed will still depend on rider weight, tire pressure, and other factors. A 1999 Wolverine 350 or older would be a full-time 4WD and would work better if you get a 424 kit to disengage the 4WD and use 2WD when needed.
The Wolverine’s top speed often gets compared to that of the Big Bear and Grizzly models, the Raptor, and the Polaris Sportsman 500. Note that these are big-bore ATVs, so expect that these sports quads will smoke your Wolverine anytime. The advantage of owning a Wolverine 350 is that it is more versatile than the rest – something that you can enjoy in both the sport and mudding realms. Its lighter engine and stock tires also enable it to go faster. Plus, for old Wolverine models, they have the same Warrior engine, which means that mods can be done more efficiently than newer-year models.
Yamaha Wolverine 350 Problems
The Wolverine is seemingly one of Yamaha’s most underrated ATVs not because it was sandwiched in between Yamaha’s more renowned “firsts” at the time of its launch, but due to known Yamaha Wolverine 350 problems breaking even the reliability and usefulness of the four-wheeler. With its standout attributes comes its share of flaws. Here are the top five hitches Wolvi owners experience (based on forums), with corresponding recommendations on how to fix them:
1. Water in the Gas Tank
Your engine not starting accordingly or not starting at all, or your vehicle hesitating to accelerate are all signs that you have this problem. Water in the gas tank could come from several sources, such as rainwater that seeps through the nooks and crannies of your bike or a loose fuel tank cap. Once you observe any of these indicators, immediately drain out all water either by siphoning it from the gas cap or draining it through the drain plug located underneath the tank, then refill it with a higher Octane (unleaded) gas. It is not wise to delay this as water can damage your fuel injectors and engine systems.
2. Electric Starter Not Working
If your quad won’t start by way of electric starter but starts when using the pull-start mechanical backup, then you may have a problem caused by either a dying battery or the CDI relay going out. To find this out, bypass this by unbolting the starter wire from the relay and placing it on the positive part of the battery. If the starter wire works fine, then the relay is your problem, and you may have to replace it.
3. Unresponsive Throttle or Rough Acceleration
What you initially have to do is check the butterfly on the choke, clean the carb and air filter, and inspect the tank vent tube to see if your engine is fuel-starved. If it is, drain the tank all the way, check for sediments, and then refill it with a fresh 87 Octane unleaded gas. Additionally, get a clear plastic inline fuel filter and spark plug, and put the right kind of wet clutch differential and final gear oil. Double-check compression with a Compression Tester Kit (view on Amazon). If you have completed all these steps and the issue still recurs when the engine gets hot, you may need to check if your coil is breaking down and get a replacement. Otherwise, throttle responsiveness should normalize by this time.
4. Stuck Parking Brake
If you have your brake on overnight, then it won’t fully release in the morning, and you have to hold your hand on it to make it work. You can do other things to free a stuck brake, such as rocking your ATV back and forth or manually pulling the brake cables. You can also attempt to set and release the brakes multiple times to see if you can knock the brakes free. Oh, I almost forgot – before you try doing any of these hit-and-miss options, consider the ambient temperature. Your Wolverine may need a little warmth to thaw in case your parking brake just froze up.
5. The Clutch Is Slipping
This problem starts when the clutch plates wear out and slide against each other instead of grabbing. It is bound to happen since the plates rub against each other when the clutch is engaged. Either that or the clutch springs have lost their tension. When you experience this, all you have to do is lay the bike on its side, remove the clutch cover, and check the components. No matter how superficial the damage is, it is always good to replace the drive, fiber plates, and clutch springs. Clutch slipping is inevitable for ATV owners, which means that at some point, you will need to buy a new clutch kit anyway.
Other reported challenges range from minor to severe, requiring replacement of Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 parts. These would mostly come from 1996 or 1998 Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 models. But thankfully, a lot of Yamaha communities and forums provide support to Yamaha consumers, especially those who are either not tech-savvy or new quad owners. If you encounter any of these issues and cannot get answers from your group, there is always your backyard mechanic or a professional you can go to.
Cold-Starting the Wolverine
A feature that makes the Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 reliable is that people often use it like a tractor, especially during sub-zero temperatures when they fit it with a snowplow. Therefore, you should know how to properly cold-start this workhorse to help clear up our driveways for more years to come. Below are the steps to follow:
- Set the parking brake.
- Turn the fuel cock to ON.
- Turn the main switch ON and the engine stop switch to RUN.
- Shift the transmission into neutral. By this time, the neutral light should come on.
- Use the starter or choke, depending on the following conditions:
- Fully open or pull the choke if the ambient temperature is below 5°C (40°F)
- Half-open the starter if the ambient temperature is 0-30°C (30-90°F)
- Do a warm engine start if the ambient temperature is 25°C (80°F) or warmer.
- Fully close the throttle lever and fire up the engine.
- Push the start button and crank the engine for no more than 10 seconds on each attempt until the ATV successfully starts.
- Cold starts with a fully open choke should be returned to half-open position, and half-open positions should be kept as is to warm up the engine.
- Continue to warm up the engine until it idles smoothly. After this, return the starter to a closed position before riding.
Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 FAQs
- How much is a Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4? The MSRP of the 1995-2000 Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 was $5,199. The 2007 2WD model was at $4,399.
- What is a 2016 Yamaha Wolverine worth? There were four Wolverine Sport UTVs released in 2016, namely: the 708-cc Wolverine (MSRP at $10,999), the Wolverine R-Spec (MSRP at $12,199), the Wolverine R-Spec EPS (MSRP at $13,199), and the Wolverine R-Spec EPS SE (MSRP at $14,799).
- What kind of oil does Yamaha Wolverine 350 take? Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 requires 3.1 quarts/2.9 liters of engine oil (without) and 3.2 quarts/3.0 liters with oil filter replacement. The recommended engine oils are YAMALUBE 4 10W-30/20W-40, SAE 10W-30/20W-40, and SAE 5W-30 for colder temperatures. Oil classification should be API service SE, SF, SG type, or higher. Make sure not to mix any chemical additives or use oils with a diesel specification of CD as this may cause clutch slippage. Additionally, do not use oils labeled as Energy Conserving II or higher.
- What fuel should I use for the Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4? Recommended fuel is unleaded gasoline and gasohol with less than 10% ethanol content only. Using leaded gasoline or gasohol containing methanol may damage valves, piston rings, and Yamaha Wolverine 350 exhaust systems.
- Does the Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 have power steering? The Wolverine 350 did not have power steering. Its successors – *Wolverine X2 and X4 (released from 2016 till present) – have Electric Power Steering (EPS) technology.
- Is the Yamaha Wolverine belt driven? The 1995 Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 wasn’t, but the 2006 2WD Wolverine 350 was. The same goes for all other Wolverine models launched from 2006 till present, including Wolverine 450, X2, X4, and X2 R-Spec.
- Does the Yamaha Wolverine have a dump box? The year models 1995 to 2010 did not have a dump box, but the versions from 2016 onwards have one. Veterans claim that one can create a dump box for an older Wolverine 350 by hinging at the top of the bumper (provided it’s OEM. Otherwise, it would require a major bracket to hang the bumper on).
- Is it okay to do full throttles on my Wolverine before break in? Do not do prolonged full throttles or put excessive load on your engine when breaking in for the first 20 hours. The reason behind this is that the various engine parts wear and polish themselves to the correct operating clearances. Overloading or overheating your four-wheeler may affect how the engine adjusts.
- Is the Wolverine 350 safe for kids? The Wolverine is suitable for kids provided that there is parental supervision. I highly advise using the speed limiter for inexperienced riders, especially if it’s your kids who will be using the Wolverine. If they are below 16 years old and not yet skilled in using an ATV, it is best to set the maximum speed to 30 mph or less. You can eventually adjust the max speed to what the brute is capable of once your child gains more confidence and experience.
Yamaha Motor Company Limited is a Japanese conglomerate that aspires to bring joy and enrich the lives of its customers through its products and services. Their company mission is to create Kando, which means feeling deep satisfaction and excitement when encountering something of great value. This Kando mission inspires them to create unique products and new demand, and to continue realizing new ideas – just like they did when they first produced the Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4. From its establishment to date, Yamaha continues to live by its five shared values of Innovation, Excitement, Confidence, Emotion, and Ties.
Conclusion – Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4
The Wolverine 350 4×4 was imperfect and underrated, but it clearly defined what a sport-utility vehicle should look like and be capable of – which meant different things to different people. For the hardworking farmer, it’s a great vehicle that is very dependable and has low-cost maintenance. For folks living in sub-zero weather, it’s a very trusty snowplow machine. For the off-roading enthusiast, it’s a great steal. It gave households the advantage of owning a 2-in-1 four-wheeler, but it also ignited innovation across ATV manufacturers. Despite still lacking in many aspects, the birth of the Yamaha Wolverine 350 4×4 ultimately led to the creation of sport UTVs that we know and enjoy today.