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UTV and side-by-side drivers love telling tales of glory and triumph on the trail. They will spread these tales far and wide to anyone who will listen. And as much as UTV drivers like to brag about their machines, they are equally as prone to tell you about all the bits and pieces that have broken. Honda’s side-by-sides are reliable, just like every other Honda product. However, even Honda UTVs and side-by-sides break just like the rest of the small off-roaders. Here are the most common Honda side-by-side problems reported by Honda Talon and Honda Pioneer owners.

What are the most common Honda Talon problems?

Honda Motor Co. Reveal Ahead Of Los Angeles Auto Show. These are the most common Honda Talon Problems.
A Honda Talon Sport 1000R side-by-side (SxS) utility vehicle | Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
  • Poor factory suspension setup
  • Faulty U-Joints
  • Reversed cooling fan

The Honda Talon is the hotter Honda side-by-side. Like the Kawasaki Teryx or the Polaris RZR, the Talon comes with a spicier engine, a more aggressive stance, fewer utility features, and a sharper suspension.

Is the Honda Talon suspension setup any good? 

According to Everything Honda Off-Road (EHO), The Honda Talon’s factory suspension isn’t all that. Suspension setup can be a bit of a subjective thing. Soft suspensions have their place, as well as stiffer suspensions. However, if you go too far in either direction, the ride can suffer. In the most extreme scenarios, a poorly set up suspension can even be dangerous. Riders complain that the factory Honda Talon suspension setup needs some tweaks before hitting certain terrain. Thankfully, Honda makes suspension adjustment simple enough for most riders to dial in the feel they want quickly and easily. 

Faulty U-Joints are a common Honda side-by-side problem

EHO reports many owners complaining of “random failings of their Honda Talon u-joints.” U-joints, or universal joints, connect the driveshaft to the differential and sometimes connect the driveshaft to the transmission. In some cases, U-joints can even connect two driveshafts to each other. U-joints look like cross-shaped pieces with a bearing at each end that allows for lateral and side-to-side movement of the driveshaft. When these fail, catastrophe quickly follows. 

In most cases, riders report that Honda will fix this problem at no cost to the owner, thanks to the factory warranty. This would be something to keep in mind when shopping for an older Honda Talon, as this can be an expensive and time-consuming repair.

Cooling is a common problem for side-by-sides

There seems to be a relatively widespread problem for Honda side-by-sides where the cooling fan wires were installed reversed. The reversed wiring caused the fans to run the opposite way, which couldn’t properly cool the engine or radiator. The crazy part is because the fan is installed properly, this problem can be difficult to detect. Also overheating is a common problem for off-road vehicles.

This isn’t a huge problem to fix. Many serious side-by-side drivers will install a high-performance aftermarket fan anyway, but even if you didn’t want that, it’s a quick and easy fix that many owners report Honda doing for free under warranty. 

What are the most common problems for the Honda Pioneer?

  • Power loss
  • Clutch failure

The Honda Pioneer is the UTV offering from Honda. UTVs are most commonly used for agricultural uses, while outdoor recreation like hunting, fishing, and off-roading are still common for UTV drivers. The Honda Pioneer, like the Honda Talon, is a tough and reliable machine. However, like all vehicles, the Honda Pioneer has some issues from time to time. 

Sudden power loss in a Honda Pioneer

Many Honda Pioneer owners report a sudden power loss, most commonly when going up a steep incline. While there are multiple reasons a machine might suddenly lose power, the most common reason for the Pioneer is bad spark plugs. If it’s not the plugs themselves, the problem could be linked to spark plug cables or boots. Faulty plugs or plug wires can also trigger a dreaded check engine light. Fear not; spark plugs are easily changed, and the repair can be done relatively cheaply. 

The other common cause of power loss is a UTV issue across the board: clogged or damaged filters. Air, fuel, oil, and more all require filtering in order for our machines to operate properly. If an air filter is too clogged, the air needed for proper combustion can’t get through. The same is true for all the other filters. For off-road machines, filter cleanliness and maintenance is doubly important, given the amount of debris they will collect. 

Do the Honda Talon and Honda Pioneer have clutch issues?

Honda clutches have been known to overheat in certain situations. Most commonly, the clutch on the Honda Talon and Honda Pioneer will only overheat when the machine is loaded down past its recommended capacity. The Honda Pioneer is often used to tow and or haul materials. If you aren’t careful with how much weight you tow or haul, it can have catastrophic repercussions. If you feel your machine’s clutch slipping, try to stop what you’re doing and put it in neutral. 

The Talon catches some of the clutch issues, too. Rock crawling can put a lot of pressure on a clutch and can lead to overheating. In both situations, the best thing you can do is stop driving and let the clutch cool down before driving again. 

Are Honda side-by-sides worth buying?

Hell yeah, they are. Honda makes a wide variety of excellent cars, trucks, SUVs, UTVs, Side-by-sides, motorcycles, and more. Every vehicle will have its issues. These issues come more frequently with hard off-road use. 

Although Honda machines have some factory issues, the fixes seem to be fairly simple, and in most cases, a factory warranty will cover these kinds of Honda UTV problems. These common Honda Talon problems and Honda Pioneer problems shouldn’t be enough to ward off potential buyers.