Arctic Cat Prowler 500: Common Issues & Problems

Arctic Cat Prowler 500: Common Issues & Problems

Arctic Cat, founded in 1960, is a popular American brand specializing in snowmobiles and all-purpose vehicles.  

Popularized for having the horsepower and quality of higher-priced competitors at a more affordable rate, Artic Cat is the go-to for hunters and outdoorsmen. Ranging from $2,000 to just under $10,000 depending on the model, the Arctic Cat Prowler is an affordable option for many. 

With its all-purpose capability, sturdy frame, and 42 mph top speed, the Arctic Cat Prowler 500 is a popular choice for many who enjoy the outdoors. However, they have also been the subject of many issues, recalls, and safety concerns. 

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About the Arctic Cat Prowler 500

The Arctic Cat Prowler 500 is marketed as one of the best sports utility off-road vehicles on the market. With its liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine and now, sleek mid-sized design, many find the ATV to be a sturdy and reliable option. 

And while the Arctic Cat Prowler may seem like the right choice for some, the popular off-roader does not come without its faults. 

Here are some common issues you might face with the Arctic Cat Prowler 500.

  1. Reliability
  2. Engine Problems
  3. Recalls
  4. Brake Issues
  5. Bad Diaphragm Pumps
  6. High Maintenance 

Reliability Issues

While the Arctic Cat Prowler may be an affordable and attractive option, many Arctic Cat owners have reported loose roll cage bolts, making the safety and durability of the ATV itself questionable. 

Other complaints include the Prowler experiencing a burning rubber smell, which is indicative of an overheating clutch. An overheated clutch makes steering difficult, which might lead to unwanted accidents. And ATV users have also reported that restarting the vehicles afterward was found to be difficult.

The Arctic Cat Prowler was also found to have problems with the front axle and tie rod, which also affects steering. And some have reported strange odors from the vehicle’s belt slippage.


According to The Consumer Affairs website the Arctic Prowler company has faced its fair share of recalls. In 2005 due to a faulty rear brake issue, Arctic Cat Prowler models ranging from VIN numbers 4UF06MPV06T300001 all through 4UF06MPV86T300781 were forced into a company-wide recall.

In 2008 the company recalled 50cc and 90cc Youth Model ATVs for safety issues with speed and steering control. And then again in 2014 and 2015 the company was forced to recall almost  2,700 Arctic Cat Prowler 500 HDX models because of manufacturing issues that caused fuel leaks and fire hazards. 

So while the brand may be popular they have not been without a slew of safety issues over the years. 

Engine Problems

Many Arctic Cat owners have reported problems with the engine of the popular four-wheeler. On one online forum dedicated to the vehicle, one owner under the name of Pitster expressed frustration with a brand new Prowler ATV:

I put about 20 very easy going miles on the unit. Then the next day I decided to load up my wife and go for a ride to the mountains near my home. We were cruising at about 30mph, when all of the sudden I heard a strange noise and then it started smoking real bad out the clutch case vent area.

The next day (Monday) I took it back to the dealer, they took the clutch cover off and said that it had an Oil seal leak, and that they may have to split the cases to fix it!. And that they may need to send the engine back to Artic Cat for them to check it out!

They are not alone in their frustration as engine failure seems to be a common occurrence with this particular off-road vehicle. Many users have been dumbfounded as the engine of new and lightly used vehicles spontaneously stops working.

Brake Issues

While some models of the Arctic Cat Prowler faced a recall after experiencing faulty rear brake issues, other models of the popular four-wheeler were reportedly missing a parking brake entirely. 

Consumers in online Arctic Cat forums reported issues with some 2016 versions of the popular ATV missing a parking brake making towing heavy items an issue. 

Some owners have also reported a separation of the brake pads from the caliper and improper flex in the pedal which can lead to serious accidents as the brake does not respond normally. The only solution for these owners is to get the brakes replaced, upping the “low cost”.

Loud rear brakes have also been reported by hunters for scaring game away.

Bad Diaphragm Pump

While many of the previous recalls have been centered around brake issues, some Arctic Cat Prowler 500 models have also faced recalls for having a bad diaphragm. As a result of ethanol blending with gas from low-speed levels, the vehicles faced a lot of problems not limited to leaking, sputtering, screeching, and no power.

This happens most often when the fuel tank is low on gas and when the diaphragm is incapable of moving freely.

The only solution for this issue seems to be always making sure engine fuel level is always substantial before driving. If not, owners must be forced to haul the vehicle to the nearest gas station to refill the tank. And while low gas may not be an issue with some ATVs,  the Arctic Cat Prowler seems to be an outlier.

High Maintenance

With its slew of issues, the Arctic Cat Prowler needs frequent service to run safely and smoothly.  The intake and exhaust valves need to be checked routinely, as well as the brakes and brake pads.

Arctic Cat Prowler users have complained about the vehicle’s limited warranty and because of that, the high cost of its upkeep. 

So, while the Prowler may be significantly lower than competitors at face value, the constant maintenance means owners may end up spending a pretty penny for this ATV in the end.


No matter what brand of off-road vehicle you choose to get, chances are it will have its fair share of issues. As all off-road vehicles are exposed to the elements, dust, mud, and water. Not to mention they’re typically handled roughly which means their durability will slowly wear out over the years. 

However, most of the problems you’ll find will have a solution, whether this means they will have to be professionally maintained or fixed with some ingenuity and a little elbow grease. 

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